Do I Need a Stove While Backpacking?

Cooking your meals outdoors is one of the core experiences of any backpacking trip. Backpackers have many solutions and strategies when it comes to cooking on the trail, but one common item that you’ll see on packing lists is a camp stove. But is this piece of equipment really necessary, or is it just a luxury?

Camping stoves are useful for cooking food outdoors, sanitizing water in unsafe areas, and serving as a heat source on cold days. Backpackers may choose to bring fire-starting supplies as a substitute, but a camping stove is reliable and serves many functions.

People have been cooking outdoors long before the camp stove came along, but it’s certainly a useful invention! It’s a good idea to bring one if you can afford a bit of extra weight. There are many uses for this piece of equipment and lots of high-quality models to choose from. So let’s see what a camping stove can add to your next backpacking trip!

Stove Functions

Stoves are a modern substitute for campfires and they are becoming increasingly popular as a result. Campfires are certainly iconic staples of the outdoor experience, but sometimes they’re just not practical (or even legal!). Many states will implement campfire bans during certain times of the year, so it’s good to have a backup plan if you’ll be backpacking in an area like this.

Camping stoves have evolved quite a bit since their creation and are now compact, efficient, and easy to carry around. Obviously, their main purpose is to cook food on the trail, but they have several other uses as well.

Camp stoves can be used to sanitize water that is found on the trail, heat up drinks, and provide a heat source for cold travelers. If you don’t have time, energy, or supplies to get a campfire started, huddling around a camping stove can be just as effective.

Stoves are also useful because they will work regardless of the surrounding temperature and weather conditions. Campfires require dry conditions and a good amount of time and effort before they produce results. On the other hand, a camping stove will be ready within minutes and uses fuel that is not affected by cold or wet conditions.

True traditionalists might still prefer to bring fire-starting supplies instead of a camp stove, but in most cases, this is the more convenient option. If you hike quite a bit (and especially if you travel through a variety of climates) a camp stove is a wonderful companion that will work reliably no matter what.

Recommended Stoves for Backpacking

If you’re interested in getting a stove for the trail, there are a few things you need to consider. First of all, weight. Stoves are usually made of metal, so they will inevitably add a few pounds to your load, especially once you factor in their fuel. Plan out your gear ahead of time and make sure you account for the extra space and weight that will be needed to add a stove and its fuel.

Price is another good thing to keep in mind. It may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but you’ll want to invest in a good product, especially if you plan on using it frequently. Some higher-end stoves can cost a couple hundred collars, so don’t be surprised if you run into prices like that.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure you select a reliable stove. You’ll be counting on this item for warmth and food, so it needs to be able to perform when you need it. Below are a couple of stoves that we can wholeheartedly recommend for your next backpacking trip.

Jetboil Flash: Top Overall Option

The Jetboil Flash is one of the highest-rated stoves on the market and it’s easy to see why! It weighs in at a manageable 0.82 lbs. and it’s compatible with a variety of other Jetboil accessories. You can attach this stove to a skillet, FluxRing cooking pot, a coffee press, and many others. One of its biggest selling points is its speed. The Jetboil Flash lives up to its name and advertises that it can boil water in 100 seconds. You won’t need to wait long for it to heat up!

BRS-300T: Best Ultra Light Option

If space is extra tight, you may be looking to purchase a super lightweight stove. In that case, the BRS-300T is your best bet! They don’t come much lighter than this because this stove weighs in at one 0.06 lbs. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to this product, but it will get the job done. It can boil water in about 3 minutes and produces a nice, steady flame. You’ll hardly know this stove is even in your gear because of how small and light it is, but you’ll be glad you brought it along.

Easy Foods to Cook with a Camping Stove

Over the years, backpackers and campers have found that you can cook pretty much anything you want outdoors, as long as you have the ingredients and tools to make it happen. Stoves bring a level of convenience that many people appreciate for quick and easy meals. If you just got a camp stove and are looking for some easy trail meals, consider some of the following staples:

  • Oatmeal
  • Ramen noodles
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Chicken and rice
  • Soup
  • Chili/ beans
  • Pasta
  • Fried rice

These will keep you warm and full on the trail, but you can go as simple or as complex as you want!

Final Thoughts

Campfires are a classic way to warm up and cook food, but overall a camp stove is much more reliable and easier to get going. As long as you’re willing to compromise and add a few extra pounds to your backpack, a camp stove will serve as a reliable piece of equipment. You’ll be able to get warmer faster and enjoy a steady heat source that is perfect for making hot drinks and meals.

Related Content

Stoves are important pieces of equipment for anyone who wants to enjoy a nice hot meal on the trail. Staying warm is essential to safe backpacking and there are several ways to do this. Check out our tips for how to stay warm while backpacking.

You gotta eat, even when camping in nature. Yet without a stove, your options are limited. Or are they? Portable camping stoves let you enjoy hot, semi-homecooked meals so you have the nutrition and energy to hike, climb, and play with aplomb. What are the best portable camping stoves?

The stoves we suggested above will make great additions to your next backpacking trip, but getting all the right gear is essential. If you’re looking for a list of essentials, check out our list of recommended backpacking gear. It has all been personally tested and we can stand by anything on that list!

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