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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
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Price:  $30 List | $19.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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  ⋅  Aug 1, 2017
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Time to Boil - 30% 6
  • Wind Resistance - 25% 2
  • Simmering Ability - 15% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 10% 9
  • Ease of Care - 10% 8
  • Portability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Coleman Butane Instastart was a runner-up for our Best Buy Award. It's a simple and small one-burner stove with an approachable price tag. At 7,650 BTUs, it's not a powerhouse, but not everyone needs that. For our friends who dig simple oatmeal, quesadillas, soup, or macaroni and cheese meals, there's no reason to spend a lot more on a complex 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 a great stove to buy if you are the kind of camper that only makes simple one-pot meals and you're happy with that, or if you need an affordable extra burner for your current set-up.

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $19.99 at Amazon
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$239.95 at REI
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$150 List$43.88 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, affordable, simmers well, sturdy, auto-ignitionDurable, wind-resistant, powerful, even cooking, auto-ignitionLow profile, lightweight, auto-ignition levers are easy to use, handy carrying caseGood wind resistance, easy to clean, ability to attach another stove or JetBoil, sturdyAffordable, 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 coldNoneVery pricey, not the most wind resistant, rubber closure straps could breakExpensive, small burners, low BTUs, carry handle is shallow and uncomfortableNo auto-ignition, lower BTUs, small burners prone to hot spots
Bottom Line 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.This has been an Editors' Choice for more than five years.Excellent performance meets compact design with this impressive model, a folding two-burner that is hard not to love.A competent stove on its own, this contender will also allow you to connect a JetBoil or other Eureka stoves and run it all off the same fuel source.The Classic is a simple and straightforward two-burner that provides everything you need for basic meals at a very nice price.
Rating Categories Coleman Butane Instastart Camp Chef Everest Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Eureka Spire LX Coleman Classic
Time To Boil (30%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Wind Resistance (25%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
Simmering Ability (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Ease Of Set Up (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
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7
10
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7
10
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7
Ease Of Care (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Portability (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Coleman Butane... Camp Chef Everest Jetboil Genesis... Eureka Spire LX Coleman Classic
Weight (pounds) 4.7 lbs 12.3 lbs 7.4 lbs w/bag, 6.4 lbs stove alone 12.4 lbs 9.8 lbs
Total BTU (from manufacturer) 7,650 40,000 20,000 20,000 20,000
Number of burners 1 2 2 2 2
Type of Model Tabletop Tabletop Tabletop, foldable Tabletop Tabletop
Cooktop material Porcelain-coated Nickel-coated steel Nickel-plated steel Chrome plated steel Aluminized steel
Mfr. Model Number 2000020951 MS2HP GNST 20393 2000020943NP
Packed Size (inches) 14.25 x 12 x 4.5" 23.5 x 13.5 x 4" 9.75 x 4.5" (11 x 6" in carrying bag) 21.5 x 13.1 x 4.2" 21 x 13 x 3.5"
Cooking surface dimensions (inches) 8 x 8" (can fit up to one 10" pan) 19 x 9.5" 8" x 8.5" (each burner) 18 x 9.5" 18.75 x 10.5"
Burner/flame diameter 3" 3.5" 3.5" 3" 3.5"
Distance between burners (center to center) n/a 12" 10.5" 11" 7.75"
Boil Time (1 quart of 60F water, no wind) 5 min 2.5 min 4.5 min 4 min 4.75 min
Boil Time (wind/box fan test) 21.5 min 3 min 7.5 min 5.25 min 6.25 min
Fuel Type Butane Propane Propane Propane Propane
Piezo Ignitor? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Windscreen? No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Coleman 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 the small size and low BTUs  the Instastart provided us a lot of really pleasant cooking experiences. It even did great with a wok!
Despite the small size and low BTUs, the Instastart provided us a lot of really pleasant cooking experiences. It even did great with a wok!

Time to Boil


If boiling time isn't a top priority for you, then the Instastart is a great fit. It isn't terrible in this category, boiling a quart of 60-degree water in 5 minutes and a quart of 50-degree water on a cooler day in 7:15. Not bad, considering the burner only has 7,650 BTUs, but still 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.

This was the only stove of those we tested that used butane. The handy compartment for the canister was nice because it kept the fuel bottle out of the way and out of sight.
This was the only stove of those we tested that used butane. The handy compartment for the canister was nice because it kept the fuel bottle out of the way and out of sight.

Wind Resistance


The Instastart does not come with a windscreen and has only 7,650 BTUs on its one burner, so we weren't surprised to find 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 24 inches to the side of the stove while boiling water, this stove took an astounding 21:30 to boil a quart of water. For comparison, our Editors' Choice winner, the Camp Chef Everest, completed the same challenge in 3 minutes flat.

With low BTUs and no wind guard  this stove did struggle with the wind. But adding a portable aluminum wind screen would be super simple and very effective. And with no wind this stove did great.
With low BTUs and no wind guard, this stove did struggle with the wind. But adding a portable aluminum wind screen would be super simple and very effective. And with no wind this stove did great.

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 the 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. Overall we are pleased with performance in this category.

Lock the fuel canister into place and turn the knob to ignite and off you go! Fine tuning the flame on this stove was also a cinch.
Lock the fuel canister into place and turn the knob to ignite and off you go! Fine tuning the flame on this stove was also a cinch.

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.

With the setup instructions printed right on the lid of this stove  we were able to get cooking in a flash.
With the setup instructions printed right on the lid of this stove, we were able to get cooking in a flash.

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 nice 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 completely (though per the manufacturer's instructions, the canister should be removed when the stove is no longer in use or it is being transported).

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 was easy to fine tune and performed really well with simmering and low cooking challenges.
This stove was easy to fine tune and performed really well with simmering and low cooking challenges.

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 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 3-4 person group.

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

Best Applications


This Coleman model is a great choice for a handful of situations. For budget campers, it's an obvious winner: not only does it cost just $30, by design it's geared towards simple meals (pasta, soup, oatmeal), which tend to cost less. Small and lightweight, it's also a good option for when your campsite is more than a stone's throw away from your vehicle (although it should not be considered for backpacking). Additionally, it's fantastic as an additional stove to be used with another two or three-burner model, or as an emergency stove kept in the shed.

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

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 was not our experience here. We had a lot of fun cooking on this stove in many different scenarios.

Is it ready yet?
Is it ready yet?

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. While the Gas One GS-3000 performs a bit better overall, we still can recommend the Instastart with confidence.


Penney Garrett