Whether you are just camping overnight or trekking into the wilderness for days on end, you'll probably need a camping stove. These stoves help to create a quick and manageable fire to cook your food. While the typical vision of camp cooking involves a cast-iron skillet and coffee pot over a log fire, this option is less than practical in a great many situations.
Especially if it happens to rain, you will have tremendous difficulty making a wood fire from the available wet branches. And in some areas, campsite managers don't permit a ground fire under any conditions.
If you're hiking or walking long distances to your campsite, weight, and size is incredibly important. You will need a lightweight camping stove that fires up easily. Also, one that takes up as little space as possible in your vehicle and backpack. So, taking a look at a few stoves is in order before you buy one.
Camping Stove Types
Once considered a luxury, camping stoves now come in various shapes, sizes, and fuel types. Some are small alcohol gel (Sterno) or hexamine (solid fuel tablet) burners. Others are propane stoves nearly as large and complex as you might have in your home.
As we have mentioned, not all camping stoves are suitable for all types of camping. While the smaller gel-type camping stoves are excellent for heating coffee or cans of food. However, they are inadequate for cooking meals. Larger propane stoves will do an excellent job making dinner but are too large for the hiking trail.
If the camping stove you plan to purchase does not come equipped with a windbreak, you may want to consider buying one. The stoves are very light and fold up flat. Also, they can make a big difference when you are attempting to cook in a windy area.
Most backpacking or camping stoves produce adequate heat when the air is still, but you can lose a lot of that heat with just a slight breeze. A windbreak makes your food cook faster, and will also save you valuable fuel. You can also maximize your fuel if you have covers on your pots. If necessary, you can fashion them out of aluminum foil, and they will hold in the heat just fine.
How We Reviewed
After many years of camping, we've taken a closer look at some of the newer products on the market. By comparing features, pricing, and customer reviews on various retail sites, we've found a few that stand out on the current market. The Classic Coleman, for example, has been a mainstay of our own camping trips for many years. Others, like the Jetboil, we have based on overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers.
Best Backpacking Stoves
Compact and lightweight, the hiking stove is generally a single burner stove that connects directly to the top of the fuel canister. While some models have collapsible wire stands and others connect to the fuel canister via a hose, these models can prove inconvenient to assemble and add a bit of extra weight to your backpack. Here are some of the best-rated backpacking stoves, listed in no particular order.
Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System
- Optimized for efficiency, the Jetboil Flash boils water in a lightning-quick 100 seconds, making it the fastest Jetboil...
- Jetboil's 1-liter FluxRing cooking cup with insulating cozy makes boiling water—and keeping it warm—a breeze.
- Start heating instantly with the convenient, reliable pushbutton igniter, and verify that the water's ready with the...
The JetBoil Flash single burner stove, designed for backpacking and trail trekking, has an overall weight less than a pound, and it fits comfortably in your backpack. The Flash is a standard burner that screws on to the top of a propane canister. JetBoil makes their own name brand canisters for the Flash, but any standard size camping gas canister will work with it. A high-performance proprietary mixture, however, Jetpower fuel was formulated especially for cold weather camping. So while any propane fuel will work with the JetBoil, you may want to find some Jetfuel canisters if you are trekking through the snow.
The JetBoil burner has an igniter, and you can adjust the flame, although some customers have noted that the igniter can be iffy under adverse conditions. You might find it advisable to have an alternate ignition source, like a cigarette lighter or waterproof matches, just in case.
The JetBoil also comes with a steel cup that attaches to the burner for quick heat transfer and stability. The one-liter cup is large enough for cooking a meal for one, and the neoprene insulation will keep that meal warm. A color-changing temperature indication lid snaps on to the cup and comes with a convenient drinking hole. The JetBoil also has many accessories to allow you to use it with larger pots and pans. It also has an optional coffee press that will fit in the cup.
Jetboil Flash Camping Stove Cooking System
- Durable material: made of aluminium alloy and stainless steel which can stand high temperature and weight
- Compact and collapsible: portable design (with small dimensions: 1. 81"X 2. 36" X 3. 15") is perfect for ultralight...
- Broad compatibility: Compatible with any 7/16 thread single butane/butane-propane mixed Fuel canisters (EN 417)
“Small, but mighty” is how Etekcity promotes their Ultralight portable outdoor backpacking camping stove, and for a good reason. It is a lightweight, yet powerful backpacking stove made of aluminum alloy and stainless steel with a Piezo ignition system. It will add little to your all-important pack weight, even when you consider the external propane tank. The Etekcity has a fully adjustable and powerful flame, and the piezo igniter is reliable and fast. The wide, adjustable top frame can support a coffee pot or small pan.
Ohuhu Camping Stove Stainless Steel Backpacking Stove
- STURDY STAINLESS STEEL: Crafted with high quality stainless steel, this portable camping stove will steadily burn...
- STABLE AND SAFE: Geared with a 3-arm base support system, even the grassiest fields will be your personal cooking...
- FUELLED BY NATURE: Mother Nature presents the best fuel catalogue, with the abundance of dried twigs, leaves, pinecones...
Made of stainless steel and equipped with a tripod pot support system, the big selling point of the Ohuhu is the fuel. You don’t need to carry any. The Ohuhu portable hiking camping stove weighs in at 14.2 ounces, but you don’t have to worry about bringing any fuel to make it work. It runs on twigs, sticks, bark, and pinecones. Anything that will burn makes adequate fuel, and the flame will remain remarkably consistent in windy conditions.
Ohuhu Camping Stove Stainless Steel Backpacking Stove
- Portable single-burner propane stove ideal for cooking at campsites, picnics, and more
- Fits up to a 12-inch pan and offers 7,500 total BTUs of cooking power
- Pressure-control technology delivers consistent heat in outdoor conditions
Made by the most recognized name in camping equipment, the Coleman PowerPack is essentially a fully assembled single burner Coleman stove. All you have to do is attach the fuel canister, and you're ready to go.
A PowerPack is heavier than your typical backpacking stove at about four pounds. It makes up for the extra weight by offering a very stable cooking platform and famously high-quality construction. The PowerPack has a sturdy pressed steel base (14 inches across), and the burner and grate are attached. It can also handle larger pots and pans than most backpacking stoves, so you have to decide if the tradeoff of weight is worth the larger size.
You will have to light it with an external source, like a lighter or a match. But once you do, the wide-flame 7.500 BTU flame will handle whatever you throw at it. The burner is designed to spread the flame more evenly across the bottom of the pan.
Best Camping Stoves
Camping stoves are generally designed to remain at a base camp. Quite a bit larger and much heavier than a portable hiking stove, they are usually very sturdy and can hold larger pots, pans, and coffee pots. Most have at least two burners that allow you to make more elaborate meals in less time.
Coleman Gas Camping Stove
- Cooking power: Up to 20,000 total BTUs
- 2 adjustable burners: For precise temperature control
- Wind-blocking panels: Shield burners from wind
Another entry from the most recognized name in camping equipment. The Coleman Classic camping stove is a perfect example of what made that name famous. This two-burner propane stove makes it quick and easy to do serious cooking at your campsite.
The hinged lid has windbreakers on either side that clip to the frame for stability and protects the cooktop. They can also be opened a bit wider if you have 12-inch and 10-inch pans on the two burners. If you need more space for cooking, you can just fold the lid, and the two windbreaks, back and out of the way.
There is no piezo igniter with this unit. You may need a lighter or matches to get it going, but once you flame on it will generate a full 20,000 BTU with both burners on. That should handle almost anything you may want to cook in the woods. The unit is easy to take apart and clean. Its portable 16.4-ounce propane can lasts slightly less than an hour on full blast. Because it's Coleman, you have the option of a long list of accessories. These include an extension hose for connecting it to a backyard-sized refillable propane tank.
Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove
If you are serious, and we mean really serious about your campsite cooking, then the Camp Chef EX60LW Explorer may be among your most desirable options. The stove unit is just the beginning. You can add optional barbecue grill boxes, cast iron grills, griddles, and even a pizza oven!
Equipped with two efficient “Blue Flame” burners that produce 30,000 BTU each, the EX60LW operates on either a large refillable propane tank or natural gas. The Camp Chef camping stove has appliance-type heat adjustment knobs, a three-sided windbreak, and stands a full 36-inches tall. Boasting a robust 448 square inches of cooking surface, you should have no problems coming up with dinner for yourself or an entire expedition.
Koblenz PFK-400 Victoria 4-Burner Gas Stove
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Cooking on the Koblenz PFK-400 could be as close as you will ever come to cooking in your own kitchen while out in the woods. With four 4,000 BTU burners, you can prepare your food and boil water for coffee all at once. The PFK-400 even looks like a conventional gas stovetop. Measuring 24 inches by 18 inches and weighing 15 pounds, this may not be the stove for trail trekking with a backpack. However, for basecamp cooking, it is just amazing.
Customers were impressed with the “clean lines.” They also mentioned that it was easy to disassemble and clean due to the porcelain enamel top cover. On the downside, it doesn't include a fuel tank or a connection hose. However, either can be easily obtained online or at any hardware store.
Final Tips for Choosing a Camping Stove
When you are buying your backpacking or camping stove, you need to think about where you plan to take it. For instance, if you're going to hike for miles on the Grand Canyon Trail, you need something light and small. That way you can save on the all-important weight and space. Either the Jetboil Flash or the Etekcity Ultralight will be excellent choices if you don’t mind carrying your fuel. If the extra weight of fuel is an issue and you would prefer to use the sticks and twigs around you to save weight, then the Ohuhu portable will fill the bill perfectly. For those shorter treks, where the weight may not be as important to you as the convenience, you may want to consider the Coleman PowerPack.
On the other hand, if you have transportation to and from your campsite and won't venture far away from where you pitch your tent, you can’t go wrong with the Coleman Classic 2-burner camping stove. It has served weekend campers well and true for decades. Do you plan to stay a while and set up a more permanent basecamp? In that case, opt for something more substantial and less Spartan. You'll probably also be cooking more, and need additional burners and cookware. Now it’s time to crank up the big boys. With the Camp Chef EX60LW Explorer or the Koblenz PFK-400, you'll be able to do almost anything you can do on the stove in your own kitchen. Who says just because you are roughing it, that it has to be rough?