Preparing meals in the great outdoors using the best camping stoves can allow you to whip up meals quickly, easily, and efficiently. These days, there are dozens of models to choose from, each of which claim to provide the type of powerful cooking performance all campers are looking for. Of course, this can make choosing the right model a difficult process. Fortunately, I’ve done all the research for you. I’ve tested many of the leading models on the market, narrowing it down to the top six that are currently crushing the competition. I’ve also created a buyer’s guide that includes all the information you need to know to choose the perfect stove for your next camping trip. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that will list each of the models that made it onto my list, the rating they earned, and their best features.
Camping Stove Comparison Chart
Coleman Camping Stove
This latest model by Coleman features a two in one design that allows you to grill and use the stove at the same time. The included wind block panels do an excellent job of blocking out wind while you cook, even in high wind conditions. The stove’s Perfect Heat technology works to conserve fuel, for more efficient cooking with less fuel. This model operates with 20,000 BTUs of raw power. The surface of the stove can easily accommodate a ten-inch frying pan, so it’s a great choice for larger groups of campers. The surface features a couple of burners that are independently adjustable and able to precisely control two temperature zones. For easier cleanup, this model also comes with a grease tray that’s removable. The stove’s Perfect Flow pressure control technology will provide a steady flow of heat, offering a consistent performance, even if you’re low on fuel, camping at a high altitude, or cooking in cold weather.
- Perfect Flow pressure control
- Perfect Heat technology
- Two burners
- Users can grill and use the burners at the same time
- Does not have an electric ignitor
This model is a grill and stove in one. Even better, campers can grill up meat or veggies and use the burners at the same time, so meals can be prepared quickly and efficiently. This versatile stove is perfect for short and long camping trips and come loaded with everything you need to whip up a meal for the whole family, in no time.
Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove
This massive stove is the perfect addition to any short or long camping adventure. This model features a large cooking surface that comes in at 448 square inches, with the stove weighing in at thirty pounds. It operates on 60,000 BTUs of power and includes a three-foot hose and regulator. For easier storage and transport, this model comes with three legs that are detachable. For cooking in windy conditions, campers can take advantage of the three-sided wind panels. The burners are made out of durable cast aluminum and are easy to clean. The detachable legs can be independently adjusted, to accommodate for uneven terrain. The included cast iron grill retains heat well and heats the surface easily, for faster cooking times. The grill is pre-seasoned, so food will not stick to the surface and cleanup is a cinch. Basically, this is a stove that’s designed with convenience in mind.
- Large cooking surface
- Easy to clean
- Three-panel adjustable windscreen
This is a massive camping stove, one that’s perfect for those long camping trips. However, due to the weight, this model will be a bad choice if you have to hike several miles to your campsite. The large cooking surface can easily accommodate bigger camping groups and can help you prepare a large meal, quickly and easily.
Martin Camping Stove
This is a two-burner propane camp stove that allows the user to easily regulate the pressure of the gas for an improved cooking performance. The grill itself is very easy to maintain. The stainless-steel drip tray is designed for simple and fast clean up. The built-in wind screens will shield the grill during use, preventing high winds from blowing out the burner’s flames. This model is also highly portable and perfect for any camping or hiking trip. The pressure control feature keeps the flame steady, while the high-pressure grill allows cooks to regulate how much propane reaches the burner. This results in higher flame intensity for faster cooking times. Equipped with two burners for a total of 20,000 BTUs, each burner can be independently adjusted. The large, wider than average cooking surface can handle cooking a large volume of food in no time.
- Highly portable
- Built-in windscreen
- Stainless steel drip tray
- Wider than average cooking surface
- Can be time-consuming to clean
Despite the lightweight, compact design, this model offers a large cooking surface that will allow you to cook dinner in a fraction of the time. The highly portable design makes this model a great choice for both camping and hiking trips. The two included burners can be adjusted independently, further adding to this stove’s convenience and versatility.
Camp Chef Everest 2 Burner Stove
This is a 20,000 BTU two burner stove that’s equipped with a three-sided windscreen. It also features matchless ignition, a steel drip tray that’s designed to make cleanup easier, and fully adjustable heat control knobs, for improved cooking efficiency. Weighing in at twelve pounds, the included carry handle makes it a little easier to carry and transport this stove, but considering the weight, this model may be a bad choice for hikers.
Despite the stove’s compact design, this two-burner model does an excellent job of cooking a meal in no time. The stove’s matchless ignition system quickly fires up with just the push of a button, so you won’t need to use matches or worry about burning your hand when you try to light the burner in windy conditions.
- Carry handle
- Matchless ignition system
This compact camp stove is heavier than it looks, but it offers a solid, reliable performance, even in windy conditions. The matchless ignition system is a huge selling point, as is the durable two burner design and the nickel-coated steel cooking grate that’s tough and designed to hold heavy skillets, gridles, and large pots and pans. This model is a great buy if you’re looking for a stove that can handle heavy-duty use on your next camping adventure.
Camp Chef Tahoe Deluxe 3 Burner Grill
This is a massive three-burner model that’s packing 30,000 BTUs. The burning housing design will limit cold and hot spots, while offering extra wind protection. The heat controls themselves are fully adjustable, for more precise control while you cook. The cooking surface comes in at an impressive 608 square inches, allowing you to easily throw together a meal for family and friends when you’re camping out in the backcountry. This model can be used for so much more than camping. Highly portable, despite the larger design, this model can be used for cookouts at the river or park, tailgating parties, family reunions and more.
- Three burner design
- Extra-large cooking surface
- Offers 30,000 BTUs of raw power
- Difficult to clean
This massive camping stove is the perfect choice if you normally set up a permanent camp in the summer and spend weeks in the backcountry. It’s also a great buy if you love backyard barbeques, cooking for the family and friends for a day trip to the lake, or any other special occasion. Of course, the larger size makes this model a bad choice for the backpacker, but for longer camping trips, this stove is a must-have.
Gas One Camping Gas Stove
This compact, one burner stove is a great choice for the backpacker or the small camping party. The stove runs on a single butane cartridge or you can use propane, using the included propane converter regulator. The stove’s electric ignition will get rid of having to light the burner using matches or a lighter, instead, all you have to do is press a button and the burner will light instantly. For safety, this model comes with a cartridge ejection system with a built-in pressure sensor which will automatically eject the cartridge if unstable pressure is detected. Since this is a single burner stove, it’s not the best choice for larger camping groups, but it can easily handle preparing food for up to three people.
- Easy to clean
- Compact design
- Highly adjustable
- Flame is easily affected by wind
- No windshield included
Compact, lightweight, highly adjustable, and built tough, this is one camping stove that you’ll never want to camp without. The design is very beginner-friendly, while the easy setup, breakdown, and overall durable design of this stove will make it a must-have for the avid camper and hiker in need of a compact stove that’s powerful and reliable.
Camping Stove Buyer’s Guide
When you’re camping with the family, preparing a tasty cooked meal can be tricky, without a dedicated camping stove. Sure, it’s fun to cook over a campfire, but you’ll be very limited in what you can prepare. Campfires can also be banned during the dry season, which is done in order to prevent forest fires. Because of this, using a camping stove is often a much safer option. Additionally, the rise in popularity of using a camping stove instead of building a fire also has to do with how easy they are to use. Cooking over a campfire can take a while, depending on what you’re cooking and the number of people you’re preparing food for. Using one of these stoves offers that at-home convenience that will make it significantly easier to prepare a large home cooked meal for family and friends. Additionally, if you want to whip up a well-balanced meal for the family, then a camp stove is the way to go. In fact, there are many benefits that come with using a camp stove, which I’ll discuss below.
Benefits of Using a Camping Stove
If you’re new to camping, you may be wondering if you really need to use one of these stoves. If you don’t want to cook over a fire or deal with bringing tools to start a fire and firewood, then bringing a camping stove is the perfect solution. Using one of these stoves offers plenty of benefits, including:
- You can use a camp stove to cook freshly caught fish, so you won’t have to worry about it spoiling.
- If you’re hiking somewhere without a water filtration system then you can use the stove to boil your water.
- There are many burn bans in effect. If you don’t want to go without a hot meal, then bringing a camping stove is a must.
- If you’re hiking and don’t want to deal with hauling firewood or searching for wood at the end of the day, then a stove will provide a fast and efficient way to enjoy a hot meal.
- Using a stove instead of cooking over a fire means faster and easier clean up.
- There will be minimal risk of catching your campsite on fire, which can occur if you’re camping in a dry environment or it’s windy out.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Using a Camping Stove?
- Bringing along a camping stove also means that you’ll have to bring canisters or gas tanks to your campsite. A canister will run out, so you’ll also have to factor in how much fuel you’ll need for your trip, based on how many people you’re cooking for, the type of food you’re cooking, and how long your trip is.
- A larger camping stove will be bulky and can be difficult to set up.
- You’ll need to carefully set up your stove in a location away from the campers in your party in order to prevent anyone from tripping over your setup during the night.
- These stoves can cost $20 up to $300, depending on the type you choose and the size. So, it can be an expensive purchase, especially if you’re looking for a model that you can rely on daily for a longer camping trip.
Other Important Features
The ability to prepare a home cooked meal while you and the family enjoy the great outdoors on your next camping adventure will allow you to grill up freshly caught fish, a fresh pot of oatmeal, and other camping favorites while you enjoy your hard-earned vacation. Now that you know more about the benefits of using a camping stove, let’s dive into the must-have features to look for when you’re shopping around.
If you normally hike several miles to your campsite, on your journey through the backcountry, then the weight of the camping stove is going to matter. However, if you’re car camping and don’t need to haul the stove more than twenty feet or so, then a full-sized model that weighs several pounds won’t even be an issue. Backpackers will need to pay close attention to how much a stove weighs since a low pack weight is crucial. Fortunately, there are many lightweight models to choose from.
How big of a cooking surface do you need? Can you get by with a model that has just two burners, or are you cooking for a large group? A model that’s equipped with just two burners is often large enough to feed a few friends. However, if you’re cooking for a large group, then you’ll need a larger cooking surface. Four burner models are available, but they’ll also come with a higher price tag. These models will allow you to whip up a large meal in no time, which is a huge plus for any camper.
Do you want a model that runs on large gas bottles or small propane canisters? Ultimately, this will depend on how many people you need to feed per meal, how much fuel you’re able to carry, and how long your camping trip is. Most two-burner models run on small propane canisters which are small enough to fit in a pack and feature a lightweight design that makes them highly portable.
A large freestanding set up will often consist of a large gas tank that’s hooked up, which makes them a great choice for large groups.
If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable lighting gas using a lighter or a match, then you’ll be better off with a self-igniting model. This type of stove will ignite instantly, which also results in less fuel waste.
When you’re shopping for the right stove, you need to make sure you choose a model with burners that are not going to blow out easily, since this can be frustrating and will also lead to fuel loss. Models that come with an effective windbreak system will prevent wind from blowing out the burner, making it easy to whip up a meal, even in windy conditions.
The BTU rating is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re trying to find the best stove for your camping trip. A model with a higher BTU rating will cook your meals faster. You’ll find a model’s BTUs on the spec sheet, which will give you a good indication of how powerful each model is. Models that come with a powerful windbreak system and a BTU rating of 30,000 will be perfect for large groups of campers. However, you should keep in mind that a higher BTU rating means that the stove will also quickly eat up your fuel. In many cases, a model with a 10,000 BTU rating should be sufficient.
Types of Camping Stoves
You’ll come across a couple of camping stove designs during your search for the perfect model; freestanding and tabletop.
These stoves are much smaller, lightweight, easy to haul, and can still pack some serious power. For these reasons, they’re a popular choice for backpackers.
These stoves are a better choice for larger groups. They offer more power than a tabletop model and can cook a large batch of food faster. They can also be set up pretty much anywhere and offer a larger fuel reserve. They’re bulkier and heavier than a tabletop model and can be difficult to haul long distances. These stoves are often used by camping parties that plan to set up a semi-permanent camp for the season.
If you’re looking at portable, tabletop models, then you can expect a cost starting at $20, with higher priced models coming in at around $100. Freestanding models are more expensive since they’re significantly larger and often come equipped with more burners and more features. These stoves can cost anywhere from $60 up to $300. However, if you’re planning a longer trip and need a stove that you can use several times a day, then the freestanding stove is the best option since it’s made to withstand heavy-duty use.
Don’t expect a lengthy warranty on small tabletop models. In most cases, you’ll find that the warranty is three to six months long, but most low-priced models will not come with any type of warranty. For top of the line freestanding models, you can expect a twelve month to five-year warranty. A lengthy warranty will ensure your stove is covered against manufacturing defects. It will also give you a chance to test your stove out and return it while it’s still covered under the warranty.
Camping Stove Safety
Most models will run on gas tanks or propane canisters. Because of this, there’s some safety factors that you’ll want to consider before use.
There will probably be a lot going on around a camping stove. This can include pans frying up your freshly caught fish, pots of boiling water, and a variety of hot pots and pans moving from surface to surface. In order to decrease the chances of someone getting burned or running into your makeshift kitchen, make sure you choose the best spot to set up. When you’re setting up your stove, make sure you consider the following:
- Note what direction the wind is coming from
- Make sure you set up the stove on even ground
- Make sure the stove is not set up in an active area where someone may end up running into it
Following these tips can ensure that you set up your stove out of harm’s way and protect all of the people in your group. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that:
- The gas tank is placed on even ground and placed on the non-traffic side of your setup, where someone will not accidentally trip over it, which can end up disconnecting the gas.
- Make sure that you switch off the gas the moment you’re finished cooking. Never remove the pan off the stove then turn around to switch off the burner. This will increase the chances of someone getting burned and can also waste fuel.
- Always keep paper products away from the stove. In windy conditions napkins or paper towels and plates can easily blow into the stove and catch fire.
- When you’re boiling oil or liquid, the stove must be used on a level surface in order to prevent burns.
- Always keep a first aid on hand around your camp kitchen.
Tips for Cooking on a Camping Stove
- Most campers and backpackers want to enjoy a hot meal at the end of the day. Obviously, doing so with a camping stove is much easier than cooking over a campfire. When you’re backpacking, you’ll need to be more careful with your resources. The last thing you want to do is waste fuel, food, or water. When you’re setting up your camp, make sure you keep the stove on an even and smooth surface. Boiling pots can vibrate right off the surface of the stove and hit the ground.
- Some campers are on a tight budget, so it makes sense to save costs by cooking packaged food that’s purchased from a local grocery store. These foods are usually partially cooked instead of instant.
- If you’re dealing with foods that are tough to cook, such as whole grain pasta or parboiled rice, then try presoaking the food before using your stove. This can save big on fuel. The food should be soaked in cold water for ten to fifteen minutes. If you want to avoid wasting water, then use the same water that the food is presoaked in to boil it. You can use less water than what the package instructs. You can also try boiling the water first and then adding the ingredients, instead of presoaking.
- Always set your stove up in a sheltered area. Even if your stove has a good windbreak system in place, cooking in a sheltered area can also help to prevent the flames from going out.
- The size of the pot you use also matters. Always use a pot that’s slightly wider or similar in size to the width of the stove’s burner. Narrow and tall pots can result in flames that spill over the sides of the pot. This will burn your cookware and can waste a lot of fuel. Cooking pots that are shallow with broad bottoms are a better bet.
- If you’re preparing dried ingredients, make sure that the water is boiling rapidly before you add them.
- When you’re boiling ingredients or just a pot of water, try to avoid lifting the lid to see if the water has reached a boil. This will allow the heat to escape and it will take longer for the pot to boil. This results in fuel waste.
- When you’re cooking on your camping stove, always use a lid that fits tightly over the pit. Covering your food when you cook will reduce fuel consumption and will help retain moisture, cutting the cooking time in almost half. If you don’t have a lid on hand, then try using some foil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is Better, a Butane or Propane Stove?
The pressure difference that occurs when using propane can cause the propane to burn off at a faster rate compared to cooking with butane. Because butane features a higher boiling point than propane, it doesn’t do as good of a job when it comes to vaporizing to provide heat at a lower temperature.
How Many BTUs do I Need for My Camping Stove?
For a small group or some basic outdoor cooking, opt for a model that offers 10,000 BTUs. If you’re cooking for a large group, then you may want to consider a model that offers 20,000 BTUs or more.
How Many Burners Does a Camping Stove Have?
You can find models that come with a single burner, or you’ll come across larger freestanding models that will come equipped with as many as four burners. These freestanding models are a better choice if you need a model that can handle preparing food for a large group. Small tabletop models will have one or two burners, and they’re a great choice if you’re cooking for up to four people. The type of model you purchase will also depend on the types of meals you want to prepare and the length of your trip.
How Long Does a 16 oz Coleman Propane Tank Last?
This can depend on the level of heat you’re cooking with and how long you’re cooking for, in addition to how many burners are in use. On average, you can expect a 16-ounce propane can to last for a period of one hour for one burner that’s turned all the way up.
How Do I Dispose of Empty Propane Canisters?
You won’t be able to throw these canisters out when you’re on your camping trip. You’ll need to bring the empty canisters back with you. Once you’re home, you can take them to your local recycling center. If there’s no recycling center in your area, then you can contact the department of Public Works to find out where and how you can dispose of the canisters.
The best camping stove for your next outdoor adventure should be large enough to accommodate cooking for the people in your group. If you’re backpacking, then you’ll want to go with a lightweight, highly portable stove, one that won’t weigh your pack down. If you’re planning on setting up camp for the summer and you’re camping with a larger group, then you’ll want to search for a freestanding stove and bring along enough fuel for the coming weeks. The type of stove that will work for you will depend on how you camp, how many people are in your party, and how long your trip is. This guide and the products I’ve included here will help to point you in the right direction, so you can find the perfect stove for your next camping trip and whip up simple, delicious meals, easily, and quickly.
To keep your supplies and drinks fresh and cold, read our best backpack coolers buyer’s guide here.