Comparing Camp Stoves

Every stove has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to figure out what sort of cooking system best suits the purposes for your trip. I’ve had some negative feedback about the chart below with people disagreeing on how I classified characteristics of certain stoves, but keep in mind—this page is about comparing stoves to each other. For instance, you might use a mere 200 grams of fuel for a solid fuel stove in a week which, in absolute terms, isn’t very much, but compared to the other stove options which require carrying no fuel at all (open fire) or pack a lot more energy per unit of measure (liquid fuel), it ranks among the heaviest of fuel sources. So this isn’t a list of absolutes, it’s a list of comparisons. With that in mind:

Comparing Stove Systems
open fire wood stove canister stove liquid fuel stove alcohol stove solid fuel stove
Ease of Use poor poor good fair good good
Ecological Impact high fair high low low low
Fuel Availability varies varies poor fair good poor
Boil Time fast fast fast fast slow slow
Stove Expense $ $$$ $$ $$$ $ $
Fuel Expense $ $ $$$ $$ $$ $$
Simmer Control poor poor good good fair poor
Stove Weight good fair fair poor good good
Fuel Weight good good poor good fair fair
† While there’s no direct impact to the environment where you use a canister stove, I rated it poorly because the canisters cannot be reused.

Alcohol Stoves Compared

While there are probably about a million different designs for alcohol stoves, there are three I hear people talking about the most so those are the three I’ll discuss here.