Camping (backacking) stoves

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors!' started by gorgehiker, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Hello all,

    With the season just about upon us, I'm looking for a new lighter weight backpacking stove. I have 2 jet boils that are great for myself maybe even the wife. Now we have a hungry three year old to take along with us and that's just a great reason to buy more new stuff!!!! Got the pots and pans already. Have had great luck with the MSR stuff. Found a Whisperlight International model on craigslist with everything for $60!!! Even if it needs rebuilt its still cheaper then the $100 at rei, yes I just got my dividend!!! So have any of you had experience with this stove at colder temps and what not?? Please suggest away!!!

  2. I have a non-International Whisperlite, and it's a great stove--pretty bombproof, and field-maintainable (though there a lot of small parts to get lost). The best thing about any white gas stove compared to a canister is that there's no degradation of performance in extreme cold. The downside is that, unless you're going to be out for more than a week or more, a canister stove is overall the lighter option (this last is from a friend who owns a Whisperlite and did the calculations). There's also the question of what to do with all those "not full, but don't know how empty they are" canisters that will collect after various trips.

    If you're a true cooking kind of guy, the Whisperlite is a bit difficult to get to work on anything less than full. Not a problem if you're a freeze dried or boil-in-bag kind of cook, but if you try to simmer with a Whisperlite, you're gonna get mad pretty quickly--and stuff's gonna get burned on to the bottom of your pots. If you decide on a used stove, I'd recommend springing for the (hugely overpriced) MSR rebuild kit and do an overhaul before your first trip. There's something that you can use that 20% off coupon from REI for!

    Since I'm mostly a solo or 2 person backpacker, I've been considering getting a Soto Microregulator canister stove (OD-1R, link: It seems to adress the problems with high altitude/low temp that most canister stoves have. You can check them out at your local REI. Here's a youtube video for you (If I can figure out how to imbed the's my first try, so here's hoping...)

    Also, check out and for other opinions and options.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2017
  3. Gruder

    Gruder Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    I've had great service out of my whisperlight for several years now. Just wish I got to use it more often! I haven't had any concerns the couple of times I've used the stove in sub-freezing conditions.
  4. M80

    M80 Contributor

    I have a whisperlite international and have been happy with it, but if I was buying a stove now I would buy the whisperlite universal, because it is compatible with cannister fuel.
  5. I was in the business for 13 years and the Whisperlite International is a fantastic stove. The Dragonfly will burn hotter but a simple heat exchange and/or a heat reflector will really enhance the performance. I have several stoves, believe it or not, and the Whisperlite is still my favorite.
  6. Thanks for the info guys!!! Talking with the wife tonight she likes when I actually cook instead of bag boil I went back to and started poking around the wife kinda like the superfly. It looks to be more stable. Any other stoves I should be looking at, like I said we have two jet boils and the wife's got a msr, neither of us can think of the model off the top of the head.....
  7. Personally, I've always hated the cartridge burners. They don't perform as well as liquid fuel stoves in cold weather and can be top heavy when the pot is sitting on the stove (which is in turn on top of fuel canister). yes, they are small and lightweight but it's just not one of the corners I like to cut. I take my food seriously when I'm camping!

    Another favorite of mine - although it's a tad bulky and heavy - is the Primus Himalaya multi-fuel stove. It burns both liquid fuels and/or a cartridge. I think it's called the Omni Stove now.
  8. Another vote for the Whisperlite.
  9. I have many backpacking stoves. I have a modified MSR Whisperlite with an ultralight kit. It replaced the huge legs and the center tube and knocked about half the weight off. It, to me, is a strictly winter backpacking stove like if I have to melt snow for water. I've also used canister stoves - I have a Ti SnowPeak that I used for a while.

    Also, keep in mind this perspective is coming from hiking for one, me. My go to backpacking stove for the last 10 years is a homemade alcohol burner made using Pepsi cans. It is somewhat similar to this one but that is not it. I would almost rather have each of you carry one and have multiple stoves going to make food for all 3 of you. I think cooking for 3 you would eat up alot of canister fuel and I grew to hate lugging canisters around let alone more than one. The Whisperlite styles are just plain heavy. That big, aluminum fuel tank never gets any lighter in your pack.

    All that said, it completely depends on your meal style. Alcohol is not an efficient system if you want to get fancy with your meals. My meals are assembled at home from dehydrated ingredients or cooked directly from things I bring (like a lentil soup). All I need to do is boil 1-3 cups of water to rehydrate my meal in a cozy. This can easily be transferred up to more than one person. I would think you and your wife could each carry different meals, make both of them and have enough to share with your son. Book suggestions include the Lipsmackin Backpacking books and the AT Food Planner Cookbook.
  10. I thru-hiked the AT in 07. I took an Optimus Nova the whole way. Do yourself a favor and buy one. They are light and bomb-proof. Its the last stove you'll ever need to buy. They are a little pricey compared to MSR's stuff, but well worth the $ in my opinion...
  11. Great post. Although I own a Whisperlite, and used it for 10 years, I now use an alcohol stove. I also use Esbet tablets, and also love the Lipsmacking Backpacking book (Vegetarian edition).
  12. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    I normally cook over a fire, but the place where I am going at Easter, that may not be an option. When I am by myself my food is (if not caught locally) usually soup, beans, boil in a bag.. stuff that can just throw in a mess tin and warmed up.

    I am thinking I want a Trangia alcohol stove as a backup to my fire, but I'm going to try and make a beer can version this week and test it. The ones I've seen made on the net look like they work well enough if you make a windbreak as well. And the price suits me.
  13. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    Well that little project was a total success. Works great! Now all I have to make is a pot holder/ wind break and we are in business.

    All it cost me was a couple of pints of beer and some time. Weighs nothing, fits in my mess kit. Result!

  14. Gruder

    Gruder Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Looks great, David!
  15. Looks great! You set your pot directly on the stove and the ports on the side provide the flame. Don't use the stove on composite picnic tables and the like as they get a bit hot and can melt them. The stoves cool down quickly though when finished. My style is similar but my ports are regular hole punched spots around down at the base, maybe a half inch up. Make a windscreen out of heavy duty foil doubled over and you will have a pot and screen combo that weighs about 15 grams. Pretty nice.

    Edit to add: I use the Stabil-type bottles to carry my alcohol but you could also use a plastic soda bottle if you don't want to measure. Brasslite sells them here. Brasslite also makes a nice alcohol stove but the cost is quite a bit higher than a few cans and some time. An 8 oz bottle weighs about 1 oz (~30 grams) and you need maybe a half to 1 oz of alcohol to bring 2 cups of water to a boil (it really depends on your stove design and its efficiency). The 8 oz works out to say 8-12 stove uses or you could opt for the 16 oz if you will be out longer. Alcohol is readily available from anything close to civilization - gas stations (Heet in the yellow bottle) or a hardware store (denatured alcohol) or a party-type store (Everclear). This page from Zenstoves runs down the major classes and types of alcohol stoves. Good primer.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  16. I'll be the dissenter. When I got my Jetboil when they first came out, I was in heaven. It's in my pack all the time, it's compact, it's ergonomic, stable...I can't think of anything better for one or two people.
    I have a box in the closet with all the whispers and primus and whatnot. It might not be the most super lightest thing, but with the skillet and the kit I've just never had an issue, down to freezing temps.
    It's the only stove I feel good about in the tent in rain because it wont come apart. Try that with an MSR.
    Only caveat is if you go where it's REALLY cold you will have issues.
  17. i did 3 months camping when i was 20 and used a hexamine stove there brilliant but mainly id just make a fire.
  18. Legion

    Legion Moderator Emeritus

    That is what I've always done, but the alcohol burner is cleaner to use. The hexi tablets make a mess of everything, and they are poisonous, so you have to be a bit careful of trapping the fumes.
  19. true ther pretty noxious good for bowling a tin of water for a nice cup of tea tho cant beat a cuppa under the stars no1 else around lying in a hammock priceless.
  20. I have my good ol` trusted Trangia with the alcohol burner.

    Maybe not the lightest or fastest outthere but definitely nostalgic!

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