Lightweight camping stoves

During a recent ice storm/power outage, my older canister backpacking stove finally quit and it is time to replace. Camping with lower volume kayaks, I want a compact one. My kayak camping friends seem to own either the Jet Boil or MSR Pocket Rocket, neither of which appeal to me. The Pocket Rocket does not excel in windy conditions, which kayak campsites often are. Looks tippy as well for the MSR pot set I own.

My main criteria is a canister stove (don’t winter camp so cold not an issue) and where the canister brand is not difficult to find.

MSR Wind Pro
I have a Wind Pro by MSR. Very compact, and it has a wind block included. Great piece of equipment.

I’d say go Jetboil. Since it heats so quickly, you use less fuel, meaning packing less. It simmers well too, especially if you use the GCS or the Helios (which I use). The GCS is a larger, 1.5L pot, and the Helios is a remote canister stove - not connected at the bottom of the burner like the others. I find they all burn really well, heat really well, block wind really well, and everything nests in the cook pot. The PCS is that mug-looking one, and if you’re out solo all the time, that and a long spoon will be all the kitchen kit you’ll need, other than food. I cook full meals and usually for 2-3 people, so I went with the larger pot…I’m also out in the winter, so I went with the Helios.

What’s wrong with Jetboil in winter?
You mentioned using the Helios because you camp in the winter a lot. Is the Helios the one where the canister is upside down? I thought the Jetboil was supposed to work fairly well in cold conditins because of the heat exchanger – or whatever they call it. I’m thinking of buying one with “Christmas money” for cool weather kayaking or even a quick hot cocoa/hot cider break while cross country skiing.

Pocket Rocket great
I have had a Pocket Rockt for two or three years now. If you don’t plan to camp in cooler weather, it’s fine. It is particularly handy if you have to fly somewhere on a trip, then camp. Just bring the stove and buy a canister at your destination. As for the wind and stability issue: I have a compact folding windscreen that I got at Campmore (I think) the pretty well takes care of that. MSR also makes a little platform thing (that doubles as a cutting board) with ridges cut into it for the canister. That helps with the stability issue, but, yes, if you are using a larger pot and/or the stove isn’t on a real level surface, you need to be careful.

Light Stoves

– Last Updated: Dec-26-08 2:27 PM EST –

We use fire to cook, but bring along a Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight --16,400 BTU's -- on kayaking trips as a back-up or for a quick drink of hot tea. We use an MSR Superfly -- 10,000 BTU's in the winter. Though it is larger and heavier it can attach to almost any canister made. We have a Camping Gaz lantern, which we use in winter, so the Superfly allows us to bring just one canister for an overnight trip.

See Back Packing Light for a comparison of lightweight stoves.

The combi stoves/pots from Jetboil and MSR lack the versatility of using on a fire or small wood burning stove because of all the plastic incorporated into their construction. They are also potentially dangerous when used inside a tent because of their greater carbon dioxide emissions. BPL has a great review of the emissions of stoves on their site as well.

regrettably you need a premium
membership to read the linked reviews.

The Windpro is fine
Brunton canisters last a lot longer for the same quantity than the MSR ones.

But you cannot use an oversized pot on the Windpro that is much wider than the base (about an inch) and using a grooved pot is a very good idea.

Otherwise the stove is on the tippy side… because of the way the hose runs up one leg it throws it off balance.

The windscreen IMO is good for summer only. I made a heavier more stable one out of steel for real wind. (The Coughlans make me laugh…they tip over too easily and the little stakes in the ends are for what? Your fire should not be on organics. They would be far better if they had fold under feet.)

I think the piece of s that MSR included is more of a heate reflector.

make yer own…
tons of info on the net for making your own. I made one out of a soda pop can and it works like a champ…if it’s lightweight you want, it can’t be beat! Try “” for starters.

Iso-propane stoves
If you want more than hot water, if you want to cook and don’t just want to eat food out of a pouch, you need a stove (or campfire, or dutch oven). There are no end of stoves out there that will take an iso-propane fuel canister (schrader valve, any brand). I have this and it’s now on sale:

More important is what you do with it. My favorite gadget is the Outback Oven. For grown up meals:

With a cookbook:

And a youtube video showing how to use it:

depends on what your cooking too
If your wanting to heat water for cocoa, coffee, tea, and do a lot of freezer bag type cooking… this is how I cook. I use either a jetboil or an alcohol can stove. I’ve got one called the Caldera that I got from It incorporates your pot into the windshield and the alcohol stove is under the pot. No wind gets to the stove. All your stove gear, stove, pot, windshield, pot holder, cozys and fuel are inside a container that also comes with the caldera system. I added matches and a little scrubbing pad to clean with (because sometimes I do cook something simple). It’s great because everything is in one light weight container. I do carry extra containers of fuel (depends on how long the trip is).

you dont need an OO
too much gadgetry…use any potset and take the hood and riser, that is the only piece of my OO I now use.

It ought to be possible to make your own hood too for the DIY.

That OO drove me nuts…that extra pan was the one thing too much for my pack… (minimalist…it has to fit on one pack for three days…one pack and a 30 l barrel for two weeks)

Thats how I learned the OO is a gadget…parts if it are good and part unnecessary.

I bought an off-brand stove on EBay for around $30 called the “Moonwalker” which works excellent – folds into a small storage case, opens up to about 6" wide and is stable enough for a 8"-10" pot/pan, uses standard MSR Snow-Peak etc. fuel canisters, and even has a built-in igniter. This would be a great choice for using your own pots, and you can make or buy an inexpensive windscreen that would fit inside your pot.

I also have a Trangia alcohol stove/cookset which I like for the nesting design of the windscreen & pots as well as ease of refueling.

Anyone use the Reactor?
While we’re on the subject of stoves: Has anyone out there used the Reactor … apparently MSR’s answer to the Jetboil? I’ve heard it works better in wind than the Jetboil … but it costs about 50 percent more.

winter and canister stoves
The way I understand it, is that at lower temperatures, the butane/propane mixture is less efficient to ignite as a gas. the upside down canister feeds liquid through the lines, where it is vaporized by the heat from the flame, and ends up being more efficient. Not a comment on Jetboil, just on canister stoves in general. One thing you can do is stuff a canister into your coat and let your body heat warm it up, but it seems like work to me.

Reactor vs. Eta