Gear weight matters even when you’re day hiking over relatively flat, even terrain. And when you’re backpacking, mountaineering, or thru-hiking for days or weeks, gear weight matters a lot.
The first time I did any proper mountaineering — which was a 2-day climb up the vaunted Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48 — I did some decidedly improper packing. Into my hefty hiking pack went way more apparel than I needed, a terrible sleeping pad that deflated beneath me, a heavy flashlight instead of a lightweight headlamp, and a camp stove that weighed 1.8 pounds, plus a 16-ounce fuel canister with a total weight of 2 pounds.
Do the math, and you’ll see that’s 3.8 pounds just for my stove hardware. And don’t even get me started on the cookware I brought.
No longer so naïve in the ways of gear, today, when climbing or hiking any appreciable distance, I pack a stove and fuel canister with a total combined weight of 13.88 ounces. This is, if you care for a bit more math, 4.3 times lighter than the aforementioned setup.
I have achieved such a minimalist cooking arrangement thanks to the Ti Camp Stove from Grayl. It weighs in at a scant 0.98 ounces, folds down small enough to fit in a change pocket, and yet is mighty enough to crank out 9,200 BTUs of heat. This portable little camping stove is one of the biggest improvements I’ve ever made to my kit.
In short: As elegantly simple as a piece of gear can be, the Ti Camp Stove unfurls its little arms, connects to a fuel canister, and cranks out heat as well as any small camp stove out there. It just does it while weighing less than any other reliable camping stove I’ve ever used, and costing a fraction of bigger brands’ comparable stoves. As far as compact, lightweight camp stoves go, this one ranks up there with the best. But it does have a few drawbacks.
- Weight 0.98 oz. (28 g)
- Dimensions 2” x 1.2”
- BTU output 9,200 max
- Remarkably small and lightweight
- High heat output
- Precise burner control
- Too small for use with large pots and pans
- Very loud while burning
Grayl Ti Camp Stove Review
This 0.98-ounce titanium (Ti) device is as basic as it gets. The stove screws onto a Lindal valve fuel canister (think the classic GigaPower or IsPro fuel cans for reference). It’s controlled by a fold-out wire ring that lets you keep things at a simmer or crank things up to full 9,200-BTU fury. Other small backpacking stoves have similar designs — but few achieve such high output, in such a small package.
For reference, most burners on kitchen stovetops range from 7,000 to 11,000 BTUs, so 9,200 for a tiny camp stove that weighs next to nothing is pretty wild.
The Ti’s trio of fold-out arms are small to be sure, but they’re sturdy enough to support a smaller pot or pan (or metal mug) with ease. And they fold in and out easily. A stove this small is, of course, without a built-in ignitor, but it catches instantly with a lighter or match held close. And it shuts off immediately and cools down quickly even after roaring away for several minutes.
About that roaring, though … well, we’ll get to that soon enough.
The Ti Camp Stove Side-by-Side
Many people consider MSR camping stoves to be the gold standard and, in many ways, they’re right. And don’t get me wrong, I’m in that number — MSR stoves are sublime. Which is why I picked an MSR PocketRocket Deluxe stove to compare with the Grayl x Pathfinder Ti Camp Stove. GearJunkie called the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, one of the “best camp stoves yet.”
So, how does the Grayl x Pathfinder compare as the underdog?
First, note that the PocketRocket Deluxe weighs 2.9 ounces, measures 3.3 inches high, and certainly could not fit in any change pocket — although it would certainly fit into a regular pocket. Few portable camp stoves are smaller or lighter, except Grayl’s Ti Camp Stove.
The PocketRocket is also quieter, and more stable, and it has a built-in igniter. All of those properties come with added size and weight — but it’s marginal. What really matters is how well these stoves churn out heat.
Unfortunately, MSR does not list BTUs for its stoves on its website. It does, however, say that the PocketRocket will boil a liter of water in 3.5 minutes. Grayl is the opposite — on its website, it says the Ti Stove is 9,200 BTU but makes no claims about how fast it will boil anything.
So, to test that, I placed exactly one cup of room-temperature water (tested with an instant-read thermometer) into a titanium pot. Then I fully cranked open and fired up each stove, running the timer until a steady, rolling boil commenced.
The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe had the water boiling away in 1 minute and 7 seconds. Not bad. Actually, pretty excellent.
The Ti Camp Stove had the water boiling in 1 minute and 21 seconds — which is 14 seconds slower.
Now, I know we’re splitting hairs here. What difference does 2 ounces or 14 seconds really make in the long run? Would you even notice the difference, if you took one stove backpacking over the other? Probably not.
But you will notice the difference when you make your purchase. While the standard MSR PocketRocket runs for $60, the Grayl x Pathfinder stove costs only $28.
The Cons We Gotta Cover
There is one serious drawback to the size of the Grayl x Pathfinder Ti Camp Stove: it really can’t be used safely with larger pots or pans. Balancing a wide, heavy pot filled with pasta or rice or a family-sized portion of oatmeal atop the Ti Camp Stove is a precarious undertaking even under the best of circumstances.
When I tried heating up a large pot of water atop it, I was nervous it would slip off with even a slight jostle, and this was on a flat table in my backyard, not on the rocks and roots and such you’ll encounter in most campsites or at the trailside. Granted, you likely won’t have large cookware along for multiday treks or climbs anyway.
Second, this little stove makes a lot of noise. As in, it positively roars compared to the MSR PocketRocket. Or Snow Peak’s famed LiteMax stove (which is double the weight of this one and more than twice the price) or a Jetboil stove — or really any others I know of. Is it the end of the world that your stove is noisy? Not at all. Is it annoying? Yeah, kind of.
Grayl x Pathfinder Ti Camp Stove: Conclusion
This is a very small stove that comes with a very small sticker price. It’s noisy, it’s not the best when it comes to wind protection, and yes, there are other stoves that heat things faster. But they do so by mere seconds, and they tend to outweigh the Ti by a factor of three, if not a factor of 10.
If you are counting every ounce of gear weight, you can count this stove in. And if you’re going on a glamping trip where weight couldn’t matter much, maybe bring it as a backup just the same.