A camping stove is a piece of outdoor cooking equipment you’re going to need if you’re going on a short camping trip or thinking about living off the grid for a long period. Many national and state forests ban or limit campfire burning, and encourage campers to use camp stoves.
Camping stoves are a worthwhile investment for other reasons, too. If disaster happens or your power goes out at home, you can always rely on your trusty camping stove to cook up a delicious, hot meal.
However, camping stoves come in all shapes and sizes, and they don’t all work the same. This makes identifying the best camping stoves a challenge. We’ve researched and tested several camp stoves on the market so we could share our favorites with you.
Keep reading to see our top camping stove picks!
Our Top Picks
Coleman Classic 1-Burner Butane Stove
Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove
Best for Large Groups
Camp Chef Explorer 2
Best Wood-Burning Stove
Best USB-Charging Stove
BioLite CampStove 2+ Wood Burning
The Coleman Classic 1-Burner Butane Stove is one of the best values you can find on the camping stove market. This one-burner camping stove runs off butane fuel and is easy to transport in its carrying case. At only 5 pounds, the camping stove can be carried by anyone in your group.
This stove runs off butane fuel, and it comes with Instastart–so you don’t have to worry about using a lighter to start the flame. Baffles prevent gusts of wind from blowing out the flame.
A 10-inch pan can be found on this burner, and the porcelain-coated grate is removable for a quick, easy cleanup. You can expect one 8.8-ounce butane gas cylinder to last 1.25 hours on high.
Read this review of the Coleman Classic 1-Burner Butane Stove to learn more.
- Temperature control, which is ideal for meals that require simmering
- Incredibly easy setup
- Stable base that can be placed on any heat-safe table
- Only 7,650 BTUs–this is on the low end for camp stoves
- Not for groups larger than four
The Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove offers the portability of our best overall pick, as well as two burners. This is a premium camping stove because of the steep price that it sells for.
This compact, folding camping stove folds up for easy travel, and it provides two burners capable of delivering 10,000 BTU. Its incremental heat output also stands out–its burners are more precise at heat control than other camping stoves, so you can easily boil or simmer any meal.
Compatible with 16.4-ounce propane bottles, this one-of-a-kind camping stove is easy to clean, convenient to store, and comes with an attachable windscreen. You can pair this stove with Jetboil’s 10-inch pot and 10-inch pan for an additional fee, and REI offers this combo as a set.
- Two large burners
- Well-made materials
- Compatible with Jetboil accessory parts like the Luna accessory burner
- The windshield is plastic and flimsy, so you’ll likely want another wind buffer
Best for Large Groups
The Camp Chef 14” Explorer 2 is the best camping stove for cooking for large groups. This is a versatile and durable stove capable of producing 30,000 BTU of power in each burner!
Its versatility allows you to hook up many different Camp Chef accessories, and Amazon offers many buying combinations (such as the stove plus grill/griddle accessories).
The camp stove comes with removable legs, which makes it easy to transport this camping stove from place to place. The cooking height is at a comfortable 29 inches, and the stove comes with a 3-sided windscreen.
This camping stove runs off a 20-pound propane tank. With a full tank, it can run for 15 hours.
At 40 pounds, you probably will not be backpacking with this camping stove, but it’s easy enough to take with you anywhere in a car. Read this review to learn more about the Camp Chef 14” Explorer 2.
- Durable cast iron burners.
- A large cooking area
- Long cook time
- Requires a gas tank (heavier than canisters)
- Heavier than the others on this list
Best Wood-Burning Stove
Sometimes bringing fuel is not practical, and that’s where camping stoves like the EcoZoom Versa come in handy. It’s also a great camping stove to have on hand when preparing for an emergency since you can cook with wood or charcoal.
A fully insulated vertical combustion chamber forces gases to mix with the flame, leading to fewer harmful emissions and increasing fuel efficiency.
It has a durable three-pronged cast iron stove top, capable of supporting a flat- or round-bottomed plan. Stainless steel handles with silicone overtop assist in moving the stove.
- Large burner – able to fit up to a 15-inch cast iron skillet
- Heats fast
- Easy to use
- Wood needs to be under an inch in diameter
- Too heavy for backpacking
Best USB-Charging Stove
You might be wondering what a USB-charging camp stove is in the first place. The BioLite CampStove 2+ is one of the most unique camping stoves you can buy.
You can turn fire into electricity with this stunning invention–charge the BioLite battery pack while you cook with the flames, then disconnect the power source to charge your phone or other small devices. You can also use the battery pack while you cook.
This camping stove runs off twigs and sticks, which you can find just about anywhere. At only 2 pounds, this camping stove is an excellent choice for backpackers.
The stove’s combustion technology burns off smoke, so you won’t have to worry about a smoky fire. An LED dashboard also tells you your stove’s heat level, airflow speed, and available charge.
- Never run out of fuel off-the-grid
- Lighter weight than the EcoZoom
- Environmentally friendly
- Backpackers complain it’s bulky
Camping Stove Buyer’s Guide
Freestanding vs. Tabletop
Camping stoves are either freestanding (as in, they do not require any additional support), or are supported by a tabletop (such as a picnic table). Freestanding stoves tend to be much heavier than tabletop stoves, although emit more heat and have more cooking space.
A tabletop camping stove is best for backpacking because they’re lighter and easier to carry, whereas freestanding stoves are better for larger groups who camp in the same location for a period of time.
With a tabletop stove, you need to make sure you have access to a picnic table or bench or that you bring a small table with you. Freestanding stoves require no additional support.
Most camping stoves are run on propane or butane, although there are exceptions–such as the EcoZoom Versa and the BioLite CampStove 2+ Wood Burning and the EcoZoom Versa. These are wood-burning stoves, and the BioLite runs off electricity.
If you opt for a fuel-based camp stove, you will need a cool, dry, upright spot to store your butane or propane canisters or tanks.
Burner power energy is measured in the British Thermal Unit, which is the American measurement for identifying how much energy is released from your stove. A home stove typically releases about 10,000 BTU per burner.
The more people you’re cooking for, the more BTU you need. However, an average family will never need more than 20,000 BTU.
Solo campers and groups of less than four can get by with stoves in the 7,000-10,000 BTU range, although you should avoid buying a stove with less than 7,000 BTU.
Some camp stoves (like the Camp Chef Explorer 2) emit power up to 30,000 BTU, which is ideal if you’re camping with a youth or other type of massive group. These stoves have large amounts of surface area, which allow you to cook colossal amounts of food.
Burn Time and Fuel Efficiency
Propane and butane camp stoves have a burn time mentioned in their product descriptions. This is the amount of time the camp stove can burn on one canister of fuel. The longer the burn time, the less fuel you will need to bring with you on your camping trip.
Number of Burners
Most camping stoves have either one or two burners (some have three, but these tend to be too heavy for the average camper to bring on camping trips). Multiple burners allow for more than one item to be cooked at the same time, which can be important if preparing a full-course meal for a hungry crowd.
Most camping stoves fit at least a 10-inch pan. Some can fit larger, and others can install other accessories such as a grill or griddle. Ask yourself how large your preferred cookware is, and if you will need a camping stove that can accommodate additional features.
Weight and Portability
A camping stove that takes up too much space or is too heavy can cause trouble. Ideally, a camp stove should be lightweight and easily stored in your car or RV.
If you want to bring your outdoor cooking equipment on a day-long hiking or overnight backpacking trip, weight will be one of the most important considerations when making your purchase.
Windy days cause issues for camping stoves because they can cause the flame to go out. The best camping stoves have technology and construction to prevent the wind from delaying your meal.
How it Starts
Camping stoves don’t all ignite the same. Instastart stoves don’t require a match to light up, whereas camping stoves without Instastart will need to be lit with a match.
Like your home appliances, camping stoves often come with warranties. Warranty length and details will vary by manufacturer.
Some campgrounds and forests frown upon wood-burning stoves. The reasons for this differ. Some places just don’t want you burning their wood, and others want to protect the environment from the hazards of smoke.
Always check the camp area’s rules if you plan to camp with a wood-burning stove and ask any questions to staff before you head out to your campsite. Contact numbers can usually be found on the campground’s or forest’s website.
Camping Stove Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to use a camping stove in a tent?
Never ignite your camping stove in a tent, RV, or any closed space. If you wish to use your camping stove during acclimate weather, do so under an open shelter.
How should I store fuel canisters for my camping stove?
Fuel canisters should always be stored in an upright position away from direct sunlight. The safest place to store them is in a dry, well-ventilated location.
Butane cannot be stored below freezing points, and propane should never be stored above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (such as a hot car).
The best places to store your fuel canisters are either in your tent or backpack.
Should you disconnect your camping stove from the canister (if it uses fuel)?
You should always remove your canister when you’re done cooking. Never leave a fuel canister in a camping stove unattended.
Wrapping up the Best Camping Stoves
Camping stoves are a great investment, and as far as we’re concerned, the average solo camper or small family will certainly be happy with the Coleman Classic 1-Burner Stove. If you need two burners, more cook space, or wood-burning options, the other options on this list are great choices as well.
Looking for more cooking tips and tricks? Check out our Food section.