In this guide to the best camping stoves, you'll learn about six factors to consider when buying a camp stove, the pros and cons of tabletop, and freestanding stoves. We also share our top picks for the best camp stoves of 2020 and gear for a successful cookup. Perfect for car or tent camping.
Ready to start cooking? Let's go!
Best Camping Stoves of 2020
Cooking on a camp stove these days is quick, reliable, and (in many ways) just like cooking at home. There are hundreds of camping cookbooks to inspire you and delight your palate. The gear is durable, lightweight and easy to use once you’re set up.
Of course, if you really don’t feel like sparking up the stove then you can just roast your hot-dogs over the campfire, but remember you have to build the fire first, and it will take a lot more time to get it going and up to a good roasting temperature.
So, when your family is hungry sometimes it’s just quicker and easier to cook with a stove’s instant heat. And that way you have more time to sit around the campfire after everyone is happy (with a full belly) and make s’mores for dessert or just toast your marshmallows.
So, how do you choose the right stove? In this post, we’ll discuss all the variables you need to consider. As we built it, it became a pretty epic guide.
To help you sort things out, we’ve broken it down into these sections:
- 8 Best Camping Stoves: Includes traditional, lightweight, free standing, and wood burning. (jump to section)
- Guide to Buying a Camping Stove: 6 factors to consider (jump to section)
- Tabletop Vs Free Standing Camp Stove (jump to section)
- Camp Stove Safety: Where to set up, plus 5 safety tips (jump to section)
- Great Camp Cooking Accessories: cooking mess kits, utensils, coffee makers and more. (jump to section)
As you can see, there is a lot of great stuff so let’s get started.
Alright, now let’s get started.
8 Best Camping Stoves
Great value for money, well-constructed with quality materials, easy to use and built to last.
These top picks tick all the boxes when it comes to a great camping stove for every occasion.
1. Top Pick: Best Value (Coleman Triton 2-Burner)
If you're going car camping, this is the best stove for you. Great value for the money and an all-rounder with good burner control, large adjustable windbreaks and powerful enough to feed a family, it’s hard to beat this tabletop stove.
- Burners: 2 x 22,000 BTU
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Fuel: Propane
- Category: tabletop
- Pros: great price with large, adjustable windbreaks allowing you fit bigger pots.
- Cons: Bulky design might be hard to pack in a small car. Griddle sold separately.
Able to adjust to fit any pot or pan it will cook efficiently using less fuel as the PerfectFlow system delivers a steady supply in a way that even when the wind picks up you will have a hot meal in no time.
It’s easy to clean with a removable chrome grate, and a lid you can secure when you're done – making it easy to stow out of the way until the next meal.
2. Best for Backpacking / Hiking: Classic Trail Stove
- Burners: 1
- Weight: 8 ounces
- Fuel: Power gas
- Category: Tabletop or ground
- Pros: Small (and light) enough to tuck in your day pack
- Cons: Power Gas canisters not included. Get them here.
Portable in its own bag, it’s so light you won’t even realize you are carrying it. It will cook for over an hour on one 230g gas cartridge making it perfect for weekend trips.
3. Top Pick: Best Premium: Camp Chef
If you have the space, you're going to love this stove. It isn't light and you'll need a full size propane tank, but if you want lots of cooking space and lots of cooking power, then this is the stove for you.
- Burners: 2 x 30,000 BTU
- Weight: 36 pounds
- Fuel: Propane
- Category: Freestanding
- Pros: Stands waist high for ease of cooking and a whopping 448 square inches of cooking space.
- Cons: It's heavy and bulky.
More than a camp stove, this is an entire home away from home kitchen. Set it up how you like with multiple accessories.
You have your choice of two single burners side by side in case you want a griddle on one and something else on the other, or a double burner accessory. It even has an artisan pizza oven to really wow the family on the next trip.
Strong constant flame and heat are delivered by the dual 30,000 BTU burners giving it more grunt capable of cooking for large groups or just your family.
Windbreaks on three sides plus around the burners make cooking easy, reliable and more comfortable when you set up it anywhere you like. Being freestanding you have greater freedom to suit your campsite without limitation.
Specialty Camping Stoves
4. Wood Burning Camp Stove: Ohuhu Stainless Steel Stove
And because of its construction, it can cook with very little fuel. It operates on the principal of a rocket stove which uses natural convection to accelerate the burning process.
Weights just 14 oz. and the two pieces nest inside each other – taking up almost no space. In fact, one user noted that it fits nicely inside of this 775ml camp pot.
5. Koblenz PFK-400 4 Burner Gas Stove
For those that like more options when they are cooking this table top stoves 16,000 BTU (total) is great if you are camping in a campground with the family.
Four burners mean you can have multiple things on the go so your eggs are cooking while the kettle is boiling for that all important morning cuppa joe.
Because it's enamel it’s easy to clean and looks just like a stove-top at home, and it comes with a sturdy cover to keep it clean until your next use.
6. Coleman Roadtrip Propane Portable Grill LXE
Fuel efficient, it cooks on any of the interchangeable accessories you prefer like a griddle, grill or stove top with an easy to clean removable grease tray.
It also self-ignites and is collapsible, so when you are done it is easily stowed in a bag for transport protecting your car from grease on the way home.
7. Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven
For the true essence of home, this small oven does it all. With two 2x 7,500 BTU stove top burners and a 3,000 BTU oven it is a versatile package. Cook breakfast, boil the kettle and bake bread all at the same time.
Capable of cooking for five hours on high with one propane can it truly delivers for the entire family and provides some creature comforts for those that prefer glamping to roughing it.
If you are going for a longer trip and wanted more fuel, it can be adapted for a bulk tank.
8. Traditional Coleman Classic Propane Stove
If you're feeling nostalgic, this is a great option. It ticks all the boxes for price, weight, performance and durability.
- Burners: 2 x 20,000 BTU
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Fuel: Propane
- Category: tabletop
- Pros: reliable constant heat in one lightweight package.
- Cons: no self-ignition.
Outstanding value for the money, although compact and lightweight for ease of handling, this table top stove still has enough power to cook like a dream.
Fuel efficient PerfectFlow and PressureFlow technology deliver reliable constant fuel to the two independently adjustable burners providing constant heat under any conditions.
Adjust the windbreaks to fit a larger pan or close it back when the wind picks up. When you’re done, it’s easy to clean and stow out of the way.
Camper Guide to Safe Water: How Long to Boil Drinking Water
Guide to Buying Camping Stoves: 6 Factors
As you sort out your options, here are six key factors to consider.
1. Camp Stove Weight
Weight: This may go without saying but obviously a 20-pound gas bottle isn’t going to go on a backpacker hiking trip. However, for a family of four camping trip to a National Park for a week, well then, it’s perfect.
Weight is a huge factor to think about when you are camping, after all, you are the one that has to carry it to the camp site. That is okay if you are just pulling up in a car right next to a table, but if you have to carry it some distance then it is a factor.
Especially if your gas bottle weighs 20 pounds or it comes in multiple pieces and needs some assembling. Just remember, for those longer trips sometimes the old adage ‘worth its weight in gold’ is true and once set up will make your entire trip more comfortable.
2. Camp Stove Size
Size: How big is big enough? Two burner, three burners or four? This all depends on how many people you have to cook for.
A family of six or a couple of friends. Two burners are usually enough to cook what you need as surely as if you were cooking in your own kitchen.
Because of this, the most popular tabletop camping stoves are two burner, fitting a fry pan and pot comfortably at the same time.
3. Camp Stove Fuel
Fuel: Small propane canisters or larger gas bottles? It depends on how many people you are feeding at each meal, how long your stay is and how many additional fuel cartridges you want be lugging around.
Most two burner tabletop camping stoves are propane and the canisters are lightweight and small enough that it is no hassle having a couple of spares just in case you run out.
The larger freestanding set ups usually require a free-standing gas tank hooked up, but are excellent for larger groups as they usually provide more grunt getting food cooked quicker and in large quantities for the troops.
You can save on gas usage by providing roasting sticks so that everyone can roast their own hot-dogs and have fun around the campfire.
This may also mean saving time spent slaving away over the stove when you could be laughing and enjoying time around the campfire with the others.
4. Camp Stove Ignition
Ignition: Are you one of those people that gets a little bit nervous lighting gas with a match or lighter – and end up buying one of those BBQ lighters with a long nozzle? Well then don’t worry, there are self-igniting stoves so you never have to worry about singeing your knuckle hairs.
Ignition is a consideration when you are purchasing, mainly because a self-igniting stove will light straight away and waste less gas leaking out while you light match after match.
Depending on the money you want to spend and the type of camping experience, a lot of higher end models are self-igniting.
Windbreak: This is a big one when looking at selecting the right stove for your family. There is nothing worse than when you are happily cooking dinner and the flame keeps blowing out with the slightest breeze.
Suddenly your precious gas supply is getting wasted, you are getting frustrated having to keep lighting the stove and everyone’s patience is wearing thin as they go from hungry to hangry (so hungry they get angry).
An effective wind break system stops this from happening, so ideally you want a wind break on three sides providing optimal heat retention and cooking time.
Watch on YouTube
6. Camp Stove BTU Rating
BTU’s (British Thermal Unit): Some would argue that this is the most important factor when choosing a cooking stove. After all, the higher the BTU’s the quicker your meal gets cooked. It is important, yes, but not the be all and end all.
What are BTU's?
BTU's are included in most stoves specifications so you have an idea of how powerful the stove is.
With wind breaks up on three sides a stove with 10,000 BTU burners will get the job done without losing to much performance. Having said that, when cooking for large groups you need the power for the larger volume of food produced.
A 10,000 BTU burner will get you there in the end but it will take a lot longer and use a lot more of your fuel reserves than a 30,000 BTU burner of a freestanding stove top. You really notice the difference and it cuts down on your cooking time substantially.
If it is for a couple of people on a weekend getaway then a large freestanding stove may be a bit of overkill for the one or two nights you are camping.
Having said that, let’s discuss the two so you can make an informed choice. After all, you know what you will be doing, how many people are normally with you and how often you will use your stove.
Tabletop vs Free Standing Camp Stove
As a general rule the smaller tabletop stoves are lighter, easier to lug around and still powerful enough to get the job done right. They are a very popular choice for this reason. For weekends or a week away with family or a small group of friends it’s hard to beat them.
Why would you consider buying a larger free-standing stove? For a larger family or group they are more convenient – you are not limited to cooking on a table or the ground and they have more cooking power.
They can be set up anywhere, have a large gas reserve so you don’t have to cart around a heap of spares and end up making your job easier in the long run.
Yes, they are a little heavier and more cumbersome but you only have to set it up once for the entire trip and most of the models have detachable legs making the room they take up in the car smaller and your job setting up that much easier. So, let’s compare.
Tabletop Camp Stove:
- Pros: Lighter and easier to handle.
- Take up less room in the car.
- Uses smaller canisters so minimizes campsite area taken up.
- Cons: Small canisters don’t last as long so you will need to take refills.
- Burners aren’t as powerful – increasing cooking time a little.
- Needs a table or other flat surface to cook on.
Free Standing Camp Stove:
- Pros: More versatile, setting up anywhere in any camping site on any terrain. You don’t have to find a campsite with a table to cook on, build a platform, or cook on the ground.
- Bigger gas tank so you do not need to take refills (unless going for a long trip).
- More powerful BTU’s cutting down on cooking time.
- Caters to larger groups easily.
- Cons: Heavier to lug around a large heavy gas tank.
- Longer set up time.
As you can see both have their pros and cons, but it just depends on what you want to do, how many people you are cooking for and how long you will be staying at the site.
With a large group it may be easier to take one freestanding stove for a longer stay to make your site more comfortable.
That way you won't take up half the table top with a stove – which may mean some people have to sit on the rocky ground.
Camp Stove Safety: Set Up (5 Tips)
As most camping stoves run on propane canisters or gas tanks, there are some safety factors to think about to make sure your trip goes without a hitch. Combustible fuels are best handled with care and by those with the right know how.
Around the camping cooktops there can be a lot going on. Hot pots and pans, an open flame and boiling liquids means it’s best set up in the right spot to decrease the chances of anyone running into it and getting hurt, or burnt.
Before setting up your stove, it's good to consider:
- where the wind is coming from
- how even the ground is
- if it is near a well traversed path or if people may accidentally walk into it when they get up in the middle of the night
All of these considerations will ensure that once it’s set up it will be out of harm’s way while still being an important part of the campsite itself. Some would say the most important part.
5 Tips for Safe Camp Cooking
- Make sure the gas tank is on even ground and set up on the non-traffic side of the stove where no one will trip over it, accidentally knock it over or disconnect the gas.
- Always turn the gas off as soon as you are done cooking or heating. Don’t take the pan off the stove then go back to turn off the burner. This wastes precious cooking fuel and also increases the chance someone could get burnt.
- Keep paper towels away from the cooking stove. They easily blow in and catch fire.
- Make sure your stove is as level as it can be before boiling any liquid or oil so it can’t accidentally spill or slip off – tumbling hot liquid everywhere.
- Be sure to have a first aid kit whenever you go on a camping trip. Better safe than sorry, especially around a camp kitchen.
Watch on YouTube
First Aid Kit: Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit
It also includes emergency gear like a thermal blanket, emergency attention calling whistle, sewing kit and CPR mask, plus a lot more.
6 Great Camping Stove Accessories
Here are some great accessories to cut down on your time spent in the camp kitchen. And provide some of those creature comforts most of us can’t do without, like the glorious smell of coffee in the morning.
1. Cookware Mess Kit:
Made of lightweight aluminum with a non-stick coating it’s easy to clean and stow away until the next meal – allowing you more relax time.
Keep reading: Best camping cookware for hikers
2. Cooking Utensils: Camp Kitchen Utensil Organiser Set
8-piece cooking utensil set including cutting board, knife, scissors, ladle, tongs and more – all in a water resistant case means everything is in one place and easily stowed away after use taking up less campsite space and easy to find the next time around.
3. AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
If it's a strong cappuccino, espresso or caramel latté, its rapid filtering will make a second cup before the others can steal yours when the delicious coffee aroma hits them as they emerge from the tent.
More reading: How to make coffee while camping
4. Egg Holder
You have a choice of holders which will hold 2, 6 or 12 eggs for every camper whether it be solo, couple or family.
5. Marshmallow Roasting Sticks
Just adjust the length depending on the heat of the fire, attach your marshmallow and get roasting.
6. Bug Zapper: 2-in-1 Camping Lantern
Plus, it provides peace of mind when you hear that mystery crunch as you take a mouthful of food.
With these great accessories and your new stove, your next camping trip is bound to be great.
What type of stove are you considering? How will you be using it? Have a tip or question? Join me in the comments!
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outside gear. He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and photographer at Click Like This. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.