One of the most enjoyable aspects of spending time camping and backpacking is a hot meal at the end of the day.
There is that idyllic memory of childhood, where you sat around a campfire cooking hot dogs on a coat hanger or sharpened stick followed by several S’mores for dessert.
Most adults who love camping will have great memories of scenes like that.
The option of sitting around a campfire and cooking things on a stick still exists, but modern tastes have seen most campers wanting a meal that is a bit more than hot meat cooked on a stick. For this, you need a pot or pan to cook a real meal. Since those utensils don’t sit easily in a fire, it is helpful to carry some sort of wood burning stove in your pack.
Luckily the market is full of options, from simple collapsible wood burning backpacking stoves to more modern versions that can turn your wood fire into electricity to charge your electronic devices.
Why Go with a Wood Burning Stove?
The main reason to go with this type of stove is because of the fuel. You can use twigs, pine cones, and branches as fuel. You won’t need to carry fuel, which means you carry less weight in your pack.
The fuel source is renewable although most wood burning stoves can also handle other fuels like tables and certain liquid fuels. Lastly, there is the nostalgic quality of cooking over an open fire, which many people prefer for the taste of the food cooked.
Wood Burning Backpacking Stove Quick Reference
We go over each of the stoves in our roundup in detail below, but for those of you in a hurry, here are the units we looked at:
What to Look for in a Stove
The basic design of a backpacking wood stove is made of metal with holes near the bottom for air to circulate. There is an ashcan to help keep the fire from going out plus an area for you to place your fuel source. The bigger this area, the larger and longer the fire will burn.
The three main designs are cylindrical with a round base plate, rectangular or pyramid shaped. Cylindrical models, while more cumbersome, tend to have greater heat output and, therefore, heat up faster. Rectangular and pyramid shaped versions are much easier to pack because usually they can be broken down into plates and assembled quickly with ease. These types of stoves tend to be the most popular among campers.
While older wood burning stoves were fairly heavy, modern advances have seen lightweight stainless steel and titanium being the preferred materials for stoves. Due to this switch to lightweight metals, most models don’t weigh more than 2-3 lbs. Wood burning stoves are still not as popular as canister and liquid fuel stoves, but they have several advantages over these types of stoves.
Backpacking Wood Stove Reviews
The basics you need to consider when picking the right stove are the material it is made of and the dimensions of the stove. You will also need to decide what shape of stove you will want to carry and take into consideration the weight since you never want to carry too much in your pack. Lastly you will want to consider any accessories and added features the stove might have.
Fortunately, we’ve done all the work for you in figuring out the top backpacking wood stoves on the market. Here are our top 5 picks for wood burning stoves for backpacking:
What sets this model apart is that it is designed with a double wall that creates unique airflow properties to make it extremely efficient. There are air intake holes at the top and bottom of the stove to allow for secondary combustion. This means that the fire burns more completely resulting in much less smoke.
This product is very lightweight as it is made of stainless steel.
Solo Stove Lite Advantages
- Winner of Backpacker Magazine’s Gear of the Year – This is the #1 wood burning backpacking stove as picked by Backpacker Magazine, Discovery Channel’s Matt Graham as well as numerous serious survivalists.
- Patented Design Means Less Smoke – Patented double wall design creates ultra-clean gasification and secondary combustion, resulting in less smoke.
- Zero Fuel Costs – No need to spend money on expensive fuels as all Solo products burn leaves, twigs, pinecones and wood as fuel. This frees up space in your pack and eliminates the need for polluting and heavy canister fuels.
- Fast Boil Time and Lightweight – Boils 34oz of water in 8-10 minutes. Dimensions are 4.25” diameter, 3.8”/5.7” height (packed/assembled), 9oz weight. Comes with a nylon carrying bag.
- Compact Design – Fits inside the Solo 900 Pot (not included) shoring up space in your pack.
This is a great option to carry. Its compact size and light weight allow you the ability to carry more gear. You won’t be disappointed with this in your pack.
- GEAR OF THE YEAR WINNER - RECOMMENDED BY BACKPACKER MAGAZINE. The Solo Stove is the #1 wood-burning backpacking stove recommended by Backpacker Magazine and serious survivalists including Discovery Channel's Matt Graham. Winner of 2014 Gear of the Year award from 50 Campfires & Section Hiker.
- PATENTED DESIGN - LESS SMOKE. The patented design features a unique double wall that creates ultra-clean gasification and a secondary combustion. This allows fuel to burn more completely and with less smoke.
- FUEL IS FREE. No more spending money on white gas or expensive liquid canister fuel. Solo Stoves use twigs, leaves, pinecones and wood as fuel. Free up more space in your backpack and eliminate the need to carry heavy, polluting and expensive canister fuels.
- LIGHTWEIGHT & FAST BOIL TIME. Boils water in 8-10 mins (34 fl oz water). 4.25" Diameter, 3.8"/5.7" tall (packed/assembled). Solo Stove weighs only 9 oz. Made of premium stainless steel and nichrome wire. Nylon stuff sack included.
- COMPACT SPACE SAVING DESIGN. The compact Solo Stove design nests inside the companion Solo Stove Pot 900 (not included) leaving you with more room in your backpack.
It is a bit costly, but you get a tool that can be a lifeline in case of emergency – that is priceless. This model not only will boil water and cook meals, but it will provide electricity to charge mobile devices.
The integrated battery creates more power than previous models, and there is an updated LED dashboard to control the fan speed and to check on the battery life and fire strength. The internal fan creates an almost smoke free (95%) fire.
BioLite CampStove 2 Advantages
- Create Electricity – Creates and stores 3 watts of usable electricity and stores it in its internal powerbank. The internal rechargeable 2600 mAH battery will charge LED lights, mobile phones and other devices that use a USB cable.
- 50% More Power – Updated thermodynamics generates 50% more power than CampStove 1. Smart LED dashboard gives real time feedback on fan speeds, fire strength and available power output.
- Adjustable Fan Speeds – Internal jets have 4 fan speeds for improved efficiency and combustion. Boils 1 liter of water in 4.5 minutes.
- Lightweight and Portable – Durable aluminum legs fold up for nested portability. Flexlight is a pliable USB gooseneck providing controlled, quick light.
This is a great choice for campers who can’t live without mobile devices, but it might be too modern for traditional bushcraft enthusiasts. The ability to keep a phone charged, however, can be a lifesaver in emergency situations.
- Turn fire into electricity! CampStove 2 generates 3 watts of usable electricity and stores it in it's internal powerbank for USB charging of LED lights, mobile phones, and other devices. The internal, rechargeable 2600 mAh battery stores excess power to charge devices, even without a live fire.
- USB charge output with 50% more power than our previous CampStove 1, with updated thermoelectrics creating even more electricity from fire, and Smart LED Dashboard gives you real time feedback on fire strength, power output and fan speed settings
- Internal jets have 4 fan speed settings to circulate air for improved combustion and efficiency to boil 1 liter of water in 4.5 minutes
- Lightweight aluminum legs fold up for nested portability and durability for camping, backpacking or power outages
- The FlexLight is a portable, pliable USB gooseneck for quick, controlled light
The square design is collapsible and features 4 fire sticks, a boil plate that turns it into a water boiling system, a removable ash pan, an adjustable fire grate for using other fuels besides wood, and an extended grill plate.
This model features all the benefits of the stove you have at home in a lightweight portable design that will fit in your pack.
Firebox Bushcraft Camp Stove Kit Advantages
- Most Versatile – 4 Fire sticks function as skewers, and a removable ash pan creates more cooking positions than other stoves. Can be fueled from the top, bottom or side and can use the Swedish Torch Method.
- Efficient with High BTU Output – It can boil 24oz of water in 2:40. A hinged damper allows more combustion from larger fuel capacity. A Cross Feed Fuel Delivery system creates a larger and more efficient fire than XL models.
- Superior Durability – Thicker stainless steel means less warping. Plus, barrel type hinges are stronger and won’t flex and slide like other hinged models.
- Easy to Use – Fire sticks help keep it shut in the closed position. A four-hinged folding design is more stable than other models. A light coating of oil between uses will keep it in working order.
While it is costlier than many models, that versatility makes it worth the price. The ease of use and efficient design make this something campers will want in their pack.
- MOST VERSATILE with more available accessories, a detachable Ash Pan and 4 Firesticks (which work as food skewers) means more possible setups / positions (Search YouTube "Firebox Stove Demonstration"). Plus the Firebox can be fueled several different ways (side, top or pre-fuel) including the revolutionary Swedish Torch Method (over an hour cook time with no fire management! Search YouTube "Firebox Stove Swedish Torch Breakfast")
- MORE EFFICIENT WITH HIGHEST BTU OUTPUT boil 2 cups of water as fast as 2:40 (Search YouTube "Firebox Stove Boil Test") Has a hinged damper that can be opened for additional exhausting capacity, allowing more combustion air in to support higher fuel volumes without smoking or choking. The Cross Feed Fuel Delivery System with an upwards angle for flame velocity and crossed sticks for turbulence is the perfect recipe for efficiency! Larger and more powerful than XL models.
- MOST DURABLE thicker stainless steel and an engineered expansion management system make the Firebox the strongest stove on the market with the least amount of warp (Search YouTube "Firebox Stove Engineered Warp Control") barrel type hinges are stronger and don't flex or slide like other hinge designs (Search YouTube "Firebox Camping Stove Strength Test!")
- EASY TO USE Firebox Firesticks are less fiddly than other stove trivets and when stored serve to hold the Firebox closed in its folded position. Using two smaller fuel feed holes (rather than one large hole) prevents debris from falling out even with a full burn chamber. Our four hinged panel folding design (rather than six) is more rigid and stable (not at all floppy like a six panel design)
- 100% stainless steel construction is easily maintained with a light coat of oil between uses. Used world wide since 2011.
Don’t let the cost fool you as this is a highly efficient, pyramid-shaped stove. It is 30% larger than other Emberlit models, yet it is just as lightweight. Interlocking tabs make it sturdy enough to hold heavier cast iron pots with ease.
kampMATE WoodFlame Ultra Advantages
- Lightweight, Easy to Use Design – Weighs only 1.1 lbs. Collapsible design makes it easy to set up and take down. Folds flat for easy storage in included carry case.
- Variable Fuel Compatibility – Designed to be used with wood, cedar chips, charcoal, certain liquid fuels, and any kind of biomass.
- 100% Money Back Guarantee – Get your money back if you aren’t satisfied in any way with this model.
The large size and versatile fuel capability make this an excellent choice. The low cost means you can buy a good pot or pan to use for the same price as other pricier options. This is the choice for cost-conscious campers.
- 100% Money back guarantee. Large size for easy cooking. Great air ventilation allowing for hot cooking temperatures. Easy set up and take down
- Light weight & collapsible wood burning camping stove. Folds flat for easy storage. Carry case included with purchase
- Perfect for cooking with Wood, Charcoal, Cedar Pucks, Esbit Tablets, Stereo Fuel, ReadyFuel or any kind of Bio-Mass
- Weight: 520g / 1.1lbs - 304 Stainless Steel - 0.8 mm thick
The cylindrical design consists of 3 parts that fit inside one another for easy compact storage.
It is one of the smaller products on the market, making it a good choice for small parties of 2-3 campers.
TOAKS Titanium Advantages
- Ultra-Lightweight – Made from titanium, it only weighs 7.8 oz.
- Compact Design – Comprised of only 3 parts that break down and can be stacked inside each other, making it easy to set up.
- Extreme Durability – Being made from titanium means it is more durable than stainless steel meaning less warping. Ideal for all camping environments.
Moderately priced with a compact design, this is a great option for campers who want to maximize what they put in their packs. It might not be the most stable, but this can be fixed by placing rocks around the base to keep it in place.
- Origin: China
- Notes: 1. Received Outdoor INDUSTRY AWARD 2015 Friedrichshafen, Germany. 2. TOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove is compact/light, very easy to light the fire and of high efficiency. 3. The stove comprises of three parts, which can be stacked into each other and packed inside a fine and strong nylon stuff sack. 4. It can nest inside TOAKS 1100ml and 1600ml pots. 5. It can nest TOAKS 450ml Cup from outside.
- Weight: 7.9 oz (225g)
- Dimensions: Packed: 4 1/8" (D) x 4 1/8" (H) (105mm x 105mm) Assembled: 4 1/8" (D) x 8" (H) (105mm x 205mm)
- Material: Titanium (Grade 1 or 2, no coating)
The Bottom Line
If you are on an extremely tight budget, here is a YouTube video showing how to build your own wood burning stove:
There are many wood burning camp stoves on the market that will appeal to every type of camper. Whether you want a traditional experience, or you need to keep your electronic devices with you, there is an option that will suit your needs. Choosing the best one boils down to what you want out of your camping experience.