Over the last 8 years, we have hand-picked, purchased, and rigorously tested 32 camping stoves. For our 2020 update, the top 14 have been scrutinized and ranked to find the best. From one-pot-magic and sauce-simmering-marathons to wind-resistance trials and boil tests, we put each stove through a ton of cookoffs in the great outdoors. When testing, we assess each model for efficiency, performance, and function — taking note of how easy each stove is to set-up, use, clean, and transport. We have rated each to help you determine the best option for all your camping culinary needs.Related: Best Backpacking Stove of 2021
Best Camping Stove of 2020
|Price||$124.95 at Backcountry|
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|$259.95 at Backcountry|
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|$144.95 at REI|
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|$43.88 at Amazon|
|Pros||Efficient, durable, compact, has auto-ignition||Wind-resistant, powerful, even cooking, auto-ignition||Low profile, lightweight, auto-ignition levers are easy to use, handy carrying case and handles||Non-slip rubber feet for leveling, large cooking surface, durable metal latches instead of plastic||Affordable, fuel adaptor threads on easier than other stoves, windscreens are adjustable, compact dimensions|
|Cons||Cooks hot, ignitor is sometimes finicky||Unreliable burner regulators, plastic latches on front||Very pricey, not the most wind resistant||Struggles with the wind, not super powerful, on the heavy side||No auto-ignition, lower BTUs, small burners prone to hot spots|
|Bottom Line||The stove works great, looks good, and comes at a reasonable price||A powerful, wind-resistant stove that cooks well, unless the internal regulators malfunction||If you're looking for a compact, foldable two-burner, this stove takes the cake on almost every front||Durable and generously sized, this stove is straightforward and has adjustable feet for uneven surfaces||If you just need something basic and don't want to strain your wallet, this is our favorite option|
|Rating Categories||GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540||Camp Chef Everest||Jetboil Genesis Basecamp||Eureka Ignite Plus||Coleman Classic|
|Time To Boil (20%)|
|Wind Resistance (20%)|
|Simmering Ability (20%)|
|Ease Of Set Up (15%)|
|Ease Of Care (15%)|
|Specs||GSI Outdoors...||Camp Chef Everest||Jetboil Genesis...||Eureka Ignite Plus||Coleman Classic|
|Weight (pounds)||9.8 lbs||12.3 lbs||7.4 lbs w/bag, 6.4 lbs stove alone||12.0 lbs||9.8 lbs|
|Total BTU (from manufacturer)||20,000||40,000||20,000||20,000||20,000|
|Boil Time (1 quart of water, wind from a box fan)||5.5 min||3 min||7.5 min||6.25 min||6.25 min|
|Boil Time (1 quart of water, no wind)||4 min||2.5 min||4.5 min||4.75 min||4.75 min|
|Cooktop material||Nickel-chrome steel||Nickel-coated steel||Nickel-plated steel||Plated steel||Aluminized steel|
|Packed Size (inches)||21.4" x 12.9" x 3.8"||23.5" x 13.5" x 4"||9.75" x 4.5" (11" x 6" in carrying bag)||23" x 12.8" x 4"||21" x 13" x 3.5"|
|Cooking surface dimensions (inches)||17.5" x 9.5"||19" x 9.5"||8" x 8.5" (each burner)||20.5" x 9.5"||18.75" x 10.5"|
|Distance between burners (center to center)||11"||12"||10.5"||12"||7.75"|
|Number of burners||2||2||2||2||2|
|Type of Model||Tabletop, foldable||Tabletop||Tabletop, foldable||Tabletop, foldable||Tabletop|
|Mfr. Model Number||56012||MS2HP||GNST||2572195||2000020943NP|
Best Overall Camping Stove
GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540
The GSI Selkirk 540 is a durable and efficient camp cooking stove, ranking high across nearly every metric in our tests. The compact design lends well to easy portability, and despite the comparatively low BTUs, this stove boils fast and is relatively impervious to wind. It features a Piezo igniter, an easy carry handle, releasable windscreens, and ample cook space while having a slim profile for easy storage. Beyond these practical concerns, the Selkirk looks good with a sleek design and orange powder-coat.
Our complaints about the Selkirk are fairly minimal. The burners sit close to your cookware, so this stove tends to cook hot. As long as you pay close attention while simmering or plan to cook only on high heat, this shouldn't be an issue. Also, the Piezo igniters are a little finicky, but with some finesse and patience, we consistently used them. We were fairly unbothered by this issue as auto-igniters are notorious for giving people trouble, which is why our testing team always carries a lighter or matches when heading into the field.
Read review: GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540
Great Value for a Two-Burner
There's nothing special about the simple and straightforward Coleman Classic. It performs well across all metrics and at a thrifty price. You can often find it for sale at online retailers for almost half its full retail price. We love the adjustable windscreens, substantial 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.
The Classic lacks an auto-ignition system, and getting a perfect simmer is slightly trickier than on some of the other models we tested. The small burners are prone to creating hot spots in the center of larger pans, which is a common trend in small-diameter heating elements. While we enjoy many features of this model, it is not the best we tested. However, it does provide everything you might 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
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 has excellent simmer control, is easy to care for, and is ultra-portable. It's also the lightest model we tested. This stove has just one single burner, but you could buy three of them for almost the same cost as the cheapest dual-burner we tested. In a competitive field, 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 lacks wind protection and requires butane as its fuel source. Butane may prove more difficult to find than propane, which is widely available. 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 worthy.
Read review: Gas One GS-3000
Best for Group Cooking
Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner
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 when you're in a field or the desert 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 with ease, and the grate allows for both small pots and large pans. We cooked some perfect eggs and pancakes on the Explorer, all for less money than some of our small, compact models.
The open and exposed design of the Explorer allows the wind to have a larger impact on its efficiency. The burners are far away from your cookware, and gusts of wind can sneak in and extinguish the flame. Because it lacks an ignition feature, you have to move your cookware to relight. The grate has some generous gaps, so if you prefer to make coffee with a stovetop espresso maker, it may be incompatible with this stove. Additionally, this stove is heavy and, in our experience, prone to rust if left outside. While a big setup 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
The Jetboil Genesis Basecamp is stylish, collapsible, and straightforward. Jetboil was very thoughtful and intentional when designing this stove. It is easy to assemble, whether on flat or off-camber ground. It simmers better than many in-home electric ranges and could 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 to use the same fuel source simultaneously. This stove provides an 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, so the Genesis may not be an ideal option for those on a budget. Beyond the price, the plastic windscreen can be inconsistent. On windy days, you can expect to wait longer before enjoying your hot tea or miso ramen soup. These concerns aside, the Genesis is pretty awesome. It's perfect for car campers, van-lifers, and basecamp chefs concerned about space and weight. If the price tag doesn't deter you, 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 bring 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
The stoves in this review were tested head-to-head for several months to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Our reviewers weighted each testing metric based on its importance for the function of the stove. For instance, our review weights the parameters for time to boil and wind resistance at 25 percent because these functions speak to a stove's ability 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 each stove's overall score include simmering ability, ease of setup, and ease of care or clean-up. We distinguish between different testing criteria to enable you to make an informed decision based on each model's strengths and weaknesses.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Stoves
The world of camp stoves includes an incredible amount of options across a wide price range. Thus, it's essential 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 if the cost works within your budget. 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.
The GSI Selkirk 540 is a fine example of striking the ideal balance between great performance and a reasonable price. However, for some needs, the price tag might be a little too much to stomach. While the Coleman Classic did not perform as well in our tests, it 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.
Time to Boil
Time to boil and wind resistance are our most heavily weighted metrics. 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 aren't everything.
With two 20,000-BTU burners, the Camp Chef Everest boiled a quart of water in 2.5 minutes with no wind present. With the constant wind from a box fan, the Everest's time increased up to 3 minutes. The 30-second gain 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 apparent correlation between reliable wind resistance and faster boil times, which is why these are the two most heavily weighted metrics in our review.
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. 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. The impermeable burner design of the Everest made a clear difference with wind protection, allowing for faster boil times regardless of the circumstances.
As noted above, lower BTUs doesn't necessarily result in slower boil times if a stove boasts well-crafted wind resistance and the burner sits close to your cookware. However, the combination of less power and poor wind resistance or lack of windscreen did lower ratings in this category. Slower boil times 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 generally means quicker meals, faster coffee, broader versatility, and more efficient fuel use. However, 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 degrees Fahrenheit tap water.
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 it can have a huge impact on the stove's performance. If a stove doesn't have sufficient wind-protection, even the smallest breeze can affect output. This change in output 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 each stove's burners while boiling water. While this is not a replica of the variable wind gusts that circulate from all angles and speeds in real-life, it did give us insight into how each model handles a constant wind. When scoring in this category, we also considered 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 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 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. However, in the field, breezes circulated from every angle, challenging these freestanding models. Given the open, airy design of these stoves, wind could extinguish the flame, requiring relighting.
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 maintain your stove's performance on those windy days.
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. The Everest performed quite well, taking only 30 seconds longer with the fan than without it. 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, the wind would extinguish the flame multiple times in a single cooking session. The Selkirk 540 came in second place, adding only 1.5 minutes to cooking time in the simulated test but proving far more wind resistant than the Pro 60X in the field.
People often overlook a stove's simmering ability in favor of BTU power, but this capability is a critical aspect of a camping stove's functionality. In the simmering category, the models that performed the best included the Genesis Basecamp, Everest, and Explorer 2-Burner. The flame power on the Everest and Explorer is impressive (20,000 and 30,000 BTUs per burner, respectively), while the Basecamp is a bit more modest (just 10,000 per burner). Still, all three were able to dial into the low-and-slow sweet spot, simmering 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. A stove's ability 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, and you'll have 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 complete the rest of your meal. Other models that impress us in this category are the sleek and compact Primus Kinjia and the GS-3000. However, simmering is not necessarily a make-or-break category for most people. If you decide to go with a stove based on other metrics and still need to simmer, you can always use a heat diffuser to create distance between the flame and your cookware. A heat diffuser could be a great option for the Selkirk 540 when you want to cook rice or dial back the temps on a stew.
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. The easier the product is to use, the more likely you will be to use it. 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. Such easy access to directions makes it super easy for a new user to jump in and help out if needed. For setup, 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.
The Primus Kinjia also garnered top marks in this category because this is the only compact 2-burner we tested with a pre-attached fuel hose, so no fussing with screwing a metal adapter in place. It also comes with a unique stand to prop the fuel bottle up at the correct angle after you screw it into the hose. A benefit of the system is you can then set the fuel bottle in a different location as long as it's in range of the hose. A potential issue is that it's a separate piece that can get lost.
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 fuel line's design because the fuel adapter threads are visible and are much easier to sync up. This design 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 visibly, which reduces the likelihood of cross-threading. The only reason this cleverly designed stove didn't score higher for ease of setup is that the windscreen attachment was somewhat unwieldy.
If you're in the market for a low-fuss freestanding stove, the Explorer 2-Burner is worth checking out. While not as easy 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
Manufacturers engineering most good car camping stoves understand that they will get filthy and that you will not want to do anything about it right away. So these camping stoves tend to be pretty low maintenance and easy to clean. That said, there are some notable differences between the various models.
The Explorer 2-Burner requires the lowest levels of maintenance. The burners are the only obstacle between food and the ground. Food that jumps from your pan lands on the ground instead of a drip tray that would require cleaning later. The freestanding bottomless design ensures food or grease buildup is a thing of the past. However, it requires more vigilance to ensure the environment doesn't pick up the slack and that you aren't leaving food on the ground to attract critters or bears. This stove has fewer parts to contend with and is black (the most filth-friendly color), making care and cleaning super easy and straightforward.
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, which 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 picking things up 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 to meet similar maintenance goals, and cleaning is as easy as lifting off the cooking grate to wipe underneath. However, on most models, the drip tray is not removable, or there are holes in the drip tray where food and grease can fall beneath. The Selkirk 540 ranks high for having a sealed drip-tray with a removable grate, making it easy to clean and easy to avoid having food fall into the unreachable zone beneath your burner. The Kinjia and the Gas One are also noteworthy because you can remove the drip tray to reach every single internal cranny and crumb, especially nice for those that love to keep their gear sparkly clean.
A key function of a car camping stove is to be portable. However, not all camp stoves are equally portable. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, weights, and carry. Portability won't matter for some, 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 keep in mind useable burner space, which will ensure you have enough space to use your favorite pots, skillets, or other accessories. The Genesis Basecamp is the clear favorite for portability. This ingenious stove boasts a circular foldable design making it the most compact 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 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.
Two of our other top scorers for portability are 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 stoves we tested 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.
While they did not earn top marks in this category, 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 too upset by sacrificing a couple of extra inches of storage space in the back of your rig. However, 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 to provide some extra width, a detail we appreciated.
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 freestanding or tabletop design, and what camping cookware or accessories you need to perfect your camp kitchen. Each of these decisions depends on available space, the cookware you plan to use, and how many people are cooking. Hopefully, our rigorous testing and thorough review will help you sort through the options to find the stove best for you, your budget, and your appetite.
— Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett