The Coleman Classic is a simple, functional stove available at a very comfortable price. It didn't blow us away in any one category, but it did perform steadily and predictably — an essential trait for any piece of gear, but especially the thing that helps you get coffee and a hot meal. It boils water fine, blocks the wind, and simmers sauces admirably. On top of that, it's simple to set up, lightweight, and packs down to a compact size. We also love the adjustable windscreens, which allow you to widen the cooking surface a bit to accommodate a larger pan. All in all, this is a great no-frills option for the budget shopper, which is why it gets one of our coveted Best Buy awards.
Coleman Classic Review
Cons: No auto-ignition, lower BTUs, small burners prone to hot spots
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While the Coleman Classic isn't fancy or feature-rich, it does everything you need a stove to do in a timely and proficient manner. It doesn't have the highest BTUs or boiling times, but for the price, this little gem can satisfy a lot of campers.
Time to Boil
This stove had one of the slower times for straight-up boiling, finishing a quart of water in 4.75 minutes. But, as discussed in the next section, compared to other models, it was on the faster side with wind present.
Good choices were made in the design process of this stove, allowing it to remain relatively consistent through all manner of weather variations. Despite just 10,000 BTUs per burner, its compactness helps to pack a little punch. If speed is a priority for your boiling needs, however, one option is to pair the Classic with a rapid-boiling backpacking model like the JetBoil MiniMo.
Wind resistance is admirable on this little trooper, though a breeze does make simmering a bit more challenging.
Many stoves in our review have a vast difference in time between boiling water on a calm day versus a windy day, but not so with the Classic. This model impressed us with its ability to still function in the wind. We gave each model a box fan test, setting a running fan 24 inches to the side while boiling water. This contender finished the test in 6.25 minutes — just 75 seconds more than without the fan. This isn't stellar, but it's decent.
Simmering with this stove is pretty great, though getting down super low presents a bit of a challenge, especially on windy days.
When cooking one pancake at a time, this stove is fabulous — two or more reveals a hot spot in the center of the pan, a pretty typical issue for stoves with small burners. While compact stoves such as this one can fit larger pans, they generally aren't able to heat them evenly. And while making scrambled eggs is fine if you babysit them, if you try to walk away, you'll find that even the low setting on the Classic is a bit high. There also isn't a graphic on the dial to represent flame settings (low to high), but in our experience, these graphics are rarely very accurate on camp stoves. All in all, this model is decent, but not the best.
Ease of Set Up
Just like the other compact two-burners in our review, setting up this stove is simple and straightforward.
While the Classic is pretty much the same as any other stove of this type, the fuel adaptor is noticeably easier to attach to the stove body than many of our other tested models. We also like the windscreen set up, which involves slotting bobby pin-shaped connectors into the stove body. This allows the use of slightly larger pans because you can widen the flaps.
Ease of Care
Once again, this is as simple a stove to care for as any other one like it.
The top cooking grate is removable to allow full access to the drip tray underneath. There's a hole to nest the fuel adaptor when storing, creating a recess that may collect food bits over time, but nothing major. Wiping down this model after use is fast, and due to its simple design, there isn't much care necessary beyond keeping it clean.
Weighing 9.8 pounds with dimensions of 21 x 13 x 3.5 inches, this is a compact stove that can easily fit in all kinds of vehicles.
While we appreciate the low profile of this stove, none of the compact two-burner models are obscene in their weight or packed size. Portability probably won't be a make-or-break issue for most campers. For obvious reasons, though, the single-burner options are much lighter and more comfortable to carry, and the freestanding stoves are a bear to haul around. The Classic hits a sweet spot right smack in the middle.
The Classic is cheap at full retail price, and online retailers often have it for even cheaper. While it wasn't the best in any of our tested categories, it holds its own and performs consistently. Because of this, we awarded it our Best Buy for a Two-Burner Award. If your camp needs are simple, this is a good model to explore.
One thing of note, however: our model did arrive slightly damaged, with a bent burner and drip tray. It did not seem to affect performance in any way but does make us wonder about the level of quality control practices in place for these inexpensive Coleman models.
Some people need their camp stove to have large dimensions and high BTUs. If that's you, there are many impressive options to read about throughout this review. However, a lot of us just need something to scramble eggs, heat soup, saute veggies, and boil water for coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. If that sounds more your pace, this budget stove is a great option and should serve you well.
— Penney Garrett