The difference with a camping stove is that it’s much bigger than something designed for backpacking and offers a wider range of versatility and practicality when you’re looking to get some cooking done the next time you go camping.
When you’re using one of these, you don’t have to strictly rely backpacking meals. You can cook a lot of similar things that you would be able to do at home as long as you have the right utensils and ingredients.
The size of these stoves make them a good choice for those of you that are doing a lot of car camping or setting up a base camp to explore the surrounding region.
When it comes to the best camping stove, there are quite a few benefits over using other types of camping cooking devices and these include:
- More consistent fuel output
- Stronger flames
- The ability to use more than just one pan or pot at a time
- Great simmer control
These days you have quite a few different options to choose from if you’re looking for a new stove to use for camping and there are models designed to be used on table tops that are smaller and more portable as well as bigger models that are free standing if you’re cooking for a large group of people.
In this post I want to share with you a few of my recommendations of my different favorite camping stoves and at the end you can find an in-depth buyer’s guide that will help you make a more informed decision and help you make a better choice in choosing the right stove for your needs and preferences.
The Best Camping Stoves
- Fuel type: Propane
- No. of Burners: 2 (10,000 BTUs each)
- Weight: 12 lbs
- Benefits: Affordable, entry-level
- Drawbacks: Design quality, not the best flame control
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Coleman Classic is my first recommendation here.
For starters, Coleman is a very popular budget-friendly camping company in North America and although they’re not known for making the best products, what they do come out with is reasonably priced and reliable enough for people that don’t spend too much time camping during the year.
The Coleman Classic is no different and although there are some better options to choose from, this is a stove you’re going to want to consider if you’re looking to pick something up on a budget that you can being around a bit on your next car camping adventure.
This bad boy comes equipped with a pair of independently adjustable 10,000 BTU burners and this gives you a total of 20,000 BTU’s of cooking power.
The cooking surface itself is pretty spacious and you can use a 12 inch pan and a 10 inch pan at the same time without having to worry about overcrowding and to help protect your flame from the wind is there are WindBlock panels on the sides as well as the cover that offer plenty of wind protection.
With the adjustable burner you can blast something on a high heat or just simmer depending on what you’re cooking and as a fuel source of this stove uses propane so there should be no problem finding any canisters at your local outdoors store before you get to the campsite.
It is definitely a little bit heavy but since you’ll be car camping or RV camping the weight shouldn’t matter that much and having a heavier model means you don’t have to worry so much about vibrations or pots or pans tipping over when you’re cooking.
When you’re finished cooking, you can remove the chrome plated grate to wash it off and everything folds back into the same unit so there’s no need to fiddle around with any small parts or pieces apart from your cookware.
The Coleman Classic, despite being more of an entry-level model, is a great camping stove to bring with you if you’re looking for something that uses propane and can be used on a tabletop or flat surface.
Camp Chef MS2HP
- Fuel type: Propane
- No. of Burners: 2 (20,000 BTUs each)
- Weight: 12 lbs
- Benefits: Good flame power, durable
- Drawbacks: A little bit wide
The Camp Chef MS2HP is a high output stove and it comes with two burners that are each capable of putting out 20,000 BTUs.
To help with the cooking process there are fully adjustable heat control dials so that you can get a high burn or just a low simmer making it easy to prepare a wide variety of different meals when you’re out camping.
Getting the stove going is quite easy thanks to the matchless ignition that just sparks the fuel source and allows you to start cooking right away.
The cooking grate is made from a nickel coated steel and it helps to make it strong and durable so that is able to hold heavy pots and pans when they’re full of water or food that you’re using.
To help with the cleanup, there is a stainless steel drip tray.
On the side of the stove are two panels that help to block the wind and these work in conjunction with the large lid to allow you to keep cooking even if it’s a breezy or windy day.
For portability, everything packs up quite nicely once you close the lid and there’s even a carrying handle to make it more convenient to carry around.
I would definitely recommend checking out the Camp Chef MS2HP if you’re looking for reliable and durable cooking equipment with a high output to use the next time you’re out camping
Coleman Perfect Flow Grill
- Fuel type: Propane
- No. of Burners: 1 + grill
- Weight: 12.5 lbs
- Benefits: Lots of versatility, great for grilling and cooking
- Drawbacks: Not ideal if you want two dedicated burners
The Coleman Perfect Flow Grill actually features a unique 2-in-1 design that allows you to use the stove as well as the grill at the same time for more versatile cooking options.
This way you can grill up some meats or vegetables and at the same time take advantage of a small little stove area for boiling water or simmering some sauces.
This is a great option if you want to have a grill with you but you also want to take advantage of the capabilities that a stove has to offer as well without having to choose one over the other.
When it comes to cooking control, there are two independently adjustable burners that you can use for each zoned epending on what you’re cooking and in total you’re able to take advantage of 20,000 BTUs of cooking power.
To help with cooking in windy conditions, there are side panels that can be used to help prevent the wind from blowing the flame around too much but you can also hold these panels down if you need a little side table to hold your spices or cutlery while you’re cooking.
There is a removable grease tray that makes it easier to clean everything up once you’re finished and underneath there are non-skid feet that helps to keep the stove steady and in place while you’re using it.
The cooktop itself is made from an aluminized steel and the whole unit is quite portable that a lightweight so it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something to use that offers a little bit more versatility the next time you go car camping or out with your RV.
Stansport 2 Burner
- Fuel type: Propane
- No. of Burners: 2 (50,000 BTU – 25,000 each burner)
- Weight: 10 lbs
- Benefits: Sturdy, reliable
- Drawbacks: Build quality
The Stansport 2 Burner is a propane camping stove that’s lightweight, portable, and takes on a traditional design while offering up to 50,000 BTU of output.
This is plenty of output power and it’s well-suited if you’re looking for something that can boil water quickly as well as handle all of your other typical outdoor cooking needs.
It features an oversized steel frame as well as stainless steel components this helps to make it durable as well as sturdy so it’s not going to be shaking around as much when you’re using it.
It uses propane as a fuel source and there is a Piezo igniter that helps you to get the stove going right away without having to use any matches or anything.
To help with wind protection, there are wind screens on the sides.
With the heat control valves you can choose between a simmer or a high burn depending on what you’re preparing and there’s also a high-altitude pressure regulator so that this stove can be used at higher elevations if you’re setting up a base camp.
The grate can handle two standard sized pots or pans at the same time and there’s even a stainless steel drip tray that allows you to quickly clean up any mess that you happen to make.
The Stansport 2 Burner would be a good choice if you’re looking for something relatively lightweight that offers a very high output that allows you to cook a wide range of camping meals the next time you’re out in the backcountry.
Primus FireHole 100
- Fuel type: Propane
- No. of Burners: 2 (24,000 BTUs, 12,000 BTU each burner)
- Weight: 13 lbs
- Benefits: Build quality, design
- Drawbacks: Pricey
The Primus FireHole 100 is my final recommendation when it comes to propane camping stoves.
This model offers a decent output of 12,000 BTU per burner and the cooking platform allows you to use both a pot and a pan simultaneously giving you the ability to prepare a wide range of different meals.
The fuel line is integrated so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it somewhere and although it uses the smaller propane canisters you could always pick up an adapter if you wanted to use one of the bigger 5 gallon ones.
There are magnetic windscreens that you can use to help prevent the wind and any breezes from impacting your cooking.
As for the design, the control knobs are actually recessed and this helps to give the stove a more streamlined profile and along with the carrying handle it’s very portable and easy to bring with you camping.
To get it started there is a twist-click igniter and for cleaning you can easily remove the grate to clean the actual stove before packing it away again.
This is quite a durable and portable little cooking set up so I would definitely recommend taking a look at the Primus FireHole 100 if you’re looking for something that you can bring with you the next time you’re going camping to prepare some nice meals.
Camping Stove Buyers Guide
Tabletop vs Freestanding
There are basically two different designs that camping stoves are available in:
A free-standing model that comes with legs and is typically larger in size and weight
A tabletop model that is more portable, compact, and better suited for smaller groups
Most campers these days prefer using tabletop stoves because they are much smaller, lighter, and they’re easier to manage when it comes to packing it up in the car and setting it up at the campsite.
With something designed to be used on the table, you will need a flat and steady surface to set it up on so if there isn’t something like a picnic bench around or you’re not RV camping then you’re going to want to consider picking up a dedicated camping table to use for cooking and eating on.
These smaller cooking devices are a good idea if you’re going to be camping solo or with just one or two other people.
Free-standing stoves are much bigger, heavier, harder to transport, but offer a lot of versatility when it comes to your cooking capabilities out in the backcountry.
With one of these bad boys you have a lot of cooking space so you can cook a wider variety of different meals and other especially well-suited if you’re traveling with your whole family or a group of people.
Given their size, they are obviously less portable but if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in one place or camping out of your car or RV then it’s not really a big deal to bring along one of these with you to use for a better outdoor cooking experience.
Number of Burners
The majority of the best-selling camping stoves come equipped with two burners and this is the best set up for most people when it comes to getting some cooking done when you’re out camping.
Just like when you’re at home, it’s usually just two burners that you use the most and this allows quite a bit of versatility because you can use one burner for a pot where you’re boiling water or simmering a sauce and the other for a pan where you’re preparing meat, veggies, or heating up something else.
This design also allows for the most efficient cooking process as well since there isn’t much else that you have to worry about other than the two burners right in front of you.
Having the dual burners also gives you a lot more options for cooking compared to just having a single burner.
Of course, if you’re heading out with a larger group then you might want to consider going with a 3-burner stove, although you might be better off using two smaller ones with just two burners because the 3 burner can be quite bulky and cumbersome.
Apart from the burners, you also want to keep in mind the amount of space that you have on the stovetop that you can utilize for cooking.
Depending on the camping cookware that you’re using, you should at least be able to fit a medium size pot and pan side by side so that you can use both at the same time without having to sacrifice any space or cooking time.
Especially when it comes to car camping where weight isn’t that big of a deal I would always recommend going with any option that offer the most cooking space overall because this is going to be the easiest and most practical for you in the long run.
The burning power, or BTUs, when it comes to camping stoves is the measurement of the heat output that the stove gives off and this allows you to better determine the overall performance potential that you are able to take advantage of.
Keep in mind that this is just one factor to consider and it definitely shouldn’t be the deciding factor when you’re looking at all the different options available to choose from.
However, it’s a great way add comparing the different stoves and you can really tell the amount of cooking heat that you’re going to get when you’re looking at the different BTUs.
For example, if you’re using a 10,000 BTU burner and you switch to something that has 20,000 BTUs you will definitely notice a huge difference in performance and cooking capability.
There are a few benefits of going with something that has a higher BTU.
For starters, with a stronger flame you’ll be able to cook your food faster and this is important if you’re boiling water or you don’t want to spend too much time preparing the meal.
Keep in mind that something more powerful is going to use a lot more fuel so it’s a good idea to bring some back up fuel canisters if you’re going to be spending more than one or two nights out in the backcountry and you plan on doing a lot of cooking.
Fuel Type and Capacity
Most of the camping stoves these days use propane as a fuel source and this is ideal because propane can be used in a wide range of different temperatures and it’s readily available throughout Canada and the United States.
On the other hand, if you have a bigger car or even an RV then you might want to consider going with one of those 5 gallon tanks because not only are these refillable but they offer quite a lot of fuel so you’ll be able to cook a decent amount of meals before having to refill it.
Depending on the stove you’re using, most of the smaller and more portable ones designed to be used on tabletops typically come with an attachment for the 16 ounce tanks but you can easily find an adapter and a hose so that you can fit it onto one of the bigger 5 gallon ones if you were so inclined.
For cold weather and winter camping you’ll definitely see lower performance when you’re using propane so if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors in the winter you might want to consider going with a liquid fuel stove instead for more reliability.
In this case, white gas is a very reliable fuel source when you’re camping or backpacking in more extreme outdoor conditions but unfortunately there aren’t too many options available when it comes to full size camping stoves that use this fuel source.
I would recommend taking a look at the Coleman Dual Fuel if you’re looking for something that can be used in a wide range of outdoor conditions and weather environments and that also can run on white gas or unleaded gasoline depending on what you have nearby.
So basically unless you’re spending a lot of time doing winter camping I would still recommend going with the propane stove because these are the most versatile, reliable, and propane is readily available just about everywhere.
Performance in Windy Conditions
One of the biggest problems that I run into when I’m out camping and using a stove is that the slightest amount of wind can have a noticeable impact on the flame and how effectively I’m able to get my cooking done.
This means that it’s important to either cook in a more protected space or keep an eye out for any stoves that come with a wind-shield to help protect the flame from the breeze and wind.
Unfortunately, even with this protection the flame is still going to be susceptible to higher gusts and very windy days but it’s still something I would keep an eye out for because it’s a very useful and practical feature that helps for cooking during all three seasons.
For the best wind protection you’re going to be much better off with a smaller stove but if you have a larger, free-standing stove you could just simply set it up somewhere that offers protection from the wind so that you can still get your cooking done.
Starting the Stove: Ignition
The most common type of ignition on camping stoves is a push button auto ignition that automatically gets the flames going without you having to use a match and quickly light up the fuel.
I would definitely recommend going with any models that come with this type of ignition and make sure to keep the area around the igniter clean and free from dust or debris so that you don’t run into any issues getting it started when you’re out in the backcountry doing some camping.
Of course, you should also consider bringing along a lighter or some matches just in case your ignition stops working because you can still manually light the stove if you need to.
Performance and Simmer Control
It’s great to have a powerful burner that’s giving off a lot of heat but sometimes you might want to go with something that offers a little bit more control so that you can make a wider variety of outdoor camping meals and dishes.
I would recommend keeping an eye out for stoves that come with a simmer control and this is a feature that helps to regulate the fuel so that your flame can remain at a consistent heat and you don’t have to worry about flare-ups or burning everything to the bottom of the pot or pan that you’re cooking with.
On some of them more cheap camping stoves you won’t find this feature but better quality models will come with simmer control.
Additionally, making sure that you have a windscreen set up is definitely going to help keep the flame at a steady burn regardless of whether you’re running high or low heat.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of simmer control and I love how it allows me to make a wide range of different camping meals.
Packed Size and Weight
The weight and packed size of any of the models that you’re interested in is also something you’re going to want to consider but it’s not that much of an important factor if you’re going to be car camping or traveling with your RV.
Still, it’s a good idea to look for something that offers decent performance without being too heavy so that it’s more manageable for you and so that you’re more likely to use it rather than leave it behind.
For something very portable I would still recommend checking out some of the different options I’ve gone over in my article on the best backpacking stoves and otherwise you just want to make sure that you double check the total weight of anything that you’re interested in to make sure that it’s manageable for you.
Along with the stove you’re also going to have to save some space for the camping cookware that you are using and the groceries that you’re bringing along so try to find something that’s best suited for your needs and preferences.