Camp Chef Everest
: 40,000 | Windy Boil Time
: 3 minutes
Performs well in windy conditions
No hot spots
Closure latches are plastic
Year after year, the Everest wins our top honors, outperforming the competition in all the categories that matter most. It boils fast, simmers like a pro, and stays consistent on windy days. Each of the two burners can handle large cookware, yet the overall design remains compact and straightforward. We also appreciate that its price remains approachable, though it has increased a bit in the last year.
Our testers continue to stay on the lookout for negatives to report on this stove, but there isn't much to complain about. Digging deep, the brass threads on the fuel adaptor, like most camp stoves of this type, can be finicky to thread into place. While this stove can simmer like a boss if you finesse the cook-valves down low, you can cook too hot if you aren't paying attention. The once metal closure latches have been replaced with two potentially-breakable plastic ones. For niche demands, there may be more suitable car-camping stoves, but for most car-campers, the Everest continues to be the best.
At some online retailers, this stove goes by its model name: the Camp Chef MS2HP
Read review: Camp Chef Everest
Best Buy for a Two-Burner
: 20,000 | Windy Boil Time
: 6.25 minutes
Enough performance to satisfy most needs
Convenient packed size
Front latch is cheap
Handle is a bit sharp
There's nothing special about the simple and straightforward Coleman Classic, but it performs well across all metrics and at a thrifty price to boot. You can often find it for sale at online retailers for almost half its full retail price. We love the adjustable windscreens, solid wind resistance, and its convenient packed size. Even with the smaller dimensions, this stove boasts one of the largest available cooking areas of the compact two-burners we tested, so a win-win all around!
The Classic does not have a fancy auto-ignition system, and dialing in a good simmer is trickier than on some of our other tested models — though not by much. The small burners are prone to creating hot spots in the center of larger pans, which is a common trend in small-diameter burners. Truth be told, this stove is not the best we tested, but it does everything you want out 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
: 9,000 | Windy Boil Time
: 13 minutes
Great flame control
Price is right
Lightweight yet sturdy
Lacks a windscreen
Butane has poor performance in freezing conditions
The Gas One GS-3000 is capable of slaying any single-pot meal you're craving, so don't let its slim price tag fool you. This competent single-burner runs away with a Best Buy award by having excellent simmer control, being easy to care for, and being ultra-portable. It's also the lightest model in our review. While this stove has just a single burner, you could buy three of them for almost the same cost as the cheapest dual-burner in this review! In a field of fierce competition, this stove holds 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 requires butane as its fuel source, which can be more difficult than propane to source in your area. The Gas One is also not as practical as a two-burner stove when cooking for large groups, but using it with another two-burner stove is an affordable way to have three flames at once. This stove is cheap but worth every single buck.
Read review: Gas One GS-3000
Best for Group Cooking
Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner
: 60,000 | Windy Boil Time
: 5 minutes
Can use with or without legs
Struggles with variable wind
Large and heavy
The Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner is a professional-feeling freestanding stove that offers great cooking options at an approachable price. We love 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 in a jiffy, but they still simmer with ease, and the grate allows for both small pots and oversized pans. We cooked some perfect eggs and pancakes on the Explorer, all for less money than some of our small, compact models.
The Explorer does 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 spending a fortune, this is a great option to consider.
Read review: Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner
Best for Portability
Jetboil Genesis Basecamp
: 20,000 | Windy Boil Time
: 7.5 minutes
Very lightweight for a two-burner
Works on uneven surfaces due to its flexible design
Jetlink accessory port
Windscreen is not the best
The Jetboil Genesis Basecamp is stylish, collapsible, and straightforward — what's not to love? This stove was designed with thought and care: it is easy to assemble whether on flat or off-camber ground, it simmers better than many in-home electric ranges, and may be lightweight and compact enough for some backcountry expeditions. The Genesis features the Jetlink accessory port to link with other Jetboil or Eureka-brand stoves and simultaneously share the same fuel source. This stove provides a fun and enjoyable cooking experience while taking up a fraction of the space and weight of a traditional two-burner model.
For most folks, the steep price-tag is the main deterrent with this stove. The Genesis may not be an ideal option for those on a budget. Beyond the price, the design of the plastic windscreen proved to be a little fickle. On windy days, the stove would get the job done, as long as no one minded waiting nominally longer for boiled water or tasty curry. These concerns aside, the Genesis is pretty dang awesome. It's perfect for car campers, van-lifers, and basecamp chefs concerned about space and/or weight. If the price tag doesn't make you woozy, scoop up this gem of a stove.
Read review: Jetboil Genesis Basecamp
Why You Should Trust Us
Our camping stove testing team is a solid crew of experienced car campers, foodies, and folks who love to play camp chef. This review is headed up by Mary Witlacil an avid outdoorswoman who would always choose a dish seasoned with a little bit of trail-spice (aka dirt) over a Michelin five-star meal, especially if it means falling asleep under a blanket of stars. After spending years bike-touring and traveling, Mary traded in her bike cleats and passport for a trad-rack and a pair of climbing shoes. She has spent years dialing in her backcountry cooking scene, from deluxe multi-course car-camping meals to prepping expedition meals for multi-week backpacking trips. This gal loves playing outside almost as much as she loves cooking outside. You'll find her romping around the Western US, climbing cracks and perfecting her backcountry culinary skills.
Our team of accomplished campers and van-lifers isn't just reheating canned soup. These adventurous eaters schlep all sorts of fresh food to campsites and trailhead parking lots, making everything from ramen with powdered miso to elaborate multi-course feasts. They went to high altitudes, cooked in lousy weather, and lived out of cars and tents for months to analyze the best camping stoves available.
Related: How We Tested Camping Stoves
Analysis and Test Results
Each stove in this review was tested head-to-head for several months to find all strengths and weaknesses. Our reviewers weighted each testing metric based on their importance for the function of the stove. For instance, our review weights the metrics for time to boil and wind resistance at 25 percent because these functions speak to the capacity of a stove to perform well in outdoor settings. By contrast, our review team maintains that portability is somewhat less critical than stove performance, which is why we weighted this metric at 10 percent. The additional metrics used to determine the overall score for each stove include: simmering ability, ease of setup, and ease of care (or clean-up). Beyond the weighting of each of our testing metrics, we distinguish between different testing criteria to enable you to make an informed decision based on the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Stoves
With so many options spanning a wide range of costs, 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 ramen or mac and cheese, then an efficient and lightweight single-burner is perfect. But if camping season means a big group of friends and multi-course gourmet meals, then a larger freestanding two- or three-burner stove makes sense — cost aside. We know that price is a major determining factor when choosing what model to buy, so finding something that strikes the essential balance between stellar performance and a fair price is key.
Our reigning champ, the Camp Chef Everest, is a great example of this, though the price may still be too high for some. On the other hand, the Coleman Classic did not perform as well in our tests but is sufficient for most car campers, and won't break the bank. If you want to go big, the Camp Chef Explorer is large, powerful, and surprisingly affordable. Only you can determine what aspect — performance, cost, or both — is most important.
Beach cookouts are one of many appropriate scenarios for the Everest from Camp Chef.
Time to Boil
Time to boil, along with wind resistance, is the most heavily weighted metric used to rate the products in our review. Theoretically, the more power a stove has, the better it boils, and the more efficient you can be when you slay your camp feast. What became apparent during our boil tests, however, is that BTU ratings — surprise! — aren't everything.
With two 20,0000 BTU burners, the Camp Chef Everest boiled a quart of water with no wind present in 2.5 minutes. With constant wind from a box fan, the Everest's time increased a mere half minute, up to 3 minutes. This is the smallest increase in time between these two tests of any stove in our review. The GSI Selkirk 540 also performed well boiling water in 4 minutes (no wind) and 5.5 minutes (wind) despite having a mere 10,000 BTUs per burner. Even though all our large freestanding models had 30-35,000 BTUs per burner, they could not boil water as efficiently. Some of them came close, but only if no wind was present. We'll go into more detail below, but there is an obvious correlation between reliable wind resistance and faster boil times, which is why these are the two most heavily weighted metrics in our review.
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 the Camp Chef Explorer are surrounded by so much open space that they are noticeably more affected by the wind, despite their power. The flame is farther away from the 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 burner design of the Everest made a clear difference with wind protection, allowing for faster boil times regardless of the circumstance.
As noted above, lower BTUs doesn't necessarily result in slower boil times if a stove boasts well-crafted wind resistance. However, the combination of less power and poor wind resistance or lack of windscreen did result in lower ratings in this category. This may not matter to you, if you tend to boil water in a separate device like a JetBoil, or if you prefer to simmer your dinners and don't care about a raging flame. We heavily weighted the metric for boiling time because a faster boil results in quicker meals, faster coffee, and more efficient fuel use, but the importance of this metric depends on your cooking style and preferences.
We conducted all of our boiling tests at elevations of 5-7,000 feet using an enclosed tea kettle with one quart of 70 degree Fahrenheit tap water.
While we show a boil time for both windy (our box fan test) and non-windy conditions, take heed of the wind test. Boiling with no wind may be a good indicator of sheer power, but the wind test reveals much more about the actual design of the stove in real-world use. Besides, chances are high that if you're camping it's at least a little breezy.
The fastest stove to boil also comes at a reasonable price. Value!
Wind resistance is tricky to test, as you can't order up the same wind for every cooking scenario. But we consider this to be a crucial metric, integral to and on par with boiling time because, when a breeze does crop up, it can have a huge impact on the performance of a stove. If a stove doesn't have sufficient wind-protection, even the smallest breeze can affect output. This can take an otherwise pleasant cookout and turn it into a frustrating and inefficient disaster.
To test this metric in a controlled manner, we set up a box fan and continuously blew air on the burners of each stove while boiling water. Granted, this is not an exact replica 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 real-world experiences while cooking 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 suffers when the design is less compact. 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 tend to struggle.
Our top performer in this category is, once again, the Everest. It has the essential balance of high BTUs — 20,000 per burner — and a smart, compact design. The Selkirk 540 — despite only having 10,000 BTUs per burner — also fared pretty 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 did fine with the constant "wind" simulated in our 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.
If wind resistance suffers due to a flawed design element, there's often not much you can do. But in some cases, as with simple one-burner models like the Coleman Butane Instastart or Gas One GS-3000, you can make or purchase a basic 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.
For a quick fix, if your stove lacks a windscreen, you can fashion one out of rocks or by using your vehicle as a wind-block, you could even make one out of aluminum foil from the grocery store. If using this method, only shield one or two sides from the wind, and don't enclose the fuel bottle in the windscreen. If you surround all sides of the stove and the fuel bottle with a windscreen, you run the risk of overheating the fuel source past acceptable limits.
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 Everest, was hardly phased, taking a mere 30 seconds longer with the fan than without. It's no wonder this model continues to win awards year after year. The Pro 60X also did well in our simulated fan test, adding only 1 minute to its time. As mentioned above, when using the Pro 60X out in the wild, though, wind would extinguish the flame multiple times in a single cooking sesh.
Besides cooking on each stove during breezy variable weather, we also gave them a rigorous boiling test with a box fan.
A stove's simmering ability is often overlooked in favor of BTU power, but simmerability is a critical aspect of the functionality of a camping stove. In the simmering category, the Everest took the high score yet again, this time alongside the Explorer 2-Burner and 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 cooking with finesse and grace. We slow-cooked sauces and delicately scrambled eggs 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 need a lower flame. This also means less scorched pans and more flexibility in timing. Maybe you have a curry that's way ahead of your rice — a gentle, 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 impress us in this category are the sleek and compact Primus Kinjia and our Best Buy one-burner, the 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.
Ease of Set Up
While car camping stoves are easier to set up than their old-school liquid fuel backpacking counterparts, some are more intuitive than others. We chose the Butane Instastart and the GS-3000 as the winners in this category because the directions for use are printed right on the lid. This makes it super easy for a new user to jump in and help out if needed. For set-up, place your butane canister in the fuel compartment, flip a switch to lock it into place, and then turn the knob to self-ignite. Fast and easy.
A close second in this category is the Primus Kinjia. This is the lone compact 2-burner we tested that already has the fuel hose attached, 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 can get lost.
This stove has 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 the fuel adapter threads are visible and are much easier to sync up. This is a vast improvement on stoves with a recessed adapter port where the fuel adapter pairs with hidden threads. Instead of blindly threading the adapter into the port, the two attach in a visible manner, which reduces the likelihood of cross-threading. The only reason this cleverly designed stove didn't score higher for ease of set-up, is that the windscreen attachment was a bit cumbersome and unwieldy.
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, the Explorer 2-Burner is worth checking out. While not the same level of ease as a small compact model, the legs are optional on this stove, so if you have a table or tailgate, setup 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 stove is the Explorer 2-Burner. It is designed so that the burners are the only obstacle between food and the ground. When food flies out of your skillet, it lands on the ground rather than collecting in a drip tray that later needs to be cleaned. This feature requires more vigilance to ensure you aren't leaving food on the ground to attract critters or bears, but the bottomless design means that food and grease splatters won't build-up either. This stove has fewer parts to contend with and is painted black (the most filth-friendly color), making it super easy and straightforward to care for.
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 Pro 60X is 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 on the ground. Food bits accumulate here until you unscrew a special hook on the left side and remove the grate (it cannot just 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 over pick things off the ground, this is a fair tradeoff.
Many of the other compact models in our review scored well in this category. Most of them are built in a similar fashion, and cleaning is as easy as lifting off the cooking grate to wipe underneath. However, on most models, the drip tray is not removable, so there's only so much you can access when doing a deep clean. Of note are the Kinjia and the Gas One because you can remove the drip tray to 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.
Car camping stoves are by definition portable, but they are not all equal in this respect. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, weights, and carry. For some people this won't matter, but for folks with smaller cars or space constraints in a built-out van or truck, this is a critical element to consider. Storage space is an important consideration, but you also want to be sure your range is large enough to fit your favorite pots, skillets, or other accouterments. The Genesis Basecamp is the clear favorite for portability. This ingenious stove boasts a circular foldable design making it the most compact of any other stove 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 storage bag includes a pocket for stashing the fuel adapter and the flexible plastic windscreen wraps around the interior perimeter of the bag. Bag or no bag, transportation with the Basecamp is a breeze: after folding the stove, there is a handle on the bottom side of both burners that tucks away when not in use. The cherry on top is that the Basecamp weighs a mere 7.4 pounds, bag and all, making it a ridiculously lightweight option for a two-burner car-camping setup.
The Basecamp is a highly portable stove -- it's lightweight, low-profile, and comes with a handy carrying bag.
Two of our other top scorers for portability are, no surprise, the Gas One and the Coleman Instastart — lightweight one-burner models that come with little plastic suitcases for easy transport. The Gas One packs up to be one of the smallest of our competitors at 14 x 12 x 3.5 inches. It also weighs 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 is a smidge heavier at 4.7 pounds. We also love the trim and sleek design of the Primus Kinjia.
These two stoves (the Instastart on the left and the Kinjia on the right) are fantastic models for portability - they are both light, compact, and easy to carry.
While we couldn't score them as high, the Everest and Eureka Ignite Plus are worth mentioning here. Both are wider than all the other compact two-burners in our review by at least two inches. You probably won't be miffed by sacrificing a couple extra inches of storage space in the back of your rig, but you will probably notice the extra cook space on these ranges, when you want to use your largest cookware to whip together a big group meal. The windscreens on the Ignite Plus are also shaped in such a way as to provide some extra width, a detail we appreciated.
The square-shape of the windscreen on the Ignite Plus provides a bit of extra width to help accommodate larger cookware.
With a prolific array of car camping stoves to choose from, picking a model to buy is no easy task. First, you need to decide how many burners you want. Then, whether you prefer a free-standing or tabletop design, and what camping cookware or accessories you need to perfect your camp kitchen. Each of these decisions depends on how much space you have in your car, the cookware you plan to use, and how many people are cooking. Hopefully, our rigorous testing and thorough review helps you sort through the options to find the stove best for you, your budget, and your appetite.
Camping and cooking in the great outdoors -- what could be better?