Buying A Better Stove

After a long, hard day, nothing is more disappointing than a stove that refuses to fire. Follow these 10 essentials for foolproof stove features and techniques.

  1. Search for stability. If your cook pot is larger than 2 liters (or 2 quarts) or you often cook on uneven surfaces, buy a stove with wide pot supports and legs that provide a stable base.
  2. Consider fuel placement. To use one of the popular backpacking ovens with your stove, opt for a stove with a remote fuel source—not one that sits atop the canister or tank—so the fuel is not subjected to the heat that builds up under the oven.
  3. Choose convenience. If you camp only in temperatures above freezing, choose a canister stove for maximum flame adjustability, convenience, and ease of use.
  4. Assess fuel availability. When you travel by plane to your backpacking destinations, you have to buy fuel there or ship canister fuels separately. Some types are hard to find at local gear stores, but white gas is widely available in North America.
  5. Lose some weight. Long-distance backpackers should consider a liquid-fuel stove because of the fuel’s weight savings and storage flexibility.
  6. Invest in versatility. Overseas travelers should invest in a multifuel stove that burns kerosene and auto gas.
  7. Think cold. If you cook in freezing temperatures, get a liquid-fuel stove, preferably one with controls that are easily manipulated while wearing gloves or mittens.
  8. Dare to repair. If your stove is field repairable, buy a repair kit and keep it with the stove. Practice by taking your stove apart at home.
  9. Block the wind. If your stove doesn’t come with a windscreen, buy one.
  10. Get a license. If you cook on snow, get a base that fits your stove, or use an old license plate.