Cooking on a stove camping in Alaska wearing Alpine Fit hat and base layers

With an assortment of options, the stove you choose should match the activity you are participating in. Most people will need several different types to accommodate various scenarios. Variables to consider are the length of your trip, weight restrictions, and fuel type. Also consider flight restrictions on certain fuels, weather such as wind and temperature, ease of use and what you like to cook.

Below I sort my preferences by size of stove and what trips go with each unit:

MSR Pocket Rocket 

I have traveled extensively with this stove. It is the lightest and now has a newer version with slight improvements on the original. It packs small, weighs next to nothing and is reliable because of its simplicity. It uses the usual compressed gas canister. Get the no-frills option but don’t forget to get a base-holder to stabilize the unit since a pot full of water can be a little tippy. Ultimately this stove spends a lot of time as a backup stove in case the primary goes bust.

Best use is when weight is a primary concern and wind is not. Remember that the compressed gas is not allowed on commercial flights at all. Float planes will usually allow them if they are removed from the pack and stored in the float during flight. Best to rely on boiling water and that’s about it; however, we do have experience making pancakes and even brownies! 

Jet Boil 

Everybody’s favorite stove brand these days. And I get it, it’s my primary stove. It is efficient, stable and practical. I love that it has some built-in wind protection although I do hunker behind a tree or rock much of the time. Most major stove brands have something similar now. Even more than the Pocket Rocket this is for lightweight, boil-only, simple rehydration. The integrated pots now come in a variety of sizes. You can buy an adapter to use regular pots on the stove unit but I rarely have a Jet Boil plus another pot. Also, the auto start often breaks so make sure to bring your lighter

Best on any camping trip where you rely exclusively on boiled water to rehydrate your meals. Same considerations apply wrt compressed gas.

MSR WhisperLite

For the intrepid explorer that wants more options in fuel type and less restrictions on planes. The liquid fuel canister is not compressed, it simmers water and the low-profile is more stable. As the most versatile of the stoves mentioned here, it is a solid option for most. The only caution is the complexity; the fuel canister pump sometimes needs cleaning and the fuel line on the stove can get clogged. Long-haulers often bring a maintenance kit. Before you go make sure you know how to service this stove and know how to use the pump, they can both be a little finicky.

Best for foodies on packed weight restriction and for those going somewhere that compressed gas is not allowed. 

Coleman 2-burner

Really only useful for car camping or a cabin trip. There are many options, some that come with tables etc. Jeb Boil has a new clam shell one that we used on a sailing trip and it was fun. If weight and space are no object, this is the stove for you. These still can be finicky at times but most will become familiar to you with time.

There are many stoves to choose from that will fit your niche needs. Some do better in extreme cold. Some are a little heavier but use compressed gas which is more convenient. Most of them have extra attachments that can address specific needs. However, if you have these 4 stoves you probably won’t need anything else. And when all else fails you can switch to cold soaks. :p Happy cooking!

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