What Fuel Do Backpacking Stoves Use?

By Robert Palmer

Backpacking stoves provide a convenient way to cook and heat water while on the trail. But what fuel do they use? The answer depends on the type of stove you have.

One of the most common types of backpacking stove is a liquid fuel stove. These stoves use white gas, kerosene, or unleaded gasoline as their fuel source. White gas is the most popular choice as it’s cleaner burning than kerosene or unleaded gasoline, and it also tends to be more widely available in outdoor stores.

Another popular choice for backpacking stoves is an alcohol-based stove.

These are fueled by denatured alcohol, which can be found in any hardware store or home improvement center. Alcohol produces less heat than liquid fuels, so it’s not ideal for larger pots and pans that require more heat to cook quickly.

For those looking for an even more eco-friendly option, a wood-burning stove may be the way to go. These stoves use twigs, leaves, pine cones and other small pieces of wood as fuel. They’re great for boiling water and simmering food but they won’t provide enough heat for larger meals.

Canister stoves are another type of backpacking stove that uses pre-filled canisters of pressurized propane or isobutane/propane blends. This fuel is typically found in camping stores and provides a clean burn with good performance in colder temperatures.


Backpacking stoves come in several different varieties, each using its own type of fuel – from white gas to denatured alcohol to pre-filled pressurized canisters. Ultimately which one you choose will depend on your own personal tastes and needs when in the outdoors.