A cheap backpacking stove makes most people think of useless junk that will fall apart on the first trip into the field. However, just because a backpacking stove is cheap does not mean that it will not be useful and stand up to years of use. While I personally love to cook over an open fire there are times this is not a possibility due to open flame restrictions or time restrictions. Due to my preference for cooking over an open fire I only carry the simplest of stoves on backpacking trips. Here are three cheap backpacking stoves that I have found useful. These cheap backpacking stoves can help you to have more money to spend on taking trips into the wilderness.
For those looking for the absolute lowest cost a simple folding stove that operates with Sterno or a similar canned heat source. For less than $10 Coghlans makes a typical folding stove. Coghlans makes a number of inexpensive camping, emergency, and outdoor gear that shows a remarkable level of quality. These simple folding stoves weigh almost nothing and can pack away into a pocket (just let it cool down first!).
For beginner backpackers perhaps the best choice for a cheap backpacking stove is probably the Coleman Deluxe Perfectflow Stove. For about $30 this basic stove attaches to the top of a propane bottle and includes a base that slides onto the bottom of the propane bottle. Not ideal for elaborate meals as the stove is somewhat prone to falling over when not placed onto a perfectly flat surface, but this cheap backpacking stove will get food heated up which is the name of the game. The propane bottles are not especially small or light but are workable for recreational backpacking. Numerous companies make similar stoves that work in the same way that all should perform if well made.
Another cheap backpacking stove is the Primus Classic Trail Stove that sells for about $25. This stove works with fuel canisters and works in a similar manner to the Coleman propane bottle stove. While the Primus Classic Trail Stove is probably a better backpacking stove than the Coleman, the propane bottles for the Coleman and the Coleman stove itself is much easier to find for those going on last minute trips or those getting supplies in the middle of nowhere. If you are prepared and plan your trips then the Primus is the way to go.
There are lots of choices for cheap backpacking stoves. If none of these stoves fits your backpacking needs check out the numerous camping retailers and look for a sale or clearance item that you like.