It’s no secret that we live in a society dominated by technology and innovation, but there is also a strong counter movement that calls for nature-related escapes. Camping, for instance, is one of the oldest human activities and it’s no secret that it has great health benefits.
Choosing the best camping stove to cook meals for your friends and family can help prevent a lot of hassle and heartbreak while camping.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of models when it comes to camping stoves, and a variety of different types to choose from. They all have their own set of benefits and features, so your ideal cooking surface will depend on your specific needs.
To help you on your quest to finding a portable camping stove, we’ve put together an article that will teach you the basics of how they work, explain the different types and their benefits, and give you our recommendations for the best camping stoves on the market today.
Best Camping Stoves
Best Electric Camping Stove
Best Wood Burning Camping Stove
Camping stoves, also referred to as portable stoves, are designed to be lightweight because they are often used in activities such as picnicking, backpacking, trekking, and of course, camping.
There are different types of portable stoves that are powered by different types of fuels. These include, but are not limited to propane, wood burning, and electrical powered stoves, as well as those that run on unpressurized liquid fuel.
Note that there are also one burner models, which are called backpacking stoves. While these were not designed to cook complex meals, you can use them as additional burners to boil water or keep ingredients warm while cooking on the main source of heat.
Certain types of portable stoves, such as propane-powered ones, appeared until the mid 20th century, but portable cookware can be traced as far as 17th century Japan. During the Edo period, ceramic-based portable ovens known as Shichirin became widely available to travelers.
As for western-styled portable stoves, the first one to pave the way for its subsequent followers was developed in the mid-19th century. Created by French-born Alexis Soyer to cater to the British Army, this stove was the first of its class and was used until the late 20th century.
Since then, various portable stove models were developed and made available to consumers. These are often used in camping grounds, extended fishing trips, surfing voyages, and other outdoor activities that involve spending the night immersed in nature.
The most common types of camping stoves are powered by propane. This type of fuel offers a set of benefits for family camping trips. Firstly, propane tanks are extremely easy to use because they only require you screw them onto a hose or directly to the stove.
Because they are a type of pressurized liquid fuel, propane-powered stoves are known for being energy efficient, having an adjustable flame, and being easy to setup and use, so they always provide a strong outdoor option.
Although different people like camping for different reasons, a lot of individuals appreciate the close encounter with nature. Moreover, these people are interested in lowering their emissions and living an overall nature-friendly life, choosing eco-friendly stoves.
For nature enthusiasts, wood burning stoves offer a great alternative that will help you take advantage of the resources available in the outdoors. By using branches, leaves, and dried wood as fuel, we can lower our fossil fuel consumption and environmental impact to a minimum.
Electric camping stoves don’t depend on gas tanks or canisters, but rather depend on electricity to create heat, which is transferred through induction.
Electric stoves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all require a source of electricity. Also note that some models come in the form of ovens and heaters that heat up a chamber to cook, heat up, or keep food warm.
There are also stoves that use unpressurized liquid fuel such as kerosene, ethanol, or alcohol gel to generate heat. These stoves tend to be more affordable, but are also the least energy efficient.
There are other types of portable stoves that use other means to create heat, such as internal batteries, solar power, and composite heating systems. Certain innovative models are now equipped with electronic device chargers that can power cell phones, tablets, and more.
The burners are the point at which heat is transferred to pots, pans, and other pieces of cookware. Most stoves have an open flame, with the exception of induction-based systems that have surfaces made of ceramic or other materials that allow easy heat transfer.
Single-burner stoves are often referred to as backpacking stoves and are not designed to cook entire meals. Most camping stoves have two burners, with larger models that are designed for big groups having up to three.
Depending on the vehicle you are using and the campsite you are going to, portability may or may not be a huge factor. That being said, there are different camping stove designs that cater to all requirements, regardless of how light or heavy they may be.
As we mentioned previously, there are numerous types of fuel that can be used to produce heat. Gas and liquid-powered stoves tend to be the most effective, camping wood stoves are eco-friendly, and electricity-powered types use a heat-induction mechanism.
Also, keep in mind that pressurized and unpressurized liquids require tanks and canisters, wood-based stoves are not as energy efficient as other models, and electric stoves require a source of electricity.
If you are choosing a pressurized liquid stove, you need to make sure it’s compatible with various tank sizes. Smaller tanks tend to be more expensive, whereas larger units are heavy and require plenty of space.
As for electric stoves, you need to make sure their voltage is compatible with your power source. Wood stoves only require wood, although you can also find models that support solid fuels, such as alcohol cubes.
There are hundreds of portable camping stoves available and some of them require setup or assembly. Sometimes you can find models that just require a flat surface or tabletop, but certain countertop and most stand-alone models require some level of setting up.
Portable camping stoves are categorized by their heat output, which is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. In a nutshell, BTUs tell you how quickly a stove can boil a specific amount of water, which is used to determine the power of each individual model.
As you can imagine, the higher the BTUs, the more powerful the heat source. Also keep in mind that some companies that make multi-burner camping stoves may list the BTUs for the entire unit.
One big advantage that electric, liquid, and propane portable stoves have over their wooden counterparts is their ability to regulate and control the heat output. Some allow more control than others, but as a whole, they help cook meals to perfection and save fuel in the long run.
Another big factor that affects the performance of your camping stove is the climate, more specifically the temperature and the amount of wind.
If you plan to camp in windy, temperate, or cold areas, you may want to make sure your stove can perform well in these circumstances.
You should consider how easy it is to clean the stove and check if there are any maintenance requirements you need to carry out. Keep in mind the time and dedication this would take and invest energy into keeping your source of heat in good condition.
Other features can come in the form of extensions or accessories that provide another burner or boiling unit that can use the same tank or canister as the main burners, as well as stabilizers that help keep upright models from tipping over.
We have put together a list of the best camping stoves based on their overall performance. In addition to this, we will give you our choice for the best electric camping stove and best wood burning camping stove available in the market today.
Our choices for the best camping stoves are:
Our top pick for the overall best camping stove is the Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner Range. This stand-alone model is a perfect choice for groups of up to 5 because it offers a large cooking area as well as two powerful burners, boasting of 30,000 BTU each.
Starting at just over $100, the Camp Chef Explorer can be assembled and prepared extremely quickly. According to some reviews found online, setting up takes minutes, which is impressive considering the size and power of the flame.
When you first receive your Camp Chef, you will have some one-time assembling to do. The legs, burner units, propane hose, and windscreens all need to be put together. Keep in mind that a wrench comes included in the pack, so you won’t have to get your toolbox out.
One of the reasons why this is the best propane camping stove is the fact that it has removable and adjustable legs. You can easily remove them and place them back when transporting it, while also providing a good solution for uneven surfaces.
Other reviews mentioned how this camping stove has additional features that made it a great option for both outdoors and homes. For instance, its three windscreens prevent the flame from suffering decreased performance, and the control knobs help you regulate the heat.
Although a lot of the reviews online praised the Camp Chef Explorer, there were some comments that highlighted a few setbacks. For instance, this model does not come equipped with an automatic starter and it’s not compatible with 16-ounce propane tanks.
Lastly, it features a durable design and sturdy materials, which means you will have a reliable portable stove for years to come. Considering all the features and ruggedness of this model, it should provide a heavy-duty option suitable for large groups and families alike.
Coming in a second is the Coleman Triton Series 2 Burner Stove, which features a heat output of 11,000 BTUs on each burner. Not only this, but Coleman is one of the most renowned brands when it comes to camping and outdoor equipment, a synonym for quality in this industry.
Starting at just over $140, the Triton Series camping stove was built with performance and fuel efficiency in mind. Its versatile design focuses on mitigating external factors such as the wind and cold temperature in order to get the most out of each propane tank.
With more than 88% positive reviews, it’s no surprise to hear that the Coleman camping stove delighted most of the people who purchased it. Some praised it for how light it is and how easy it is to find replacement Coleman-branded propane tanks.
The front and side panels help shield the flames from direct wind and can be adjusted for various pan and pot sizes. It also comes equipped with PerfectFlow pressure control system, which provides consistent heat distribution even in the harshest conditions.
Certain online reviews did mention some downsides to this model, some of which reported weak mounting screws. Others also noted one of the burners was much weaker than the other, but this is likely due to a malfunction rather than a design fault.
Specialized Perfect Heat technology means you will be using less fuel to cook and heat up your food. The griddle accessory, which is sold separately, can help you rest pots and pans of 12 and 10 inches at the same time.
The Coleman camping stove is ideal for short trips or space-constricted vehicles because of its compact build. The top panel can be closed down, serving as a lid while the burners are safely stowed underneath.
When compared to other portable stoves in its class, the Coleman Triton Series is much lighter and features a slimmer build. This makes it easier to store and transport, and it only requires a minimal amount of counter space to be operated.
If neither of the aforementioned models is suitable for your specific needs, or if neither of them fit your budget, you can always turn to the Camp Chef MS2HP, also known as the Everest 2. This versatile model offers a great, cost-effective choice for families and groups of up to 4.
There are a few aspects that inclined us to choose the Everest 2 as our alternative camping stove of choice. It features a foldable top that allows it to be stored easily and efficiently without taking up much space.
This great portable stove also offers a combined 40,000 BTUs, more than enough to prepare elaborate meals for large groups. It’s heavy duty flame and matchless ignition make cooking a much easier and safer endeavor, making your whole camping trip more enjoyable.
Starting at just over $80, the Camp Chef Everest 2 is among the most affordable options, and it’s backed by Camp Chef’s 1-year warranty. This makes this one of the best portable stoves for camping, backyard barbecues, and even tailgating at sporting events.
The Everest 2 has received praises from online reviews because it provides 20,000 BTUs per burner, almost twice as much as the average competitor.
Not only this, the windscreens diminish the negative effect of wind, helping it achieve the blue flame that is characteristic of fuel efficient fires. The large cooking area allows you to use two big cooking pans at once, and the propane fuel source makes it a convenient choice.
Some negative reviews online did bring to light the fact that the finishing was not the best on the Everest 2. Some users reported that the paint was chipping off and the lid was warping after just a few months of usage.
Electric camping stoves offer a great set of features, but they tend to be limiting because they require an energy source. Taking that into consideration, our choice for best electric camping stove is none other than the RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Stove.
Like all electric models, you won’t have to worry about carrying around a heavy propane tank or liquid fuel canister when using the RoadPro. This stove is designed like an oven because it consists of one heating chamber that can be used to cook or warm up pre-cooked food.
Designed with portability and functionality in mind, this versatile device offers a large chamber that can be used to cook stews, rice meals, beans, chops, and much more.
Because of its box-shaped design, it can be used safely and moved around while inside of a vehicle, making it one of the best car camping stoves available.
Besides being easy to use, this portable oven offers an easy alternative because it uses your car’s cigarette lighter as a source of power. Powered by a conservative 12-volt outlet, it offers an option that is suitable to use with any and all vehicles.
One of the most impressive parts of the RoadPro is that it had amazing reviews. Many online reviews praise it because it offers a great option to store and heat up leftover foods and pre-cooked meals.
There are some negative reviews where users complain because it takes a significant amount of time for the oven to heat up. On the other hand, numerous reviewers are very satisfied because of its sturdy build, claiming they have dropped it without suffering any damages.
Most positive reviewers used the RoadPro as a heating vessel for lunch on daily basis or for long road trips. Finally, others found that with a price tag of just over $30, this portable stove was one of the most affordable in its class.
When it comes to wood burning camping stove, there is none better than the Ohuhu Portable Stainless Steel Wood Burning Camping Stove.
Starting at just under $20, this eco-friendly cooking option features a sturdy build while being completely powered by mother nature, a true green warrior!
The Ohuhu portable stainless steel wood burning camping stove features a simple design, which consists of a hollow center chamber and a pot supporter. The stove base plate, bottom vents, and solidified alcohol plate add the finishing touches that give it maximum functionality.
This camping stove features an upright build, but it also has a stable base design that keeps it from tipping over. The three arm support system allows you to use larger pots and pans, and will keep them in one place even during the windiest conditions.
Wood burning camp stoves offer a great alternative because they have a reduced impact on the environment. Propane and fossil fuel production are known having destructive manufacturing processes, while wood burners offer a viable solution that uses present resources.
It has received good feedback for being sturdy and extremely portable. Others also praised it because it can be used with both wood and solid fuels alike.
Despite the fact that most reviewers were very happy with their Ohuhu wood stove, others expressed concern over the size of the stove itself. Cooking for more than one person can pose a huge challenge, especially because it can only use one pot at a time.
Others also complained because it’s hard to assemble and nest together. That being said, it also receives other positive reviews for being extremely efficient, making it one of the best lightweight camping stove for people concerned about their fossil fuels consumption.
The products above all receive our seal of approval, but when looking for the best camping stove, always consider the number of people you will be cooking for, the climate of the area you will be camping at, and the difficulty of the meals you want to cook.
Remember that preparing meals for a couple of ramen lovers can be very different from feeding a family of 4, so take a look at your particular needs and make the right choice for your group. The products above are all good choices