The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The Best Camping Stoves

Bon appetit!
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Tuesday October 23, 2018
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Are you ready to take your culinary skills into the great outdoors? After researching 50 top models, we tested the 15 best camping stoves on the market head-to-head to help you match the stove to your cooking preferences. Both foodies and "I can't cook" types tried their hand with each model over several months, cooking everything from simple dinners to multiple-course meals. From boil-time races to sauce-simmering competitions to wind-resistance trials, we put each model to the test. All key aspects were inspected thoroughly, including how easy each model was to transport, setup, and maintain. Two things are certain: we ate well during the test period, and our resulting review is brimming with information to guide you to the perfect camping stove for your next outdoor feast.


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Updated October 2018
In the quest to keep our reviews diverse and cutting-edge, we added in two foldable models this Fall, the Jetboil Genesis Basecamp and the Coleman Fold N Go. Read on to see how these compact models measured up to the rest of our test suite!

Best Overall


Camp Chef Everest


Total BTUs: 40,000 | Time to Boil: 2.5 minutes
Robust design
Performs well in windy conditions
Powerful flame
No hot spots
Piezo auto-ignitor
Umm…Can't find one!

Year after year, the Everest wins our Editors' Choice award, outperforming the competition in the most important categories. It boils fast, simmers like a pro, and stays consistent on windy days. For a dual-burner stove, it is compact and straightforward to use. We also appreciate that its price is modest at $125, while still outperforming more expensive models.

Our testers stayed on the lookout for negatives to report on this stove, but there honestly wasn't much of anything to complain about. Digging deep, the fuel adaptor, like most camp stoves of this type, is occasionally finicky to thread into place. It's also easy to cook a little too hot if you're not paying attention. But these issues were so minor as to be practically nonexistent. For niche demands, there may be other more suitable models, yet for all-around campground use, the Everest continues to be the best. Note: it sometimes goes by its model name, the Camp Chef MS2HP, at various online retailers.

Read review: Camp Chef Everest

Best Buy for a Two-Burner


Coleman Classic


Coleman Classic
Best Buy Award

$50.24
(37% off)
at Amazon
See It

Total BTUs: 20,000 | Time to Boil: 5 minutes
Affordable
Adjustable windscreens
Enough performance to satisfy most needs
Convenient packed size
No auto-ignition
Front latch is cheap
The handle is a bit sharp

There's nothing special about the simple and straightforward Coleman Classic, but it performed admirably across all our rating metrics and will only set you back a mere $80 at full retail. It's often sold at online retailers for almost half that price. We loved the adjustable windscreens, good wind resistance, and the convenient packed size. Surprisingly, the available cooking area was the largest of our tested compact two-burners even with the smaller packed size, so a win-win all around!

This cooker does not have a fancy auto-ignition system, and dialing in a good simmer was trickier than on some of our other models — though not by much. The small burners were also prone to creating a hot spot in the center of larger pans, a fairly common trend in small-diameter burners. All-in-all this stove isn't the best we tested, but it did everything we expected of a camping stove without breaking the bank.

Read review: Coleman Classic

Best Bang for the Buck on a Tight Budget


Gas One GS-3000


The GS-3000 Portable Butane Stove
Best Buy Award

$25.01
(19% off)
at Amazon
See It

Total BTUs: 9,000 | Time to Boil: 4.5 minutes
Great flame control
Price is right
Lightweight yet sturdy
Piezo auto-ignition
Single burner
Lacks a windscreen
Poor performance of butane canister in freezing conditions

The Gas One GS-3000 is capable of any single-pot meal you're craving, so don't let its tiny price tag fool you. This competent single-burner stole a Best Buy award from the reigning Coleman Butane Instastart by being a bit easier to care for and transport, a faster boiler, and a few ounces lighter on the scale. Even though it's just one burner, you could buy three of them and hardly have spent more than the cheapest dual-burner in this review. In a field of fierce competition, this stove held its own, scoring at the top of the pack for portability, ease of care, and ease of set up.

The Gas One does lack protection from the wind and is not practical if you're cooking for large groups, but using it in addition to another two-burner stove grants you an affordable way to have three flames going at once. It costs $31, and we think it's worth every single buck.

Read review: Gas One GS-3000

Top Pick for Portability


Jetboil Genesis Basecamp


Top Pick Award

$205.99
(14% off)
at Amazon
See It

Total BTUs: 20,000 | Time to Boil: 4.5 minutes
Compact
Very lightweight for a two-burner
Works on uneven surfaces due to its flexible design
Jetlink accessory port
Expensive
The windscreen is not the best

With anticipation and excitement, we added this stylish foldable stove to our fleet, and it did not disappoint. The Jetboil Genesis Basecamp is a pleasure to use, clearly designed with thought and care. It sets up easily whether on flat or uneven ground, simmers with finesse, and offers a more lightweight and compact design than any other two-burner in our review. It also has the trademarked Jetlink accessory port which allows you to daisy-chain another Eureka-brand stove or a Jetboil and run it all off the same fuel source simultaneously. Our testers felt this stove provides a fun and enjoyable cooking experience all while taking up a fraction of the space and weight of a traditional model.

The main deterrent for most people with this stove will be the price. At a whopping $240 ($350 for the complete "system" with pot and pan), it's not a budget option. The design of the included windscreen also leaves a bit to be desired. We fared decently on windy days as long no one minded waiting a bit longer for boiling water (and if this was a dealbreaker you could always use the Jetlink port with a Jetboil, though this will lighten your wallet even more). Overall we found the Genesis to be pretty fantastic and a great model for the space-and-weight conscious car camper or van-lifer. If the price tag doesn't make you feel lightheaded, we recommend this little gem.

Read review: Jetboil Genesis Basecamp

Top Pick for Group Cooking


Camp Chef Pro 60X


Top Pick Award

$229.99
at Backcountry
See It

Total BTUs: 60,000 | Time to Boil: 3 minutes
Freestanding
Fold-out side tables for prep
Powerful flame
Auto-ignition
Very cumbersome
Most complicated setup
Requires five-gallon propane tank
Expensive

The Camp Chef Pro 60X was the largest stove we tested, so it's no surprise it took the win for group cooking. With powerful burners that can be finessed down for extremely low simmering, a windscreen and oxygen regulators for combating the breeze, and two large side tables that fold out for prep space, it's almost like you're cooking indoors in a real kitchen.

The tradeoff for all this luxury is a hefty price tag, a whopping 45.6-pound weight (not including fuel), and a more involved setup than any other reviewed model. However, if you set up and stay a few days and you often find yourself on large group camping trips where you're the designated tailgating chef, this is likely an excellent option for you.

Read review: Camp Chef Pro 60X

Notable for Best Freestanding Bargain


Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner


Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner

$99.99
(29% off)
at Amazon
See It

Total BTUs: 60,000 | Time to Boil: 3.75 minutes
Can use with or without legs
High BTUs
Great simmering
Accommodates both large and small cookware
Large and heavy
No auto-ignition
Struggles with variable wind
Prone to rust

The Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner is a professional-feeling freestanding stove that offers great cooking options at an approachable price. We loved the flexibility of the removable legs — use them if you're in the middle of a desert or field and remove them if you have a table or tailgate. The powerful burners are fantastic for cooking up large meals quickly but they still simmer like a pro, and the grate allows for both small pots and oversized pans. We cooked some perfect eggs and pancakes on this stove, all for less money than some of our small, compact models.

The Explorer did struggle with the wind a bit due to its open and airy design. The burners are far away from your cookware and gusts of wind can sneak in and extinguish the flame. With no auto-ignition, this means having to slide your food aside to relight. This stove is also heavy and, in our experience, prone to rust if left outside. While a big set up like this isn't for everyone, if you've dreamed about having a chef-style gas range in the great outdoors without breaking the bank, this is a great option to consider.

Read review: Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner


Analysis and Test Results


We bought and tested each model included in this review, testing them head-to-head for several months to elicit their performance strengths and weaknesses. Each performance metric used to score these models in our testing process was weighted based on importance. For example, the most critical metric, time to boil, has a weighting of 30 percent, while the metrics we determined to be a bit less important, like portability, are weighted at 10 percent. Weighting aside, breaking down the metrics in this way helps you decide which categories are most important to you and which product ultimately best meets your needs. Wind resistance, simmering, ease of care, and ease of setup are the additional metrics we based our scoring upon.

Beach cookouts are one of many appropriate scenarios for the Everest from Camp Chef.
Beach cookouts are one of many appropriate scenarios for the Everest from Camp Chef.

Value


With some camping stoves costing $30 and others soaring well above $200, it's important to consider the value of the product you are purchasing. Attributes and features that are essential for one person may not matter to someone else. If all you care to eat while camping is soup and macaroni, then an efficient and lightweight single-burner is probably perfect. But if camping season means a group of friends and multi-course gourmet meals, then considering a larger freestanding two-burner makes sense — cost aside. We know that price is a major determining factor when choosing what model to buy, so we offer a price vs. performance chart (below) to help illustrate the relationship between performance and expenditure (hover over the dots to see which model each one represents). Notice that price does not necessarily equate to a high rank in our tests.


Time to Boil


Time to boil was the most heavily weighted metric used to rate the products in this review. Generally speaking, the more power a model has, the better it boils, and the more efficient of a cooking experience one would (hopefully) have. What became apparent during our boil test, however, is that BTU ratings — surprise! — weren't everything.


The Camp Chef Everest, our Editors' Choice winner, has two 20,0000 BTU burners and boiled a quart of 60-degree water in two and a half minutes and a quart of 50-degree water on a breezy day in three and a half minutes. Even though all our large freestanding models had 30-35,000 BTUs per burner, they generally didn't boil water as efficiently. Some of them came close, but usually only if no wind was present. More on this later, but there is a fairly obvious correlation between reliable wind resistance and faster boil times, which is why these are the two most heavily weighted metrics.

While higher BTUs certainly help with boiling time  they aren't the only factor. Some of our largest and most powerful stoves had slower times because of less wind resistance and more space between the burner and cookware.
While higher BTUs certainly help with boiling time, they aren't the only factor. Some of our largest and most powerful stoves had slower times because of less wind resistance and more space between the burner and cookware.

The large 5" burners on the Pro 60X and Camp Chef Explorer and the 5.5" burners on the Stansport Outdoor are surrounded by so much open space that they are more affected by the wind. The flame is also physically farther away from cookware on big camping stoves such as these, so despite having the highest BTUs, they didn't win all the boil tests — though, for the most part, they did perform quite well. However, the impermeable design of the Camp Chef Everest made a clear difference with wind protection, allowing for faster boil times no matter what the circumstances.

Again though, lower BTUs doesn't necessarily mean slower boil times if a stove offers capable wind resistance. But the combination of less power and either poor design or no windscreen did equate to poorer performances in this category. If you tend to boil water in a separate device like a JetBoil, this may not matter as much to you — particularly if you like to simmer your dinners gently and don't care about a raging flame. We chose to weight boiling time heavily because a faster boil means people get fed and caffeinated more quickly and fuel gets used more efficiently, but it all depends on your camp kitchen preferences.

All our boil tests were conducted at elevations of approximately 5,000 feet using an enclosed tea kettle and one quart of water with a beginning temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The fastest stove to boil also falls at the bottom of the price range among the stoves tested. Value!
The fastest stove to boil also falls at the bottom of the price range among the stoves tested. Value!

Wind Resistance


Wind resistance is tricky to test, as you can't exactly order up the same wind for every cooking scenario. But we consider this to be a crucial metric, almost on par with boiling time, because when a breeze does crop up, it can have a huge impact on the performance of a stove. Even the smallest bit of wind will drastically affect a flame and its efficiency if a stove isn't designed well.

To test this metric in a controlled manner, we set up a box fan and blew air continuously on the burners of each stove while trying to boil water at the same time. Granted, this was not an exact replication of the variable wind gusts that circulate from all angles and speeds in real-life, but it did give us insight into how each model handles constant wind. When scoring in this category, we also took into account our experiences on windy days at the campsite. What became clear to us in assessing this metric is that, despite the 30-35,000 BTUs available per burner on our bigger models, wind resistance suffered in simulated and real-life scenarios due to a less compact design. Because of how low the burners sit below the cooking surface on these models and the subsequent physical space left open around the flame, they tended to struggle.


Our top performer in this category, once again the Camp Chef Everest, had the essential balance of high BTUs — 20,000 per burner — and a smart, compact design. The Eureka Spire LX — despite only having 10,000 BTUs per burner — also fared quite well, which is a testament to good design and implementation. No surprise, models that didn't come equipped with a windscreen had considerable trouble. We also noticed that the powerful freestanding models mostly did fine with the unvaried wind in our simulated box fan test, but when breezes snuck in from every angle while out in the field, all of them struggled with the flame becoming extinguished and needing to be relit.

We were able to control the flame and cook with precision on the Everest  even under the whipping winds that move across Lake Tahoe.
We were able to control the flame and cook with precision on the Everest, even under the whipping winds that move across Lake Tahoe.

If wind resistance suffers due to a design element or flaw, there's often nothing you can do. But in some cases, as with our simple one-burner models like the Gas One GS-3000 and the Coleman Butane Instastart, you can make or purchase a simple aluminum windscreen like the kind that comes with a backpacking stove. These windscreens are light, flexible, easy to transport, and provide a noteworthy boost in performance on gusty days.

If your stove lacks a windscreen, fold aluminum foil into shape for a temporary fix.

More than half of our stoves made it through the box fan test in under 7 minutes, but there was a substantial difference between boiling times with and without the fan. Our champion Camp Chef Everest, however, was hardly phased, taking only 30 seconds longer with the fan than without. It's no wonder this model continues to win our Editor's Choice award year after year. The Pro 60X also did well in our simulated fan test, adding only 1 minute to its time. But, as mentioned above, when out in real-world wind, the flame would go out multiple times in a cooking session.

Besides cooking on each stove during breezy variable weather  we also gave them a rigorous boiling test with a box fan.
Besides cooking on each stove during breezy variable weather, we also gave them a rigorous boiling test with a box fan.

Simmering Ability


Often overlooked in favor of BTU power, simmering ability contributes hugely to the usability and functionality of a camping stove. In the simmering category, our Editors' Choice model took the high score yet again, this time alongside the Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner and Jetboil Genesis Basecamp. The flame power on the Everest and Explorer is impressive (20,000 and 30,000 BTUs per burner respectively), and a bit more modest/typical on the Basecamp (just 10,000 per burner). But all were able to dial into that low-and-slow sweet spot for detailed cooking with finesse and grace. We slow cooked sauces and fried eggs easily and with confidence, much like on a gas range at home.


Even if you don't plan to cook fancy detail-oriented meals, simmering is a crucial aspect to consider. The ability for a stove to be proficient at low heat also means better fuel efficiency, which equates to more long-term bang for your buck. You won't burn through your canisters with a raging flame when you don't want to. It also means less accidentally scorched pans and more flexibility in timing. Maybe you have a curry that's way ahead of your rice — a nice low simmer allows you to keep a dish warm without overcooking while you finish the rest of your meal, start a fire, or pitch a tent. Other models that impressed us in this category were the sleek and compact Primus Kinjia and our Best Buy one-burner, the Gas One GS-3000.

Despite the large size and power of the burners on the Explorer  we had no trouble finessing the flame down low enough to cook perfect over-easy eggs. Gusts of wind were sometimes problematic though  so we had to keep a watchful eye.
Despite the large size and power of the burners on the Explorer, we had no trouble finessing the flame down low enough to cook perfect over-easy eggs. Gusts of wind were sometimes problematic though, so we had to keep a watchful eye.

Ease of Set Up


While car camping stoves are often easier to set up than their liquid fuel backpacking counterparts, some are more user-friendly than others. We chose the Coleman Butane Instastart and the Gas One GS-3000 as the winners in this category in no small part because the directions are printed right on the lid. This makes it super easy for a new user to jump in and help out if needed. And all these two stoves require for setup is placing the butane canister in the fuel compartment correctly, flipping a switch to lock it into place, and then turning the knob to self-ignite. Very fast and easy.


A close second in this category was the Primus Kinjia. This was the only stove we tested that had an already attached fuel hose, so no fussing with screwing a metal adaptor into place — a nice feature especially when you have cold fingers! It also comes with a unique stand to prop the fuel bottle up at the correct angle after you screw it into the hose. The nice thing about this is that you can then set the fuel bottle wherever you'd like within the bounds of the hose. The potential issue is that it's a separate piece that could get lost.

This stove had a unique fuel setup with a flexible hose and a separate fuel canister stand to keep it at the correct angle.
This stove had a unique fuel setup with a flexible hose and a separate fuel canister stand to keep it at the correct angle.

The Basecamp is another notable model for this category. Unfold, attach the fuel line, press the convenient auto-ignition levers, and you're ready to go. We appreciate the design of the fuel line because, instead of having to sink the adaptor into a recess and blindly try to get it threaded correctly, the threads are visible and exposed. The only reason this savvy model didn't score higher is that we found the windscreen attachment to be a bit cumbersome.

Having the threads for the fuel line exposed and visible made for an easier time getting set up and ready to go.
Having the threads for the fuel line exposed and visible made for an easier time getting set up and ready to go.

If you're in the market for a low-fuss freestanding stove, both the Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner and the Stansport Outdoor are worth checking out. While not the same level of ease as a small compact model, the legs are optional on both of these, so if you have a table or tailgate set up requires nothing more than attaching your large propane tank to the hose and lighting the giant burners.

Ease of Care


Most good car camping stoves are engineered with the assumption that they are going to get filthy and that you aren't going to want to do anything about it right away. What this means is that they tend to be pretty low maintenance and easy to clean. That said, there are some notable differences between the various models.


Our most low-maintenance stoves were the Explorer 2-Burner and the Stansport Outdoor. Their construction is such that beneath the cooking grate only the burners stand in the way of food hitting the ground. So when, inevitably, food flies out of your skillet, it lands on the ground instead of collecting at the bottom of your stove in a drip tray. This aspect could be seen as a negative if you're camping anywhere that you need to be vigilant about not attracting critters. Regardless, it's poor form to leave a campsite with food waste piled below where your stove was standing — critters or not. But both of these models have fewer pieces and parts and are also painted entirely black, the most filth-friendly color, making them easy and straightforward to care for.

The Camp Chef Pro 60X was one of the trickier models to clean. There is a thin metal sheet beneath the cooking grate and burners that prevent food spills from landing to the ground. Food bits accumulate here until you unscrew a special hook on the left side and remove the grate (it cannot be lifted out like most compact two-burner stoves). Once you've done this, everything is accessible and easy to clean, but it's a pesky step. However, if you want a big stove and prefer to clean a drip tray then pick things off the ground, this is probably a fair tradeoff.

The open  airy design of the Explorer shows why it's easy to keep clean  but also why it was easily affected by the wind.
The open, airy design of the Explorer shows why it's easy to keep clean, but also why it was easily affected by the wind.

Other models we appreciated for their easy maintenance were the Primus Kinjia and the Gas One. While all of our compact models had some kind of drip tray, not all of them allowed the tray to be completely removed — but these two did. This means that you can reach every single internal nook, cranny, crumb, and splatter. A dream for those that love to keep their gear sparkly clean.

A removable drip pan makes it easier to clean the surface and internal parts of the stove as necessary.
A removable drip pan makes it easier to clean the surface and internal parts of the stove as necessary.

Portability


Our favorite model for this category is the Jetboil Genesis Basecamp. Its clever foldable and circular design make it the most compact of any in our review.


The Basecamp measures just 9.75 inches in diameter and 4.5 inches high by itself, or 11 x 6 inches in its handy carrying bag. The bag has a pocket for the fuel adaptor and the windscreen made from flexible plastic wraps around the interior perimeter. But even without the bag, you will have no problems with transport: when folded up there is a handle on the bottom side of both burners that collapses when not in use. On top of it all, the Basecamp weighs a mere 7.4 pounds, bag and all, making it a fantastically lightweight option for a two-burner car camping set up.

The Basecamp is a highly portable stove -- it's lightweight  low-profile  and comes with a highly useful carrying bag.
The Basecamp is a highly portable stove -- it's lightweight, low-profile, and comes with a highly useful carrying bag.

Two of our other top scorers for portability were, no surprise, the Gas One and Coleman Instastart — lightweight one-burner models that come with little plastic suitcases for easy transport. The Gas One packed up to be one of the smallest of our competitors at 14 x 12 x 3.5 inches. It also weighed the least at 4.1 pounds. The Instastart comes with a similar plastic case and measures 14.25 x 12 x 4.5 inches. It was a smidge heavier at 4.7 pounds. We also really loved the trim and sleek design of the Kinjia.

These two stoves (the Instastart on the left and the Primus Kinjia on the right) were two of our best models for portability - they are both light  compact  and easy to carry.
These two stoves (the Instastart on the left and the Primus Kinjia on the right) were two of our best models for portability - they are both light, compact, and easy to carry.

Conclusion


With an extensive assortment of camping stoves on the market to choose from, making a final decision about what type to buy is no easy task. Deciding how many burners you want, whether you want a free-standing or tabletop design, what potential accessories you may want to add to your set up. All these choices depend on the number of people you plan to camp with and cook for, the available packing space in your vehicle, the cookware you plan to use, and your basic needs as a camp chef. Hopefully, our thorough testing helps you sort through the options and find the stove that is best for you and your needs. If you still need guidance on how to choose, please read through our Buying Advice article.

Camping and cooking in the great outdoors -- what could be better?
Camping and cooking in the great outdoors -- what could be better?


Penney Garrett