One of the biggest challenges when walking or hiking is having things that are equally lightweight and functional at the same time. You don’t want to be bogged down carrying extra gear that makes your trip seem onerous instead of fun.
Of course, there are difficult trails which make hiking much more rewarding, but the goal is not to see who can carry the heaviest load. Everyone needs to be comfortable while supporting some kind of knapsack.
And since we all need to eat, whether our trip is one day or one month, one of the items that is a necessity is a cooker. In other words, a medium to heat food or cook items like fish caught that day.
To help you with that, we have identified five of the best wood burning backpacking stoves on the market.
We started by reviewing the descriptions of many of the brands and fuel methods. As you might already be aware, portable cookers can work with an open fire, denatured alcohol poured from a bottle or can such as Sterno, charcoal like found in a barbecue, and naphtha such as Coleman fuel. By narrowing down our search, we chose wood because twigs are readily available. We also like the idea of biomass.
Next, we looked at features of the cookers to determine total weight, manufacturer’s warranty, awards, portability, collapsibility, and any other things that stood out and would be helpful. We were not interested in gimmicks.
Here are the five we chose in no particular order.
Although this stove is made out of stainless steel, it is compact and ultralight coming in at just over one pound. Its small size means that we don’t have to devote a lot of space in our backpacks, and we can quickly remove it when we are hungry and need it. My brother and I love the fact that it is eco-friendly meaning we can grab a handful of leaves to burn or some small twigs or branches we find nearby. That also means we don’t need to transport any kind of fuel, so it keeps costs down, as well.
The set comes with a carry pouch and has three legs to hold a pot, making it safe to use and keeps the unit steady instead of wobbling over. Of course, you should probably still hold your pan, especially if you are using cast iron as it may be heavy. Many of the previous individuals that have bought the stove indicate that they were able to use a ten inch pot or pan with no problems.
Most users say that the unit is quite powerful and they were able to cook and boil water in a jiffy. Needless to say you are going to want a pile of sticks or leaves close to the stove, so that you can continue to feed the fire. Lastly, you can always bring along a small plastic bag of wood chips in case it is rainy out and you can’t find dry twigs or leaves to burn.
The price point on this stove is right up our alley! So it ticks off many of the boxes as it relates to economy, environmental friendliness, and solidness, since it is made of stainless steel. If you are in the woods, there are bound to be plenty of pinecones, which are a great source of fuel for this burner. Even dried up grass could do the trick nicely. But, if you are somewhere in the desert area or big dirt field, the unit does use solidified alcohol tablets, so you won’t be left stranded with nothing to burn.
The system is easy to understand, setup and use with its three arm support for pots and pans. It does seem to be a bit heavier than other models but it is still a go-to product for lots of hikers. From reading around the different camping forums, we found that everyone says the unit burns nice and hot and can get water boiling quite quickly.
One of the tips we did read was that you should soap up the bottoms of your pans before cooking in case the tree branches you use have sap on them. The soap allows the sap to come off easily when cooking and cleaning. But to be honest, that would not only apply to this model of stove. It is probably a good thing to do whenever cooking outdoors.
The whole kit is collapsable, so that it is easy to pack in your sack, but it also includes its own carrying case. This is a great idea to keep the stove from getting anything else dirty in your knapsack. For the money and durability, this burner will certainly be ideal for any trip.
Indeed, this cooker is a little more expensive than other models shown, but it has good reason to be since it is the proud recipient of several awards from camping and hiking enthusiast organizations. Further, the design holds a patent for the amount of smoke the unit produces. From what we see, the soot is one of the biggest complaints with wood burning sets, so with less smoke, it is more pleasing to use. It is quite small, yet powerful, and weighs little, which means you won’t be lugging around a massive item in your rucksack.
We’ve found that users are impressed with the performance, as it gets hot quickly, and of course, has no need for carrying fuel. Branches, leaves, pinecones, and whatever compostable materials you find are perfect for fueling this unit. In fact, many canister cooker users have been converted after trying out this lightweight stove.
It also has the added advantage of being able to nestle the pot and stove, although the pot is not included in the kit. Some hikers even indicated that they packed the stove inside other cookware they carry, so there is no need for the little pot if you have other gear already.
For the money, this unit is actually economical, as it it used by hunters, hikers, and campers, alike.
One of the features that we were most impressed with is the fact that this company offers a lifetime warranty. That says a lot about any product because ideally, it is going to last forever, which is a bold statement in this day and age. It is also made in the USA, which if we can, we do buy local.
Another thing we noticed is that the bottom of the cooker has a small piece of metal to catch the ashes. This is important because many individuals, including my brother and I, are not happy leaving an area unkempt and burnt. In other words, we have said before that all nature should be left how it was found. And I know that seems like a trivial thing when it comes to a stove, but in reality, those small pieces of undergrowth that would be destroyed, are important to the eco-system.
The unit is moderately priced, in between the other cookers we have highlighted here. We also liked the fact that the company is proactive. In older reviews, buyers complained about there not being a carry case for the unit. Looking at what newer users have said, this problem was resolved and the kit now has a sleeve for packing the unit.
It may take a little time to set this up when you are first new to it, but once you have practiced at home a couple times, you will get it going in a jiffy. Needless to say, this is a great stove for many purposes including heating food or water, making a supper meal, or even staying warm in an emergency situation.
What a great stove for durability and safety! We like the idea of it being rectangle and flat for stability. The price point doesn’t hurt either. Made of stainless steel, it is very light in weight compared to other units. As with most of these portable cookers, you can use wood, but when it is not available due to rain or snow, you can use another method of fuel. In fact, this kit comes with a little bowl to hold pellets or ready-made fire burning sticks.
Many users have indicated that there is little smoke, but it does come with a case, so that if the cooker is dirty, you have something to wrap it in. Just dismantle the unit and everything packs up nice and tight in the case.
There’s no doubt there are plenty of ways to cook and heat food if you are inventive. But one thing we don’t like to do is get out there on the trail and then have to think about what we are going to do when hunger sets in.
Obviously, carrying a wood burning backpacking stove is going to be the most convenient and sensible solution. Then, all we have to think about is what we are going to eat. Should we catch some fish or haul out one of our handy packets of pre-made food?
Regardless of what stove you choose, some of the features you should think about before buying is stability, durability, safety, environmental friendliness, price, weight and size. Lastly, whether you camp, hike, bike overnight, canoe, or just want a backyard treat whipped up, portable stoves are ideal.
Also, if you are looking for a more robust option click the link to find the perfect cast iron camp stove for your next big camping trip, so you have the perfect piece of kit to fry up some nice hot grub.