7 Best Camping Stoves of 2019
|Camping Stove||Score||Fuel Type||Total Output|
|Top Pick: Camp Chef Everest 2-Burner Camping Stove||
|Runner-up: Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove||
|Best for Serious Chefs: Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove||
|Propane Tank||60,000 BTU|
|BioLite CampStove 2||
|Coleman Triton Propane Stove||
|Best Value: Coleman Classic Propane Stove||
|Gas One GS-3000 Portable Butane Camp Stove||
We put 7 of the best camping stoves to the test, cooking up a storm during camping trips and backyard cookouts and subjecting each stove to a series of rigorous tests. With remarkably powerful burners and a fine-tuned temperature control, the Camp Chef Everest was our Top Pick.
The Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove is an interesting addition to the camping stove world and was our Runner-up. Although it lags slightly behind the Everest in performance, its design features (including a unique three-burner construction) make it stand out.
For serious chefs, the free-standing Camp Chef Explorer cooks with a nearly professional-quality level of heat control. It’s overkill for most campers, but it’s perfect for anyone who cooks for large groups or is really serious about their camp meals.
The Coleman Classic Propane Stove is our Best Value pick. While it couldn’t match the performance of our other award winners, it’s durable. affordable, and more than capable of cooking up a good meal on the cheap.
Read on for our full camping stove reviews, as well as advice on how to choose the right stove for your next camping feast.
Note: If you’re looking for lightweight or ultralight stoves you can take backpacking, check out our guide to the best backpacking stoves.
Top Pick: Camp Chef Everest 2-Burner Camping Stove
The Camp Chef Everest was our Top Pick for the simple reason that its performance blew every other stove out of the water.
Despite other stoves having a higher output per burner, the Everest’s 20,000 BTU burners had the fastest boil time in our test, taking barely 2 and a half minutes to boil 1 liter of water.
The Everest even boiled water faster than the burly 30,000 BTU burners of the Camp Chef Explorer.
When it came to temperature control, this stove was among the best. We only needed minimal adjustments to keep water in a 5-degree temperature range for 5 minutes. The auto ignition button is easy to use and worked every time.
We only had two minor gripes with this stove. First, the plastic latches seem flimsy and didn’t always feel like they were holding the stove shut as securely as other latches. Second, the carrying handle is awkwardly shaped and uncomfortable to use. This stove was the most difficult of the tabletop camping stoves to carry with one hand.
Those complaints are minor, though. The performance, quick boil times, and exceptional temperature control blew us away on this stove.
- Fuel Type: Propane
- Output: 40,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: Yes
Runner-up: Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove
The Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove is a unique three-burner camping stove that quickly became one of our favorites.
It was the most powerful of our tabletop stoves, with two 25,000 BTU end burners and one 10,000 BTU central burner.
Despite its more powerful burners, it fell just a few seconds behind the Camp Chef Everest in all of our boil tests, most likely because camping cookware sits slightly higher above the burners.
Trying to use pots on all three burners at once felt pretty crowded. We often cook with a cast iron grill pan, but getting even heat across a large pan on a typical camping stove is virtually impossible. The Stansport’s three-burner design was absolutely perfect for that, while still leaving enough room for a pot on the other burner.
The Stansport’s simmer and fine-tuned temperature control felt on par with our Top Pick. We could easily dial it down to a low setting without it accidentally shutting off. We needed to make only minimal adjustments during our simmer test.
The Stansport’s durable metal latches shut securely, and its carrying handle is much more comfortable to use than the Camp Chef Everest’s.
Our only complaints were that the auto ignition knob could be difficult to turn, and we were disappointed that the burners seemed a little underpowered for their stated 25,000 BTU output.
This stove was very close to our Top Pick in terms of its performance, and we slightly preferred the Stansport’s design and overall construction. Especially if you cook complex meals with lots of ingredients or like to cook with larger pans, the Stanspor’s three-burner design is a great addition to your camping gear.
- Fuel Type: Propane
- Output: 60,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: Yes
Best for Serious Chefs: Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove
The Camp Chef Explorer is a serious stove for serious chefs. This thing blasts an incredible amount of heat and gives you a lot of control over cooking temperature.
The amount of control that you have with the temperature knobs is incredible. Plus, you can open or shut the air vents to control the heat and quality of the flame, dialing it back to a concentrated and hot blue flame or up to a more dispersed yellow flame.
While we loved the ability to cook over extremely high heat and fine tune the heat settings, this stove has a hard time maintaining a good simmer. It went out four times during our simmer test.
We decided to perform our tests with this stove outside, rather than in the semi-controlled shed where we did the other tests, and we found that the low flame was easily extinguished by a light breeze. We suspect that in perfectly still air it would have a fantastic low setting, but we had a hard time getting it to work in practice.
The lack of an auto ignition is another drawback, especially because the Explorer was basically impossible to relight without a long match or grill lighter. A typical camping lighter won’t work that well with this stove.
The burners are coated in black paint that burned off in the first few uses, producing a pretty awful smell and staining the bottoms of the pots we were using. It wasn’t a major long-term issue, but it was definitely an unpleasant surprise the first couple times we fired up the stove.
Some of the plastic knobs on the legs also arrived broken. This didn’t have any effect on our ability to put the stove together, but we were disappointed to see an otherwise well-constructed stove use flimsy plastic components that broke so easily.
The Explorer was the largest camping stove in our test. It takes up about twice as much space as the tabletop stoves we tested. Add in the fact that it draws fuel from a large propane tank, and it will quickly eat up a lot of space in your vehicle.
Despite those flaws, this is a beast of a stove, and it’s great for large groups or serious chefs. We even found ourselves breaking it out for home cookouts when our kitchen stove just didn’t have the power or control we needed.
- Fuel Type: Propane Tank
- Output: 60,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: No
Best Value: Coleman Classic Propane Stove
The Coleman Classic’s low price point and durable design made it our Best Value pick. While it doesn’t have the features or performance of our other award winners, it gets the job done.
It can be found for cheap and is durable enough to last for years (the stove used for this test is a Coleman Classic that the author has owned and used regularly for over 3 years with no issues).
The Coleman Classic finished toward the bottom in our tests, though. The two 10,000 BTU burners boiled water in 5 and a half minutes — nearly the slowest of the seven stoves we tested.
The lack of an auto ignition was a minor drawback, especially because the design makes this stove difficult to light without a long grill lighter. It was also prone to shutting off while on its lowest setting, and we had a hard time controlling the temperature with anywhere near the precision of our other award winners.
The wind screens provide some help against breezy campsites. However, the Coleman Classic only heated water to 184 degrees in our wind test — a far cry from boiling.
Still, we’ve cooked many a delicious meal on this stove. If you’re looking for a cheap camping stove that has all the features you need for camp cooking, it’s hard to find a better value than this.
- Fuel Type: Propane
- Output: 20,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: No
Reviews of the 3 Other Camping Stoves We Tested
Wood-burning stoves are becoming more popular, and the BioLite CampStove 2 is a unique take on the idea. The attached battery powers a small fan which controls the flame levels and recharges itself with heat from the fire.
It’s a cool concept, but how did it hold up to actual use?
We found ourselves firing this up more often than we’d initially expected, using it for everything from morning camp coffee to an afternoon snack.
We never thought we’d describe a camping stove as “fun,” but that’s exactly what the BioLite is.
When it came to any serious cooking, though, we preferred the functionality and control of traditional camping stoves.
As a wood-burning stove, the BioLite can take some time to get going. If you have plentiful dry tinder and sticks available, you can have it roaring in five minutes or so.
In less ideal conditions, or when you’re still learning to use it, it can be a frustrating 15- to 20-minute ordeal before you’re ready to start cooking. This stove is also guaranteed to turn the bottom of any pot black with soot.
We could typically get about an hour and a half of burn time out of the stove before it filled up with ash and needed to be emptied and re-lit. Not too shabby — that was more than enough time for all the cooking we needed to do.
The battery was about half charged out of the box, and we rarely had to recharge it in a wall socket or with a portable battery charger. The stove generated enough power to keep its battery continually charged as long as we didn’t siphon off too much energy to charge phones or run the fan on high continually.
The 3 Watt USB charger was able to give a phone about a 5% boost in 15 minutes. It can also power the BioLite’s included FlexLight.
BioLite claims a 4.5-minute boil time for a liter of water. In our test, it took 7.5 minutes. We think the difference is partly due to our fuel being extremely dry and light wood, which often required lifting the pot to add more fuel during the test.
4.5 minutes seems attainable, but the boil speed is dependent on the type of fuel you have and how closely you monitor your fire.
We omitted this stove from our simmer test because it was impossible to have any real temperature control or simmer function. With the fan on low, the flames do drop down considerably, but not nearly enough to hold water just below boiling.
A wood-burning camping stove is not as fast or convenient as gas-fueled stoves. That being said, we were impressed with how well the BioLite CampStove worked and how fun it was to use.
We wouldn’t choose it as our main camping stove or rely on it as our main source of power, but it’s not a bad addition to your camping gear.
- Fuel Type: Wood/Biomass
- Output: N/A
- Auto Ignition: No
The Coleman Triton is a slightly pricier model than the Coleman Classic, with improved temperature control and a slightly higher heat output.
The two 11,000 BTU burners boiled water in around 4.5 minutes, about a minute faster than the Coleman Classic. But it was still in the middle of the pack compared to the boil times of the all the stoves we tested.
The Triton was the surprise winner in our simmer test. It was the only stove that we could just turn to its lowest setting and forget it — it kept water hovering between 195 and 200 degrees with almost no adjustments.
We also liked that this was slightly more compact than the other two-burner stoves we tested, with a slim and streamlined design. If space is at a premium, this is a good pick.
Unfortunately, it was by far the worst in our test when it came to wind resistance. After 15 minutes, it had only brought water up to 155 degrees. The Coleman Classic, which was second to last, had the temperature up to 184.
The wind screens are virtually identical to the Classic, so we think its poor performance in wind is due to its slim design, which leaves the burners sitting higher and more exposed to the wind. The poor wind resistance also negated its faster boil time and exceptional simmer function, unless we were cooking in extremely calm weather.
Overall, we felt the Triton was mixed in its performance. It may fill a niche for someone who is budget-minded but wants more control than the Coleman Classic offers.
If you find it on sale, in a similar price range to the Classic, it’s a decent value. If you are willing to invest in a top camping stove, though, we recommend looking at our other award winners.
- Fuel Type: Propane
- Output: 22,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: No (Auto Ignition version is available: the Coleman Triton+)
The Gas One GS-3000 is a simple, inexpensive single-burner camp stove that really surprised us with its functionality.
Despite its modest 9,000 BTU output, it still brought a liter of water to a boil in just under five minutes.
Without any kind of windscreen, the Gas One struggled with our wind test. Surprisingly though, it still beat out both of the Coleman camping stoves, bringing water to just a few degrees below boiling in 15 minutes of high wind.
While it had a decent low setting, we had a hard time keeping water below 200 degrees without accidentally shutting the stove off. The knob only has a half-turn range, which means you’ve got fairly limited temperature control.
This stove uses butane instead of propane, which may be a drawback for some. Butane fuel canisters are not as widely available or common among campers as propane. They also tend not to work as well in cold weather.
However, we did like how much easier the butane canister was to attach than twist-on propane canisters. All you have to do is set the canister in its slot and flip the fuel lock switch to latch it in place — it was by far the easiest setup of all the stoves we tested.
The two-burner, propane-burning Coleman Classic won our Best Value award for being more versatile. But if all you need is a simple, compact, and inexpensive single burner for heating water and basic meals, the Gas One is a solid choice and an excellent value.
- Fuel Type: Butane
- Output: 9,000 BTU
- Auto Ignition: Yes
Here are the best camping stoves:
- Camp Chef Everest 2-Burner Camping Stove
- Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove
- Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove
- BioLite CampStove 2
- Coleman Triton Propane Stove
- Coleman Classic Propane Stove
- Gas One GS-3000 Portable Butane Camp Stove
How to Choose the Best Camping Stove for Your Needs
Types of Camping Stoves
Tabletop – Most camping stoves are two-burner stoves designed to sit on a tabletop. These are compact, easy to use, and the go-to choice for most campers.
Free-Standing – Free-standing stoves are a great option if tabletop space is limited. They also tend to be better suited for large groups than smaller tabletop stoves. Free-standing stoves typically use large propane tanks, so be prepared for these to take up a lot of space.
Non-Traditional – There are various other designs of camping stoves floating around, from small wood-burning stoves to portable fire-pits and grills. For specialized cooking (or just for fun), these can be great options, but they’re usually less convenient and versatile for serious cooking.
Propane is the most common fuel type for camping stoves. Most stoves use 16-ounce propane canisters, which are widely available and relatively inexpensive. Larger, free-standing camping stoves often use propane tanks. Initially expensive, these generally end up being a better value in the long run, although they are large, heavy, and less convenient to store and transport. Propane can be used in temperatures as low as -43 degrees F, making it ideal for extreme conditions.
Butane is less widely available but remains inexpensive. Butane is generally considered safer for indoor use or storage than propane (though good ventilation and caution is still a must!), making it a better choice for campers who may be cooking inside an RV. Butane canisters will need to be warmed up to work in temperatures below freezing.
Biomass stoves are becoming more popular and can burn leaves, twigs, sticks, or manufactured biomass pellets. They rely on having a good source of dry fuel and can take more effort to light than gas-burning stoves. These may not be appropriate (or allowed) in certain situations, such as during high fire risk, in sensitive desert, or in high-elevation areas where collecting wood is prohibited.
Cooking Power – BTUs
Camping stoves’ output is measured in BTU, or British Thermal Units. One BTU is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.
Most of the best camping stoves are in the 20,000 to 30,000 BTU range. That gives you plenty of power for quick boil times and high-heat cooking while staying compact and fuel efficient.
Stoves with 9,000 to 15,000 BTUs will get the job done, but you’ll notice slower boil times and a drop in cooking performance.
Burners over 30,000 BTUs are overkill for most campers and can get hot enough to damage typical camping cookware.
BTUs are closely related to cooking power, but they’re not everything. In our tests, the stoves with the highest BTUs weren’t necessarily the quickest to boil water or cook food. Wind resistance and the distance of your cookpot from the burners make a big difference. Still, BTUs are a good place to start to determine the cooking power of a stove.
If you only plan to blast your stove to boil water, then BTUs matter a lot more than temperature control. But for anyone who cooks camp meals that need low or medium heat, a good simmer control is key.
Wind resistance is an important part of having good temperature control, as even a light breeze can snuff out a low flame without good windscreens.
We’ve singed enough fingers trying to light camping stoves with a standard Bic lighter that we think it’s worth investing in a stove with auto ignition. The convenience of being able to get your stove going with the push of a button (or twist of a knob) makes a huge difference.
If you’re on a budget, be aware that auto-ignition camping stoves tend to cost a little more. It’s possible to get by without auto ignition. Just use caution when lighting your stove. A long grill lighter makes doing so a lot easier.
How We Tested
We performed these tests in the semi-controlled environment of a well-ventilated shed where possible. For the BioLite CampStove 2 and the Camp Chef Explorer, we performed the tests outside on a mostly windless day.
We wanted to know how fast each stove could bring one liter of water to a boil (203 degrees F at around 4,500′). For stoves with two burners, we also measured the time to bring one liter of water to a boil with both burners on high.
After boiling water on each stove, we let it cool to 195 degrees, then tested how easily we could hold the water between 195 and 200 F for 5 minutes. We counted how many times the temperature went over or under as well as how many times the stove went out.
|Camping Stove||>200°F||<195°F||Went Out|
|Stansport Outfitter Series||2||1||0|
|Camp Chef Everest||2||0||1|
|Gas One GS-3000||4||0||2|
|Camp Chef Explorer||4||0||4|
|BioLite CampStove 2*||N/A||N/A||N/A|
* We omitted the BioLite CampStove 2 from our simmer test because it doesn’t have a simmer function. You can control the flame size a bit with the stove’s built-in fan, but we weren’t able to hold the temperature to just below boiling.
Wind is an unfortunate reality when camping, and we wanted to know how well these stoves held up to it. We timed how long each stove took to boil one liter of water while being blasted with a box fan from about two feet away.
Four stoves were able to boil water within 15 minutes. For the three that couldn’t, we stopped the test at 15 minutes and recorded the temperature of the water.
We used these camp stoves in the field during numerous camping trips as well as some backyard cookouts, testing how they handled cooking a variety of meals.