Thru-Hiking 101: How Much Stove Fuel Should You Carry?

The best way to determine how much stove fuel you will need while hiking is to test your stove at home before your hike.

Related Post: Thru-Hiking 101, 4 Popular Fuel Canisters Compared

I recommend cooking at least one representative day of food at home and then use the amount of fuel consumed to estimate how much fuel you will need on the trail. For example, if you plan on boiling just 2 cups of water a day then I would recommend boiling 2 cups of water at home using your stove. Then use the amount of fuel you consumed to calculate how long a full tank of fuel would last while hiking. Below is a step by step procedure on how to estimate how long your fuel will last while backpacking.

Step 1: Read the Manual

Follow the stove recommendations for the safe operation of your stove. Each stove comes with a manual.

Stove Instruction Manual

Step 2: Use a Scale

Weigh the fuel canister and write down the weight before using the stove.

A backpacking fuel canister being weighed on a scale.

Step 3: Cook

Use the stove for cooking each representative meal for the day. This might be three meals or just one.  For a crude estimate you can just boil the amount of water you need for each meal.

Peak Stove Boiling Water

Step 4: Weigh Again

Weigh the fuel canister after cooking a representative full day of meals. Record the weight on paper.

Canister Stove Weight

Step 5: Calculations

Take the weight of the canister before cooking and subtract the weight of the canister after cooking. The weight difference is the approximate amount of fuel you will use in a day of cooking.

In this demonstration the weight of fuel canister was 262 grams before cooking and 252 grams after cooking. The weight difference was 10 grams which is the approximate fuel that will be used in a day of cooking.

Step 6: Calculations

Look at the fuel weight printed on the side of the canister. Divide the canister fuel weight by the amount of fuel you used to cook a day of food. The result equals the approximate days a full fuel canister will last while hiking.

Snow Peak Fuel Canister
Fuel Weight Calculation

Here’s an example of how many days a 220 gram fuel canister will last:

Fuel Tip: Have a partial canister and want to know how much fuel is left?

Weigh a full canister of the same brand and size. Then weigh the partially full canister. The difference in the weight between the full canister and the partial canister is equal to the amount of fuel consumed in the partially full canister. Subtract the difference from the marked weight of the full canister.  This is the amount of fuel that remains in the partial canister.

fuel weight marked on side of canister – (weight of full canister – weight of partially used canister) = amount of fuel remaining