How to Choose a Camping Stove – Best 2021 Guide

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Cooking over a fire is one of the most exciting camping activities. But sometimes you have bad weather and the rain is pouring, or you just need to have your coffee right away.

This is where camping stoves will come in handy.

In this guide, I will discuss the pros and cons for each type of camping stove, and help you to decide which is the most suitable for you to enjoy your camping to the fullest.

What Is a Camping Stove?


A camping stove is a portable power stove that can be powered by propane, butane, isobutane, liquid fuel, wood, solar, alcohol or solid fuels. They are mostly lightweight and suitable for car camping and backpacking. The main function of a camping stove is to cook food or boil water.

Sizes of Camping Stoves


Sizes of Camping Stoves

Camping stove sizes vary from mini ones all the way to big four - burner ones.

Depending on your needs, you can choose the appropriate size for you . Here are the main pros and cons for each size :

Mini Camping Stove

Mini camping stoves are super small and lightweight. It’s your first choice for ultra-light backpacking.

However, due to their small top area, mini camping stoves are not suitable for wide pots and pans.

Single - Burner Camping Stove

Single - burner camping stoves are compact and quick to light. They are stable for larger pots and pans.

The main downside is that you cannot cook more than one dish at the same time.

Best Camping Single Burner Stoves:

Coleman Gas Camping Stove

Jetboil MightyMo Ultralight Camping Stove

Camplux Dual Fuel Camping Stove

Integrated Single - Burner Camping Stove

Integrated camping stoves boil water extremely quickly. The insulated cozy allows you to have hot water in just 100 seconds.

The downside is that you can only use the provided pot, which is mainly for boiling water.

Double- Burner Camping Stove

Double - burner camping stoves work well in larger groups where you need to cook a few meals at the same time.

Most of the double-burner camping stoves are not suitable for backpacking, as they will take up half of your bag.

Best Camping Double Burner Stoves:

Coleman Gas Camping Stove

Outbound Gas Camping Stove

Coleman Triton Camping Stove

Triple- Burner Camping Stoves

Some triple - burner camping stoves can fit two 12 -inch pans, or three 8-inch pans. This helps to cook a variety of meals, or for a lot of people. Also, they usually come with a stand, so you can cook while standing.

However, they are very bulky, which makes them hard to carry, and they require a lot of space in your car.

Four - Burner Camping Stoves

Four - burner camping stoves will fit two full - size pots or pans. This makes them perfect for backyard garden camping.

They are portable, so it’s possible to take them with you outdoors, but the size will only justify carrying it if you need to feed a large group of people.

Fuels for Camping Stoves


Fuels for Camping Stoves

Camping stoves must be fueled by power sources. Let’s familiarize ourselves with fuel sources for camping stoves and their main advantages and disadvantages.

Propane

Propane is perfect for freezing conditions, as it can operate down to -41 Fahrenheit (-43 Celsius ). The canisters are self - sealed, so you can mount and dismount them many times.

One notable downside is that canisters are not recyclable, and it’s advisable to bring them to hazardous waste collection sites. It ’s also difficult to say how much gas is left in the canister when you are packing for the next trip. Just to be on the safe side, you should always have a spare.

Butane

Butane is less expensive than propane and provides 12% more energy. The canisters are also self - sealed, so you can pack it easily after your dinner.

The downsides of butane are similar to propane. The only difference is that butane does not work very well in cold weather conditions.

Best Camping Canister Fuel:

Coleman Propane Fuel Cylinders

Coleman Butane / Propane Mix Fuel

GasOne Isobutane Fuel Canister

Isobutane

Isobutane cans have the best characteristics of propane and butane, because it’s usually a blend of 80% propane and 20% butane. Isobutane is lightweight, provides more energy than propane and can operate up to 11° Fahrenheit (-12° Celsius ).

The downside is poor performance in extreme-cold weather conditions.

Liquid Fuel

Liquid fuels have better temperature control. They are also ideal for longer trips and work extremely well at higher altitudes.

However, fuel spills are possible, and it requires general pump maintenance and some extra work to light up the stove.

Wood ( Kindling )

Kindling is perfect for camping in a dry environment, and is likely to be available at your campground. Even better, wood found in nature is free and you do not need to worry about calculating how much fuel you need for your trip as long as the weather looks great.

Having said that, rain and a wet environment will hinder powering your food preparation with wood.

Solid-Fuel (Charcoal)

Charcoal burns hot and is great for food searing.

The main negative is that it takes time and effort to light. In addition, it’s heavy and not as clean to use as other camping stove fuel sources.

Best Camping Charcoal:

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Kingsford (4 Pack) Original Charcoal Briquettes

Fogo Premium Oak Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Alcohol

Alcohol is widely available; you can cook your food on grain alcohol, isopropyl alcohol or heat gasoline additive, which you can find in any drugstore, hardware store, or gas station around the world.

Disadvantages of alcohol include being difficult to use in modest wind. The flame is also not clearly visible, so you could accidentally burn your hands.

Solar

Solar energy is free, so you have unlimited energy during the day.

However, you are unable to cook once the sun is down. Also, most solar camping stoves only have a single burner.

How Do I Choose a Camping Stove?


All stoves and fuels have pros and cons. You need to choose based on the majority of your camping trips. Here are the key points that determine which stove you need:

  • Length of your trip
  • Size of your group
  • Weather conditions
  • Fuel availability
  • Space availability

Have a look at the table below and find the camping scenarios you will be likely to deal with most of the time :

Best for:

Propene

Butane

Isobutane

Liquid Fuel

Wood ( Kindling )

Charcoal

Solar

Extreme Cold Weather & High Altitude

Any

  

Any

   

Cold Weather

Any

 

Any

Any

   

Wet Weather

Any

Any

Any

Any

   

Large Groups

Double & Triple Stoves

Double & Triple Stoves

Double & Triple Stoves

Double and Triple Burner

   

Complex Cooking

Double & Triple Stoves

Double & Triple Stoves

Double & Triple Stoves

Double & Triple Stoves

 

Any

 

Mainly for Boiling Water

Integrated Single Burner

Integrated Single Burner

Integrated Single Burner

    

Ultralight Backpacking

Mini Stove

Mini Stove

Mini Stove

Mini Stove

Single Burner

  

International Travel

   

Any

Single Burner

  

Cost of Fuel

    

Single Burner

 

Any

What Is the Best Camping Stove?


What Is the Best Camping Stove

Number of Burners

The number of burners will be determined by the size of your group. If you camp solo or in a couple then mini, single- or double-burner camping stoves should be more than enough.

For larger groups, choose triple- or four - burner camping stoves.

Fuel Cost

Natural wood camping stoves provide free energy, so it’s worth having it for dry camping conditions or emergencies. They do not require much space, so definitely get one.

Versatility

Overall, camping stoves powered by gas (propane, butane, isobutane) canisters and liquid fuel are the best camping stoves as they are the most versatile.

Between the two of them, I suggest using liquid - fuel camping stoves if you are mechanically minded and do not mind some general maintenance. I also recommend choosing them for longer trips, as they’re lighter.

Gas canisters are for those who just want to get the job done by simply connecting the gas tank to the stove and not worrying about having spare canisters in their trunk or backpack. I recommend using the right gas depending on how cold it is :

  • Butane down to 31.1 °F (-0.5 °C)
  • Isobutane down to 11 °F (-12 °C)
  • Propane down to -44 °F (-42 °C)

FAQ


• How Do You Choose a Backpacking Stove?

When choosing a backpacking camping stove, you should consider three things: the length of the trip, the weather conditions, and the amount of space it requires in your backpack. A backpacking stove should be lightweight; therefore, you should choose a single-burner, or preferably a mini, as they do not require much space.

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