Stove tips

3:53 p.m. on October 18, 2016 (EDT)
Rebecca W
75 reviewer rep
2 forum posts

So currently the biggest hole in my gear collection is in the stove department. Other than a stove, I have the basic gear I need both for car camping and for short backpacking trips. I am hoping to get both some backpacking and more car camping trips in soon, but unless I buy something super cheap, I only have it in the budget to buy one stove. Can you all recommend a stove that will be good for short (2-5 days) backpacking trips, but can also be used to fry a pan of bacon or scramble eggs?

7:24 p.m. on October 18, 2016 (EDT)
John Starnes
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527 forum posts

Rebecca your gonna get quite a few replyS on this one but probably the biggest thing they will need to know is will you be at elevation. one very good product that just about everyone here likes is the jet boil products. They are very versatile under normal circumstances you can attach the pot or use just the stove and will meet your criteria. You can get the flash for under $100  but you can go much lower if it is just a stove you want. MSR also makes these and they tend to rule the market in the stove area. I've also seen stoves on amazon for as low as $8. All of these that I've mentioned use the gas canister. 

Give the folks a little more info on the kind of conditionS and elevation that you expect to face and these folks on TS will be a big help

good luck and happy hunting. If you look at my Brunton Rapto review there is a picture of some of the types of stoves your looking for

6:40 a.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
denis daly
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1,962 forum posts

John hit one of the Main points will it be used for Altitude..Also the Jet boil Flash or systems may not particularly work for cooking bacon and scrambled eggs well.The flame is centralized to the center of the pan..Meaning less flame is distributed to the rest of the pan so it superheats the center and you can get scorched food...Also I understand you have a limited budget so you would like to use it for camping as well..What fuel type would you like to use Canister, Whitegas,? What season's? play a roll in this..

6:56 a.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
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The budget also plays a much are you willing to spend? There are cheap and expensive options each with their pros and cons. 

8:17 a.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
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494 forum posts

If gas canister fuels your stove, consider the MSR Pocket Rocket (or the similar, but slightly more expensive Micro Rocket) - adjustable and suitable for eggs and bacon. 

If alcohol, I recommend the Trangia.  There are also numerous hand made alcohol burners that work quite well

Undoubtedly, others will have other opinions.  There are lots of choices.  You may find yourself ourchasing more than one...

8:57 a.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
Rebecca W
75 reviewer rep
2 forum posts

Thanks for your replies, everyone! I will likely be doing most of my camping in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. I may be getting some into the Smokies, but don't anticipate needing to use this stove at true high altitudes.

While I enjoy year round camping, I don't have much winter equipment, so for now I'm fine with something that will work for three-season.

I would like to keep my budget under $100 at the absolute maximum, which does open up some opportunity to pick up both something like the Pocket Rocket and an inexpensive car/canoe camping stove, though I'd prefer to get something with cross-over value.

I don't have any particular preference for any given fuel source, but I'd be happy to hear input on that as well if there are major pros or cons to any of them. On my last trip, I used this guy:

For the price, it did get the job done, but I had to pull out the wick to get enough heat to make breakfast and ending up burning through a whole can of fuel just for that. It's not bad as an emergency back up, though. But, also as noted above, with the heat so centralized it led to scorched centers and barely cooked edges. Not a tragedy, but a bit annoying when you're trying to convince someone they like camping and want to go with you again :).

11:08 a.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
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Rebecca W said:


I would like to keep my budget under $100 at the absolute maximum, which does open up some opportunity to pick up both something like the Pocket Rocket and an inexpensive car/canoe camping stove, though I'd prefer to get something with cross-over value.


 My personal preference would be to go this route. For backpacking a Micro Rocket type canister stove is small, light and an efficient way to boil water. For car/motorcycle camping I have a $20 Coleman burner that screws on top of 1lb propane bottles that works well with larger pots and pans plus has the ability to simmer.

The backpacking canister stoves are really hard to use for anything other than boiling water. Even with constant attention it is too easy to burn things to the bottom of the pan. If you want to try to split the difference I think MSR still makes the Superfly which carries a bit bigger than the Rockets but has a fourth pot support and a much wider burner head, but it still is hard to manage a simmer due to the high heat output. That is why I prefer the Coleman burner when we go on road trips. I see some folks carrying them out on trail, including last week in the Whites, but to me that is way too much weight to be dragging up a mountain.

1:13 p.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
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I would buy a small backpacking stove (you can also easily make an alcohol stove) and then look at garage sales, especially ones like church rummage sales, for an old coleman suitcase stove for car camping.

2:07 p.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
AverageJoeRepublican @Deplorable
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81 forum posts

Rebecca, if you are on a budget and looking at 2-5 day trips with the ability to cook scrambled eggs, bacon, etc. I would take a look at a Primus stove. It can be found at wallyworld or just about any outdoor store. I paid around twenty bucks for mine. It is fairly light, very sturdy, and with some use, pretty adjustable. For a twenty dollar bill you can't afford not to try one! If you do decide on one, I don't think you will be disappointed.

9:22 p.m. on October 19, 2016 (EDT)
denis daly
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts   The MSR Superfly is the stove LS brought up and popped into my head...Below this review is another more detailed about the cooking..But the pricetag on Amazon is 65.00 ..

I would ask ask Joe some detail questions about the Primus.I did a search on wallyworld site and it looks like it has a big head to disperse the flame..I don't know..But never hurts to ask more...

5:42 a.m. on October 20, 2016 (EDT)
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I have been camping for over fifty years.  I have tried MANY stoves!  All of those mentioned above, anyway.

Before answering your query, I feel compelled to state the answer depends on interpreting some of your criteria.

I assume you do not want to deal with temperamental stoves that require considerable skill to control.

You state you'd like a stove that can do bacon and scrambled eggs.  Both of these are easy orders as long as the stove employed has some degree of control over the flame setting.  Some stoves are easier to control than others.  If your cooking ambitions are limited to eggs and bacon, the MSR Pocket Rocket will suffice as will the Jetboil and their respective clones.  Even stoves like the MSR white gas (WG) fueled Whisperlite can do a scramble or sizzle bacon, once one learns the peculiarities of the stove, but I would not suggest purchasing such a WG stove for your applications.  I am also not a fan of solid fuel stoves or alcohol stoves, due to limited BTU output and inability to achieve more than crude control over these designs.  In conclusion, the Pocket Rocket (and clones) and the Jetboil (and copycats) are good water boilers, and can be used to cook foods that tolerate inconsistent heat conditions.

But if you endeavor to cook a sunny side up egg or food less forgiving of abuse than fried bacon, then you want a stove that has both good heat control AND a burner that distributes heat over a large area.  None of the stoves I just described have both of these features.  But as one post (above) opines, the MSR Superfly will do real cooking, as it has a relatively large burn which distributes heats over a wider area, as well as possessing good output control (as do practically all canister stoves).  And that is as good a stove as any for real cooking on a budget, that is suitable for backpacking, and also suffice for car camping.

There are some WG stoves that will also meet your needs (MSR Dragonfly and other WG stoves that incorporate two control valves in the fuel delivery system).  These stoves are more challenging to operate as well as require regular maintenance to be reliable.  Given these short coming one needs a rationalization to justify going with a WG stove.  And there are two good reasons: 1, WG fuel is widely available (and it cousins kerosene ands mineral spirits are even more widely available); 2, WG type stoves are better suited than canister stoves for below freezing service due to the characteristics of the fuels.  But since you are operating domestically (and I assume a fair weather camper) you need not be concerned about fuel availability or sub freezing performance.

Lastly I would avoid white gas stoves that lack the ability to pressurize the fuel utilizing a pump.  While these are capable stoves, they are tedious to get started, especially in a wind.


5:56 a.m. on October 21, 2016 (EDT)
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For an all-round use in canister stoves, I am a fan of the MSR Windpro II: good burner width, low to the ground so not as tippy or wind-exposed as the pocket rocket type (but somewhat heavier), inverted canister so it will work in the cold, reasonable flame control, and fairly quiet.

4:53 p.m. on October 21, 2016 (EDT)
Joseph Renow @jrenow
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743 forum posts

Lots of good stove suggestions above. A canister stove with a wide burner fits most of your needs...but I have never seen one maintain a low simmer without the simmer running away into a boil or the flame extinguishing without someone attending the stove (good temp control is what sets these stoves apart). I do not use a canister stove for backpacking because they are too bulky and heavy given the other options I have...but I bring a canister stove anytime I plan to fry on kayak and canoe trips because building a stick fire to fry breakfast is a nonstarter for me. For the times that a saute and simmer I take my pan on and off the heat while I am annoyance for sure but the ability to fry breakfast without building a fire makes up for that drawback.

White gas is for trips when you are planning to use your stove a lot (winter camping and group trips)...and as others wrote...WG stoves are dirtier + heavier + more temperamental + more expensive.

I don't like liquid or gelatin alcohol stoves because of leakage and spills...but I have used solid alcohol (Esbit) on backpacking trips almost exclusively for the last 2-3 years and I don't think I will ever go back. Alcohol stoves maintain a true simmer which allows me to stew + reconstitute + saute + bake...that's a whole lot of cooking options for both fresh and dehydrated foods in an extremely reliable + lightweight + cheap + no-spill package. For backpacking trips where I want to fry I typically bring a small frying pan and cook over a works fine for me...but it does require a bit of cooking and open-fire best during the drier parts of summer...and worst of all...requires building a fire for breakfast.

5:54 p.m. on October 21, 2016 (EDT)
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3,550 forum posts

BigRed said:

.."I am a fan of the MSR Windpro II"...

 Me too!  The Windpro is one of the best possible options for the three season camper looking for a stove that can do real cooking.  But since the OP was budget minded, they can still get acceptable bacon and scrambled eggs from less pricy.

jrenow said:

.."I have never seen one maintain a low simmer without the simmer running away into a boil or the flame extinguishing without someone attending the stove"...

Hmm...  I have used various canister stoves for simmering, and do it all the time!  Granted setting a canister stove to simmer requires two steps: 1, Initially set the stove to simmer; 2, the ambient stove conditions (pressure, but mostly heat) will change, and that can lead to change in the stove output.  But a readjusting the stove a second, perhaps third time (all these adjustments will occur within two minutes) will attain a stable simmer mode.  Once attained you are good for simmering for a while, longer than I ever needed anyway.



5:22 p.m. on October 27, 2016 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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I think it's hard to compare the larger propane car-camping stoves, which are far easier to use with a frypan and to obtain a lower, modulated flame than most backpacking stoves, and the single-burner models that are light enough to carry in a backpack.  

the car-camping propane stoves aren't very expensive - try Walmart.  might set you back 40-50 dollars for the simpler ones.  unless you hike with a sherpa, these don't work for backpacking.

for hiking stoves, I have had better luck with burners that attach to a separate bottle if you want to do more than boil water.  examples are the MSR whisperlite or dragonfly, or the Optimus nova I have used the last several years.  with some practice and patience, you can modulate the flame on the MSR stoves by fooling with the fuel outlet knob - imperfect but ultimately workable (I also have a 25-30 year old msr xgk that works well for boiling water, but it burns more than cooks).  the Optimus does the best job with modulating the flame; it has some exposed rubber seals that require care and occasional maintenance because they can get torn, and I have heard that the quality of their newer stoves has declined.  

10:02 a.m. on October 28, 2016 (EDT)
Old Guide
447 reviewer rep
443 forum posts

Keep in mind no matter the stove you choose, the smell of cooking bacon attracts animals and other campers and it lingers.

May 27, 2020
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