Three Things to Think About When Buying a Lightweight Stove for Camping

Jetboil and other backpack stove manufacturers have made wilderness food and drink prep lightning-fast. Here’s a look at three types.

lit camping tent under tree at night
Doesn't this look like a great place to have fresh-brewed coffee?Bobby Burch/Unsplash

When you wake up outdoors, with only a tent wall separating you from the wilds, a cup of coffee becomes more than a morning eye-opener. Holding that cozy-warm cup of java with both hands, letting the deliciously aromatic steam rise up into your cold face as birds begin singing and the sun lights up the tree canopy above you, is practically a holy moment. You take a sip and feel capable and energized, ready to take on anything the day can throw you.

Later, a hot cup of soup at lunchtime, or a warm meal eaten in front of a campfire as the sun sets, gives you both the physical strength and mental fortitude to push deeper into the wilderness.

That’s why lightweight, compact backpack stoves powered by iso-butane/propane canisters are so popular. Often referred to as Jetboil stoves (a brand name), different backpack stoves offer various capabilities and features. Here’s how to choose the best one for your style of backpacking and what you’ll be heating up on your stove.

The Superfast Boiler

Jetboil cooking system
This handy stove will make you coffee or tea, lunchtime soup, or any food that requires boiling water or cooking on high heat, in two minutes.Amazon

An integrated backpack stove, meaning that the cooking vessel connects to the stove itself, will heat up your food or drink super-quickly because the cup-shaped vessel is customized to the stove top and maximizes heat transfer and thus cooking speed. The flame is protected from the wind, so heating is consistent.

The Any-Pot Simmerer

Jetboil any pot simmerer
This tiny folding canister stove weighs just 2.6 ounces.Amazon

A stove that has a pot support instead of an integrated vessel, along with a fuel regulator, means that you can cook foods on high or low heat, and in whatever pot or pan you bring along. If you plan on cooking foods that require a minimal amount of heat for a longer period of time, but is also capable of boiling water very quickly, this is the type of stove for you.

The Wilderness Coffee Press

Jetboil flash javakit
This stove comes with a built-in french press that stows inside the cup.Amazon

One downside of fast-boiling backpack stoves is that coffee aficionados must either suffer instant coffee or carry along a separate coffee press. A stove that comes with a coffee press customized to fit inside the cooking vessel means you can make meals as well as a perfectly prepare a cup of gourmet coffee, even if you're 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks—or paved road.