Backpacker Stove Comparison

 

By: Chris Woodburn

As most of you know who spends time in the mountains with a multi-day back pack strapped to your back every ounce in that bag counts, and every ounce adds up to a pound.  One of the most important items in your pack besides your first aid kit or water is the stove.  I know when I started out and wanted to do some real deep woods backpacking I went to the local camping store and looked at options…bought the one that simply looked like it would work, not thinking that I need to pack a large propane bottle into the mountains…  ummm, mistakes you don’t need to make.

Here are three stoves I wanted to compare, as each one has their own unique differences and opportunities.  In Figure 1 we have 3 stoves I wanted to compare.  The reason I was looking at the newest, large jet boil is that’s the brand I’ve trusted for years and I wanted to compare it to my existing Jetboil Sol.  The other stove is combination of a TOAKS titanium pot and a small burner.

Figure 1

 

Stoves:

  • Jetboil SOL – old model that’s still kicking, similar to the new MicroMo
  • Jetboil Flash – funky colors
  • TOAKS titanium 550 with a BRS stove

First things first, I have been using an old trusted SOL for a number of years.  I think I paid 70 bucks for and it’s still kicking!  I think you can only get parts for it now.  See Figure 2.

Figure 2

A buddy of mine, Brian, bought one of the newest Jetboils out there, on sale…

Then another buddy, Jason, bought this little micro stove called a BRS and added it to his TOAKS titanium pot.  The entire combination is super lite and I think comes in at about 10 oz.  Check out the size of the BRS in Figure 3.

The purpose this article is simply to put each stove to a field test and compare how they did…  Each stove, as mentioned, has their own pluses and minuses.  Example the SUMO is large, it boils a lot of water, has a solid wind breaker, and has a nice cup and lid.  The SOL is a little smaller than the SUMO, but can boil pretty quick, has a lid that over time hardens and doesn’t snap to the top of the pot.  Also, the cup that comes with it…is fragile… 😉 I think I’ve only used that cup maybe a handful of times.  The BRS, is super tiny, see figure 3, and it’s super light.

Figure 3

 

Test Conditions:

  • Elevation 850′
  • Temp: 42 degrees
  • Wind: constant wind at about 10 mph and some gusts of 20 to 25 mph

I set up all the stoves, filled with 12 oz of water, started each stove and timed the test.  Take a look at Figure 4.  I wanted to see how fast each stove could bring a pot of water to boil, since that’s pretty common when back-packing into an area…and the time it takes the water to boil is going to make a difference in how fast your hunger squashed.

Figure 4

 

Again, each stove was filled with the same amount of water and lit.  Guess what stove came to a boil first in just over 2 minutes?  Yep, you guessed it my old trusted Jetboil Sol!!!  The next stove to started to boil near the 3 min mark was the Sumo.  I presume it has a large surface area to heat under the stove, but I’m only a back-yard scientist!  Not too surprisingly the BRS took a couple minutes longer to bring the water to a boil.  The challenge with that stove is there’s no wind protection, other than what you could do with material either in the field or you pack up the trail.

Cost:

JetBoil Sol (new version is the MicroMo)- $139.95

JetBoil Flash – $79.95 or you can shop and find it for $65!!!

BRS stove – $16.90 plus the TOAKS 550 ml Titanium pot – $33.95  – $50.85

Stoves not tested but could be, if you wanted:

  • MSR
  • Primus
  • Snow Peak

Places you may find a deal on stoves:

Editors Choice:

Jetboil – I simply would choose to have a stove that has multiple features, at a good cost, and i’m comfortable with in the field.  I may pay for the extra weight, but for me that’s a no brain’r.  I think that even if you’re on a strict budget you can find the Jetboil on sale like my buddy Brian did and it simply works!  So, if you can stand a funky color go with the Jetboil!

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