Podcast Episode May 23, 2019

Episode 10 | StoveBench: A Protocol for Comparing the Performance of Backpacking Stoves




Today’s episode is a TECH SHORT. In this episode, we talk about StoveBench: Backpacking Light’s new protocol for standardizing stove performance comparisons.

We just published our huge Upright Canister Stove Gear Guide, in which we evaluated over thirty different backpacking stoves, eventually putting 17 through a variety of StoveBench tests. In light of that article we wanted to take a few minutes to more fully explain StoveBench.

In developing StoveBench, Ryan’s goal was to create a protocol capable of producing replicable results from home testing spaces all over the world.

Ryan begins the episode by explaining two important metrics: power and efficiency. Andrew gives a little backstory on why it was necessary to create StoveBench, and Ryan explains the protocol’s nuts and bolts.

After that the guys run through a few of the frequently asked questions surrounding StoveBench.



Ryan and Andrew introduce today’s topic: The StoveBench Protocol.

The Convo

The StoveBench protocol is an effort to decrease variables and increase accurate testing results when measuring the performance of backpacking stoves.

  • First of all, what are we measuring?
    • What is efficiency?
    • What is power?
  • Why did Ryan develop StoveBench?
    • The need became evident as BPL began researching and writing its forthcoming Upright Canister Stove Gear Guide.
    • Manufacturer provided data is dependent upon unknown variables
      • Ambient temperature of the lab, fuel, and water
      • Elevation of the lab
      • Amount of fuel inside a testing canister
      • Size, shape, and material of the testing pot
      • Temperature of the water before boiling
      • Saline content of the water
      • And so on!
    • Ryan wanted to create a system that could be replicated easily so as to add to the general knowledge of the ultralight community.
  • How does StoveBench work?
    • What are we testing?
    • What data are we collecting, and what tools are we using?
    • What is a StoveBench score?
    • What are the strengths of StoveBench?
    • What type of fuel are we using?
    • What is the average sample size of a StoveBench test?
  • Common StoveBench questions
    • What pot size, shape, and material did you choose as the StoveBench baseline, and what are the possible ramifications of those choices?
    • Can StoveBench be applied to other types of stoves: wood burning, alcohol, integrated stove systems, etc?
    • Won’t elevation skew the results? In order to get a better stove bench score, couldn’t you just hike up a mountain?
    • Aren’t stoves more efficient when you run them below full throttle? How will this affect StoveBench Scores?
    • Is this all going over people’s heads? For the average hiker, doesn’t “boil time” just matter the most?
    • With the nearly endless combination of fuels, pots, stoves, windscreens, etc, what is the practical application of arriving at a StoveBench score derived from standardizing variables?
    • What are some other potential flaws with the protocol, and what can we do about them?

Click here to read the StoveBench protocol for yourself. Make sure to read the forum as well! Also, make sure you are subscribed to the pod so you don’t miss our long Canister Stove episode, coming soon! Finally, be sure to check out our Canister Stove Gear Guide. It’s huge!

Feedback, Questions, Tips?


  • Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
  • Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
  • Andrew Marshall – Producer, Writer, Host, and Editor
  • Look for Me in the Mountains – Music

Sponsors: Help us Keep the Podcast ADVERTISING-FREE!

  • This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is supported and kept advertising-free by Backpacking Light membership fees. Please consider becoming a member which helps support projects like this podcast, in addition to a whole slew of other benefits!
  • In addition, some of the links on this page may be affiliate links that refer to our partner merchant retailers. If you follow a link and then make a purchase, we receive a small commission which goes a long way towards helping us pay for podcast production, hosting, and bandwidth fees! Thanks for supporting us in this way!


You can contact us at [email protected], or follow us on social media –


  • We do not accept money or in-kind compensation for guaranteed media coverage: Backpacking Light does not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage.
  • Affiliate links: Some (but not all) of the links in this review may be “affiliate” links, which means if you click on a link to one of our affiliate partners (usually a retailer site), and subsequently make a purchase with that retailer, we receive a small commission. This helps us fund our editorial projects, podcasts, instructional webinars, and more, and we appreciate it a lot! Thank you for supporting Backpacking Light!

Free Handbook

Get ultralight backpacking skills, gear info, philosophy, news, and more.

Join Our Community

Become a Backpacking Light Member

Forum Access

Unrestricted access to all forums, plus the ability to post and start new threads.

Premium Content

Unrestricted access to all 2,300+ articles, gear reviews, skills, stories, and more.

Community Posts

Post new content to the community including gear swaps, reviews, trip reports and more!

Online Education

Get unlimited access to all our online education (*Unlimited membership required).

Pack less. Be more. Become a member today!

Get Started