Many lightweight backpackers carry alcohol stoves, while some ultralights won’t bother carrying a stove at all. For the rest of us, here are some considerations to keep in mind if you need to purchase a stove:
Cost. Consider the long-term cost of owning the stove by factoring in the cost on a per use basis. The stove itself may be cheap, but take into account the cost of the fuel, and any special components to operate it.
Durability. Look at the construction & materials, ease of taking it apart to clean/replace parts, etc. Are there are any flimsy plastic components that could break? The MSR whisper series receive accolades for it’s design & simmering ability, but many hikers complain that the plastic valve breaks over time. You don’t want to be bothered with the inconvenience of a broken stove while in the back country.
Fuel. If you are planning to travel outside of North America, look for stoves that burn multiple fuels. Most stoves in North America use white gas, kerosene is common in other parts of the world, as is unleaded auto fuel.
Boil Time. Decide if you want a stove that produces a hot flame quickly (boils water fast), or one that has simmer capability (gourmet cooking). There are even ones that will do both.
Waste. Look for stoves that do not have disposable parts. The propane tanks that come with the canister stoves are not recyclable or refillable. You will have to carry out the empty fuel canister and find a place to dispose of it properly. The fuel canisters are not easy to find unless you can get to a camp/outdoor store.
Weight. Consider not just the weight of the stove, but also the weight of the fuel canister filled with fuel. Decide how much weight you are willing to carry. The advantage of stoves with fuel bottles or refillable tanks is that you can carry as much fuel as you need. On shorter trips, you can get by without carrying a fuel bottle. If we top off our Coleman featherlight or exponent, the fuel lasts 3 days burning 2-3 meals per day.