Trying to find the best camping stove is a very personal and subjective venture. The types and difficulties of your hikes, and at what level you’d like to subsist—whether you’d like to stick to the basics or have all the luxuries of home—all dictate different hiking stove needs, and are individual to each hiker. The best camping stove will be the one that you use most often on the trips that you go on personally. There are many different types of camping stoves, although there are usually two main categories of stoves: basecamp and portable. Both basecamp and portable stoves are powered by canister or liquid-fuel.
Basecamp stoves, both liquid fuel and canister, have two or three burners, and are rather bulky. Yet, this is a hiking stove that can really get the job done. For your bigger or more involved meals, this type of stove will be perfect, as it can almost recreate your kitchen’s oven and its capacity for heating. There is a higher heat output in these stoves, and larger pots can be used as well. Canister stoves will be a bit bulkier than smaller liquid-fueled ones, but neither of these hiking stoves are very versatile or lightweight. If you are needing to carry the stove around for any distance, for example on a backpacking or kayaking trip, you are probably going to need a portable hiking stove.
Portable hiking stoves are much more cost-efficient than your basecamp stoves, yet still do the job. These stoves are lightweight, can travel all over, and the liquid-fueled types burn many different types of fuel, which may be perfect for your hiking needs. However, you may have some difficulties with your stove, as it may need priming, and might flare up occasionally. Additionally, there is a noise factor, which also takes some getting used to, as well as a significant amount of pollution. These types of hiking stoves do pollute water, so make sure to be very careful if you are near water. Air travel is also difficult with these types of stoves, as they need to be spotlessly cleaned before entering onto an airplane. Portable canister stoves are much smaller and more convenient, easily portable, and there are no issues with priming or flare-ups. However, all of these conveniences are made up for in disadvantages, as the fuel is more expensive and less available in stores. Additionally, the performance is lacking in colder weather, which is something that the liquid-fueled type of stove does have.
For Your Needs
When setting out to buy a new camping or hiking stove, spend some time thinking about what exactly your needs are. Are you an international hiker that needs something suitable for air travel? Do you travel to your camping spot by car, canoe, or kayak? How big or small would you like your stove, and what kinds of meals do you plan on cooking? These questions are very important to think about when choosing your stove, and it might be best to buy an alternate stove, just in case, for your additional camping and hiking needs.