How to Use a Canister Stove

Waking up after sleeping surrounded by the sounds of the forest, the cold morning air nipping at the tip of your nose, the thought of staying in your sleeping bag forever crosses your mind.

If you’ve ever experienced this you know how hard it can be to get up and moving. Knowing that a warm cup of coffee followed by breakfast is only minutes away is what gets me up and moving on those cool mornings.

Canister stoves are compact and easy to use, making them the perfect cooking system to bring along with you.

A lot of options these day will even pack into themselves so you can carry everything you need all in the area of the stove where you’ll cook your meal.

While using these canister systems may seem intuitive to some, others of us definitely need a quick walk through before diving in.

Personally I was in the latter camp my first time using one, and luckily I had some really nice guys at my campsite who showed me the ropes!

What You’ll Need:

  • Canister stove (I have this Jetboil, but I’ve heard awesome things about this MSR)
  • Fuel Cartridge
  • Lighter
  • Water (for cooking)
  • Meal/coffee/tea (what’s the point of bringing your stove if you have nothing to put in it?!)


  1. Uncap your gas canister and screw on the burner

Note: you’re going to hear a gentle hissing at first, screw it on until that noise is gone!

2. Align your stove pot with the burner and click it into place by pushing it down and then twisting it to the right

      3. Turn the nozzle on the pot part of the stove to the left to open the stream of gas. You should be able to you that the aforementioned hissing noise

      4.Get out your lighter, light it, and hold it up to the source of the hissing noise. Do this until it catches light and you can see the flame

      5. Your stove is going to heat up incredibly quickly now. Turn the heat down as much as you can without putting out your gas.

      6. Add in water and let come to a boil

       7. Follow the instructions on your meal and cook accordingly. OR wait until water is boiling and add in your meal, then turn down to simmer

       8. Turn off your stove by twisting to nozzle all the way to the right.

Note: You’ll know it’s off because the flame will go out and you won’t hear anything.

       9. Let stove cool off and Enjoy your meal!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Once your stove has a flame going DO NOT under any circumstances turn it on it’s side. This will create a flamethrower situation and can seriously injure you or someone you’re with.
  • Bring an extra bandana with you for easy clean up and drying
  • Make sure you add in the water first- if you add in your food and then the water if might burn on the bottom of the pot
  • If you do burn your food on the bottom of the pot put some water in it and boil. Once boiled let cool and then wipe off with your bandana. This will get rid of any food residue stuck to the bottom!
  • You can eat out of your stove but I like to bring my collapsible mug so I can drink my coffee while breakfast cooks

Now that we’ve talked about how to use your stove let’s talk about my favorite backpacking meal!

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and filling breakfast you can check out the bottom of this post!

Backpackers Pantry makes awesome freezedried meals and their three cheese pasta is my favorite by leaps and bounds!

Tiny pieces of grated zucchini, soft noodles, and a creamy cheese sauce will leave you feeling like you’re living the good life while at camp.

What I really like about this particular meal is that it comes in a pouch meant for 2, but the total calories for the whole thing clocks in at just over 600. This is the perfect amount after a full day of backpacking, or a great option to share with a friend during some casual camping!


Question: What’s your favorite backpacking meal?

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