Our Guide to Stoves

Portable stove

Our mission is to get people outdoors. Since most people aren't enthusiasts who venture outside regularly, you can buy or rent stoves. Specifically, about our stove rentals:

  • We rent stoves that are higher end than those rented elsewhere, but still offer competitive pricing
  • We offer a rent-to-buy program so you don't have to worry about losing money from renting
  • Our self-service allows you to hire stoves whenever is convenient for you

Core function: Think about what you'd want at the end of a long day hiking in the sun, and then think about how you'd want to prepare it. Remember, while cooking on a campfire is a great joy of the outdoor experience, campfires may not be permissible given the worsening wildfires along the West Coast. Once you've determined whether or not you need a stove, review our companion guide on cookware.

Do you really need it?

Food is essential, but there are many ways to plan food that don't require this (e.g., energy bars or non-perishable foods). You can also try renting stoves of various types to see what works best for you .

For more info, read our 'what you really need' protip

What we carry

Type or Style Regular, kitchen-like stove Canister stove
S
T
O
V
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Model CampChef Everest portable stove MSR Pocket Rocket canister stove
CampChef Everest MSR Pocket Rocket 2

Buy

MSRP with tax

$130 $55
Rent $10+ $6+
Online rental Catalog name Portable stove
Portable stove propane (rent)
Pocket stove
Pocket stove propane (buy)
Weight 12lbs
5.4kg
2.6oz
70g
Carry size & notes Hiking backpacks at least 50L (also has built-in handle) Fits in a pocket
F
U
E
L
Model Propane Isobutane-propane
Little Kampers brand propane** MSR brand isobutane-propane mix
Pricing & weight $14 for 16oz/ 473mL*
You should return, these are refillable but not at home
$7 for 4oz/ 118mL*
$8 for 8oz/ 237mL*
You can keep or return
How it attaches Via a regulator arm or hose into the stove Stove screws directly on top
Portable stove set-up Pocket stove set-up
How long does 1 fuel last It depends on elevation, how high the flame is turned up, and whether or not you're using both burners (for regular stoves). Below are guidelines only!
1lb size = ~1 hour
For 2-3 day camping trip making 1 easy breakfast (boil water for oatmeal or coffee) & 1 dinner per day
8oz size ~40-60min
Mostly used to boil water for drinks or backpacking meals. Roughly good for 2 people for 4 days (20-25 boils of water)

*We also offer a 50% credit code if you decide to take partially used cans (when available). For example:

  • For Portable stove propane (rent), you can rent a regular 1lb canister for the $14 price above, OR you can take 2-3 bottles that are each partially filled but have at least 1lb gas in total (usually we give you a little more) for only $7.
  • For Pocket stove propane (buy), you can buy a regular 8oz canister for $8, OR you can take 2 bottles that are each partially filled but have at least 8oz gas in total (usually we give a little bit more), for only $4

**We highly recommend this model as its refillable (commercially), which cuts down on the propane canister waste problem. Because it's refillable, the gas is much cheaper than single-use cans as well, up to a 50% discount! If you combine it with our partially used offer above, you're saving up to 75%!

General Notes
  • We choose what we carry based on extensive research on what's the best value to our customers (e.g., price given performance & durability features) across all the top brands. We specifically do not carry every brand & model; for details on why we do/don't carry certain items in the following What To Use & How To Choose section
  • Buy prices a grayed out box indicates we don't sell it (we may only rent stoves of this model)
  • Rent prices are the starting prices; enter trip dates on our Catalog to get exact prices (based on total trip length, not per day!). We also don't charge sales tax, an automatic savings of almost 10%!

When you hire stoves online, you can select from available options or we'll pick out something for you. You can also write-in any preferences on the last page of checkout. This section describes the majority of our models & options, but sometimes we carry others.


What to use & how to choose

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the hype of something new (over-spending often happens on features). Our guide focuses on the fundamental factors you should always keep in mind (thus, this short list is similar across all items). Then only at the end do we have some questions to get you thinking about other minor features. Also take advantage of renting stoves to try out what works for you!

We highly recommend reviewing Type or Style first, where we review what you can use to address the Core function--a regular item you have at home may work! The other factors are secondary & depend strongly on the Type or Style you've picked; in fact, for other factors data charts are generally only for a specific Type or Style that we carry (e.g., as a gear shop, would be outdoor-specific products).

We've organized the most commonly used items people use to address the Core function below, with example images, characteristics, features, etc.

Cooking technique Using hot coals or a campfire Using a grill (standalone only)* Using a portable stove
Regular stove (like a portable kitchen stove) Wood burning stove Solar stove Liquid fuel stove Canister stove Alcohol stove Tablet stove
Example images Campfire Portable grill Portable stove Wood burning stove Solar stove Liquid fuel stove Canister stove Alcohol stove Tablet stove
Can you use multiple pieces of cookware at once?
How many burners do you get?
N/A Maybe
Could have a layout that allows multiple cookware to be used (e.g., double burner)
Do you have to bring it yourself? Some campsites have a grill
General fuel sources
Check manufacturer's instructions for your model, important consideration that affects total price, weight & size, and availability
Wood or coals Coals or gas (propane) Gas** Wood Sunlight (may work when overcast) White gas (actually a liquid), kerosene Gas** Alcohol Solid fuel tablets (hexamine)
Will this need specific cookware? And why?
Ideal cookware has to tolerate directly sitting on hot coals or in a flame
N/A
Cookware is integrated with the stove

Cookware needs to be smaller since the stove top surface is smaller (a heavy, hot pot can tip over!). Some models may have integrated cookware
Is this primarily used for individuals or small parties?
Cookware is available at standard kitchen capacities. Have a cookout!
Depends
Depends on integrated cookware capacity
Is there a steep learning curve to use? Somewhat
Need to light & maintain fire
Somewhat
Need to light & maintain coals

Somewhat

Some fire starting & maintenance still needed

Somewhat
May require you to follow the sun's angles

Stove needs 'priming'
Can you control the temperature?
With wood or coal, you could just let the fire die down, but here we're referring to an actual knob

If gas-powered
Is this best used to boil water?
With the right cookware, you can do a lot!

The flame can go out quite readily in wind & isn't very powerful
Once lit, does it heat quickly?
Including average time to boil water

10+ min

1-2 min

5 min

20-30 min

1-2 min

6-8 min, in good conditions, see above
Any other considerations? May not be permissible; check fire regulations N/A Butane (if that's what the model requires) doesn't work in cold temperatures May not be permissible; check fire regulations Cooks more like an oven (put it in & leave it) Best performer at high altitudes*** N/A N/A Leaves residue on cookware & creates noxious fumes so you should cook with a lid
Effect on other factors
Excludes fuel
Price N/A $50-200 $80-200 $10-50
Weight & Size
Large variation; data from models without integrated cookware & also excluded fuel weight
10-40lbs
(5-18kg)
5-12lbs
(2.3-5.4kg)
~2lbs
(~0.9kg)
2-7lbs
(0.9-3.2kg)
10-12oz
(283-340g)
0.9-3.2oz
(26-91g)
0.7-3.5oz
(20-99g)
3.3oz
(92g)
Portable one likely won't fit in a backpack, but may have carry handle Depending on number of burners, could fit in a regular or hiking backpack Could fit in a regular backpack Could fit in backpack side pockets Could literally fit in pants pocket
Rationale More material Less material

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell
N/A Not as versatile for multiple use cases
Standard for most outdoor uses for car camping

On our Catalog, this is indicated with "Portable stove"

Not as versatile for multiple use cases

For sale because some consider it a "classic". Not for rent because it requires more set-up & is heavier compared to the stoves at right


Versatile for most outdoor uses, therefore more worth the money

On our Catalog, this is indicated with "Pocket stove"

Not as versatile for multiple use cases

*We're not referring to grill attachments, which may be available for the other stove options (e.g., kitchen stove, wood burning stove, or solar stove)

**Gas varies depending on stove. For example, Regular stoves usually take propane or butane, while Canister stoves usually take an isobutane-propane mix

***Since cooking at altitude isn't a concern for many, we have only highlighted the best performer, rather than going into detail about all the stoves (i.e., it doesn't mean that only liquid fuel stoves work at altitude)

If you don't go very often, of course you're going to want to spend less money, but this often means real trade-offs in terms of the experience that you will have with the gear. Even if you do go often & are ready to invest in quality gear, having the upfront funds can be hard!

Now, it may seem like this price & quality trade-off is disappearing, because you can find a cheap version of almost anything for tens of dollars that still has good reviews (assuming the reviews are real). So you might be thinking: I'll just buy something cheap, and because the price is so low it doesn't matter if it's less featured or heavier or whatever compared to something higher end. When that breaks, I'll buy something cheap again, and so on. Just remember:

  • What's better than cheap? FREE! And we have a gear library of items you can borrow for free!
  • Many reviews are written after only a trial use or first use: We've seen entire review videos of gear done at home, which is very different than actually being outdoors! And reviews after the first use don't tell you about dudrability at all
  • You're headed outdoors to relax and enjoy life! Saving money only to have a trip ruined due to quality issues will feel terrible. Our program to rent stoves is designed to help you avoid this trade-off: you get to rent high end, quality stoves for around the same price as buying cheap ones (sometimes even for less!)

For this item specifically, the price vs. quality trade-off issues center around performance & durability.

  • The stove wasn't very powerful: we don't discuss it here as a major choice factor, but the amount of heat (measured by BTUs) may matter to some cooks, and lower priced stoves may not output a lot of heat
  • The stove wasn't very durable: Stoves have lots of mechanical parts that may break
Methodology notes on prices shown on this page

The quantity of food you're able to cook at any one time is a function of form factor (see Type or Style section) or the stove that you choose, since that impacts the size of cookware you're able to use. We recommend careful planning, especially if you have a large number of people. For example, the right-most 4 stoves in the table in the Type or Style section are small and may not work for larger groups, though you can always rent the canister stove to test!

If you're thru-hiking 20+ miles (32+km) per day, every advantage counts! In this case, size refers to compactness. You can carry more gear in the same size backpack if all of it is very compact, or for more weight savings, you can get a smaller size pack.

There isn't a separate comparison table, because weight & size are functions of form factor (see Type or Style section) & within each form factor, the industry doesn't then offer 'Superlight' or 'Ultralight' models. Generally the right-most 4 stoves in the table in the Type or Style section are best suited for backpacking in terms of being lightweight & small. Rent a canister stove to try out how it balances function with weight!

Here, we give you a list of questions to start thinking about other features. We hope our approach of savings these features for last gets you to more critically think about what you need & not get caught up in the hype of what's cool and over-spend your budget. Remember, we allow you to hire a stove so feel free to try out various models with different features.

  • How does it turn on? (Do you need a match or does it include a spark?)
  • Does it have a wind shield?
  • How easy is it to clean?

Usage tips

Stoves

Because safety is super important when dealing with stoves, it may be helpful to review the step-by-step process that our staff are instructed to follow when checking stoves & propane between rentals. These video guides are for the larger portable stoves & propane, and cover important safety checks as well. We've also distilled some of the key usage tips for safety below:

  • Bring a firestarter. Even if your stove has a sparker/igniter included, as a back-up
  • Ensure gas control is turned off before you connect the gas. For safety reasons & to not waste gas
  • When screwing, avoid the opening of the canister & connection point. Any gas that may escape is extremely cold and can cause frostbite, so keep your hands clear
  • Check (listen) for any leakages before lighting. For safety reasons, screw everything tight!
  • Never use if you hear or smell a gas leak after everything is screwed in. Disconnect immediately
  • Ensure gas can is upright for the entire time that you are using the stove
  • Always use in a ventilated area. For example, never inside a tent
  • Be especially mindful when connecting, disconnecting, or lighting. Excess gas may cause a flare
  • Don't touch the gas can or connection during use. These parts may become dangerously cold and/or freeze
  • Wait until all parts are cool before handling. After turning it off, it will still be hot for a few minutes!

The above are just the tips we've found to be most useful as refreshers. If it's your first time using a stove, please review the usage manuals (non-listed stoves have similar guidelines):

Fires

Always check fire regulations for where you are going. Sometimes campfires or stoves that use organic biofuel (e.g., wood), alcohol, or tablets may be restricted. As well there may be restrictions on gathering wood. If you are able to make wood-based fires, be sure to brush up on your firestarting skills!


Maintenance tips

Repairing

This is wholly dependent on what kind of stove you are using. Of course, generally anything that feels loose should probably be tightened (e.g., the arm of a stove that supports the pot!). Some parts may be sold separately by the manufacturer (e.g., knobs).

Storing

Wait for the stove to cool, and always ensure any control knobs are completely turned off before putting away.

We have a general protip on how to store & maintain gear that we highly recommend reviewing as well. If you send us video or a good photo series, we may be able to help you evaluate your repair needs.


The exact numbers (e.g., weights, dimensions, prices, etc.) used were updated as of September 2019 .