Camping Stove Favorites: Award-winning models

September 27, 2016

by Melanie Ott
Camping Stove Favorites: Award-winning models

Active Junky took backpacking and car camping stoves out to test their performance in the field. All stoves we evaluated in our Camp Stove Buyer’s Guide are top picks by our testers, drawn from the top-ranked models in the outdoor industry. 

The best choice for backpacking goes to the GSI Outdoor Pinnacle 4-Season canister stove. A favorite feature counters some of the downsides of using a canister: its canister hose. The hose allows the stove to sit at a lower level that is better for stability and wind protection. It also allows the canister to be inverted, better utilizing remaining fuel when levels are low. Or the canister can be laid on top of insulation when cold temperatures negatively affect the performance of this fuel type. If light weight is a priority, some stoves are lighter than the Pinnacle 4-Season, but the benefits from its remote canister design more than compensate for extra ounces.

Richard Forbes

Integrated systems are a top seller, with stove and pots combined into one system unit. Active Junky’s favorite in this category is the MSR WindBurner. The sealed design of this aptly-named 1-liter capacity stove blocks out wind that reduces performance to consistently boil water in 4.5 minutes. While it’s a top performer against wind, it’s not a great choice for cold weather with its top-canister design. Aside from cold weather limitations, its compact and nesting design and quick boiling times make it a solid choice for most 3-season backpacking trips.

For liquid fuel stoves, another MSR model was Active Junky’s favorite: the MSR XGK International. MSR serves up a solid choice for South America travels or European backpacking trips with a multi-fuel stove that burns kerosene, diesel, white gas and other common liquid fuels. Its fold-out arm design offers a stable cooking surface, and included windscreen and heat reflector make for consistent and reliable boil times. The sturdier package nets a heavier model, ounces beyond other backpacking stoves. But it is one for reliable performance in variable conditions, especially cold weather where canisters won’t perform.

Richard Forbes

A brand known for its integrated backpacking stoves has recently branched into the car camping world with an innovative model. The Jetboil Genesis camp stove is smaller and more compact than many other car camping stoves but nearly as powerful. Dual burners come with easy-to-use ignition and controls for cooking, boiling and simmering, boasting enough cooking space and power to prepare meals for six to eight campers. The collapsible design won over testers, and the option to attach a third burner expanded its potential for heating water while preparing food. The stove comes as a standalone or in a Basecamp package that includes pots and pans. This set-up is pricier than other car stoves, but well worthwhile if its functions are advantageous.


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