MSR Reactor
MSR Reactor

Best camping stove.

If portability and efficiency are your main concerns, reviewers say it's hard to beat the MSR Reactor. This integrated canister stove uses a radiant burner and heat exchanger to improve efficiency and wind resistance, and tests confirm that it can boil a liter of water in less than three minutes -- even in windy conditions. The MSR Reactor stove includes a 1.7-liter pot and burner, and the fuel canister (sold separately) and burner pack away into the pot for easy portability. Overall, reviewers rave about the fast boiling times and solid reliability, although there are a few drawbacks. The Reactor weighs 19 ounces, which is on the heavy side for a backpacking stove, and it can be hard to control the heat output for simmering soups or sauces. The Reactor only works with the included pot, so it's not the best choice for groups. Still, for solo campers or groups of two, reviewers say the MSR Reactor is a top canister stove.
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Snow Peak LiteMax
Snow Peak LiteMax

Lightweight, budget camping stove.

For backpackers who want a simple, inexpensive camping stove, the Snow Peak LiteMax earns a number of recommendations. The LiteMax weighs less than 2 ounces, not including a pot or isobutane-propane fuel canister, and it has a heat output of 11,200 British thermal units (Btu). The small stove folds to stow in a pack, and the pot supports are said to be sturdy enough for large pots. It won't boil water as fast as the MSR Reactor, but the Snow Peak LiteMax boils a liter of water in around five or six minutes in the tests we saw. (Reviews indicate that windy conditions may increase these boiling times, since there is no windscreen.) Do not use this stove in your tent to protect it from the wind -- a test at BackpackingLight.com shows that the LiteMax has pretty high carbon monoxide emissions. While a little heavier at 3.75 ounces, the Snow Peak GigaPower Stove (*Est. $50) also gets good reviews.
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*Est. $60 Estimated Price
Jetboil Helios
Jetboil Helios

Camping stove for groups.

When you have to cook for more than one or two people, the Jetboil Helios is a top pick. This inverted isobutane-propane camping stove comes with a wide, 2-liter pot large enough for groups of two to four people. The Jetboil Helios is on the heavy side at 28 ounces, but the stove and burner supports can be packed into the pot for reasonable portability. Reviewers say the Jetboil Helios is highly efficient, and the stove boiled water in less than three minutes in most tests. An included plastic windscreen helps increase efficiency. The Helios has an automatic piezo igniter, but several reviewers note that it takes several attempts before it will light. If you have to cook for a large group, Jetboil offers an optional 3-liter pot (*Est. $50). The Jetboil Helios Guide (*Est. $160) is a better deal than buying the 3-liter pot separately -- you get the same stove, plus the 2- and 3-liter pots.
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MSR XGK EX
MSR XGK EX

Camping stove for winter and high altitudes.

Canister stoves typically perform poorly at freezing temperatures or high altitudes, and experts recommend multi-fuel stoves for these situations. The MSR XGK EX can burn a number of fuels, including white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. Reviewers say the MSR XGK EX is stable and boils water quickly, and Outside magazine calls it "the most reliable stove we've used." There are some downsides to multi-fuel stoves like the MSR XGK EX. For example, they require priming, so there is a longer setup time, and it's hard to control their heat output. Reviewers also note that the MSR XGK EX is incredibly noisy when burning, but most say it is a great stove for camping in cold temperatures or at high altitudes.
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Brunton Wind River Range
Brunton Wind River Range

Best campground stove.

Campground stoves are the best bet for car-camping trips when you need to cook for large groups. The Brunton Wind River Range is expensive, but the high cost appears to be worth it; cheaper campground stoves are pretty poor, according to most of the reviews we found. On the other hand, reviewers say the propane Brunton Wind River Range is sturdy, durable and a top performer among campground stoves. It includes dual 15,000-Btu burners, a storage compartment, plastic cutting board, windscreens and a removable stainless-steel grate. Reviewers especially like the heat adjustability, saying it's easy to adjust the flames for simmering sauces or stews. The Brunton Wind River Range weighs 23 pounds, so it's limited to car-camping trips.
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COMPARE PRODUCTS
See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Camping Stoves Runners Up:

MSR Pocket Rocket *Est. $40

3 picks including: Backcountry.com, Backpacker.com…

Snow Peak GigaPower Stove *Est. $50

3 picks including: GORP, Backcountry.com…

Century Matchless Deluxe Stainless Steel 2-Burner Stove *Est. $80

2 picks including: Epinions.com, Camping Life Magazine…

Jetboil PCS *Est. $100

2 picks including: GearReview.com, TheBackpacker.com…

Optimus Nova/Nova+ *Est. $135

2 picks by top review sites.

Brunton Profile Duo *Est. $85

2 picks by top review sites.

Optimus Crux Lite *Est. $40

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Primus Atle BBQ *Est. $90

2 picks by top review sites.

MSR Whisperlite Internationale *Est. $80

2 picks by top review sites.

Brunton Vapor AF *Est. $110

2 picks by top review sites.

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