Whether you are a backcountry backpacker, a car camper, or someone looking to warm up a cup of coffee on the trail, a camping stove is a secret weapon for a great outdoors experience. Depending on what you want, whether it is to cook up a storm and embrace the best of ‘glamping’ or to simply roast some hotdogs, you can always find the right stove for you. Essential to both enjoyment and functionality (you need to eat, after all), a quality camping stoves can overhaul your entire outdoor experience.
What to Look for in a Camping Stove
There are a few things to look out for when you are shopping for the perfect camping stove. To find the right one for you, consider these key features:
Durability and Design: It’s more than likely that you are going to use the stove more than once. It is also very likely that you will have the stove in some less-than-gentle situations — banging around in a canoe, or hitting the hard ground as you throw your backpack off. So, you’ll want something that will last for many summers to come. Always go for a camping stove that has solid construction and uses top-grade materials. It should also have a simple design as you don’t want to take forever setting up and storing it away. A good camping stove never goes out of style, you should be able to do everything you need with that one stove. Rule-out anything that has reviews suggesting that the stove broke after relatively benign wear.
Lightweight: If you plan to travel light for activities like backpacking, canoeing, or other on-foot excursions, then you’ll need to ensure that your stove is light enough to carry. The last thing you want is an amenity weighing you down and forcing you to take multiple trips back to your car. This goes for everything from your stove to you sleeping bag to the camping saw that you carry for collecting firewood. The good news is that camping stove makers have excelled in the area of making lightweight stoves, and nowadays your stove will probably weigh less than the dishes you are carrying with you. Find a stove that’s light enough for your endeavors.
Speed of Function: You want a stove that works quickly – meaning it heats up fast. Choose something that can heat quickly so that you can get to your stove and cook up quickly. This helps you save fuel over time as you’re constantly cooking food or boiling water, and you will be more inclined to use the stove if you know you don’t have to sit and wait for it. Overall, you’ll have more time to spend on your actual outdoor activities. The good news is that today’s camping stoves get hot in a hurry. You rarely have to wait more than a minute or two for the thing to be cranking major heat into whatever you have set on it.
Cooking Surface Specs: Depending on the number of people you plan on adventuring with, you may need a large cooking area. If it’s just you and a small group of people, feel free to to use a small cooking surface as they are usually lighter in weight. On the other hand, if you are cooking up a storm for a whole gang of people, are traveling with your spouse and kids for a long weekend, you’ll want something large enough to cook up your dishes in one shot.
With these in mind, we’ve broken down the most effective camping stoves for a variety of purposes. The best unit is the one that fits your individual needs. Check out these industry-leading options and discover the hidden gems in high-end camping.
Best Camping Stoves for Backpacking, Canoeing, Car Camping, and Families
Best All Around Camping Stove: The Primus Stove System
Primus has been making some of our favorite stoves for years. Within die-hard camping ranks, Primus is a very recognizable name. They are a mainstay in the world of backpacking and canoe campers who need lightweight, functional stoves wherever they go.
This versatile option gives you all the advantages of diverse performance. Given its lightweight design and efficient performance, you can easily tow it in a backpack for long treks. The great part is that the unit cooks quickly while allowing you to choose the size of surface you cook on. Using a solid base, the legs join to a small top, where you can place any pan needed.
With a propane fuel system and sturdy materials, you can easily store, tow, and maintain this item. The separate propane container adds safety by insulating the fuel, keeping it safe during long excursions. Provided you maintain the connection properly, the unit is very durable. It offers the advantage of a long-lasting, compact unit ideal for placing diverse surfaces for cooking.
An 8 ounce fuel canister can run continuously for about 3 hours, just to give you an idea of how much fuel to bring along with you. Our experience is that this unit heats up fast, so you won’t waste a lot of time trying to get up to the desired cooking temp.
Regardless of whether you cook for two or ten, this unit has the fuel tank size and function needed to make light work of the task. Find it here on Amazon.
Best Car Camping Stove
The major contender for the best car stove is the Coleman Triton. So long as you bring your vehicle along on your excursion, this unit is easy to tow. Offering a large surface and significant fuel supply, this design gives you as much as 22,000 BTUs to sizzle up your camping steaks. Ideal for tailgating and drive-in campsites alike, this heavy-duty unit enables you to cook for medium-large groups with ease. It is not the best choice if you need to carry it more than a few yards.
This is the type of stove you are cooking pancakes for everyone on each morning.
By employing a tight, heavy lid and a sleek surface, it minimizes the mess and offers you the advantages of evenly spread heat for quick cooking. Critical for wilderness camping, the unit cleans easily making it great for multi-night purposes. In between uses, it folds flat and takes up very little space, easily slipping in amongst all the other camping gear. With a friendly price point, this option is an ideal choice for car and truck travel. Find it here.
Best Backpacking Camping Stove
It was a very close call between this and the Primus that we listed above, but we love the design of this stove. If you plan to travel on foot, you need a camping stove that is both highly compact and very lightweight. The MSR PocketRocket is an ideal direction to take for these requirements. It’s heavy enough to truck around sunscreen, bug spray, food material, and water without adding a stove into the mix. With this option, you don’t have to worry about the weight holding you back. The quick-boil canister makes it easy and efficient to both cook and boil water. With this unit in tow, you can actually reduce the weight you bring along, since the quick boiling feature makes it easier to find water on the go. It takes less than four minutes to boil a liter of water, so you can spend more time enjoying nature.
The stove apparatus itself weighs a mere 3 ounces — but you will also be carrying a fuel source and likely a cooking pan.
And it doesn’t break the bank! Teh MSR PocketRocket can usually be found for roughly $100, not bad when you factor-in how much functionality is built-in to such a small, light unit.
Designed to accommodate a broad range of surfaces, you can also choose the size of pan you bring along. Either cook for the whole crew of travelers or just for yourself since you can place just about any pan size on the unit. Supporting sufficient fuel to easily accommodate a three night stay, the fuel tank is easy to change for longer excursions. With everything you need to embrace backpacking to the fullest extent, the MSR PocketRocket is an ideal companion. Find it here.
Best Camping Stove for Families
Family cooking stoves and car camping stoves are not much different, so you might want to look at those two categories together when evaluating larger stoves.
Cooking for a whole crew provides a whole new set of requirements for a camping stove. If your family likes to explore the great outdoors, then you need a large enough surface, powerful enough flame, and sufficient fuel storage on your camping stove. For these needs, the Bass Pro Shops High Output Grill/Stove is ideal. Offering up an entire 10,000 BTUs of heat from the burner, it gives you a whole 130 square inches of grilling surface – easily enough to feed a family.
Adding further ease to the journey, the design makes it both easy to start and clean up. A matchless ignition provides the spark to get you started quickly. During cooking, the drip pan catches the mess and makes light work of cleaning – essential for both enjoyment and safety. Since it’s compatible with a fuel tank holding over 16 ounces of propane, you can be sure the unit will last several meals. Easy to swap out the fuel cylinder, you can even extend the trip for several days. Working both as a grill and stove, you can just as quickly boil water as you can grill up some burgers. Helping to make camping fun for the whole family, this unit keeps your crew fed during the whole excursion. Find it here.
Camping is about enjoying the outdoor wonders of the world, but depending on what type of camping you prefer to do, you might want to do it with some indoor amenities. We don’t blame you — a couple creature comforts can make a huge difference on how much time you feel like spending in the great outdoors. A dry place to sleep, a comfy camping pillow, and yes, good food cooked on a quality stove.
These high-performance camping stoves enable you to make the most of both aspects. Enjoy your time outdoors, whether backpacking or on a family trip, with these top-tier stove options. Cooking during outside treks gets a lot easier with the help of the right camping stove.