Stove recomendation?

5:00 p.m. on December 11, 2014 (EST)
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Can someone please recommend a stove to use for 3 season hiking ( not winter) and car camping, Central and southwestern US.

Many thanks!

5:48 p.m. on December 11, 2014 (EST)
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What are your cooking needs?

Is this for solo use or for multiple people?

Will you be using it to prepare more intricate meals, or mostly just to boil up water for rehydrating meals or making coffee/tea/oatmeal etc?

Do you have a fuel preference?

Any budget in mind?

10:45 p.m. on December 11, 2014 (EST)
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For car camping, about any old Coleman stove will work.  Can be had cheap off of Craigslist.   425's are smaller, 413's wider for bigger pots.  426's if you need 3 burners.  They use white gas of any brand, Coleman fuel should be in Walmart and other places.  Keeps for years in a tightly sealed can or the stove tank.  Many like the convenience of propane stoves now.


11:59 a.m. on December 12, 2014 (EST)
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TJ's right. We need more information on your needs. How I car camp is vastly different when I'm feeding 2-3 people on the trail, which is again different when I'm soloing on a weeklong trek.

12:57 p.m. on December 12, 2014 (EST)
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I agree that for car camping, where weight is irrelevant and cooking capacity is usually a need, go with a coleman propane stove.  inexpensive and great cooking capacity.  pretty easy to adjust the burn intensity. 

I prefer white gas stoves that attach the burner directly to the fuel bottle.  there are multiple MSR options in that arena - MSR Whisperlite or Simmerlite are both long-standing, reliable options.  can be a little tricky to modulate the flame.  small stoves that use canned fuel like the MSR Pocket Rocket or the Jetboil stoves are probably easier to use, If you don't mind carrying all those gas containers.

alcohol-burning stoves are cheap and simple and easy to use.  fuel is easy to find.  I don't them because if they topple, they dump burning fuel.  also, they don't burn as hot, so it takes longer to boil water. 

I primarily use a 4 season stove year-round, for whatever that is worth.  an optimus nova+, several years old.  

2:36 p.m. on December 12, 2014 (EST)
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I think Goose and TJ said it best..need alot more info and what you do car camping is alot different than personal meals Etc...But Andrew gave a good over view..

2:42 p.m. on December 12, 2014 (EST)
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11:05 a.m. on December 16, 2014 (EST)
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I have never owned one, but always wanted an Optimus 111. Mostly I use a Brunton stainless steel propane 2 burner. For backpacking an Optimus one burner propane or an MSR Whisperlight.

1:25 p.m. on December 17, 2014 (EST)
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Quite right, I should have given more info. It's just my wife and I, combo FD meals and more elaborate multi pot meals. Fresh food is always a treat, as is fresh meat. I like the ease of propane stoves, but want something stable. I'm thinking more than one stove, so we don't need to fire up a coleman two burner for just a one pot meal. Of course, if it's cold, a bigger stove is good. Thanks for the input.

6:35 p.m. on December 17, 2014 (EST)
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Hey Ralph, forgive me if I say things you already know, but some readers may not.

I go car camping from time to time as well as hiking & backpacking (camping).

The gear I use for one activity is quite different from the other.

Car camping -  I use Coleman two burner suitcase stoves. I have 2 different Coleman stoves, a liquid fuel stove (white gas aka Coleman fuel) and a propane stove made to use 16.4 ounce bottles. The liquid fuel is cheaper, but the propane is easier to use and has better heat control. The propane gets less expensive if you use a refillable tank plus adapter hose and have it refilled at a campground or propane center. If you go camping a lot it's worth it.

For backpacking & camping where I have to carry everything in my backpack I use a small, single burner, backpacking stove. There are many good ones to choose from. They are divided into two basic fuel types - liquid & canister fuel.

Liquid fuels can include white gas, auto gas, & kerosene. Some stoves only run on white gas while others are multi-fuel.

Canister gas is basically pressurized butane (isobutane or butane/propane mix) and comes in various size canisters, the larger ones generally being more economical.

Like the Coleman stoves, liquid fuels are cheaper, but canister gas is easier to use and generally has better heat control.

If you are going to just boil water for freeze dried meals there are several stoves on the market like the Jetboil or MSR Wind Boiler that excel at the task, but a more general purpose stove will let you do some gourmet cooking.

If you wish to really cook up some nice meals while hiking I would get one of the remote fueled stoves (with a gas line between the fuel and stove) - either liquid fuel, multi fuel, or canister gas, - because they are just better all around for actual cooking.

Like these:

MSR Whisperlite - a simple liquid fuel stove

Primus Omni-Fuel - a remotely fueled, multi fuel stove.

MSR Universal - a remotely fueled, multi fuel stove

MSR Wind Pro II - a remote canister stove
Optimus Vega - a remote canister stove

Multi-fuel stoves cost more than single fuel stoves (liquid or canister gas) but offer more flexibility.

If you are interested in getting the lightest stove you would want to go with a sit on top style canister stove, where the burner screws directly onto the canister.

MSR Pocket Rocket - a 'sit on top' or 'sot' canister stove

Snow Peak Giga Power - another sot stove

These  "SOT" stoves are cheaper & lighter but more prone to tipping and have other limitations for gourmet cooking.

 There are many good brands & options out there for backpacking stoves.

So - before you can start talking brand names you have to make some decisions as far as your needs / preferences regarding fuel type and stove design.

4:19 a.m. on December 18, 2014 (EST)
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For the backpacking portion, I would recommend a remote canister stove as trouthunter noted above. There are many good options for those. I will toss one more suggestion into the ring, and that is Fire-Maple. They are becoming a bit more widely available in the US now and they represent a fantastic value! Check amazon or do a search for people who sell them. They are remarkably compact and light, and so far in my experience with two of their stoves for the past year and a bit, they are also well built and reliable.

10:53 a.m. on December 20, 2014 (EST)
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If I had my life to live over again, I would buy an Optimus 111 and use it for everything.

2:50 p.m. on December 21, 2014 (EST)
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ppine said:

If I had my life to live over again, I would buy an Optimus 111 and use it for everything.

 At 1600 grams, it weighs more than my tent, stakes, cooking system, and sleeping mat combined.

That is a lot of weight to lug around for just a stove!

9:53 p.m. on December 23, 2014 (EST)
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@pine - my sense is that optimus stoves made a while ago (several years or more) are still a pretty good bet.  I suspect you could find a used optimus hiker + out there that's about as reliable (and heavy) as the 111 - they are basically the same stove.  i think their quality has gone downhill - i'm not sure i would buy a new optimus nova if i needed a new stove.  

11:01 p.m. on December 24, 2014 (EST)
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I'll look for a good used optimus 111. After so many years of using the svea 123, I like gasoline (colman fuel) stoves.

Many thank to all who contributed input.

11:15 p.m. on December 24, 2014 (EST)
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I collect stoves and have maybe 4 or 5 111's of differing models and a few pre-111's as well.  They are heavy, but I'm in it for the fun of it, just get me out in the woods.   A smaller option is the Optimus 8/8R or 99 models, smaller, but with smaller fuel tanks as well, slow to boil water.  If you can use a Svea 123/123R, these work about the same.  Canister top stoves like the Snowpeak GS-100 or MSR MicroRocket are very fast to boil water, simmer fair too.  I used the MR on my vacation last summer, wow, really fast.  The Caldera Cone set up is very simple for alcohol stove use, I use the modified Starlyte stove or Trail Designs 12-10 stove with it.  Very little fuel consumption using alcohol.


5:16 a.m. on December 25, 2014 (EST)
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One thing that often gets overlooked is how noisy a stove is. I like a (relatively)quiet stove, and in that category the Whisperlite and Windpro are good choices for liquid and gas fuels, respectively. They also have more spread out planes and regulate better than many of the small SOTs so they are better for general purpose cooking. Of course alcohol stoves are dead quiet, often with an invisible flame, and wood burners give a friendly crackle, but they also have various disadvantages.

12:41 a.m. on December 29, 2014 (EST)
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I have a couple of different stoves; not nearly as many as Duane, but different types. For car camping, which I don't do, I would get either a canister propane or butane stove, like a Coleman or similar stove or perhaps a kerosene Primus, which are easy to use. The stoves Duane mentions are old school stoves that are decades old designs that are extremely reliable. The Svea 123  with the Sigg Tourist cook kit is totally old school, but a real classic.

Stay away from stoves for climbers, like the MSR XGK (which I have)-they don't simmer well, can be finicky and are expensive. Unless you are traveling overseas, you don't need really need a multi-fuel stove, since propane, butane, kerosene or white gas (Coleman fuel) is available at most outdoor or sporting goods stores. BTW, white gas is not unleaded auto gas-anyone who tells you that is wrong.

If you have an REi or similar store nearby, go check them out. If you are lucky to find a salesperson who knows their stuff, that will help, but before you go, check out sites like REI's that have basic tutorials about choosing stoves.

As far as noise, my XGK sounds like a jet engine because that is basically what it is, a tiny jet engine.

If you are going to do some real cooking, get yourself a stove with sturdy pot supports to hold a skillet or bigger pot. Some of the stoves where the stove is screwed onto a canister may be tippy or just not that sturdy (got one of those too-Primus Micron, which I don't recommend for that reason).

Also, I would stay away from the JetBoil or similar stoves if you want versatility-they use a fixed pot that limits your options. I know lots of people love them, but I'm not one of them. Doesn't mean they aren't well made, just not for me.

10:24 p.m. on January 3, 2015 (EST)
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What Mike said:

#1 for the the MSR Universal.

->VERY stable

-> inverted canister works to -10 F. 

-> canister remote from burner is safer when using a wind screen around the burner

-> it can be used for backpacking, especially in colder weather

10:50 a.m. on January 4, 2015 (EST)
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Tom D said:

..... Unless you are traveling overseas, you don't need really need a multi-fuel stove, since propane, butane, kerosene or white gas (Coleman fuel) is available at most outdoor or sporting goods stores. BTW, white gas is not unleaded auto gas-anyone who tells you that is wrong.

 A slight clarification, since Tom mentioned "traveling overseas" and "white gas" in the same sentence - White gas in the US and Canada is, as Tom said, NOT unleaded auto gas. It is Coleman fuel (or generic versions of Coleman fuel) and easily available. Chemically it is naphtha. However, in other parts of the world, the term "white gas" is used to mean unleaded automobile fuel. There are multifuel stoves that will burn auto gas (and aviation gas) quite well. EXCEPT that auto gas is quite volatile. If you get leaded auto gas (pretty rare anymore), you will get lead in the fumes - not very healthy. Unleaded auto gas has a lot of other additives that are unhealthy to breathe. So in general, it is a good idea to avoid using automotive fuel, even if the stove will burn it, no matter where in the world you are. Coleman is about the only brand around that still makes a dual fuel stove for naphtha (Coleman fuel or white gas in the US sense) and automobile gasoline. In a lot of countries, white gas is hard to come buy, so a multifuel stove may be useful IF you are planning to travel a lot (be aware of airline regulations with respect to stoves and fuel containers).

The MSR Whisperlite Universal is a pretty good choice for an international multifuel stove, since it can burn both liquid and compressed gas fuels. The basic Whisperlite is just fine if you are staying in North America and a lot cheaper than the Universal version.

12:56 p.m. on January 4, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks Bill for clarifying the terms. In NZ I ran out of fuel for my XGK and bought something called "methylated spirits"at a small gas station. I had no idea what it was. Turned out it was some kind of alcohol with purple coloring added to it. It worked but wasn't very efficient.

6:24 p.m. on January 7, 2015 (EST)
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In general you have received some good advice, here:

Car camping
Go with a suit case stove, preferably propane, preferably using an adaptor kit that lets you tap into a refillable cylinder.

Go with a canister stove for ease of use.  You have a requirement, however, others may have missed (except Big Red).  You imply you may be cooking items that require more than boiling water.  In that case choose a canister stove with a relatively large burner head, so the heat is more evenly distributed over the pot surface.  It also helps if the stove has a wide platform for the pot to minimize accidental spills.  The MSR WindPro is one stove with these features; there are others, too.


9:02 p.m. on January 11, 2015 (EST)
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I forgot to add: It uses canister AND white gas. And it simmers very well with white gas, something many white gas stoves do not do.

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