New Zealand Adventure Riders

Cooking Stoves For Adventure Riding 

While there are a number of different cooking stove types, when it comes to adventure riding the two most popular options are canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves. Each stove has pros and cons so one type of cooking stove that best suits one rider may not suit you. A lot will depend on how long your adventure rides are, as well as where your adventures take you. 

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Cooking Stove Purchase Price

Canister cooking stoves are far cheaper than liquid fuel stoves to purchase. A good quality canister stove can cost around 20% to 40% of the price of a good quality liquid fuel stove and bottle.

Cooking Stove Ease Of Use

Canister cooking stoves win hands down. They are super quick and easy to use. Many have a built in piezo ignition system allowing you to have a pot of water on the boil in a mere couple of seconds after you decide you feel like a cup of tea.

Liquid fuel stoves however have a start-up process of pumping, priming and preheating so it's normally a good couple of minutes before your pot of water is on the boil.

Cooking Stove Weight And Fuel Weight

Gas canister stoves are normally always lighter and smaller than the liquid fuel stoves however that's not looking at the whole picture. We need to take into account the weight and size of the fuel also.

Gas canisters themselves are quite light so for short trips or trips where only a little cooking will be done, gas canister stoves can be considered the winner. For longer trips however, multiple canisters will need to be carried if you can't buy new canisters or correctly dispose of used canisters along the way.

This is where the liquid fuel stoves have a big advantage as it is easier and more compact to carry larger volumes of liquid fuel, plus there isn't the hassle of disposing of used canisters.

Canisters Versus Liquid Fuel Availability

For short trips the availability of canisters and liquid fuel is of little relevance as you will likely have a good stockpile at home. For longer trips however it can prove difficult to find gas canisters in some of the more remote places. This is where the benefit of a liquid fuel stove really kicks in. On the whole, liquid fuel is far more readily available. This benefit is further amplified with the multi-fuel stoves that can run on various liquids including alcohol, methylated spirits, kerosene, diesel and most conveniently; petrol from your motorbike tank.


Cold temperatures are the canister stove’s Achilles' heel. While liquid fuel stoves will operate happily below freezing level, cold temperatures create low canister pressure and render a canister stove almost useless.

Most adventure trips are aimed around good weather so this may not be an issue for most adventure riders however it is certainly food for thought if you plan to do trips throughout the colder months or if you plan to head up into the High Country where lower temperatures will be regularly encountered.

Cooking Stove Economy

The convenience and simplicity of a canister stove comes at a cost. The results of MSR’s recent economy test concluded that one hour of typical cooking on a canister stove has a cost of $8.50NZ. One hour of typical cooking on a liquid fuel stove running white spirits has a cost of $2.15NZ. This means a liquid fuel stove operates at 26% of the running cost of a canister stove. MSR also claim that by using some of the more economical liquid fuels such as kerosene or diesel can get economies down as low as 5% when compared to a canister stove.

Recommended Cooking Stoves

There are a number of great canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves on the market. Naturally the higher quality brands will better protect against failures in the field. Below are options that have proven to be excellent for New Zealand adventure riders. 

MSR WhisperLite Liquid Fuel Stove

MSR produce a number of liquid stoves however the MRS WhisperLite is one of the most well-known. One of its strengths is its reliability. It is a great option for where white spirits or kerosene is available as these are the main fuel sources for this stove. 

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SOTO Muka Liquid Fuel Stove

This is a Japanese built stove that runs on petrol. It has an exceptionally short preheating stage plus it has good heat output and flame control. This is a great option if you prefer not to carry cooking fuel with you and prefer to use petrol from your bike’s fuel tank. An important note is that this stove only runs on 91 octane petrol so if your bike runs on higher octane petrol then you’ll need to carry a bottle of 91 octane petrol with you. Fuel with higher octane levels of 95, 96, 98 etc have additives that can block the stove. 

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SOTO Compact Canister Stove

This Japanese built canister stove is one of the smallest stoves in the single burner stove with igniter category. This compactness is ideal for adventure riding and yet it still folds out to support large pots. 

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