The 5 Best Camping Stoves
If you’re like me, the first thing you do upon waking up at your campsite is to fire up the propane stove. The need for caffeine doesn’t stop in the wilderness, and my camping stove is my saving grace when it comes to making coffee while camping. That means getting started on hot water before everything else—first things first, am I right? Soon the rest of the gang will be up, clamoring for oatmeal, pancakes, or their own cups of joe, so nothing but the best camping stove will do.
There are a number of different camping stoves on the market, with different features and benefits. So which fits your needs? We’ll review five of the best camping stoves here.
In This Article
Best Choice: Coleman Gas Stove | Portable Propane Gas Classic Camp Stove with 2 Burners
The Coleman Portable Propane Gas Classic Camp Stove with 2 Burners is a classic when it comes to camping. Because of its sturdy build and size, it wins our choice for best camping stove.
The Coleman Portable Propane Gas Classic Camp Stove with 2 Burners is a top camping stove whether you’re camping alone or with company. The Coleman Classic Camp Stove has a steel frame and two independent burners with 10,000 BTUs of cooking power each. These burners are controllable, from high to low. It uses a 16.4 oz. canister of propane and gives 1 hour of cooking time with both burners on high, or 4.5 hours on low.
The Classic has the technology to provide both fuel efficiency and performance in harsh weather. The large folding wind guards help prevent annoying flame blowout, ensure maximum heat, and adjust to varying pot/pan sizes. The chrome-plated grate is removable for easy cleaning with water and mild detergent, and the aluminized steel cooktop is rust-resistant. This stove really is the best camping stove in my eyes—you’ll never fail to feed yourself or a crowd.
I happen to have owned this particular model, and I absolutely loved it. This, and the cast iron camping griddle I bought to go with it, were all I needed to keep everyone fed and happy at all hours of the day
Item Key Features:
- Great features for the price point
- Can fit a 10” and a 12” pot/pan at the same time so you can cook for a crowd or make more complex menu items
- The high-pressure regulator maintains a constant flame despite weather or altitude, ensuring a more even cook and preventing flame blowout
- At 22” long and 11 lbs, it’s bulky if you need to carry it long distances
Premium Pick: Camp Chef Tahoe Deluxe 3 Burner Grill
The Camp Chef Tahoe Deluxe 3 Burner Grill is the perfect camping stove for anyone who wants to cook like they’re in a five-star kitchen. With three burners, this is the best camping stove for feeding large groups or cooking complex dishes.
The Camp Chef Tahoe Deluxe 3 Burner Grill is a serious propane camping stove for large groups, like the multi-family camping we do, as well as Scouting campouts. It is Chef’s largest and most powerful stove. A bit pricy, it’s more like an outdoor appliance sure to let you camp in luxury.
The Tahoe lights with a Piezo electric ignition and can be set up either outdoors or in an RV by hooking up to the RV’s propane tank. Like the Coleman, the Tahoe also has a 3-sided windscreen, but it has three powerful burners with patented wind baffle technology. In addition, the burner housing limits hot and cold spots.
Due to its size, two chefs can work at this stove at the same time without getting in each other’s way. As part of the Camp Chef’s 16” integrated system, many accessories are available for the Tahoe, including a carrying case or even a pizza oven (sold separately). Assembly is easy and takes 30 minutes or less, with removable legs and handles making it more portable and storable than some of the competition. Once broken down, it can be stored on a shelf.
Item Key Features:
- 3 powerful burners for cooking dishes simultaneously
- Unique wind-buffeting technology for outdoor cooking
- Large cooking area can easy fit two cooks
- Limited portability due to its size, weight, and the need for a full-sized propane tank
Best Value: Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition
The Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove is the best camping stove for someone on a budget. With a reliable Piezo ignition, extreme fuel efficiency, and hyper-lightweight design, it wins our choice for affordability.
The Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove is similar to the backpacking stoves that my Eagle Scout neighbors own. This is the type of stove favored by solo hikers for use out in the wilderness to boil water for freeze-dried trail meals, oatmeal, tea, etc.
The stainless steel and aluminum alloy construction give this collapsible stove a 3.4 oz. trail weight, making it light enough to carry out to primitive locations. The Ultralight’s four legs are steady on uneven terrain or rocks. It can accommodate a pot or pan up to 7” in diameter. Attached to a 7/16 thread single butane/butane-propane mixed fuel canister (EN 417), the Ultralight puts out 6.666 BTUs of flame. A secondary rubber gasket helps to prevent gas leakage.
Unlike many stoves of this style, the Etekcity Ultralight has the Piezo electric spark ignition system, making it much more efficient to light than comparable stoves. The distance from the flame base to the pot is narrower than some other brands, which allows for faster heating and less fuel waste. It slides easily into the compact carrying case, which is included, and can literally fit into your pocket.
- Very reasonably priced compared to similar stoves
- Light enough for remote primitive trail camping
- 4 legs instead of the usual 3 give better support
- Highly efficient fuel system
- Does not perform well in wind and high-altitude conditions
Best Backpacking: Coleman Gas Stove | Portable Bottletop Propane Camp Stove with Adjustable Burner
The Coleman Bottletop Propane Camp Stove is another top backpacking stove. With its lightweight design and power, it comes with features that allow it to operate at high altitudes or in wind, giving it an edge over the other best backpacking stoves.
The official stove of the National Park Foundation, the Coleman Bottletop Propane Camp Stove is another compact stove created for portability. With more power than some others with a single burner, it delivers 10,000 BTUs of flame, and the knob allows for adjustment. Smaller and simpler than the Coleman Classic, this little powerhouse has wind baffles to shield the flame and maintain heat.
Coleman’s “PerfectFlow” technology allows for better performance in high altitudes or below-freezing conditions and prevents flame flickers and flares. It also makes for better fuel efficiency. You get 2.2 hours of cook time on the high setting and up to 9 hours on low. Boiling time for 2 cups of water on high is about 3 minutes. The unit cools off quickly for packing up and moving on after use. The Bottle Top can handle an 8” pot/pan. The detachable base is sturdy, preventing topple-overs. It is also adjustable on uneven surfaces.
- More BTUs than similar stoves
- Uses propane instead of butane
- Works in high altitudes and low temperatures
- Adjustable for balance on uneven surfaces
- The propane canisters may be too heavy for long-distance backpacking
Best Dual Fuel: Gas ONE GS-3900P New Dual Fuel Propane or Butane Portable Stove
The Gas ONE GS-3900P New Dual Fuel Propane or Butane Portable Stove is the best camping stove in terms of versatility. Capable of being operated with both butane or propane, it offers campers the flexibility to cook in the wilderness, no matter the temperature or altitude.
The Gas ONE GS-3900P New Dual Fuel Propane or Butane Portable Stove is chock full of features for any occasion. It has 4-sided wind blockers and non-slip rubber legs aid in stabilization. At 15,000 BTUs, this is the most powerful burner available on our list today.
Along with all that heat, the Gas One has multiple safety features: The adjustment knob is heat resistant, it has a lock lever for inserting butane cartridges, and there is a built-in gas flow cut off and a cartridge ejection system. It also has a Piezo electric ignition, so no dealing with matches. The enamel drip pan is easy to clean, and all of this comes with a carrying case.
You may be asking, “Why a dual-fuel stove?” However, different fuels have different properties that can make your camping trip easier or harder if you camp in different environments. Propane is better in harsh cold, but the canisters weigh in at 16.4 oz. Butane does not do well in the cold, but the canisters are cheaper and lighter to carry at half the weight. If you do a lot of mixed cold-weather and warm-weather camping, being able to switch between the two can seriously affect pack weight.
Alternatively, there could be situations when you may run out of fuel during a trip and only one kind is available, especially abroad. This thought is making me reconsider my recent purchase of a similar single-fuel stove! Dual-fuel models can handle both propane and butane and have a propane adapter hose included.
- Most powerful burner available for faster boil time
- Multiple safety features to protect you and your family
- Can use either butane or propane for versatility and flexibility
- Large skillets cannot be used on the Gas One
Considerations in Choosing the Best Camping Stove
Camping stoves are more convenient than campfire cooking because there is no need to gather dry brush or strike flint together to make a cooking fire. However, the decision still may be lingering of what the best camping stove is for you.
All of these stoves burn clean with no soot or debris left behind. Therefore, they adhere to the “Leave No Trace” principles established by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service. All of these top camping stoves set up and break down easily and suit different purposes. Our family keeps a variety of camp stoves for our different uses, like backpacking and car camping.
In purchasing one stove, it may help you to think about which is best for your “most often” use.
Solo vs. Group Camping
Do you usually head out on the trail alone, or are you usually with a companion or group? If going solo, a single-burner camping stove may be the best cooking stove for your needs. These are adequate for boiling water for convenient trail meals in bags or cooking small dinners to feed one.
Conversely, you may camp with a group more often. I love camp cooking with my friends and family, so the more burners, the better! One-burner stoves limit the size of pot/pan that you can use, which is an issue when feeding several people. Larger stoves can also accommodate regular kitchen-size pots and pans.
The Long Road Ahead: How Far Out Are You Hiking?
Here is where the weight of your stove and fuel come into play. A long solo hike out to a primitive location demands a lightweight stove. This is the reasoning behind the compact, one-burner styles. Tabletop and freestanding stoves are a car camping staple. If your heart is set on taking a heavier stove out on the trail with a group, consider splitting up the components into several backpacks – share the weight.
Which Way Are You Going?
Some states have regulations restricting the use of propane and butane camp stoves without a permit, so it’s smart to check for such regulations at your intended destination ahead of time. Also, keep altitude in mind. Butane does not work well at high elevations. Remember to check local regulations in order to dispose of used canisters properly. These are potentially flammable, and, in some places, considered hazardous waste. These canisters are difficult to recycle and often end up in landfills or littering the landscape. That’s why it’s absolutely important to adhere to the Leave No Trace rule and clean up after yourself.
What’s the Weather?
Your stove will be nothing more than a nice paperweight if the wind continually blows out the flame. You will also be hungry. An extra-powerful burner can help. Look for a stove with some type of built-in wind guard.
Do NOT attempt to create your own wind guard close around your stove. Heat may build up around the fuel canister and you will risk explosion.
It would be better to try to set up wind blocks around the general campsite. Check the usual weather conditions for the time of year of your destination. Is it generally windy or cold that month? Remember that butane does not perform well in cold conditions.
Cleaning and Maintenance
How much time are you willing to put into keeping your stove in working order? Look for a stove that is easy to clean. Check for whether there is any regular upkeep required. It’s important to check hoses and connections for leaks. Most of these canister fuel stoves tend to be fairly low-maintenance.
Anyone For Some Stove Chat?
If you have friends or co-workers that are outdoor enthusiasts, bring up the topic of camp stoves with them. Even bicyclists use backpacking stoves on long trips. They will be more than “enthusiastic” to fill you in on what they’ve purchased themselves, and the stoves that their friends have that they may like better. “Camp stove envy” is a real thing!
Safety First: Know Your Stove
Once you’ve made your decision, it is important to read the guide that comes with your stove and understand the safety precautions and operating instructions. If you’ve inherited it or purchased your stove second-hand and the instructions are long gone, try typing into your browser’s search bar something like, “(the model of your stove) manual guide PDF”. You may just luck out and find a printable version. Also, do a test run to be sure that the stove works and you are able to properly assemble it, light it, and extinguish it. You also should learn how to light your stove safely when the Piezo ignition fails.
Types of Camping Stoves
There are a number of different camping stoves on the market, all of which serve different purposes in different environments. Here are a few of the options available to choose from:
Butane & Propane Camping Stoves
Butane and Propane camping stoves are some of the best camping stoves for reliability in the wild. You just need to bring along a fuel source that aligns with the weather, hook it up to the stove, and start it. Just like that, you should have a fire roaring and ready to cook your food. Propane camping stoves perform better in low temperatures, but propane canisters are significantly heavier than butane canisters. Meanwhile, butane can’t perform as well in extreme temperatures, but it’s lighter and easier to transport in more moderate weather.
Wood-Burning Camping Stoves
Camping wood stoves are designed to burn kindling and wood when you venture out into the wilderness. Whether you bring your own firewood or forage for kindling, this type of stove is good to reduce trash and the amount of items you need to bring back with you.
Solar-Powered Camping Stoves
Solar camping stoves are great for anyone who wants to go ultra-green while camping. Drawing their energy from the sun, they cook your food without a fuel source, reducing emissions and waste. However, they’re dependent upon good weather to work properly.
Tent Camping Stoves
Tent camping stoves are designed to be operated in a tent and are great for cooler weather because they help heat your sleeping area. These tend to be larger in size than other camping stoves, so keep that in mind if you need to transport it on foot over long distances to get to your campground. Make sure the ventilation system is working well with a tent camping stove, because carbon monoxide emissions can be dangerous for your health if they don’t get out of the tent.
Backpacking stoves are ultra-lightweight single-burner camping stoves light enough to fit in your pocket. These camping stoves are designed with portability in mind and are small and light enough that you can take them on a backpacking trip without being significantly hindered.
The Best Camping Stove For Your Next Adventure
The clear winner of this roundup is the Coleman Portable Propane Gas Classic Camp Stove. It is a practical choice, as it can feed two or more people, but folds down flat for easy portability. It is sturdier and more adaptable than a backpacking stove, allowing cooks to be creative at the campsite. It’s not too heavy to be carried a bit off the parking area (we’ve walked these through a forest into our campsite with no problem). It is a good, basic, 2-burner stove that does a lot more than boil water, and it makes one of the best camping stoves for the average camping expedition. It is truly “The Classic.”