Saturday, March 18, 2017

Upright (Top Mounted) Canister Stoves – the State of the Art

What are the best upright (top mounted) canister gas stoves of today?  What are our options?  What's the best technology?
The latest from MSR:  The new Pocket Rocket 2
I've got a friend who works over at Massdrop*.  He's been bugging me to do a stove article, a sort of taking stock of the current state of canister stoves.  Kind of a fun project, so what the heck, I wrote a little something up:  Upright Canister Stoves – the State of the Art.

This post here on my blog has something that I couldn't include in the article, a dynamic HTML version of the chart in the article; see below.  NOTE:  The version of the chart on Massdrop is downloadable.
A classic old Hank Roberts stove.
I created a table of upright canister stoves available in the US today.  I've got pretty much all the major brands and even some that are less well known.  I didn't get everything, but it's a pretty representative compendium.

I didn't have a way to create a dynamic HTML table over on Massdrop, so I thought I'd create one here.  It may be easier to read this dynamic HTML table, depending on what type of device you're viewing things on.  Neither method of presentation is perfect, but hopefully one or the other gets the job done for you.  To see this as a jpg image, refer to my full article:  Upright Canister Stoves – the State of the Art.  Generally, mobile devices do better with a jpg image.
Adventures In Stoving -- https://AdventuresInStoving.blogspot.com
Brand Stove BTU Grams Oz's Class $$'sPros Cons Comments
BRS BRS-3000T 9,200 25 0.9 SUL $20 Super Ultralight, compact, inexpensive Terrible in wind, pot supports can deform if overheated (inconsistent quality control), poor pot stability, short valve handle Poor pot stability, but dang is it light, compact, and cheap.  The only Super Ultra Light canister stove on the market.
Fire Maple FMS-300T (Olicamp Ion Micro) 8,900 45 1.6 UL $50 Ultralight, compact Open burner, poor pot stability, short valve handle, loud Limited pot stability, a bit loud.  Sold under Olicamp brand in US.  Cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
Fire Maple FMS-116T (Olicamp Kinetic Ultra) 9,600 48 1.7 UL $50 Ultralight.  Good pot stability.  Well distributed flame avoids hot spots Open burner, not particularly compact A little more distributed flame than some UL stoves.  Sold under Olicamp brand in US.  Cheaper on Amazon or eBay.
Snow Peak Lite Max 11,200 54 1.9 UL $60 Ultralight, compact, low carbon monoxide Open burner Surprisingly compact.  Good pot stability.  At 11,000 BTU/hr it can really eat fuel if you let it.  Turn it down. Made by Kovea.
Kovea Supalite 6,575 56 2.0 Light $50 Light, very compact, low carbon monoxide Open burner Surprisingly compact.  Good pot stability.  Some variants are 56 g; others are 60 g.  Made by Kovea.
Soto WindMaster 11,000 67 2.4 Light $75 Wind resistant, excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, regulated burner, good to excellent pot stability.   Detachable pot support can be lost, tall (not compact), pricey, but there are deals out there. Great stove.  Best upright canister stove on the market today -- if you can live with the detachable pot support.  
GSI Pinnacle 8,750 68 2.4 Light $50 Seems reasonably well made. A little over priced for its class.  Open burner. I haven't really seen this one in person, but I've seen some talk on the net; I therefore include it for completeness.
Optimus Crux Lite 10,200 72 2.5 Light $40 Lighter than the regular Crux Bulky, open burner Doesn't pack well because burner doesn't fold.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2 8,200 73 2.6 Light $45 Simple, solid, improved pot stability Open burner I really like it's simplicity and how solid it is. Made by Kovea.
Soto MicroRegulator 11,000 73 2.6 Light $70 Excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, regulated burner. Somewhat floppy pot supports; open burner. Nice stove, but I would go with the WindMaster if you're looking at this type of stove.
Soto Amicus (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $5 for piezo 10,200 75 2.6 Light $40 Wind resistant, excellent build quality, sophisticated ignition, excellent pot stability. Slightly bulky when compared to the most compact. A really fabulous new entry from Soto at a nice price point.  The wind resistance is real.  Definitely worth a look.
Primus Express (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $10 for piezo. 8,900 82 2.9 Light $45 Good build quality. Excellent pot stability. Open burner.  Pot supports do not fold out of the way and take up a lot of room.  Not the best piezo. Primus makes good stuff, but I think their Express stove is a little heavy for what it is.
Snow Peak Gigapower (manual, piezoelectric).  Add $10 for piezo. 10,000 85 3.0 Mid $40 Good pot stability, compact, strong, low carbon monoxide Heavier, open burner.  Poor ignition. A classic, fantastic stove albeit a bit heavy by today's standards.  The ignition sucks; get the version without.  Made by Kovea.
Olicamp Vector 10,200 85 3.0 Mid $30 Reasonalby priced Open burner Included as a low cost option.
Kovea Titanium 7,600 88 3.1 Mid $60 Reasonably compact Poor quality ignition, open burner. Ignition isn't particularly reliable.
Optimus Crux 10,200 93 3.3 Mid $50 Fairly compact Heavier, wobbles at joint, open burner, open burner Nice stove, but it would be great if it didn't wiggle at the joint.
Jetboil Mighty Mo 10,000 95 3.4 Mid $50 Regulated burner Poor quality ignition, only fair pot stability, open burner Lowest cost regulated burner, but the ignition is crappy.  Soto's stoves in this class are better but more expensive.
Kovea Power Nano 7,300 95 3.4 Mid $35 Inexpensive Heavy for its class.  Open burner
Kovea Eagle 6,000 128 4.5 Heavy $30 Inexpensive Heavy for its class.  Open burner
MSR Super Fly (manual, piezo).  Add $10 for piezo. 10,000 177 6.2 Heavy $65 Distributed flame, threaded and non-threaded canisters Heavy, bulky, sharp, pointy pot supports, open burner Dislike.  Too big, too bulky, too heavy, and the pointy pot supports poke holes in your pack.
Primus Classic Trail (Yellowstone) 10,000 227 8.0 Heavy $20 Inexpensive Heavy, bulky, open burner Cheap, good pot stability, can handle larger pots, but I'm not a fan of this heavy beast.
Adventures In Stoving -- https://AdventuresInStoving.blogspot.com

I hope you find the information useful.


*Massdrop, if you haven't heard of it, is sort of a "group buy" site.  They contact companies and basically say "hey, if we could get X number of sales, would you give us a price break?"  If a company agrees, Massdrop then posts a "Drop" on their site.  Members of the public can then join the Drop and get a group discount.  Here's a link:  https://www.massdrop.com/r/ETFBT7. I think I get a free T shirt or something if enough people click on that link and then later buy something, but whatever.  I hope you find a couple of good deals.
An old Camping Gaz S-206 "Bleuet" stove.
The canister had to be physically punctured and could not be safely removed until empty.


  1. Nice work on the table. Would it be useful to have columns with a grade for additional key factors such as stability and wind performance? I don't know how difficult it would be to convert "Terrible in wind" into a number (1-10) or letter (A-F) grade.

    1. Joe,

      Yeah, those would definitely be great columns to add. The problem though is a lot of internet devices just will have a horrible time with anything that wide. The table is sort of a compromise: It's probably a little to wide to be optimal on the one hand but it includes things I thought essential. On the other hand, it leaves out some things that would probably be helpful but would definitely make the table very wide.

      I try to include the information not in the table in the individual reviews.


  2. Used the Soto Windmaster for the first time this weekend. Definitely the best upright canister stove I have owned. Only dislike is that the valve turns a bit too freely for my taste. But you get used to it. Super quiet.

    1. Hi, Norris.

      I assume that this is the Norris I bumped into at the tram the other day.

      Yeah, nobody is making them like Soto. Really quality stuff with a lot of attention to detail. I just tested a Primus today. It would take a dozen or more clicks on their piezo to get a light. The Soto usually does it in one or two, even in moderate wind.

      I wish it were a little shorter, and the detachable/interchangeable pot support is a little oddball, although I guess having the option of a bigger pot support is nice. I think for pots of 2L or more that the 4 Flex pot support is of great benefit.


  3. I still use a Coleman Exponent F1. Slightly heavier than most of these but over 16,000 btu's

    1. Bill,

      The F1 has a pretty devoted following. I gave one to a friend, and he really liked it. 16,000 BTU!? That's a heck of a powerhouse.


  4. I was out in the woods last week and took a couple of canister stoves plus a twig stove to play with. I went on a day hike and took my Coleman F1 with me and made hot cider on the top of Bell Mountain in Missouri (Missouri's mountains are not as high as the base of most mountains in the western US, but it's the best I've got around here). It was going to be down in the mid twenties overnight, so I truck camped just in case I missed the mark in my sleeping gear choices. Evening temperatures were mid thirties and I made supper with my Soto Amicus working like a champ. The next morning, I was warm, but my canisters weren't. I wanted to heat about a quart of water to make coffee and oatmeal. I started with the Amicus, but it was soon apparent that it was going to take a long time to boil water, so I pulled ot the F1 as well and got my coffee going. On top of being cold, a breeze had come up and was blowing the heat away from the pots. The Amicus did seem to work better, but neither had a particularly strong flame. I got the twig stove out later that day and made lunch. It did OK and I might have been better off with it for breakfast, but I haven't used it very much and am not confident that it is up to the task.

    On another matter, have you seen any of these stoves?


    1. Wow! 12,000 BTU. That's one hot stove. No, though, I am not familiar with it. It's not a major manufacturer although it could be BRS which while BRS doesn't make necessarily good stoves, the do make A LOT of stoves. Cheap is the main selling point of BRS.

      Have you read my article on regulator valves and inverted canisters? There are a lot of tips and such in there that might help on a cold morning.

      See: https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.com/2016/12/gas-stoves-in-cold-weather-regulator.html


    2. Frankly, I had never been out on a cold morning with a vertical canister stove before. I wanted be carrying my lightest canister stoves, so that's what I did. I could just as easily have taken one of my other stoves that would have allowed for inverted canister operation, but I didn't. This points out the fact that, although I had the knowledge, I didn't have the direct experience.

      I've got a couple more of the big Coleman canisters and intend to try them with my G-Works adapter, later today, I hope. There is only one store in my area that carries them. The price is the same as yours, $7.72.

    3. It's hard to pas on thet $7.72 price which is less than 2 cents per gram. Jetboil brand in the 100 g canister is about 2.5 times higher in price.

      Upright canister stoves can work in colder conditions although once it gets down in the teens I question whether it's worth the hassle or risk. The first trick is to keep the canister in an inside pocket under your coat until right before you're ready to use it. Warm canister = good pressure.


  5. i'm in for the kove supalite design.
    one question though:

    what makes (if it is even the case) the snowpeak litemax give out 50% more power than the kovea supalite? would there be any trade offs: efficiency, regulation?

    thanks in advance

    1. In a word, jet size. The Supalite is going to have a much smaller aperture in its jet. The LiteMax will burn through a lot more fuel if you let it. You really have to be mindful on a LiteMax to keep it turned down or it'll really turn into a fuel hog. On the other hand, the LiteMax has extra power if you need it as in snow melting for a group.


    2. Thanks for the quick reply, Jim.

      I read through a lot of other sources, someone stating @massdrop "kovea measures their BTU output based on the gas in Korea, which is 5%propane 95% Butane mix, meaning it will put out less BTU.[...]

      - I think this variable should be taken into consideration when manufacturer state their specifications, its quite confusing. But good thing this blog exists. Wouldnt have expected the oem to have also made such a considerable adjustment in its construction.

    3. Kent, the difference in BTU output between a 95/5 mix and an 80/20 mix is going to be fairly small, if in fact they are using two different mixes two rate their stoves which I somehow doubt.

      Kovea makes both the LiteMax and the SupaLite. I'm betting a BTU comparison between the two is pretty apples-to-apples.