Backpacking stoves can be complicated little beasts. There are many different types each type, each with their own wide variety of specs, pros and cons. You’ll need to know some of the lingo before you go anywhere. Here’s a glossary to get you started.
Alcohol – Alcohol stoves are popular in the lightweight backpacking community. They can be easily made and just require a bit of alcohol to burn which can be purchased at many hardware or drug stores. Alcohol stoves take longer to boil water than liquid fuel stoves and iso-butane stoves.
Canister – Stoves that connect to an iso-butane gas canister. They tend to be small and light. They can sit on top of the canister or be remote (see below).
CrunchIt – A tool from JetBoil used to punch a hole in iso-butane canisters so they can be recycled. They cannot be recycled if they still have iso-butane in them. You can also do this with a screwdriver through the side of the canister.
Drip-feed – Using a remote iso-butane canister upside down and using the liquid from the canister. The liquid is used to burn instead of the the pressurized gas. When the liquid is used, it’s a lot less temperature dependent. The gas reduces to a liquid at a low temperatures and if you don’t use the liquid from the start then the liquid won’t work in your stove.
Esbit – A brand of Hexamine tablets.
Fuel free lighter – Some lighters like the SOL Fuel Free lighter just use electricity to start fire. They can be recharged with USB.
Fuel jets – The jets spray the vaporized fuel out to be burnt. They can get plugged if you are using a dirty kind of fuel. The jets might also have to be changed out if you are using a different type of fuel like iso-butane or kerosene compared to naphtha.
Hexamine – A type of solid fuel that’s often sold in tablets. You place the tablet in a holder under your pot and light it. The tablets were originally used to heat military rations. Can be expensive.
Iso-butane – the mixture of butane that canisters use for canister stoves. It’s pressurized in the stove. It’s a lot less volatile than propane and doesn’t have to be in as thick of containers.
Kerosene – A type of fuel that can be used in some liquid fuel stoves. It’s available widely outside of North America and can be used as an alternative fuel while travelling. The stove jets often have to be changed to use Kerosene and might have to be cleaned more often.
Multi-fuel – Stoves that can use different types of fuel. It used to mean different types of liquid fuel like white gas, kerosene, gasoline or jet fuel. Some new stoves can burn iso-butane canisters as well as liquid fuel.
Naptha – The liquid fuel that comes with a lot of camp stoves these days. It’s often called Coleman or White gas.
Priming – The process of heating up the tubes on the stove so that the liquid fuel can be turned into a gas and burned in the stove.
Remote – Remote stoves are not attached directly to the fuel canister or bottle their fuel is from. There is a fuel tube that connects the stove to the fuel bottle. Non-remote iso-butane stoves attached directly to the top of the fuel canister. Remote canister stoves can be used upside down with a drip feed attachment that makes them work better in cold temperatures.
Trioxane – A type of solid fuel that’s often solid in tablets. Often cheaper than Hexamine. Gives off many different chemicals when burned so keep away from fumes.
Updated August 28, 2022. Originally published April, 2015.