Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
My husband is really into rock climbing. Like, his idea of a fun, relaxing weekend is scaling a crag in the blistering sun. While I’m an outdoorsy–ish person, I’m much more at home preparing dinner at the campsite than trying to get my toe to find purchase on a rock chip the size of a penny. And, most of the time, my idea of camp cooking involves a fire, a cast iron skillet, and some potatoes and steak a la Samwise Gamgee (if he can lug a cast iron skillet to Mordor, I can lug one to a campsite).
But, on occasion, I find great pleasure in roughing it a little and cooking a meal over a teensy backpacking stove. Most often this involves boiling water and rehydrating some dehydrated backpacking food, at the end of a long day hiking or climbing, since sometimes I really just want to eat something and leave the tinkering to my home kitchen. Enter the Jetboil Stash Stove, my preferred “stovetop” (if you could call it that) for all manner of backpacking adventures.
It’s Light as a Feather and Teeny Tiny
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
This is truly a minute backpacking stove—it’s about three-and-a-half by three inches and weighs a mere seven ounces. That’s less than, I don’t know, an avocado—and it won’t get mushed in your backpack! It also folds down into a small, compact form; just push the stove arms to the side and tuck it in the little bag it comes with for storage, or pull the arms out to get cooking. The Stash also comes with a small pot (it’s 0.8 liters) that’s perfect for boiling water or cooking some instant rice.
It’s Easy to Use and Fast to Boil
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
When it comes to boiling water on a backpacking adventure, you don’t really want to wait around for 10 minutes for it to finally burble up some bubbles. The stove you’re using should be easy to set up and quick to boil—and the Stash aces both of these tests. To get started, unpack the stove and screw it onto a canister of isobutane-propane (danger, danger! Don’t substitute anything else!). You’ll know it’s penetrated the canister when you hear a whooshing sound, and you’ll know it’s tightly screwed on when the sound goes away. Get your pot filled with water or what have you, and light the stove by opening the gas valve (just spin it in the direction of the + sign marked on it)—you’ll hear it releasing gas. Carefully aim your lighter at the stove prongs, ignite, and voila, the stove is lit. You won’t see any actual flames, more like little heat waves emanating upwards from the stove. Adjust the heat by turning the dial towards + for hotter and towards – for less power. Set your pot over the burner, and in two minutes flat (or less), your water will be boiling. Once you’re done, just turn the gas valve all the way to the right (towards the “-” sign) and the stove will snuff out.
Other Gear Needed to Cook on the Jetboil Stash
A pot is probably the most versatile piece of cookware you can have on a backpacking trip: you can use it to boil water or even stew some Patagonia bean soup (it’s actually quite good, though I suggest bringing a bag of salt to season). While the Stash comes with a compatible pot that’s lightweight and fairly compact, I also like the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot (it’s a tad cheaper) and if you’re looking for a comprehensive cookware set, the GSI Pinnacle Backpacker set is great—it includes a pot, pan, and serving cups. And while you can get away with a single pot most of the time (most backpacking meals are “cooked” by adding hot water), having a compact backpacking skillet can also be useful. One of my favorite backpacking meals is the biscuits and sausage gravy from Packit Gourmet, which requires cooking the biscuits in a skillet. I use the Jetboil Summit Skillet, which has a folding handle and concentric grooves on the bottom of the pan, helping it stay put on the stove. A set of camping silverware is also nice—nothing fancy, perhaps something like this set from Sea to Summit.
If you’re using the Stash, you’ll also want to bring a lighter—the one downer about this particular stove is it doesn’t include an auto-ignite button. Lastly, you’ll need fuel, or else you’ll have to do what I did on one unfortunate trip and try to boil water over a pile of kindling (it’s a long story, but let’s just say, I don’t know how ancient humans cooked anything). The Stash, and many other ultra-light backpacking stoves, run on isopropane butane, which comes in various canister sizes. While there are multi-fuel stoves out there (they can run on white gas, isobutane, and even jet fuel—yes, actual jet fuel), they tend to be slightly larger and bulkier, since they include a line to attach to a larger canister bottle.
What is a backpacking stove?
Unlike car camping stoves, which are larger and heavy (often weighing in around 14-plus pounds), backpacking stoves weigh mere ounces and are super compact. Depending on the style of stove, they can use either disposable isopropane butane canisters and/or refillable fuel bottles.
What fuel can you use with a backpacking stove?
It depends on the stove. Most ultra-lightweight backpacking stoves run on isopropane butane canisters, which have to be recycled once they’re empty. Multi-fuel stoves, which tend to be a tad bigger, can be used with a variety of fuel types such as isopropane butane, white gas, and even jet fuel.
What can you cook with a backpacking stove?
It depends on what your camping goals are! If you’re at a campsite, then you can cook things like eggs and even light meals like chicken, vegetables, or beans and rice. (Just keep in mind that most ultra-light stoves won’t be able to hold up a cast iron skillet.) Most people use backpacking stoves to boil water to rehydrate packaged freeze-dried meals, which are lightweight and caloric (essential for fueling days of hiking).