The 10 Best Camp Stoves
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Whether you're going deep into the backcountry or just into the backyard, you can enjoy hot food and drinks in any location with one of these efficient camp stoves. Ranging from the ultraportable to multi-burner models that are capable of preparing feasts for the whole family, their compact designs make them perfect companions for your next hiking, camping, or tailgating adventure. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 21, 2021:
We're happy to report that just about all of our selections remain in production, as well as at the front of the pack in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness. The only minor change we made was upgrading the MSR Whisperlite Universal to the MSR XGK EX, which can burn just as many different fuels and offers an even more rugged construction. It also adds a highly effective wind shield plus retractable arms and legs for increased stability. Meanwhile, the Camp Chef Everest is still the best for general use, and the Camp Chef Explorer still on top for large groups.
March 12, 2020:
There are quite a few camp stoves out there today and many of them serve very different purposes. A lot of campers are familiar with the timeless Coleman Classic, as it's been around in some form for a very, very long time and is a relatively effective, if not the most high-quality option. A similar but upgraded model is the Camp Chef Everest, and while it shares a similar design, it's noticeably better constructed, with thicker metal than the Coleman, a durable carrying handle, and the ability to maintain a low flame without going out. If all you need is a single propane burner, the GasOne GS-3000 is a simple and efficient option, while the Coleman Bottle Top is especially simple. Just make sure you remove the Bottle Top from the bottle after use so it doesn't leak fuel.
If you want to stick with propane but are looking for something more versatile, check out the Camp Chef Outdoor, one of the few with an oven. It's not incredibly efficient, but as long as you have a full-size tank, it can do things that an average stove can only dream of. Alternately, the Camp Chef Explorer is a large, freestanding model with more firepower than much of the competition.
Of course, if you're backpacking, you won't be able to carry any of those with you. The Optimus Crux Weekend, on the other hand, you will, as it's quite lightweight and uses relatively common fuel canisters. The Uberleben Stoker Flatpack is even more portable. As the name implies, it folds flat, and is just strong enough to handle aluminum or titanium pans. Rather than chemical fuel, it uses wood. The Solo Stove Combo also uses wood, and its advanced design lets it take advantage of a process called gasification which results in an efficient flame with a high temperature and minimal soot.
Then there's the MSR Whisperlite Universal. It's not ideal for heavy pots or feeding more than a couple people, but it's an incredibly well-made and popular piece of equipment. It's highly reliable, can run on various fuels with ease, and with proper maintenance, can easily last for years.
Orland Living Tent Stoves And now for something completely different are some wood-burning ovens complete with ventilation systems, designed for use inside full-size tents. They're extremely expensive, but if you routinely go camping in the cold weather and prefer luxury to roughing it, you may find them worth the investment. orland-living.com
Carry Your Cookery
If you decide you'd rather not feed the bears, there are certain things you can do to avoid your duty, but not to avoid the karma that follows.
Cooking at the campsite presents its fair share of challenges, not least of all is what you're going to cook for the bears. I hear they like salmon, but if you're hiking a long way into the site, you're going to need to bring a cooler because bears are notoriously picky about the freshness of their fish. If you decide you'd rather not feed the bears, there are certain things you can do to avoid your duty, but not to avoid the karma that follows.
Either way, we can all agree that it's much more enjoyable eating in the wilderness if you can get some heat under your meal. Cheese wedges, summer sausage, and gorp can only take you so far along the trails before you start to lose your mind.
Portability is the primary difference between the stoves on this list and the stoves in your home. These ranges and pots all get up and get going with you wherever you want to take them, though a few of them are more suited for the hiking trail, while others are truly designed for family camping out of a car, trailer, or RV.
The stoves on our list all allow you to get cooking in the wild by either using a connected gas tank filled with butane or a butane/propane mixture, or by using foraged materials like leaves and twigs.
Whatever fuel you end up using, all of the stoves here let you heat up liquids, which can mean fresh, safe water should you run out of purification measures, as well as the ability to rehydrate and cook freeze-dried camping meals that are tremendously easy to pack and lightweight in the bag.
What Do You Want To Eat?
I've always been an occasional camper, but when I go, I go hard. We're talking 12 to 15-mile hikes in the day, setting up shop in bad weather and worse locations, etc. Before I hit the long trails, I usually need to upgrade my gear pretty significantly, but a good stove will last a lifetime. I've had my camping stove for about a dozen years and I've done just about everything to it that should stop if from working short of dropping it off a cliff, and it still keeps kicking.
They're small enough to fit in most packs comfortably, and their fuel usage is conservative enough to keep your canister count at a minimum.
Considering how durable the stoves on our list are likely to prove, it behooves you to make a selection that will serve the bulk of your camping needs, since it's the one you're going to have at your disposal for so long. Of course, if your needs are diverse enough you may find that you need more than one of the stoves on our list.
All of the smaller stoves you see are great for trail hiking, camping wherever you end up when the sun starts to set. They're small enough to fit in most packs comfortably, and their fuel usage is conservative enough to keep your canister count at a minimum. A few of them are pot-only models that don't allow you to get very creative beyond heating water for soup or sanitation and for making pre-made freeze-dried camping foods. These are fine if you're not the most creative cook, or if your packs are so laden with other supplies than food that you need to conserve weight and space, two things the freeze-dried stuff does really well.
Other models work the same way that the range in your kitchen works, creating a small stage above the flame upon which you can place a pot, or a pan, or anything you like. These tend to take up a little more room in your pack, and a few of them are built with full stands and dual burners. These are clearly intended for less intense camping, as they're too heavy and bulky to pack for a hike.
Ask yourself exactly where you're going, how you're going to get there, and what you want to cook when you arrive, and you should get a pretty clear sense of one or two great options on our list.
Fine French Cuisine
I don't know if there's a single piece of camping gear in the world that didn't originate as a military technology. Everything from the tent to the trekking pole came from the mind of some soldier or military-commissioned inventor, and the camping stove is no different.
I don't know if there's a single piece of camping gear in the world that didn't originate as a military technology.
In the late 1920s, a French industrial engineer named Jue Lefare pitched the idea for a portable gas stove to the French Army, and began in earnest to create a viable prototype. By 1932, he had his cooker complete. The design had a troubled start, however, as its first true test faced the German's advance on the French countryside in May 1940.
After the war, especially as the baby boomer generation came of age in the US, active interest in camping and other outdoor activities exploded. It was around this time that we saw the invention of a tent made from synthetic materials, as well as things like mountain bikes and other tools for exploring the wild. Right there along with them burned the flame of the portable camping stove.