Monday, April 24, 2017

Canister Stoves, Compared – A Compendium of Canister Stoves

Canister gas stoves are the most popular type of stove for backpackers today, but what type makes sense for what use? It's not always clear what the advantages of say a Jetboil are compared to say a Pocket Rocket. Why are some canister stoves better in cold weather than others? Let's see if we can get a high level view and make sense of the world of canister gas stoves.

Canister gas stoves.
A Soto Amicus, left, and an MSR Pocket Rocket 2, right.
Types of Canister Stoves
Three are three general classes of canister stoves.  I'll say a little in brief here and then break things down in detail further on.

The types are:
  • Upright (top mounted) canister stoves.  These are the type of canister stoves that screw directly onto the canister.  The stoves in the photo above are upright canister stoves.  Generally these are the most compact, lightest, and least expensive.  On the downside, they tend to be more vulnerable to wind and pot stability on some is limited.
  • Integrated canister stoves.  Think Jetboil.  This type of stove is sold as a set and includes a pot and stove that are designed to work together.  They may also include some type of cup or bowl.  Often the pot on this type of stove will have a heat exchanger for improved efficiency (fuel economy).  This tends to be the most expensive type of canister stove, but you do get complete set and don't have to buy a separate pot.
  • Remote canister stoves.  This type of canister stove consists of a burner that is connected to the fuel via a hose.  This type of stove can be used with a full 360 degree windscreen without the danger of overheating the canister, has good pot stability, and, on certain models, can be run with the canister upside down (inverted) for greatly improved cold weather operation.  On the down side, remote canister stoves are typically more expensive, heavier, and bulkier than upright canister stoves.  However, remote canister stoves are typically less expensive than integrated canister stoves.
Upright (Top Mounted) Canister Stoves
I recently wrote up a sort of "survey" of what's out there in terms of the typical upright canister gas stove.  The survey is in order by weight, lightest to heaviest, and lists a lot of facts like MSRP, weight, and BTU's/hr as well as my personal remarks.  See:
Upright Canister Stoves – the State of the Art.

Of the stoves that have come out in the last year or so, my two personal favorites are shown above, the Soto Amicus and the MSR Pocket Rocket 2.  If you have any interest in either of those two stoves, I have an article that compares them:   The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 vs. the Soto Amicus.

The Soto WindMaster operating in the Sierra Nevada on a PCT/JMT section hike.

This isn't exactly a new stove, but another one of my favorites is a stove that came out several years ago, the Soto WindMaster, which is the world's lightest stove with piezoelectric ignition.

One note on upright canister stoves:  You should not use a full 360 degree windscreen on them. If you fully enclose the canister and burner, you can overheat the canister.  That might be, uh, bad.  Explosion, flying shrapnel, you know, bad.  Don't do that.  Upright canister stoves do need to be protected from wind, but you need to be safe.  Please see:  Canister Stoves and Wind.

Integrated Canister Stoves
Some people of course are going to want something "more" than an upright canister stove, something like, say, a Jetboil.  This class of stoves is typically referred to as an "integrated" canister stove.  They're a little heavier, but they really save fuel and they're oh-so-convenient.

I've got a survey article on this type of stove:
Integrated Canister Stoves – The State of the Art.

A Primus Eta Express stove system is one example of an integrated canister stove.
One review I completed recently is for the Primus Eta Express stove system (see photo above).

Another popular integrated canister stove – a stove that is utterly "bomb proof" in wind – is the MSR WindBurner (see photo below).

Note:  The Windburner was originally named the Windboiler.  If you see or hear "Windboiler" instead of "Windburner" in my blog or in my videos, don't freak out.  They are one and the same stove.

The MSR Windburner

And of course there's always the Jetboil line of stoves.  I wrote a review of the Jetboil Sol which was featured in Seattle Backpacker's Magazine.  This review should give you some idea of the general features of a Jetboil even if you're considering other Jetboil models (Zip, Flash, Flash Lite, MiniMo, MicroMo, etc.).

Remote Canister Stoves
There are several reasons you might want to go with a remote canister stove.
1.  Stability.  They're generally lower to the ground and wider.  They're typically better for bigger pots as in group cooking.  Families with small children, Scouts, etc. may in particular value the improved pot stability of this type of stove.
2.  Wind resistance.  With an upright canister stove where the fuel is directly under the burner, if you put a windscreen around the stove, you also put a windscreen around the fuel.  Overheat a canister, and Boom!  You can kiss your dinner and possibly a whole lot more goodbye.  With a remote canister stove, the fuel is off to one side, connected by a hose.  A windscreen separates the fuel from the flame.  In other words, a windscreen actually makes a remote canister stove safer (the opposite of an upright canister stove).
3.  Cold weather operation.  If a given remote canister stove has a way to vaporize the fuel before the fuel reaches the burner head, then the stove can be run with the canister upside down (inverted). Hunh? Who cares?  Well, you do if you're out in cold weather.  If you're headed out into cold weather, a remote canister stove capable of inverted operation will handle the cold weather better than any other canister stove.  This is a bit complicated, so I've written a separate article on it.  Please see:  Gas Stoves in Cold Weather – Regulator Valves and Inverted Canisters.

I don't have a survey article (yet) on remote canister stoves, but below are some links to remote canister stoves I've reviewed:
Below is a photo of a remote canister stove, a Kovea Spider, running in inverted mode.  Note how the fuel is connected to the stove via a hose.  Note also the use of a full, 360 degree windscreen (don't do this with an upright type canister stove!).
A Kovea Spider remote canister stove.
Note how the canister is upside-down (inverted).
In addition to all of the above, there are a whole lot more articles on my blog if you want to geek out on stoves.  You can Google search to your heart's content.  If you prefix your Google search with "site:AdventuresInStoving", then Google will search just my blog.

Now, whatever stove you pick, I hope it serves you well out there on the trail.  Of course, even the safest designs need a smart operator in order to be safe.  So, be careful out there – but of course enjoy.

Happy hiking,



  1. One of the things that I like about your two current favorite upright canister stoves is the folding pot support. The swiveling pot supports, like the one on the Primus, just don't quite get out of the way. I especially like the way that the Amicus is set up.

    One remote canister stove that I think I would like to get my hands on is a Primus Express Spider. I would like to see it with a different control valve that would be better suited to inverted canister operation.

    1. Hi, Bill,

      Did you see you see my review of the Primus Eta Express stove system?

      That was my complaint about the Primus Eta Express burner, an otherwise good burner. It's just not very compact.

      The Amicus is a super fast set up. I really like their set up on the pot supports and the fact that they have four supports. It's a very stable set up.

      The Express Spider is indeed an interesting stove. I'd like to see one, but I have so many stoves, I have to be sure to not try to get them all, lol.


    2. Hey Jim,
      Have you tried using the soto amicus with the Eta pot/heat exchanger? I'm curious if you can get the best of both worlds that way.

    3. I haven't tried the Amicus, but I have tried the WindMaster. It's a really nice combo. If you look at the pot I'm holding in my hand in this post: https://adventuresinstoving.blogspot.com/2017/04/how-much-gas-do-i-need-for-my-jetboil.html that's a Primus Eta pot. You can't see the stove, but I was using it with a WindMaster. The WindMaster is just a higher end version of an Amicus.

      It's an excellent set up. I like it better than the Primus Express stove because a) it's lighter, b) it's more compact, and c) has a vastly superior piezo ignition.

      Both the Amicus and the WindMaster are lighter than the Primus Express stove, both are more compact, and both have the superior ignition system.


    4. That's kind of what I was suspecting. I was just curious how the pot stand works with the Primus pot.

      I'll have to take a look at that. Thanks!

  2. My Coleman F1 has the same problem as the Primus Eta Express. I don't worry about that too much with the remote canister stoves. The pot supports and feet have to be more robust and the hose gets in the way of compactness. I prefer the stamped pot supports over the wire ones.

    1. The stamped supports are definitely the better way to go. I have the old, original Whisperlite as well as a Universal. The Universal has the stamped legs. The stamped legs are less likely to deform, are easier to work with when assembling/disassembling the stove, and grip the pot better.


  3. If you don't use the fins, can the WindMaster fit a JetBoil on top?

    1. Oh wait! Paul, ignore my previous answer (deleted now). WindMaster. Duh. I just reviewed the WindBurner, and I got confused. Sorry, late night. :)

      YES! Yes, you can put a JB pot on a Soto WindMaster stove. It's an excellent combination. I'm not sure what you mean by "don't use the fins", but you can sort of snug the stove up in there, and it works great.

      I would turn the stove down a bit. The WindMaster is really powerful if you open it up all the way, so don't. Run it on a 50% flame, and it will still be really fast.


    2. Thanks Jim. I have the Ruca Locura kit for my JB but I'm looking at something that handles wind better than the BRS-3000T.

      I didn't want think it would it with the fins since the BRS barely fits inside. JBs don't have fins so I thought it might work similarly.

    3. Paul, what do you mean "fins". Are you talking about the pot support on the stove or the heat exchanger on the bottom of the JB pot?


    4. OK, so I pulled out a Jetboil Flash. The Flash will sit on top of the WindMaster just fine, but the pot supports will not fit up into the heat exchanger. There is a mounting "rail" around the heat exchanger that a Jetboil burner is intended to connect to. You just set this rail on the pot supports of the WindMaster. It's reasonably stable although you'd want to set it up on a level surface.


    5. Ah yes, pot supports. I was thinking since they are removable you might be able to get the burner right on the JB fins (with a ti ring between). This is how the Ruta Locura set works but the BRS barely fits and is super tiny.

    6. OK. I get it. I wasn't sure what you meant by fins. I get confused easily. :)

      Hmm. Now that is an interesting thought. That might work. What are the dimensions of the Ruta Locura titanium ring? Approx. outside diameter and inside diameter would be all I need.


    7. It fits under the JB fins pretty much exactly and provides a flat surface for the pot support.

      See the last image on his website. http://www.rutalocura.com/BRS_3000T.html

    8. Hmm. Interesting. So the Ti piece is basically the same as the heat exchanger; it just rests on the pot supports of the stove and keeps the burner at a certain height. Let me pull out my WindMaster and take a look.


    9. Any luck getting it to fit?

    10. Well, it does fit on there, but the Ti ring rests right on the burner head. Let me post a photo later.



My apologies to real people, but due to Spammers I have to moderate comments. I'll get to this as rapidly as possible but do understand that I like to hike and there's no internet in the wilderness. Take care and stove on!