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Coleman Butane Instastart Review

This affordable one-burner is a solid stand-alone stove or a smart addition to your current set-up if you need an extra burner
Coleman Butane Instastart
Photo: Coleman
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Price:  $35 List | $29.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, affordable, simmers well, sturdy, auto-ignition
Cons:  Only one burner, no windscreen, butane doesn't do well in the cold
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Time to Boil - 20% 2
  • Wind Resistance - 20% 2
  • Simmering Ability - 20% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 15% 9
  • Ease of Care - 15% 8
  • Portability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Coleman Butane Instastart is a small and simple one-burner with a very approachable price tag. At 7,650 BTUs, it's not a powerhouse, but not everyone needs that. For our friends who dig simple one-pot meals like oatmeal, soup, or macaroni and cheese, there's no reason to spend a lot more on a complicated setup. This is a great starter stove for a new or infrequent camper that wants something competent and straightforward without breaking the bank. It's also perfect if you need an affordable extra burner for your current set-up or an emergency stove to keep in the shed.

This model is the cheapest stove in our review. For a buck more, though, you can buy the Best Buy Award-winning Gas One GS-3000. We prefer the Gas One model because it's a little lighter, even easier to clean, and quicker bringing water to a boil.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, affordable, simmers well, sturdy, auto-ignitionEfficient, durable, compact, has auto-ignitionWind-resistant, powerful, even cooking, auto-ignitionNon-slip rubber feet for leveling, large cooking surface, durable metal latches instead of plasticAffordable, fuel adaptor threads on easier than other stoves, windscreens are adjustable, compact dimensions
Cons Only one burner, no windscreen, butane doesn't do well in the coldCooks hot, ignitor is sometimes finickyUnreliable burner regulators, plastic latches on frontStruggles with the wind, not super powerful, on the heavy sideNo auto-ignition, lower BTUs, small burners prone to hot spots
Bottom Line The least expensive model in this review, this stove functions well for simple mealsThe stove works great, looks good, and comes at a reasonable priceA powerful, wind-resistant stove that cooks well, unless the internal regulators malfunctionDurable and generously sized, this stove is straightforward and has adjustable feet for uneven surfacesIf you just need something basic and don't want to strain your wallet, this is our favorite option
Rating Categories Coleman Butane Instastart GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540 Camp Chef Everest Eureka Ignite Plus Coleman Classic
Time To Boil (20%)
2
8
10
7
7
Wind Resistance (20%)
2
8
9
6
6
Simmering Ability (20%)
7
6
8
7
6
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
9
7
5
7
7
Ease Of Care (15%)
8
9
5
8
7
Portability (10%)
9
8
6
6
8
Specs Coleman Butane... GSI Outdoors... Camp Chef Everest Eureka Ignite Plus Coleman Classic
Weight (pounds) 4.7 lbs 9.8 lbs 12.3 lbs 12.0 lbs 9.8 lbs
Total BTU (from manufacturer) 7,650 20,000 40,000 20,000 20,000
Boil Time (1 quart of water, wind from a box fan) 21.5 min 5.5 min 3 min 6.25 min 6.25 min
Boil Time (1 quart of water, no wind) 5 min 4 min 2.5 min 4.75 min 4.75 min
Cooktop material Porcelain-coated Nickel-chrome steel Nickel-coated steel Plated steel Aluminized steel
Packed Size (inches) 14.25" x 12" x 4.5" 21.4" x 12.9" x 3.8" 23.5" x 13.5" x 4" 23" x 12.8" x 4" 21" x 13" x 3.5"
Cooking surface dimensions (inches) 8" x 8" 17.5" x 9.5" 19" x 9.5" 20.5" x 9.5" 18.75" x 10.5"
Burner/flame diameter 3" 3" 3.5" 3" 3.5"
Distance between burners (center to center) n/a 11" 12" 12" 7.75"
Windscreen? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Piezo Ignitor? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Number of burners 1 2 2 2 2
Type of Model Tabletop Tabletop, foldable Tabletop Tabletop, foldable Tabletop
Fuel Type Butane Propane Propane Propane Propane
Mfr. Model Number 2000020951 56012 MS2HP 2572195 2000020943NP

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Coleman Butane Instastart offers good performance across several metrics along with the lowest price of any contender we tested. On its own or as an addition to another stove, this is a great model to have for car camping adventures.

Performance Comparison


Despite only having one-burner, this stove can handle large...
Despite only having one-burner, this stove can handle large cookware, making cooking for a group still in the realm of possibility.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Time to Boil


If boiling time isn't a top priority for you, then the Instastart is a great fit. It certainly isn't terrible: it boiled a quart of water in 5 minutes, which is pretty decent considering the burner only has 7,650 BTUs. However, it's still one of the slowest of all the stoves we tested.

Of note is the fact that this stove takes straight butane, which is known to be slightly more efficient than propane. So even though this stove takes longer to boil, chances are you're using less fuel. Butane is also generally cheaper, so all-in-all it kind of evens out in the end. One downside of butane to keep in mind: it does not perform well in below-freezing temperatures. So, if you are going to be using this stove when it's really cold outside, you will need to warm up the fuel canister before using it.

The handy compartment for the butane canister is nice because it...
The handy compartment for the butane canister is nice because it keeps the fuel bottle out of the way and out of sight.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Wind Resistance


The Instastart does not come with a windscreen and only has 7,650 BTUs on its one burner, so it's no surprise that it struggles with the wind. On a mildly breezy day, this stove still does decently, but under direct and more intense wind, it just can't hack it. During our box fan test, where we set up a fan to the side of the stove while boiling water, the Instastart took an astounding 21.5 minutes to boil a quart of water in a tea kettle.

With low BTUs and no wind guard, this stove does struggle with the...
With low BTUs and no wind guard, this stove does struggle with the wind. But adding a portable aluminum windscreen is super simple and very effective. And with no wind this stove does great.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Because of the low profile of the Instastart, we recommend purchasing a separate windscreen, like the kind that comes with many backpacking stoves. These windscreens are made of aluminum, so they are light, packable, and versatile. Slip it into the handy carrying case that comes with this stove, and you'll be good to go.

Simmering Ability


The Instastart simmers very well, making for enjoyable and pleasant cooking all around. The burner knob is nice and big and very easy to adjust. Unlike some of the other stoves we tested, the size of the flame is accurate in regards to the low-to-high gradient picture next to it. This makes it easy to trust what the flame is doing and not have to constantly worry about whether or not the burner is still lit.

Lock the fuel canister into place, turn the knob to ignite, and off...
Lock the fuel canister into place, turn the knob to ignite, and off you go! Fine-tuning the flame on this stove is also a cinch.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Ease of Set Up


The Instastart rises to the top of the pack for being a cinch to set up in large part because the instructions are printed right on the body of the stove. This means that asking a friend who has never used the stove before to help get set up and start cooking is a reasonable request. All it requires to get going on this stove is to align the butane canister inside the fuel compartment, lock it into place, and turn the knob to ignite.

Aside from the GS-3000, this is quite a different setup from all the other stoves in our review. There are no adapters or hoses to screw into place, which is helpful when you're in a hurry or have cold fingers. When cooking is finished, you can "unlock" the butane canister to ensure it's not leaking any fuel without having to remove it altogether (though per the manufacturer's instructions, the canister should be removed when the stove is no longer in use, or if it is being transported).

With the setup instructions printed right on the lid of this stove...
With the setup instructions printed right on the lid of this stove, you can get cooking in a flash.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Ease of Care


Cleaning this small stove is easy — there's minimal surface area to get dirty. The drip pan doesn't remove, but the design is open enough that cleaning the top surface, even under the grate, is easy. There is a recess below the burner that could potentially collect food particles over time, and there's no way to get down in there, but because the recess is directly below where your pot or pan sits, even something boiling over will likely miss the opening.

This stove is easy to fine-tune and simmers really well.
This stove is easy to fine-tune and simmers really well.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Portability


The Instastart is about as portable as you can get. It packs into its little plastic suitcase for easy transport, measuring just 14.25 x 12 x 4.5 inches, and it weighs less than 5 pounds. Sure, the tradeoff is that you don't have as many options when cooking multiple dishes or for a group, but the wide sturdy burner still allows the use of a large 10-12" skillet and even a wok. So if you are a one-pan-meal aficionado, you will still easily be able to feed a small group.

The Instastart comes with a handy little box to pack it away...
The Instastart comes with a handy little box to pack it away, helping secure its high score for portability.
Photo: Penney Garrett

Value


This model presents awesome value. It's so cheap that you could buy three of them for less than the cost of many two-burners. Sometimes when a product is super cheap, you sacrifice all the quality, but that is not the case here. This stove is a lot of fun and appropriate for many different scenarios.

Conclusion


This is a great product at a sweet price. It's doesn't have any fancy features, but it does the basics very well. While it's not the best for boiling water super fast or combating the wind, it sets up easily, is simple to care for, cooks evenly, and simmers well. It's fantastic for a low maintenance camp cook that doesn't need much, and it's also a great addition to any other stove if you want to add in another burner.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Penney Garrett