What Is The Best Camping Stove – Choose The Right Type

Have you been asking yourself What Is The Best Camping Stove, well quite often campers find themselves struggling to figure out what is the best type of stove to take on their next outdoor adventures?

The answer to that is a rather relative one as the best choice usually boils down to the type of outdoor adventure you are planning.

Is it a solo hiking trip into the mountains or a family camping trip to the coast for several days? well read on and you will find a stove type that is perfect for you.

pot of food steaming on a mini stove

Let’s face it if you are setting out on a weekend-long hiking expedition a bulky 3-burner propane stove on your back would be a disaster. Heading to the beach with a bunch of friends and taking along a mini stove would be a bad idea.

If you have your eyes set on the high country with just your partner for a few days, and your camping in a tent, a good quality one or two-burner benchtop stove would be the ideal choice.

Bringing the correct type of stove with you could mean a world of difference. Therefore it’s important to keep in mind that different types of outdoor excursions call for the use of different types of camping stoves.

What are your individual circumstances? What are your plans? Where are you going? How are you getting there? and who is going with you?

These questions will determine the type of stove you will require and the correct stove will solve your problem of how you cook your meals while outdoors. 

No matter how small or big it might be, bringing along a stove that fits your type of trip is always going to add to the comfort and enjoyment of your adventure. 

Let’s have a look at what I consider the three main types of propane camping stoves that you can choose from to make your time outdoors much more comfortable and satisfying.

Convenient Reliable Mini Stoves

man holding a white mug in front of a mini stove

Let’s get things started with the best little go-to options

Camping, Hiking, or Backpacking, these little gems are perfect for those of you who want to shed as much weight as possible to make your trip easy and fun, while still having access to a piece of equipment that will make all the difference to the overall experience.

What makes mini stoves ideal for this type of adventure is the fact that they are small, some are extremely small with a weight of a mere one to two ounces, they are so portable and lightweight they are virtually unnoticeable in your pack. The range is amazing and there are many variations.

Some mini stoves are just that, just a tiny stovetop, so then you would also need to carry a pot of some description, Plus a gas canister, they are simply a small foldable stovetop half the size of a cola can that can easily be carried in your pocket.

One thing to make sure to check on these tiny sometimes very cheap units is that the quality and reliability of a lot of them may be dubious at best and certainly not something you would rely on in a challenging environment.

However, some stand out from the crowd with a proven ability tested by many adventurers over many years, they are well-known brands that produce excellent products that have the ability to simply and easily produce heat in a situation that requires small convenient reliable equipment.

These are convenient units that have the stove, stand, pot, and sometimes even the gas canister in the one container.

These stoves are usually only for boiling water, cooking a few oats, a quick cup of coffee, maybe a delicious hot soup, or a dehydrated meal.

Holding capacity in these systems is mostly up to around a 1.0-liter. These mini stoves truly shine in circumstances that larger propane stoves would be just too big and cumbersome.

My personal favorite and a stove that I have written an in-depth review about the Jetboil Flash Cooking System this small stove is a wonderful piece of equipment that goes with me everywhere.

I have owned a number of mini stoves over the years and I found this one far superior to any other in quality and reliability.

It is not the lightest at 14 ounces but the benefits it gives me far outweigh any issue I have with its size, the same stove has been with me for over 7 years gets used regularly, and still works perfectly.

Who among us needs a mini stove?

By just looking at the size and design, you can know right off the bat that these stoves are ideal for outdoor adventurers who like to pack light.

If you usually spend the weekends in the outback walking the trails and enjoying the natural beauty of the landscape that surrounds us, then mini stoves would be your best choice.

They are small and lightweight stoves and very handy items for campers or climbers, hikers, fishermen, or hunters, who want to make a quick coffee in the morning to get them going. 

In essence, the little units are perfect for anyone who wants to go as fast and as light as possible. Here is another good mini stove, the MSR Windburner Personal Stove System

However, even if you are car camping and you have larger stoves on board, setting up a bigger stove can be a time-consuming task if all you want is a hot beverage for breakfast before moving on to your next destination.

This can be a real help if you don’t want to fall behind schedule on your road trip, the speedy mini stove will see you hit the road in next to no time. 

But you don’t need to be on holiday or playing in the outdoors for this equipment to be useful, these stoves can be used by many people doing everyday jobs.

People including long-distance truckers, tradespeople, laborers in the field, blue-collar workers who toil outside and may like a refreshing hot brew during their work hours will love these stoves.

What about your next tailgating event or when you’re taking your family on a picnic and you don’t have a flask, well one of these mini stoves will provide you with hot water for your coffee or tea in seconds.

Anybody who walks outside and has a desire for a hot drink could use one of these systems.

Where can you use mini stoves 

One of the most outstanding features of these is that they work fine in virtually any outdoor area. The simple use and fast setup are some of the most beneficial features that make them a fantastic part of your equipment.

While I say in any outdoor area, they also work perfectly well indoors as well, however, this is not the appropriate equipment for indoor use from a safety point of view and should only be used in a well-ventilated area once they are hooked to a propane canister.

You can use some mini stoves in quite windy conditions, but in this case, you need to check the different brands that work better than others in these conditions.

There are a couple of really well made good quality mini stoves that are highly rated performers for when the wind is blowing.

Whatever the weather all mini stoves work well anytime, maybe you just have to give your stove a little sheltering from time to time. Some mini stoves also work great in extremely cold conditions.

This can be a tough situation to make breakfast, but thankfully, some of these gizmos are ready to brace the rough outdoors.

When cooking in freezing conditions, it’s best that you get an inverted canister stove or one with a regulator. The different designs give these stoves a much-needed edge to perform in sub-zero temperatures, which could be a lifeline for you.

When heading out to high elevation areas, it would be easy to have jitters about your stove not working properly, or failing completely. Well, that should be the least of your worries, as most of these little units work great at high altitude too.

woman sitting with a coffee at a campsite

 Size and weight

What this stove lacks in high volume they make up for with their small, packable and lightweight design. The choice here is all yours, but again, it’s also a matter of balance.

If you want to minimize the weight and size as fast as you can go, then one of these wonderful little stoves will be your best bet.

Some of the tiny folding units can weight as little as 1 ounce or thereabouts, it’s certain that these stoves are by far the most lightweight options in camping stoves.

The more well-known brands like Jetboil and MSR which come in a self-contained style weight in at around 1 pound in weight include the stove the pot and gas canister.

How much do they cost?

While the small folding tiny little stoves can be purchased for $10 – $20 these are not my preferred choice as durability and reliability are questionable in my book and If I’m out in a remote part of the country, I need to be able to trust my equipment.

However, if you must buy one of these spend around $45 and at least get a half good one, The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is a good budget buy.

As for the personal cooking systems some may say they are expensive, yes these stoves can be a bit costly.

However, considering their portability, performance, durability, and convenience, these items can be lifesaving devices in extreme adventures and need to be precision made and capable reliable equipment.

Therefore I believe the cost of somewhere in the vicinity of $100-$150 is a reasonable outlay for these cooking systems.

I have owned these Personal cooking systems for many years and they are some of the best equipment I have ever purchased, I love my mini stove and it goes everywhere with me.

Are these stoves worth it?

If you are just looking for a morning coffee while on the road and couldn’t be bothered to set up your large stove in the morning, then you can save precious time with these instant units.

You also don’t have to worry about any spills or leaks, as the canisters are self-sealing once the stove is unscrewed. 

What they do best is boil water quickly, if you need boiling water in seconds then this is the system for you, these stoves are built for just about anyone looking to make breakfast or a hot beverage as fast as possible.

From campers to trekkers, hikers, climbers, and backpackers, these are very good little friends to have with you. I can stop wherever I find myself when coffee time calls and within a few short minutes, I can be enjoying my favorite brew.

This saves me the hassle of having to pull large stoves or other equipment out while I am in transit to my basecamp or next overnight stop and I’m just looking for a hot drink. 

I simply carry it in a backpack with coffee tea and sugar and a small bottle of water, everything I need for a refreshing break, to me they are worth every cent and a lot more. I love good equipment and my Jetboil is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

I have written an article that will help you with your research on the Best Backpacking Stoves you need to check it out. It has a great list of excellent backpacking stoves.

Popular And High Performing Benchtop Stoves

3 burner portable propane stove

These are the most popular style by far

Benchtop propane gas stoves are the most popular of any camping stove type and play an extremely important role for us who like to spend time outdoors away from the comfort and electrical appliances of home.

These very convenient and portable stoves would have pride of place in most campsites across the country.

They come in a huge variety and all manner of shapes and sizes, from single burner up to 4 burners or more in many differing power output configurations.

The purchasing decision on the correct one again lies in the manner in which you intend to use it, where, when, and for how many people.

The photo of the yellow 3-burner above is one of my stoves, most are very simple with not too much that can go wrong with them. This particular stove has done a lot of work yet still works perfectly and I have had it close to a decade.

Who needs a benchtop stove?

Benchtop stoves work great for different types of outdoor cooking depending on one’s needs. These stoves can be everything you need in a camp kitchen, they are generally a more robust unit for cooking meals from breakfast to dinner and anything in between.

And if you are cooking for a large group of people, then these stoves are what you need, as some of the larger units are capable of cooking a substantial amount of meals quickly.

Besides, you will also find them handy at home if you want to throw a party or have a barbeque for your family or friends in the backyard. 

Where to use them

There are many places where you can use these types of stove and as they are the most popular outdoor cooking units and their versatile, portable nature, make them a necessary part of most camper’s equipment.

But the suitability of bringing them on board on a mountain or rock climbing expedition or a hiking trip is virtually out of the question.

They would weigh you down or take up a whole lot of space in your luggage. This is not the appropriate stove for campers on foot, these are the number one option for base and car campers.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that using propane gas stoves indoors is a bad idea, so you need to ensure you use your stove outdoors only in a place with good ventilation.

Inhalation of propane gas can cause health complications that range from nausea, headache, dizziness, vomiting, and in the worst-case scenario, fatalities. 

During inclement bad weather or for whatever other reason you may be considering using your stove inside your tent, DON’T!  this is an outright bad idea.

Tents are made with canvas or nylon synthetic materials that can catch fire extremely fast, so make sure not to take chances by cooking inside your tent. You might end up exposed to the elements without shelter or worse if anything went wrong.

4 burner propane stove   

What Benchtop stoves do best

These stoves are built for nothing but heavy-duty performance, bumping around in the back of a vehicle can take its toll on your gear.

The popular stoves generally feature two or three burners some packing in tens of thousands of BTUs and with so much searing power, you can be sure to enjoy hassle-free cooking.

These stoves sometimes have higher BTUs than home stoves, which helps them compensate for the windy and cold outdoor conditions.

But they also do a lot more than just pack in enough power for the job; some of them are very well constructed and built to last, with a durable, sometimes stainless steel frame and other components.  

Another great thing about a lot of these stoves is the ease of use, easy setup, and once hooked to a gas container, just the push of a button and a twist of a valve and you are ready to start showing your cooking skills to your friends and family.

Cleaning is another area that makes using a lot of these units satisfying, if it has a drip tray then it makes cooking fatty meals less messy, and so the cleanup becomes a breeze too. The best part so far is that you can cook just about any meal on these stoves.

From boiling water to simmering dinner, you can use the temperature control function on these stoves to achieve your desired heat level. They are an all-around unit when it comes to versatility. 

Most of the smaller stoves in this style work with disposable canisters that are easy to find in most stores dealing in camping stuff right across the country.

The larger stoves are typically hooked up to a large gas tank via a hose and regulator, usually 20 lbs in size.

These large gas bottles are a welcome convenience if you are staying put for several days in one location as it holds a larger volume of propane of course so tends to last longer, then add to that the convenience of it being able to be refilled.

Size and weight

As far as size goes, these units can vary in size enormously they will definitely take up more space in the trunk as well as in your luggage.

It’s also worth noting that these stoves can be heavy, usually tens of pounds. Also, the gas tank is usually heavy at around 20 lbs.

Remember, all this is the essential equipment you will need if you are taking your family camping or any other outdoor adventure or gathering where you need a cooking system to feed the people in your group for an extended period.

This equipment is mainly used by people who are going to use a vehicle to transport to the location where it will be used, so size and weight are not critical.

Price

Some of these stoves with their large size and some with very high performance and all sorts of bits and pieces you can add on can cost several hundred dollars.

However, you can purchase a good quality basic two-burner stove for less than $100 bucks Coleman Classic Review a real classic and a real favorite.

Also, there is this one, a well built three burner for well under $150 The Stansport Outfitter review will give you all the information you’ll need, it would be safe to say that these stoves are very fairly priced.

There are many flimsy stoves out there costing insanely high prices but don’t offer close to half the performance that you can get with a quality benchtop stove.

Just do a bit of research to find one that can do a great job for you but doesn’t cost the earth.

It is certainly not required that you pay a high price for a good propane stove and most will come with a warranty of some description in which case your decision becomes a very low-risk one.  

Are they good stoves?

With the capacity and power to cook for the whole family or a group of friends, most of these stoves do an excellent job.

They are robust, durable, easy to use, and most crucial of all, versatile enough to cook almost any type of food. Factor in the ability to perform well even in windy days, and you have a unit you can count on for your outdoor cooking.

Benchtop stoves are a real benefit to us as campers and the ability to own and use such a reliable, portable, and convenient cooking system that is easy to use and maintain makes it one of the most important items in our essential camping equipment checklist.

Strong, Heavy-Duty, and Powerful Freestanding Stoves.

cooking meat on a outside barbeque stove

Sometimes you need to take matters to a completely new level as far as outdoor cooking goes. And what better way to push the limits than getting a monster that dwarfs all the others.

You may just like the look and feel of a large freestanding stove that can provide up to 90,000 BTU of intense heat. That’s where the freestanding units come into play. Built for top-of-line performance, these stoves come with many benefits.

Who are they for?

These stoves are the go-to option for anyone looking for a heavy-duty stove that has the power to cook large amounts of food simultaneously.

But the large size and high performance come at a cost, they can be quite heavy some up to 70 pounds or more plus all this size needs plenty of space. So if you want to go lightweight, these are definitely not for you.

These stoves are for campers and car campers, perhaps hunters and anyone doing an outdoor adventure over several days or weeks who like to set up a complete camp kitchen and use their camp as a base with all the necessities in one place where all manner of cooking can take place.

Where would you use a freestanding stove?

The outdoors can be a harsh frontier to explore, and if you want a stove that can withstand the wrath of the elements, then check out these robust units.

One great thing about these stoves is that it is quite flexible, so you can use them in most outdoor adventures and for tailgating, camping, hunting, cooking on the back patio, you name it and these stoves will be there for you. 

Some of these true outdoor units come equipped with windshields on up to three sides, so the wind should never be something to worry about.

This design not only makes cooking in the open less frustrating, but it also ensures you can use the fuel efficiently too, which is a good thing. Some have adjustable legs, you can simply set it to achieve solid support on an uneven surface.

If the situation arose where you could do without the legs simply remove them for that occasion and use it as a tabletop this will give you the ability to decide on whether that is what works best for you.

What these stoves do best

One thing they do very well is, cook a perfect steak on a griddle plate, simply because they have the power output to heat the plate and keep it hot.

Freestanding stoves have a lot to go for if you want to make the most out of your outdoor cooking. Versatility is one of the most outstanding aspects that make these stoves a great choice. You can set it up just about anywhere. 

Mostly, these stoves work with bigger tanks. While this might sound like a downside, as the tank will potentially weigh a lot, but it is, in fact, a good thing.

These tanks don’t run out of fuel as fast as the small ones do. Thus, you won’t have to struggle with regular refilling unless you are out on a very long trip.

With high levels of BTU power, cooking just becomes easier and more fun. But there’s an even brighter side to this yet, you will also be able to cut down on the actual cooking time. What better way to stay on schedule than to cook in a matter of minutes.

The best part about these stoves is that they are sure to cook for small and large groups alike. If you are camping as a whole family, then you will find out just how reliable this stove can be.

Not forgetting, with the large size and usually several burners, you can have multiple components of the meal cooking at once, now that’s awesome.

Size and weight

If you want to go large and heavy with cooking stoves, then these units have what you are looking for, these are by far the largest and heaviest units among the three types in this article, definitely dwarfing the mini stoves.

The size comes with high performance, durability, and high reliability, but you can be sure that these units are heavier than the others when it comes to lugging them around.

The large gas tanks are also large and add a significant amount of weight to the whole thing as well.

But this makes it easier to carry a simple tank than cart around several spare gas canisters, which might even be heavier and harder to handle.

And the end result of having a large powerful cooking appliance in camp can be a real compliment to the whole camping experience. 

The Price

This is where things get exciting about these stoves. With all the hype and everything, you could expect these units to come at incredibly high prices.

Well, that’s not really the case. You can purchase a basic freestanding stove for $100 but keep in mind that the prices vary depending on different brands and their quality of workmanship.

So make sure to look for a stove that matches your needs as well as budget. Here is a terrific freestanding stove, Check it out here  Camp Chef Expedition 3 Burner stove this is a robust high quality and powerful stove that performs beautifully. 

Is it a good stove?

If you want to be sure your weekend trip to commune with nature doesn’t become a living nightmare, then a stove is definitely a must-have the equipment to bring along.

Thankfully, with a sturdy build, powerful burners, and a plethora of other essential features, these stoves have all it takes to transform your outdoor cooking. 

These may be exactly what you would look for if you want to experience cooking with a difference. The best part is that freestanding stoves won’t cost you a fortune but be prepared to pay good money for good quality.

Keep in mind that these units are usually quite heavy, plus they take time to set up once you arrive at your destination, the performance, convenience, and durability by far outweigh its downsides.

potable propane camping stove

My Overall Opinion

Below are my top picks that will cover all the bases, I have done in-depth reviews on all four and the links to my reviews are in the names.

If you need the best all-around mini stove Jetboil Flash Cooking System is the only way to go.

A small, good quality, budget benchtop stove for you and your partner or small family Coleman Classic is for you.

If you like powerful and solid this Camp Chef Freestanding Stove will satisfy the whole Camp

There’s no doubt that leaving for a camping adventure or any other outdoor trip without bringing your stove along would not make the family happy. Even if you pack up all the goodies for the trip, a stove is still an essential piece of equipment to tote along.  

I’ll leave you with my personal favorite large stove, check out my review Outland Portable Camping Stove. This is an awesome 3 burner stove that will give you everything you would want in a family-sized portable stove.

No matter how small or big it might be, bringing along a stove that fits your type of trip is always worth it. And among these top options, you can find the type that’s the best fit for you, so why not go for it and enjoy cooking in the outdoors.

If you have any more questions on What Is The Best Camping Stove, I’ll be more than happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Remember! Leave it cleaner than you found it, only footprints not rubbish.

Thanks, Shane.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “What Is The Best Camping Stove – Choose The Right Type”

  1. Hi there Shane,

    I am reading your stove article because I am looking for a really cheap option to cook food on a motorbike adventure I am planning.  I have been researching the really cheap DIY alcohol burner stoves and they look like they will do the job if I only want to boil water.  I am talking about penny stoves and fancy feast alcohol stove.  

    The big question after reading your article is about the need to simmer food? 

    How critical is it really to be able to control the temperature down to a simmer?

    Reply
    • Hi Remy, I too enjoy motorcycle road trips, I do a couple each year and the best stove for that in my eyes is the Jetboil Flash because of its lightweight, small size, I can carry it in my saddlebag and it doesn’t take up much space but importantly I have a reliable cooking system the heats my food and provides me with hot water for the coffee.

      The trouble with the real cheapies is that you never know if they are going to work or just fall apart. However, some of them are so cheap you could buy two and carry them both.

      Thanks Shane.

      Reply
  2. Very informative! I plan to hit the road within the next few months and basically live out of a van. I’m going to need a small stove for those days when it’s not possible to eat at a restaurant. I used to drive big trucks for a living and all I had with me at the time was a cigarette lighter powered toaster oven and a pitcher for heating water. Since this trip will be more of a vacation, I’d rather not limit myself to ramen noodles and soups. It’ll be just myself, so small is fine with me. I wouldn’t mind paying over $100 for it either, as long as I can count on it to work when I need it most. I like that yellow stove of yours in the pic, but two burners would work for me. Thanks for the valuable info!

    Reply
    • Hi Mark, I spend long periods of time on the road now for pleasure, just touring around the country, and these getaways usually take me around 4-6 weeks.

      All my cooking needs are taken care of with three stoves, the 4-burner you see in the photo is attached to a kitchen slide out on the side of my camper trailer. The yellow three burner is if I go into remote areas without the trailer, and my personal favorite the Jetboil Flash.

      If I pull over on the side of the road and feel like a brew out comes the Jetboil and within two-three minutes I have a steaming hot tea or coffee in my hand. This unit at $100 is worth every cent.

      If your looking for a two burner to cook meals in a small van, for around $45 bucks you can’t go wrong with the Coleman classic.so for $150 you would have all your heating and cooking needs sorted.

      Thanks for the comment Please let me know how you go. Thanks, Shane.

      Reply
  3. Great article showing the wide spectrum of tiny to gigantic camp stoves! 

    I’ve been a solo backpacker for about four decades now. My backcountry trips often take a week to ten days, so other than clothing and gadgets, most of my pack space is for repackaged canned food, MREs and maybe three or four hot meals. So for cooking, I rarely bring anything more bulky than a couple of Sterno three-packs or a box of Esbit to burn under a makeshift foldable metal grille.

    Until now, I never really considered a propane stove. I always thought the fuel bottle would be too bulky and take up too much pack space. But your article has piqued my interest in investing in something a little more substantial. I never knew that the bottles came in such small sizes!  Besides, I’m getting older now, so pampering myself while out in the boonies is starting to sound better. 🙂 

    As great as a benchtop stove looks, I’d need to hire a mule to carry it. 🙂  But it would definitely work when I can get my girlfriend to go car camping with me.Thanks for expanding my camp cooking horizons!

    Reply
    • Hi Joseph, I don’t do any extended hiking no more, Most of my camping now is out of a vehicle so I am really spoiled these days, I have all the mod cons. 

      Years ago I used to do wild camping trips with nothing more than a knife, flint, water bag and a sheet of canvas, but like you, I’m getting too old for the rough stuff. 

      How I would have loved to have had a Jetboil Personal Cooking System with me all those years ago. This is a piece of equipment I rave about, I love my Jetboil.

      If I’m on a day hike now It’s on my back, at just over one pound with the small gas canister, it is one of my must-haves. I need my hot cuppa around mid-morning.

      Thank you for your great comment, please let me know if you try out one of the mini stoves. 

      Cheers, Shane.

      Reply
  4. First of all  I want to say thank you. I once went for a camping with the family of my friend and we couldn’t enjoy our stay there because we didn’t go with a good stove for camping. The wind was horrible and it totally messed up everything for us. 

    Experientially, I have known that the best camping stove for me is the Camp Chef Free Standing Stoves. I prefer this very stove more than the rest becaus of  it’s outstanding features and it has a wind shield which doesn’t let the wind become a nightmare for th me during camping. It offers the best experience and I will need a new one very soon. 

    Reply
  5. I have seen people use these before, but never had the opportunity to do so myself. My family is looking to go camping this summer and the smaller camping stoves look like they would be a great item to bring along. The simplicity and quick set-up of the mini stoves are very attractive qualities, especially with young kids who would want to be spending more time exploring than waiting around for a larger stove to set up. Thanks for giving such a thorough breakdown of the different options! They are something I will have to revisit as the trip gets closer.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve, they all have their own uses, and the mini stoves are just packed with convenience, you will love them.

      Thanks for your comment

      Reply

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