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Snow Peak LiteMax (BP Photo Dept.)
3 1/8-by-2 3/8 inches when packed
This lightest of lightweights–made from titanium–is also extremely versatile: It will fast-boil a liter of water or cook a pancake to golden-brown perfection. The 1.5-inch-long wire flame adjuster is easy to reach even under large pots. Freezing temperatures? No problem. On a 40°F Colorado morning, a tester packed a 1.8-liter pot with snow and the LiteMax melted it–then brought the resulting water to a boil–in less than 12 minutes, all on a near-empty canister. When dinner’s done, the stove’s large and stable (3.5 inches across) pot supports fold down tiny. “You could practically swallow this stove,” remarked one tester after a few winter trips to Blue Hill Reservation in Massachusetts. Drawbacks: TLC is required to avoid cross-threading, which can lead to fuel leakage. And the pot supports don’t lock: If the stove tips over in just the wrong way, the loosely riveted supports swivel closed (let them cool before righting).
Criteria less than 6 ounces; less than $65
Test numbers 120 meals cooked; 50 gallons of water boiled; temps 0° to 70°F; winds up to 60 mph
Ratings scale 5 = Perfect gear, 1 = Save your money (Overall rating is not an average of other scores.)