www.jetboil.com, one pound
Jetboil aficionados read no further—just know that you’ll love the Sumo for its increased boiling capacity. “This is the coolest stove I’ve ever used,” raved one tester who camped during Central Oregon’s rainy season. Our team applauded the stove’s efficiency in harnessing the heat from the flame. On one wet Willamette Valley weekend, in 20-mile-per-hour winds and near-freezing temperatures, the stove consistently boiled 1.25 liters of cold lake water in less than four minutes. The new Sumo Group Cooking System comes with a 1.8-liter cooking cup, an insulating cozy that lets you to handle the hot pot without getting burned, a pot support to help stabilize the heavier load, and, of course, the fast, seeming weather-impervious Sol burner, with its dependable, one-touch igniter. Our backcountry chefs loved the stove’s ability to move fluidly from a boil to simmer, a welcome adjustment when you’re cooking up a worthy feast.
cascadedesigns.com, 1 pound, 1.2 ounces
In an industry that’s driven by the latest and greatest advancements, there’s something equally rewarding about products that stand the test of time. In that context, the XGK-EX stove deserves all the accolades it’s received since it was introduced over 35 years ago. This stove has performed reliably in extreme environments all over the world, from high up on mountains where elevation would render a lesser stove useless to countless backcountry excursions with the ambitious weekend warrior. The easy-to-use stove lights in almost any condition and gets a liter of water boiling in 2.8 minutes when burning kerosene fuel. The retractable legs swing out for serious stability (or collapse for easy storage), and a flexible fuel line (a new—and welcome—addition) accommodates larger pots for base camp culinary experimentation. The stove burns on just about anything—white gas, diesel, kerosene—so you won’t waste time in a remote locale hunting down a particular fuel type, making it one of the most expedition-friendly stoves on the market. And the easy maintenance means it’ll likely last you another 35 years.
www.jetboil.com, 14 ounces
The Jetboil one-cook system invigorated the camp stove scene when it came on the market a few years back. So how do you improve on inventing the wheel? By making it even easier to use. The Jetboil Flash still boasts all the assets of the original model—screw the fuel canister onto the burner, attach both to the cooking cup, press the button, and in two minutes you’ve got two cups of boiling-hot water. What’s new? A simple, collapsible tripod for added stability and a flame-shaped heat indicator that changes color when the contents are hot. And, OCDs rejoice: The whole contraption fits inside itself. Perfect for quick hot water on the go for instant backcountry grub or hot tea or cocoa. Caffeine addict? Opt for the Java Kit version, which includes a bag of beans and a French press attachment. Backcountry gourmet looking for more than just boiling water? Accessorize with a frying pan or 1.5- and 3-liter pots. No matter how complicated the recipe, getting the thing heated up will always be a breeze.
Comes in a variety of colors with a Swiss Army-like list of accessories and add-ons.
There’s no better piece of equipment than my MSR Whisperlite stove. I purchased it while in high school over 25 years ago and it has performed flawlessly. I actually feel kind of bad keeping it so long because I’d like to give MSR more of my business, but I just can’t get myself to replace it. I used it for years before cleaning it for the first time, which was out of necessity while hiking the Lake Superior Trail with my wife. When I couldn’t get a solid blue flame warm enough to cook anything, near-starvation from all day on the trail, and a wife threatening to bushwhack to the nearest restaurant, I decided to tear it apart. I was amazed how few parts there are, how easily I solved the problem, and how soon we were eating an awesome meal of pasta alfredo with salmon. Now, I tear the stove apart in the field, sometimes just to scare my camping partners, give it a good cleaning, and just sit back and watch it perform.
From a customer service perspective MSR is at the top. When my stove hit the age of 15, I couldn’t get pressure to build up in the fuel bottle. After trying a few unsuccessful fixes, I figured it was time for a new stove. One phone call to MSR and a few bucks later they sent me an entirely new fuel pump. Problem solved.
I’m heading up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a few days of canoeing with my wife and daughters. If there’s only one thing I will pass onto my kids when it comes to spending time outdoors, it’s the importance of good gear. My MSR Whisperlite is at the top of the list.
–Scot Fawcett, August Gear Give-Away Winner
Burns on white gas; boils 1 liter of water in about 3.9 minutes, depending on elevation; Shaker jet cleans fuel with simple jiggle; made in Seattle, WA; fuel bottle’s come in 11, 20 and 30 fl. oz. models (and cost from $12-$20).
cascadedesigns.com; 3 ounces
I first wrote about MSR’s PocketRocket in 2003, when I tested it during a backpacking adventure in Shenandoah National Park. Then I had kids and my days of camping were put on ice for a few years. But I’ve recently been taking my kids car camping, where the model seems to be pack everything and the kitchen sink. Yet despite my equipment largesse, the PocketRocket still goes everywhere we go and is, hands down, the best piece of camping equipment I own. In my original review on GORP.com I wrote, “Whip this tiny go-go-gadget fire breather from its four-inch-long holster, thread it onto your iso-butane fuel canister, snap a match, and away you go. Camp cuisine has never been so easy.” Five years on that advice holds true. Whether you’re an ultralight purist (the PocketRocket’s 2010 edition is a mere three ounces) or just need to boil up some hot chocolate for a pack of hungry kids, this stove stands the test of time.