How to Choose a Backpacking Wood Stove

How to Choose a Backpacking Wood Stove: Burning backpacking wood stove on a rock in a forest camp

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Cooking outside can be exciting, but carrying those big fuel canisters is a real pain. That’s where backpacking wood stoves come in handy.

These nifty gadgets allow you to cook without lugging around extra fuel, making them perfect for those who appreciate self-reliance and dislike the worry of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Now, you might be wondering, “How to I choose a backpacking wood stove?” Well, you’re in the right place, as this post will guide you in selecting the ideal backpacking wood stove and comparing it to other available stoves.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the two main types – efficient can-style (mini wood gasifiers) and portable folding-style designs. Can-styles heat faster but are heavier, folding are lighter but slightly less efficient.
  • Key factors to consider are material (titanium vs stainless steel for weight), overall weight, packability/size, heat output, and convenience features like refueling ports.

Types of Backpacking Wood Stoves

Backpacking wood stoves come in two main types: can-style for efficiency and folding-style for portability. Now, let’s take a closer look at each:

1. Can-Style Backpacking Wood Stoves

Backpacking Wood Stove: Can-styled Toaks Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove

Can-styled stoves are like mini wood-burning powerhouses. Some can-style stoves are known as wood gasifier stoves because they use a two-stage burn process, making them highly efficient. They turn wood into hot, clean-burning gas, providing more energy from a single wood load.

Pros: When comparing can-style and folding-styled wood stoves, the can-style stoves are more efficient, requiring less fuel and heating up your cooking about 30% faster. They also offer more durability.

Cons: However, it’s important to consider that can-style stoves are less packable and heavier, and they have the tendency to get sooty, which is a drawback for a stove that can’t be easily packed away.

Popular ultralight can-style stove backpacking options include:

Make / ModelWeight oz (g)
TOAKS Titanium Wood Burning Stove (Small)5.29 (150)
TOAKS Titanium Wood Burning Stove (Regular)7.90 (225)
Solo Stove Lite Camp Stove (Stainless Steel)9 (255)

2. Folding-Style Backpacking Wood Stoves

Backpacking Wood Stoves: Foldable Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove

Folding-style stoves are all about convenience. They collapse flat, saving precious space in your backpack. Assembling them is also a breeze, usually involving fitting sidewalls and a burn pan.

Pros: Managing soot on these stoves is easier since you can slip them into a separate bag for transport.

Cons: Although not as efficient as gasifier stoves, folding wood stoves can still boil water in about 10 minutes, making them a solid choice when you factor in the weight savings from not carrying fuel.

Popular ultralight folding-style backpacking stove options include:

Make / ModelWeight oz (g)
EmberLit FireAnt Titanium Ultralight Backpacking Stove3 (85)
Vargo Titanium Fire Box3.95 (112)
Gram-counter Gear Titanium Wood Burning Stove4.02 (114)
Vargo Titanium Hexagon Stove4.05 (115)

How to Choose a Backpacking Wood Stove

When selecting a stove, consider these key factors to find the most suitable option:

  • Material: Titanium is lighter but costs more, while stainless steel is heavier, sturdier, and retains heat better. Choose high-quality stainless steel that is rust resistant. If you’re an serious ultralight backpacker, titanium is the better option.
  • Weight: The lightest wood burning stoves weigh about 3-7 ounces (85-198 grams). The most lightweight designs are made from titanium and can be folded. Additional features like a refueling port might slightly increase the weight but also enhance convenience.
  • Packability: Foldable stoves are the best fit for ultralight backpacks under 40L. For larger packs, >55L, compact canister-style stoves are also a good choice.
  • Size and Output: Smaller stoves (~500°F) boil water, while larger ones (~800°F+) allow grilling. If you want more cooking versatility, go bigger.
  • Refueling Port: Allows to add wood while cooking. This convenient feature improves the outdoor cooking experience. We appreciate it because this means we can easily use the stove as a heating source after we’ve finished cooking.

Consider the weather conditions, such as wind, during your travels. Read reviews if you require features like excellent pot stability, as this depends on the design of the stove itself.

Comparison: Wood Stoves vs. Other Options

You might be wondering how wood stoves are different from other options. Don’t worry, here’s a comparison table that will give you a quick overview:

TypeWeightEase of UseFuel SourceProsCons
Wood burnerUltralightDifficultForaged woodUltralight; Use found fuelTending; Fuel foraging; Hard to light
CanisterModerateVery easySelf-contained canisterSimple ignition; Integrated designRelatively heavy
Liquid fuelModerateModerateRefillable fuel bottleRefillable; Good for longer tripsMore complex pumping and priming
AlcoholUltralightVery easyAlcohol fuelVery simple and lightweightCool burn; Only for boiling water
Solid fuelUltralightEasyFuel tabletsLightweight and convenientLimited burn time; Expensive per use

If you’re interested in learning more about different types of stoves, you can check out our detailed comparison post here.


Backpacking wood stoves are the perfect companions for outdoor cooking adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or new to the wilderness, this post equips you with the knowledge to make the most of these ingenious devices.

We’ve delved into two types of wood stoves: the efficient can-style and the portable folding-style, each offering unique benefits – choose what suits you best.

If you want to learn more about how to use a backpacking wood stove, check out our dedicated post on the topic here. That’s it. Happy cooking!

Are you on the hunt for the lightest stove option available? Check out our TOP 5 guide for the lightest stoves on the planet.


What type of wood stove is best for backpacking?

Choosing the ideal wood stove for backpacking depends on your specific needs and preferences. Compact canister wood stoves offer lightweight and portable solutions, ideal for ultralight backpacking. Alternatively, portable folding wood stoves provide versatility and efficient combustion. When deciding, consider factors like weight, cooking style, and fuel availability in your chosen backpacking destination to make the best choice for your adventures.

Can I use a backpacking wood stove in a tent?

Using a wood-burning backpacking stove inside a tent demands caution. Ensure proper ventilation with a stovepipe, but be wary of carbon monoxide. Only light small, controlled fires, never leaving the stove unattended. Watch for poor ventilation signs, and consider cooking outside for safety. Though it might work in emergencies with proper ventilation, using this stove in open air is always safer.

What is the appropriate temperature for cooking food on a backpacking wood burning stove?

When backpacking with a wood-burning stove, control the cooking temperature for best results. Aim for a simmer, around 180-200°F, to efficiently cook foods like oatmeal, pasta, or freeze-dried meals without burning. Keep the stove at a steady, low flame to maintain a consistent simmer. Avoid boiling, as it cooks food too quickly and unevenly.

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