You may not feel confident in your fire-building skills during a camping trip, or maybe you just want to do some heavy-duty grilling while you're experiencing the great outdoors. Either way, a camping stove will help keep your gear load relatively light while still providing you with the stable heat source you need to cook your meals.
A good stove for your camping expedition should heat your food quickly and thoroughly, use fuel economically, and most importantly, not weigh you down too much. We fell in love with the Camp Chef's Explorer Double Burner Stove because of its sturdy, rugged build, powerful heat output, and protective wind screens. Check out our other favorite products as well as a handy buying guide below.
When it comes to picking the right camping stove, you have many different choices! Here are some points to keep in mind while you shop.
You’ll have to think about how many burners your stove will need and how much heat it’ll need to produce. Heat is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. A BTU is the amount of heating power needed to heat a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Most stoves for basic cooking should have an output of at least 10,000 BTUs.
This is a good baseline minimum because it usually allows you to cook as fast or faster than you can at home. Just be mindful, the more BTUs a model has, the faster fuel will burn. Still, a stronger flame says a lot about your camping stove, like how well it boils water or cooks temperature-sensitive foods like meat.
There are several basic types of camping stoves, and each services different numbers of campers and their needs. Here's a breakdown of the different camping stove models, as well as which sorts of campers they each benefit.
If you want to cook a meal that doesn't require an excessive amount of heat, a butane burner may be a good option. Butane burners, utilize a colorless, pressurized fuel called butane and are fairly compact and lightweight.
Butane stoves don't often burn as hot as other stove types on this list; most burn at between 8,000 and 10,000 BTUs, but there are a few extra-powerful models out there. This can be heavily affected by the temperature of your surroundings; butane burners aren't made for extreme cold.
Still, as they can come in one- or two-burner systems, butane burners still make for a good choice if you're camping in a moderate climate and don't need too much cooking power. Their portable nature and sturdy bases make them a great choice for RV camping as well.
These are best for quick meals that don't require a lot of effort. Picture needing to quickly boil water for coffee in the morning, or maybe scramble a few eggs. The small area of the stove will let you cook on almost any surface and should get the job done in a jiffy.
Tabletop camping stoves are almost always designed without legs or a station they can be set up with. This means you'll need to prep a cooking space before you start to heat up your stove.
While this may be a bit of extra trouble, tabletop stoves are typically less likely to wobble or fall over than a stove with its own station and legs. They also often tend to be lighter and easier to transport. So long as you're careful about where you put your stove, it can be a great option for tight camping spots or if you can't transport a larger stove system.
These are your car camping stoves at an established campground that has tables. These are heavier and take up more space, so you have less flexibility in where you get to use them. Additionally, these should have multiple stoves which allow you to cook multiple things at once. I personally have one of these in my camping set up and love it.
A freestanding camping stove has its own table and a set of legs or possibly even wheels. This makes it a bulkier tool to bring along on the road, but it also means you can cook without needing a picnic table.
Freestanding stoves do tend to be heavier and may require a truck to transport. Most campers who use them are either cooking for large groups or are camping out for an extended period of time. That said, they usually offer more space for your cooking utensils and won't cause any heat damage to their surroundings.
If you don't want to carry a table with you, having a stove that can be set up on its own is clutch. These surely are bulkier, but they also let you cook almost anywhere that has a flat surface to set up. Lastly, you'll probably need a large enough car to fit one of these into.
Fuel is an important factor when you're looking for a stove. One of the most popular options is propane gas or liquid. It provides a reliable heat source and burns hot as soon as the stove is turned on. However, if you're trying to reduce your carbon footprint, you may want to choose a different option.
Wood or coal are viable options. Stoves powered by these more natural materials do require quite a bit of setting up and often require manual ignition. Still, if you want an eco-friendly, authentic camping experience and a hot flame, they may be more your style of fuel for camping stoves.
Finally, alcohol is a trending fuel due to its eco-friendly and incredibly lightweight nature. The flames created by alcohol fuel may be more susceptible to wind, and the stoves require some priming time to get going. Still, if you're patient and don't want to use fossil fuels, alcohol is a fine choice.
When looking for a fuel source these days, it will probably be propane. It's easy to use and affordable to fill up. Many people will buy the small green canisters that aren't reusable, but my protip is to buy a small refillable propane cylinder. This will allow you to carry more fuel, and it's also more affordable over time. I honestly wouldn't look for fuel sources other than propane.
When picking your camping stove, you’ll have two choices for ignitions: automatic and manual. Automatic versions can be lit with the push of a button, whereas manual options require lighting the flame with a lighter or matchstick.
Automatic ignitions are safer since you don’t have to deal with an open flame, are simple to use, and you don’t have to worry about having matches or a lighter with you.
However, these stoves will require electricity or batteries, which means more maintenance and parts replacement. You'll also need to make sure you don’t get water in the ignition circuit while cleaning the stovetop of a model with automatic ignition. Still, due to the ease of use, most campers opt for automatic ignitions.
Most stoves these days have an automatic ignition button that makes life incredibly easy while camping. However, it's a good rule of thumb to have a backup source just in case. This can either be a lighter, matches, or a firestarter that throws sparks. Overall, I'd suggest choosing an automatic ignition for simplicity's sake.
Some practical features will make your camp cookouts more fun and efficient. Try to bear in mind that you won't be cooking inside a building; the weather and environment can affect your ability to cook, so you should look for a camping stove that gives you as much control as possible over your work.
Many camping stoves come with a variety of features to make your cooking experience easier. One common feature is a wind protector. Just as the name implies, these panels protect flames from the wind while cooking. Just be sure you don't use a wind shield for canister stoves, as there are explosion hazards involved.
Ensuring a consistent flame is crucial for cooking any meal. If it's windy and your flame is constantly getting pushed around, your cooking time is going to become exaggerated.
Many stoves will have rear and side blockers, so make sure you are angling the stove away from any wind. If that doesn't cut down the wind, find camping boxes that you can stack around your stove to block the wind.
Many camping stoves have some form of adjustable simmer controls. These allow you to control the heat output from the burners. It's important to look into how durable and easy to use these knobs are; you don't want to end up frustrated because your knob over- or under-adjusts, and it should be sturdy enough to handle a trip across rough terrain.
Simmer controls are extremely important! Most backpacking stoves won't have this ability because their biggest goal is to get your water boiling. However, car camping stoves should all have this feature which allows you to expand the type of foods you're able to make on your trip. Make sure to double-check the features before you buy to ensure this is applicable.
If you want to cook multiple courses, you may want a camping stove with swappable cooking surfaces. That way, you can fire up your dutch oven on one side of the stove while you brew some coffee on the other. There are also camping stoves that come with foldable panels on either side, giving you more space to put your ingredients and cooking tools.
Having multiple options to cook food on makes life simpler. While you may want higher walls to prevent spillage of some foods, others, such as pancakes, are easier to make with a flat surface. I'd recommend thinking about the foods you want to make and then purchasing accordingly. The best advice I can give is to not buy items you'll never use.
We selected our 10 best camping stoves based on important specs such as their BTU output, how convenient and efficient the fuel was, and other research we did while writing the Buying Guide section. Here are our top choices for the best camping stoves this year.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Alec Sills-Trausch.
Explorer Double Burner Stove
Selkirk Camp Stove
Triton Series Propane Gas Camping Stove
Portable Butane Gas Stove
Outdoor Camp Oven
Triple-Burner Portable Camping Stove
Ignite Plus Camping Stove
Best Powerful, Freestanding Stove With Removable Legs
Best for Powerful, Even Heat Distribution and a Sporty, Sturdy Design
Best Light Camping Stove With a Strong Flame
Best Butane Camping Stove With Safety Shut-Off Features
Best Camping Stove-Oven Combo With Two Cooking Racks
Best Quick-Heating, Fully-Insulated Combustion Chamber
Best Grill-Type Stove With Easy Cleanup Features
Best 3-Burner Camping Stove System
Best for Multiple Accessories and High-Heat Cooking
Best Lightweight Stove With Lots of Cooking Space
|Material||Steel, aluminum||Stainless steel and nickel chrome||Alloy steel||Enameled steel||Stainless steel||Enameled metal, cast iron||Steel||Cast aluminum burners||Steel||Stainless steel|
|Fuel type||Gas||Gas||Gas||Gas||Gas||Wood, charcoal||Gas||Gas||Liquified petroleum gas||Gas|
|Ignition type||Not specified||Automatic||Manual||Automatic||Automatic||N/A||Manual||Automatic||Automatic||Automatic|
|BTUs||60,000||20,000 (10,000 per burner)||22,000||7,650||7,500 per burner, 3,000 for oven||Not specified||20,000||51,000||90,000 (30,000 per burner)||20,000 (10,000 per burner)|
|Weight||30.5 lbs.||10 lbs.||4.85 lbs.||3.1 lbs.||35 lbs.||12 lbs.||13.25 lbs.||25 lbs.||57.8 lbs.||12|
|Ignition type||Not specified|
|Material||Stainless steel and nickel chrome|
|BTUs||20,000 (10,000 per burner)|
|BTUs||7,500 per burner, 3,000 for oven|
|Material||Enameled metal, cast iron|
|Fuel type||Wood, charcoal|
|Material||Cast aluminum burners|
|Fuel type||Liquified petroleum gas|
|BTUs||90,000 (30,000 per burner)|
|BTUs||20,000 (10,000 per burner)|
It's best to do as much research as you can before investing in a camping stove. Here are some commonly asked questions and what experts have to say!
If you're experiencing a power outage at home, or perhaps want to cook inside your RV, it's possible under certain conditions to put your camping stove to use.
You have to be sure that the fuel your stove uses won't become toxic to breathe in enclosed spaces. You shouldn't cook indoors with your camping stove if it's fueled by kerosene or charcoal, as these can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
If your stove is fueled by wood, alcohol, or clear gas such as butane, however, it may be safe to use indoors. Just be wary of fire hazards and keep your cooking space well-ventilated.
If your dream camp location is too far from home to reach by car, you may be wanting to travel to the general area by air. According to the TSA, you can indeed bring your camping stove along for the flight. However, you can't bring the fuel for your stove aboard the plane, so be prepared to buy fuel when you reach your destination.
The amount of fuel you need is dependent on how big your stove is, the type of fuel it uses, and how many people you'll be cooking for. You also need to be aware of the temperature and season, as your stove will need to expend more energy to create heat in cold weather.
It's also important to remember that any water you collect also has to be boiled for safe drinking, which means you may need even more fuel if you don't plan on bringing your own beverages. If you want a full breakdown of the different fuel types and how long they last in certain situations, check out MSR Gear's very thorough article on the topic.
Do you enjoy taking a trip into the outdoors to clear your head and relax? Do you have an upcoming trip planned? Check out our other articles on necessary camping gear!
If you're not quite sure where to start shopping for a camping stove, here are Amazon's best-selling stoves. They include some of our favorites and a couple of other brands as well.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
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