Whether you’re car camping for the weekend or backpacking for a month, the best camping stoves help you boil water and prepare food on the go. These stoves can weigh anywhere from under 1 pound to upwards of 15 pounds — and you’ll want to take that into account if you’re planning on carrying your stove long distances.
Your ideal stove depends on the kind of camping you plan to do. If you plan to cook meals from scratch while car camping, it’s ideal to aim for a stove that generates at least 10,000 BTU per burner to replicate a home cooktop experience. However, the BTU is less important for backpacking stoves because they’re primarily used to heat food and water rather than to cook it. Camping stoves typically feature between one and three burners. Car campers who don’t need to lug their stoves far distances can get a lot out of a hefty propane stove with two or three burners and a high BTU output. But if weight and space are a concern, a one-burner canister stove that folds compactly is a better option. Integrated camping stoves, which lock the pot, burner, and canister together, are popular for backpacking because they are lightweight and are designed to boil water quickly while blocking out some of the wind.
In terms of fuel, stoves that use canisters are very common, often lightweight, and easy to use, but refillable liquid fuel stoves and wood-burning stoves are options, too. While liquid fuel stoves are often heavier than small canister stoves, they can be less wasteful and easier to repair. Some are even compatible with different types of fuel, such as unleaded gasoline, which makes them great for international backpacking or other situations where it may be difficult to find a specific type of fuel. Finally, if you’re heading somewhere with a dependable amount of biomass that you can safely burn, consider ditching the fuel and packing a wood stove instead.
These seven stoves can help you pull together hot, delicious meals — no matter where you are.
1. A Classic Camping Stove That’s Budget-Friendly
If you’ve done a lot of camping, chances are you’ve seen or used a Coleman Classic propane stove at some point. This stove features the quintessential suitcase-style camp stove design with built-in side and back windscreens. You can light it with a match or lighter. Turn the dials to adjust the heat of the two burners, which can generate up to 10,000 BTU each — just don't expect as much flame control as you might get with pricier models. The stove can run up to one hour on high on a single 16-ounce propane cylinder. While this Coleman stove does have a pressure regulator, propane stoves aren’t always the best in really cold weather or high altitudes.
This stove comes with a 3-year warranty. If you want to save a few bucks, and you don’t need two burners, consider opting for Coleman’s budget-friendly portable butane stove or bottle-top propane stove, which each have one burner and weigh less than 5 pounds.
Positive Amazon review: “The old saying ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it’ must have been meant for this stove. Coleman has been making these for years and years, they are dependable and tough. Have been camping and hunting for over 30 years, and this is only the second Coleman stove that I have had to buy, and that's only because the first one was recently handed down.”
- Weight: 9.8 pounds
- Type of fuel: Standard 1-pound propane canister
2. A Powerful Double-Burner Camping Stove With Great Simmer Control
This Camp Chef Everest 2 stove features two 20,000-BTU burners with simmer control that's applauded by amateur reviewers and professional critics alike, which can make it easier to prepare food quickly without accidentally burning your ingredients. The stove has side and back windscreens, matchless ignition, and a stainless steel drip tray. The Everest 2 comes with a regulator adaptor for a 1-pound propane cylinder, but you can also hook it up to a standard bulk propane tank by purchasing a HRDSP adapter hose separately. It's a few pounds heavier than the Coleman Classic, but it's still portable with a carrying handle. This stove includes a 1-year warranty.
Camp Chef is a popular brand in the camping community, and the company also makes a popular freestanding camping stove.
Positive Amazon review: “This is the best made and easiest to use and clean up that I've ever had. The flames are strong and things heat up really fast but you still have control to bring the flame down and cook something nice and slow. This one will not be blown over by the wind or get dented by rough handling. We love this thing and you certainly won't be disappointed when spending the extra money [...] This may be the last camping stove we ever need to buy.”
- Weight: 12 pounds
- Type of fuel: Standard 1-pound propane canister
3. A 3-Burner Camping Stove For Larger Groups
The Stansport Outfitter stove, which features two 25,000-BTU burners and one smaller 10,000-BTU burner, can really come in handy when preparing multiple dishes or cooking for a group of people. Knobs allow you to adjust each individual burner, and an easy-to-clean stainless steel drip pan helps you keep things tidy. It features side and back windscreens and has a steel exterior that latches securely when it's not in use. The electronic igniter doesn't require matches, and a pressure regulator helps it perform at different altitudes. This is a lot of stove, and the 16-pound weight certainly reflects that — so just keep in mind that you might not want to carry this one really far.
The Stansport Outfitter uses one 16-ounce propane cylinder, and it is also available in a two-burner model that comes with or without a griddle.
Positive Amazon review: “This stove both boils my gallon kettle of water in about 3 minutes flat and slowly simmers my oatmeal. [...] It's also easy to clean, sturdy, and lights up every time with the dial igniter. On our latest 6-day camping trip, I cooked 21 meals for 8 people, and boiled water for dishes, and used 3 (1lb.) propane cylinders. So glad we purchased this!”
- Weight: 16 pounds
- Type of fuel: Standard 1-pound propane canister
4. A Lightweight Backpacking Stove That Folds Up
When you need a lightweight option, consider the super-compact MSR PocketRocket 2. The stove itself folds up to 2 by 2 inches around and 3 inches long, and it comes with a hard-shell case for easier transport. It can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 3.5 minutes, and produces roughly 8,200 BTU of power (although a high BTU isn't all that necessary for backpacking stoves). You can adjust the heat as needed, and a WindClip protects the flame from wind. The manufacturer recommends using MSR's IsoPro fuel, though you'll also need a lighter to get it started. Unlike integrated camping stoves, this kind of backpacking stove can be extra vulnerable to wind, so you may also want to bring some aluminum foil to wrap around it as a wind guard.
You can purchase the stove as a standalone tool or bundled in a stove kit, which also includes pot, bowl, lid, and lifter.
Positive Amazon review: “I don't think you can go wrong with the MSR PR2 when you want to go fast and light, but want the convenience of a hot beverage of meal quickly after making camp. I highly recommend this for backpackers.”
- Weight: 2.6 ounces (0.16 pounds)
- Type of fuel: Isobutane-propane canister
5. An Integrated Camping Stove That Boils Water Quickly
Integrated stoves aren’t for casual campers. Many are designed to boil water quickly in extreme conditions — but some, like the JetBoil MiniMo, can also heat up food. This stove, which produces roughly 6,000 BTU, can boil 1 liter of water in just over two minutes and can be used in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Regulator technology makes adjusting the heat a cinch, and the included 1-liter cooking cup has an insulating cozy to contain the heat. It features matchless push-button ignition. Jetboil recommends using it with Jetboil Jetpower fuel canisters, and though the manufacturer notes that it can't guarantee any other type of canister for safe operation, the stove should work with other similar canisters. It comes with a 1-year warranty. (If you’re looking for an integrated stove that’s a little faster at boiling and is designed just for water, try the Jetboil Flash.)
Positive Amazon review: “Love, love, love it!!!!!! SO glad I splurged and got the MiniMo! So much better as a bowl/mug, easier to stir and prepare foods. I love this gadget. We cooked breakfast and dinner every night for [a] month with the medium size [canister], heating up water, soups or even cooking pasta. Love the all in one engineering of the stand, [canister], burner, extra bowl, etc. It all fits in the bowl/mug. [...] As far as the fuel goes, I am very impressed with the JetBoil - the flux ring makes for fast boils and my small [canister] lasted 2 people a month, heating for two meals per day. Impressive.”
- Weight: 14.6 ounces (0.91 punds)
- Type of fuel: Jetboil Jetpower isobutane-propane canister or other canisters with EN417 valves
6. A Liquid Fuel Stove For Serious Backpackers
When you’re traveling internationally or for long periods of time, it can be a challenge to source the exact kind of fuel you need — that’s where the versatile MSR Dragonfly stove comes in handy. Liquid fuel stoves are typically more complicated to use and maintain, but unlike their canister counterparts, you can use different kinds of fuels in many of them, and you can take them apart to service them while you’re out and about.
The MSR Dragonfly can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 3.5 minutes, and you can light it with the strike of a match. A dual valve allows you to adjust the heat down to a simmer. The base can hold pots and pans that measure up to 10 inches in diameter. It comes with a fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and stuff sack. It also comes with a 3-year warranty.
Positive Amazon review: “Bar none - this is my favorite backpacking stove. [...Its] advantages are well known - so I'll be brief: Leave No Trace, fuel flexibility, low fuel cost, fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance, cold weather performance, etc.”
- Weight: 14 ounces (0.88 pounds)
- Type of fuel: A variety of fuels, including white gas, unleaded auto fuel, kerosene, diesel, and jet fuel
7. A Compact Wood-Burning Camping Stove
When you don’t want to carry around fuel canisters, you might want to consider a wood-burning stove like this Solo Stove Lite, which runs on biomass like sticks, pine cones, and twigs. It's made of stainless steel and chrome wire with a double-wall design to reduce smoke. It can boil 34 ounces of water (about a liter) in as little as 8 minutes. It comes with a nylon stuff sack, too. You light it the way you'd light any fire — with a match or lighter.
Don't forget: Always check for fire bans and other regulations in your area before using a wood-burning camping stove. But if it's permitted to burn wood in your area, you won't have to spend money on fuel — and you won't have to carry any heavy canisters in your pack.
Positive Amazon review: “I wanted something as an alternative to using my iso/butane stove so I wouldn't have to carry extra canisters. This stove is a great way to use fuel that is available all around you. It doesn't take much wood to boil a pot of water.”
- Weight: 9 ounces (0.56 pounds)
- Type of fuel: Biomass (twigs, leaves, pinecones...)