Part of the fun of camping is putting together scrumptious meals under the pines. To do that you need a good camping stove. Today’s camping stoves are versatile, powerful, durable and easy to transport. Some are even a realistic option for backpacking. So, whether you’re cooking for 20 or just you and your sweetheart, and whether you’re camping in Yellowstone or a private campground in Kentucky, there’s a camping stove that’s just right to fit your needs. Below are the best camping stoves for 2019.
The Best Camping Stove
If it looks familiar that’s because the Classic Portable Propane Stove from Coleman has been around for decades and changed little over that time. And why should it change? It’s the ideal tabletop stove with 2 burners packing 20,000 BTUs, adjustable flames levels and chrome-plated cooking grates that make cleanup a breeze. It also has generous windscreens that ensure an efficient, effective burn. If you can’t decide which family camping stove to buy you absolutely can’t lose with the Coleman Classic Propane Stove. If you plan on going camping with your family, check out our guide to the best large camping tents.
Accommodates 2 full sized pans.
20,000 BTUs of heat.
1 hour runtime on high.
Weight: 11 lbs.
- Weight4 ounces
The BioLite Camping cooktop embodies all the best aspects of 21st-century versatility and environmental awareness while also being an excellent backcountry camp stove. It uses twigs, dry bark, and other loose materials from around the campsite as fuel, which saves you having to carry a tank or canister of white gas or propane. But the real treat is that it uses some of the heat it generates to produce electricity to charge your smartphone while you cook and power an integrated light to illuminate the campsite. So sit back in your camping chair and enjoy.
Lightweight and versatile.
Integrated charging station.
Generates 3 watts of electric power.
Integrated FlexLight camp light.
Weight: 7.1 lbs.
- Weight7.14 pounds
When you’re cooking for a group you need a standalone propane camping stove you can count on. The Camp Chef EX60LW Explorer is a 2 burner powerhouse that pumps out 30,000 BTUs and ensures you get the most from that heat by providing generous windscreens. It easily accommodates your two biggest pans simultaneously and the heavy-gauge steel legs make sure they’re nice and stable on the burners. Built to last with lots of optional attachments. In order to keep your food from spoiling, check out our guide to the best cooler for camping.
Dual blue flame propane burners.
Large, effective windscreens.
Lots of available accessories.
30,000 BTUs of cooking power.
Weight: 30.5 lbs.
- BrandCamp Chef
- Weight34 pounds
What makes Jetboil MiniMo Stove a camping “system” instead of just a canister stove (which it also is) is the built-in a covered pot at the top. The pot is engineered to facilitate speedy heating and precise simmer control. The “cooking cup” (as they call the pan) has a sturdy metal handle and insulating cozy and can be easily removed so you can place whatever pot you want on the base. A good choice for solo camping, hunting and more. If you like a good nights sleep while camping, choose one of the camping mattresses from our list.
Outstanding simmer control.
Integrated cooking cup.
Metal pickup handle.
Consistent cold weather performance.
Push button ignition.
Weight 1 lb.
- Weight14.4 ounces
Primus Dual Burner Kinjia Stove is an extremely handsome, compact, lightweight tabletop outdoor stove that’s powerful, stable and easy to clean. Each burner kicks out 7,000 BTUs and can accommodate a medium size pot or pan. It’s one of the easiest to set up and tote about with its brass and oak handle and dual locking lid. If you like your camping stoves reliable, easy to carry and easy to clean it would be hard to argue against the Primus Kinjia. To keep you warm, we have prepared a selection of the best camping blankets so check them out.
Heavy-duty powder coat finish.
Removable cooking grid.
14,000 total BTUs.
Weight: 8.1 lbs.
- Weight6.6 ounces
Although it’s not as big as say the Explorer, this Camp Chef camping stove with grill packs an incredible 1-2 punch. Each of its burners produces 20,000 BTUs and is protected by a generous 3-sided windscreen so you can confidently cook in just about anything short of a downpour. It’s stable, well-built, features matchless ignition and the chrome plated grill cleans up easy. This portable propane stove takes about a minute to set up and is light enough to carry a pretty good distance. Our handy guide to the best camping cots features more great camping products like this.
Produces an amazing 40,000 BTUs.
2 full sized burners.
Fully adjustable heat controls.
Weight: 12 lbs.
- BrandCamp Chef
- Weight12 pounds
The MSR WindBurner isn’t going to win any beauty contests but it might win a speed boil contest. Hook up an isopro alcohol canister and let it rip. In just a couple of minutes, the water in the integrated pot will be boiling vigorously. While you’re not going to use this to cook bacon and eggs for the family it’s good for 1 or 2 persons on those days when you don’t want to wait and don’t want to be playing around with pots and pans. Be sure to combine this with a cool mess kit from our list.
Compact all-in-one system.
1-liter integrated pot.
Windproof and fast.
Weight: 1 lb.
- Weight15.2 ounces
The Genesis 2 outdoor cooking stove is a marvel of efficiency and performance. It’s light and ultra-compact, easy to carry and provides a high degree of control over your cooking. It’s also easy to clean up with its removable drip trays and easy to carry with its stainless steel handle. The fold-over design is a real space saver and everything is engineered to make your experience simple and satisfying. Just like a camp stove should. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best sleeping bags.
Removable drip trays.
Precise simmer control.
Use alone or with other Jetboi stoves.
Weight: 8 lbs.
- Weight3.2 pounds
This is a more affordable variation on the MSR WindBurner we reviewed above. It features the same stacked design that’s intended to make the most of your fuel and indeed you’ll boil a liter of water with the Pocketrocket in about 3 minutes. There are 8,000 BTUs of power, an integrated .75 liter aluminum pot, and an ultralight pot lifter. It’s a small camping stove for solo campers who aren’t making anything fancy and want minimal cleanup. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best double sleeping bags.
8,000 BTUs of cooking power.
16 oz bowl.
Stuff sack included.
Weight: 9 oz
- Weight2.56 ounces
The Gas One Portable Gas Stove is the type of stove millions of people around the world use in their kitchen. It’s a tried and true design that’s light and dependable and allows for a high degree of flame control. It uses affordable butane canisters, produces 9,000 BTUs and cleans up really easy with soap and water. The lightweight carrying case makes transporting it easy and the matchless ignition means you don’t have to worry about getting it started.
9,000 BTUs of cooking power.
Lightweight and versatile.
Enamel coated for easy cleanup.
Weight: 3.1 lbs.
- Weight3.1 pounds
The last of our best camping stoves is the Coleman Fold N Go. It mimics the ultra-compact efficiency of the Jetboi Genesis. Or is it the other way around? Regardless, they’re both attractive, convenient, folding twin burner camping stoves that produce 20,000 BTUs per burner, have matchless ignition and clean up in a snap. So if you like the Jetboi but don’t like the price, try the Fold N Go instead and put some of the money you save toward better cuts of meat.
1 hour plus at max temp.
40,000 total BTUs.
Accommodates 10-inch pans.
Fully adjustable heat levels.
Weight: 8.5 lbs.
- Weight8.5 pounds
Camping Stove Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Camping Stoves
Wind Resistance - Even the biggest, most powerful camping burner isn’t much good on a windy day if it doesn’t have windscreens. A steady wind can reduce the efficiency of your stove by 50% or more. So the best camping stoves always provide some degree of wind protection, whether that protection is built in and permanent or take the form of wind guards that can be installed if needed. Don’t ever underestimate the ability of the wind to hamper your food preparation efforts.
Simmering Ability - Unless you’re camped on the side of a mountain above tree line in the snow and it’s below zero you’re probably going to want to put some time into your food prep. That means having a stove with an adjustable flame so you can simmer your creations to perfection. This is especially true if you’re in a public campground and are putting together a hearty stew or soup for the assembled masses to enjoy. Be aware alternative fuel stoves that run off various types of alcohol as well as wood-burning camp stoves don’t provide you this ability.
Ease of Set Up - This one is a matter of preference since some folks enjoy tinkering with things and other folks want to get right down to business. If you’re one of the latter types you’ll want a portable camping stove that can be plunked down on the picnic table, opened up and - after the fuel source is attached - fired up. Coleman has long specialized in this type of camping gas stove and their latest stoves, such as the Fold N Go, are perfect examples of this design ethos.
Ease of Care - Backpacking stoves are the smallest but, perhaps ironically, also the most difficult type of outdoor stove to care for. That’s because they’re often used in the deep woods and set directly on the ground. So they tend to get dirtier than stoves used in public campgrounds that are set on picnic tables. A high-quality tabletop stove should not present maintenance and care issues. It should clean up easy and pack away in some sort of convenient carrying case.
Portability - If you want a large stove with legs that you can pop out of the trunk or the back of the SUV and set up 20 feet from the car then it won’t matter if it weighs 30 pounds and has a poorly designed handle. If, on the other hand, you like to go camping anywhere you have to park a good distance from the campsite you’ll want to think about weight and bulk. And if you plan on trekking into the Grand Canyon for a week you’re going to want a lightweight backpacking stove that breaks down to almost nothing.
Camping Stove Types
Freestanding - Designed to meet the needs of the public campground/tailgating crowd the freestanding camp stove - sometimes called the “Chuckwagon” stove - is big, has extendable legs and often has shelves on either side of the burners that fold up to hold food, spices, sauces or whatever you need. This type of stove typically features 2 burners and may bang out 30,000 BTUs.
Tabletop - The 2 burner tabletop outdoor cooking stove is the classic camping stove. This type of camp stove was popularized by Coleman, who is still an industry leader in production. The table top is lighter and less cumbersome than the freestanding stove and is ideal for groups of 4 to about 10 people. You’re not going to carry one of these into the backcountry. But at the same time, if you need to schlep it a half mile from car to campsite it’s not going to burn you out to do so. The tabletop stove is usually durable, sets up fast and is easy to clean.
Canister Stoves - Canister stoves came fairly late to the game only really gaining popularity in the late 20th century. But they’ve proven their worth over the years and are now one of the most popular types of camping stoves. The canister stove is so named because of the stovetop screws directly into the top of the propane canister, making setup extremely simple and fast. Smaller versions can even be carried into the deep woods without being a ball and chain. If there’s a downside it’s that the taller the canister the less stable the canister stove will be. But for the most part, they’re an excellent choice for one or two people.
Alternative Fuel Stoves - Alternative fuel stoves typically use either denatured alcohol, ethanol, methanol or rubbing alcohol as fuel. The advantage of this type of stove is that it’s easy to use and the fuel is readily available. The downside is that you can’t adjust the flame size so you need to stick to foods that are easy to prepare and don’t require simmering.
Wood Burning Stoves - The wood burning outdoor stove is designed to allow you to burn twigs, dry leaves, birch bark and other natural materials from the forest. This way it frees you from having to carry a heavy canister or fuel tank with you wherever you go. For this reason, the wood-burning camp stove is popular with backpackers. If there’s a downside to this type of environmentally responsible stove it’s that the environment is sometimes so wet it can be nearly impossible to find something to burn.
Liquid Fuel Stoves - Liquid fuel stoves usually attach to some type of refillable bottle that carries the fuel. Most burn white gas but others use kerosene and a few even burn unleaded gas from the gas station. The advantages of this type of stove are that the fuel is widely available, they perform well in all conditions and you’re not confined to one type of fuel either. On the downside, they typically require more maintenance than other stoves and you’ll need to prime them in order to get them going.
Camping Stove FAQ
Q: What's the difference between Camping Stove and a Backpacking Stove?
A: Camping stoves are typically large multi-burner stoves that are either standalone or designed to be set up on a picnic table. Because they’re designed to be used in public campgrounds where the car is parked close by little consideration is given to their weight. As such, it’s not unusual for camping stoves to weigh 10-30 pounds. A backpacking stove is designed to be carried in your backpack up mountains and/or deep into the wild. Because of this, they need to be compact and light. It should never be so large that it forces you to have to remove other important items to make way for it. At the same time, it needs to be light enough that carrying it, along with the rest of your equipment, clothes and food, for 8 or 10 or 12 hours straight doesn’t present a burden. Most good backpacking stoves weigh about a pound or less.
Q: How many BTUs should my Camping Stove have?
A: BTUs or British Thermal Units, are the measure of heat the stove is capable of emitting. For a group of 2-4 campers, you’ll want something in the neighborhood of 10-20,000 BTUs. For larger groups, you’ll want to ramp that up to 20-30,000 BTUs. But keep in mind that efficient outdoor cooking is not just a matter of throwing BTUs at the problem. Wind is the enemy of outdoor cooking and the fact is that a 10,000 BTU outdoor stove that has effective windscreens will likely boil water faster than a 30,000 BTU camping stove with no windscreens.
Q: How important is group size when choosing a Camping Stove?
A: It’s essential that you get the right size camping cooker for the number of people you anticipate needing to feed. If there are a couple of car-loads of family and friends heading for a weekend of outdoor relaxation at the campground and the person tasked with food prep shows up with a single burner camp stove, (or worse yet, with a backpacking stove), the wait for food is going to be epic. So, if you’re cooking for 4-6 people you’ll want to have at least a 2 burner stove. If the group is bigger than that you’ll want a stove with more burners or a couple of 2 burner camping stoves.
Q: How to clean a Camping Stove?
A: It’s important to clean the outdoor cooking stove thoroughly after every trip. Here are the steps regarding how to do that:
- Remove what can easily be removed - This will make cleaning the main body of the stove easier. Clean the individual components separately before reassembling the stove.
- Wipe everything down thoroughly - Fill a bucket with warm water and add a bit of dishwashing liquid. Using a clean soft cloth wash the body of the stove as if you were washing a regular kitchen pot or pan.
- Pay particular attention to the burners - Burners typically bear the brunt of spills and boil-overs and food can become baked on. So put some elbow grease into it and make sure you remove everything that doesn’t belong.
- Dry completely - If it’s a nice dry, sunny day and you have the time you might want to leave the camping stove out on the back porch to dry.
- Store in a dry place - Since most every camp stove is fashioned from metal you’ll want to make sure you don’t store it in a damp place like the basement.