Although camping is designed to give us a sense of returning to our natural roots, that doesn’t mean that we have to forgo some of the more modern conveniences of everyday life. While we do have to “rough it” in a variety of ways, cooking shouldn’t be something that we have to struggle to do when we’re out in the woods. Sure, there is something to be said for roasting your meal over a roaring fire, but there are only so many dishes that can be prepared in such a way.
So, what is your best option to ensure that you can make great meals while out in nature? A camping stove, of course. These handy devices allow you to control your flame as you would with a barbecue, meaning that you can roast meats, cook soups, or do anything else you want, provided that you have enough fuel.
Today we’ll look at some of the best camping stoves available, as well as go over the most important factors when looking at them, so you know which one will be the best option for you. Happy cooking!
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As we’ve seen, propane is by far the most common fuel used in camping stoves, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a model that runs on propane. While this substance does give you far more control over your heat output, it is limited and can run out quickly if you’re not careful. For our money, we recommend buying a stove that can use alternative fuel sources if you plan on camping for up to a week or more. However, if you are doing a weekend excursion, then a propane model will be perfectly suitable for your needs.
If you’re not familiar with BTUs, the acronym stands for British Thermal Unit, and it is the measurement of raising the temperature of a pound of water by a single degree. Thus, one BTU will increase the water temperature by one degree.
As we’ve seen, many camping stoves provide over ten thousand BTUs of heat, meaning that you can boil water much more rapidly than over an open flame. If you want to make your cooking more efficient, then we suggest getting a model with a higher output. However, if you don’t want to go through so much propane, then opt for a unit that produces less heat.
While heat and fuel are important, size certainly does matter when picking out a camping stove. Not only do you have to make sure that you get one big enough to use the right cooking equipment, but you have to keep in mind how much space it takes up with your gear. If you have limited room, then you will be forced to buy a smaller model, which will also produce less heat.
Overall, if you camp on a regular basis, we recommend getting multiple sizes so that you can take the right one for the trip. Day or weekend journeys require a smaller stove, whereas weeklong excursions will necessitate a larger model.
Because of the design of this stove, you can toss charcoal or wood into the bottom and use it as a standard barbecue grill. However, if you prefer to work with propane, it comes with a hose and attachment system that can produce up to 19,500 BTUs when fully activated. For best results, it’s better to hook it up to a full-size tank, but it will work with a 16.4-ounce version as well.
The other thing we like about this stove is that it is collapsible, taking up far less space than you might think. Overall, this is a handy model to have and can work with any type of camping, whether you’re backpacking or staying at a campsite.
For the most part, camping stoves have two primary features: two burners and a propane tank connector. Because propane is one of the most stable fuels available, it is the preferred method for cooking while camping.
Although some purists may prefer wood or charcoal, propane allows you to forgo spending all of your time cultivating a flame and focus more on cooking than anything else.
So, with that in mind, we have the Stansport 2 Burner Stove. This is a stainless steel model that offers two burners, each of them producing up to 25,000 BTUs of heat. What we like about this model is that it comes with a Piezo ignition switch, meaning that you don’t have to worry about having matches or a lighter to get started.
The other thing we appreciate about this stove is that it comes with three windshields to help protect your flame from the elements. Depending on where you wind up cooking, these shields can make all the difference. Finally, a rugged steel grate allows you to hold large pots so that you can cook anything from stew to chili without any interruption.
As far as outdoor gear brands go, Coleman is one of the most well known and respected in the industry. From tents to camping gear, the company is one of the best at making sure that you get the best outdoor experience possible.
With that in mind, the Triton Series Camp Stove is a versatile and robust addition to our list.
When talking about performance, this particular model is about middle of the road, with an output level of 11,000 BTUs per burner. That means that you can grill, roast, and boil water, although doing the latter will take a bit longer than if you had something like the Stansport above.
Other features of this stove include instastart matchless ignition, fine-tuned control knobs to give you more precise temperatures, and a PerfectFlow pressure control system to ensure that you’re not using more propane than you need. Finally, the Triton comes with a wider cooking area so that you can use full-size frying pans if you like, or larger pots for cooking.
Much like the Spire LX model above, the Kinjia Camp Stove from Primus is designed more for portability than anything. The size and output of this stove are less than we’ve seen thus far, making it ideal for quick cooking or fire roasting.
When talking about performance, these burners are only capable of producing up to 7,000 BTUs.
While that can be enough for things like eggs and bacon, boiling water may take a while, so we don’t recommend it. Overall, this stove is perfect for making breakfast, whether it’s the aforementioned eggs or something else like pancakes or hash browns.
The size of this model is also remarkable, weighing about ten pounds and being thinner and smaller than the competition. If you don’t have a lot of room in your truck or bag, then this could be a viable option for you. Other features include a drip tray, windshields, and easy to use knobs. Finally, this particular model has to be lit with a match or lighter, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your needs.
The way that this stove works is that you open the case and pull out the wooden cover to reveal the metal grates inside. Then, you hook up your butane tank and light it. What’s most amazing about this stove is that even though the design is so lightweight and portable, you can still get up to 10,000 BTUs per burner. Also, the wooden board can be used for prepping or serving as you see fit.
Overall, we like the portability of this stove, but some components are not as durable as others, so we don’t recommend using it heavily as it could break down much easier than other models we’ve seen. Ideally, this unit is more for day trips or picnic style outings rather than multi-day camping excursions.
When compared to the other models, the Spire LX produces up to 10,000 BTUs of heat per burner, which is more than enough for most cooking, but it will take extra time if you want to boil a pot of water. We recommend this model for grilling or frying more than anything due to the limitation of the burners.
Otherwise, the features that you get with this stove are mostly standard. It comes with matchless ignition, a cover that doubles as a windshield, easy to use control knobs, and a drip tray for easy cleaning. This model is also lighter than others, making it much more portable if space is limited on your trip.
Next, we have another portable model from Coleman. The FyreCadet is a bit more versatile and powerful than the Triton, and it is notable because it is compatible with other Coleman accessories, such as a steel cooking grate or flat top griddle.
Thus, if you want to get more out of your cooking experience, this could be a great option for you.
This is another dual burner design, with each side producing up to 11,000 BTUs. One side is larger than the other, allowing you to cook with different-sized pots as you see fit. This also means that if you do add the griddle top, you can make one side hotter than the other.
Additional features include front and side windshields, Coleman’s instastart ignition system, and the PerfectFlow pressure control valve to ensure that you use as much propane as you need and not any more. Finally, it comes with non-slip feet, which is a nice feature that you don’t find on most camping stoves.
Next, we have another dual burner stove from Camp Chef. As you will see, most of these products run on propane, meaning that you have to buy tanks separately to get them to work.
Usually, camping stoves will require a 16.4-ounce cylinder, rather than a full-size tank. That will typically yield about an hour or so of cooking time, depending on the model and how high you put the heat.
As far as performance goes, this stove provides up to 20,000 BTUs of heat per burner, and a heavy duty frame holds most oversize pots and pans. You can use steel, copper, or cast iron with this stove, depending on your preference.
The control knobs on this model are easy to use and provide a decent amount of power from simmering to a full boil. Coupled with matchless ignition means that you can get a lot of versatility with this model. Finally, it comes with a stainless steel drip tray for easier cleanup afterward.
So far, we’ve seen camp stoves that are made to sit on a tabletop or other elevated surface. While this makes them more portable and lightweight, it does mean that you are limited as to where you can cook.
This Stansport Stove, on the other hand, comes with its own stand, meaning that you can set up shop on any stable ground. Obviously, having a stand does mean that it’s a bit larger and bulkier than other models, so if portability is still an important issue for you, we don’t recommend buying this unit.
Due to the size of this stove, you get a lot more bang for your buck as each burner can produce up to 35,000 BTUs. It also runs on a full-size propane tank, meaning that you can cook longer than you would with a portable model.
The construction of this stove is top notch as everything is made with heavy duty brass or steel, including the hose connector. While it does require manual ignition, the control knobs do give you a lot of variable control, allowing you to go from 5000 BTUs to 35,000 in seconds. Overall, this stove is perfect for large camping parties that want to do a lot of cooking.
While butane is not quite as versatile as propane, it can get the job done if you want to prepare a quick meal. This burner can produce up to 7,650 BTUs and fits up to one ten-inch pot, meaning that you should be able to cook anything you want. That being said, boiling water can be a bit of a challenge, depending on how much you have to make.
One important feature that we like about this stove is a locking mechanism that prevents accidental gas flow. To turn the unit on you have to flip the switch all the way to the unlocked position, which means that you never have to worry about leaking any gas. Also, the grating is porcelain covered for easier cleaning. Overall, this stove weighs just five pounds.
After looking through these different camp stoves, we have to say that our top picks will be anything by Coleman or Stansport, as these brands have the best results out of anything we’ve seen. While these are our preferred companies, however, we also recognize that the Volcano Grills Camp Stove is another high-quality model, especially given the fact that it can use various fuel types. If you don’t want to go with propane, then the Volcano is probably your best option.
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