Which is the best camping stove for you? Here are the best options for family camping, ultralight, budget backpacking, microadventures, best value, and solid fuel-burning

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George B

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In my 400 nights or so wild camping around the world, I've tried all sorts of approaches to dinner - everything from the full-on dirtbag (SEE VID BELOW) to a 4-course dinner - all cooked on a camping stove of course.

And I can safely say that having a hot meal and a cuppa to look forward to after a long day in the great outdoors can be a game-changer.

Now 'camping' means different things to different people - from ultralight backpacking and bikepacking to car camping and even RV'ing. So the best camping stove will depend on a number of things. So I've included a buying guide and relevant picks by category to make sure you get the best stove for you.

In a rush? - here are the best camping stoves

1. Best stove for longer human-powered adventures - MSR Whisperlite International Stove

2. Best stove for family (4 - 6) camping (vehicle camping) - Campingaz Chef Folding Stove Double Gas Burner and Grill

3. Best stove for family camping on a budget - Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove

4. Best stove for a quick weekend microadventure / wild camping - Jetboil Zip Stove

5. Best stove for solid fuel burning - Biolite Wood Burning Campstove II

6. Best stove for budget backpacker - Terra Hike Portable Camping Stove

Best family camping stove for group family camping

Best camping stove buying guide

What type of camper are you?

Vehicle campers - car, van, & RV

Car campers and the like have the luxury of not really having to worry about the weight or size of their camping gear. You lucky badgers can just focus on things like efficiency, cost, fuel type, ease of use, durability, all of which we'll get to.

Given you can bring a much bigger and heavier gas stove you'll be able to cook a wider ranger of tasty meals. Winning!

Human-powered campers (backpackers, ultralight thru-hikers, bikepackers, kayakers, pack-rafters)

Weight and bulk will be a much bigger (potentially massive) factor if you're going to be lugging the camping stove around on your back. Having said that, you don't always need to go for an ultralight gas stove and if you often travel in a group or couple, you can share the weight between you.

Below you'll find some specific recommendations for the best cooking stove for longer and short human-powered adventures.

What do you want to cook?

What you're going to cook largely depends on what type of trip you're on.

Are you going on quick weekend microadventures where you're just looking to boil up some water for your dehydrated meal and a coffee in the morning? If so, go with one of the light, more simple camping stoves.

If you're on an extended trip, like our 18 months bike trip off-road from Alaska to Panama, you'll still need to think about weight but you'll want to be able to do some 'proper cooking'.

So keep in mind trip type and duration when judging camping stoves.

stove best for cycle touring msr whisperlite international

How many people are you cooking for?

If it's just you or you and a friend, a small gas stove will do.

If your family camping then go for one of the most substantial stoves below.

What type of fuel will suit you best?

Camping stoves run on three main types of fuel:

  • Canisters (think the screwy in ones) of propane, butane, or a bit of both,
  • Liquid fuel (like white gas, kerosene, alcohol, or petrol),
  • Solids (twigs, wood, your mates' laces).
  • Solar is also available but far less common.

Each has its own strengths and drawbacks.

Propane/butane canister gas stoves

+ Fairly readily available (in the West)

+ Easy to screw on and use

+ Low maintenance

- Single-use ones are bad for the environment (refillable options available)

- Not good in more extreme conditions

Use for: family camping trips

Liquid (multifuel) burning gas stoves

+ Good in the cold, at high altitude, and in bad weather

+ Super accessible if multifuel burning (diesel and kerosene can be very 'dirty' and clog things up)

+ Great for longer trips especially when off the beaten track

- Can be expensive

- Requires maintenance

Use for: proper adventures / more remote trips

Solid burning gas stoves

+ You don't have to carry or buy the fuel or fuel canister

+ Easy to use

- Not good in the wet or when nothing to burn

- Not allowed in some places

- Only suitable for 'light use' like boiling water

- Not good when very windy / extreme weather

Use for: fair-weather trips where allowed

Solar gas stoves

+ Better for the environment

+ No need to buy or carry fuel

- Need sunlight. Not great for England or midnight feasts...

Use for: impressing your mates

Top tip:

If you're planning an adventure overseas, go for a multifuel burning stove so you'll always have access to some type of fuel. The ability to use petrol is a lifesaver in remote places. Just know that you'll want the lowest octane available. The higher the octane, the great the amount of ethanol. Ethanol blocks camping stoves up a treat, so stay away from it where possible.

best camping stove for backpackers on a budget

How much are you going to spend on a camping stove?

Whilst you can buy a real fancy pants stove for camping, they often cost a pretty penny. If you're looking for something cheap but that gets the job done, we've got you covered.

Just remember that in addition to the initial cost of the stove you also have to buy fuel and potentially additional canisters.

A few other things to think about when buying camping stoves

  • Burn time and boil time - the burn time is how long it takes for your stove to burn a set amount of fuel. The boil time...you guessed it. The quicker the boil the better, but this can come at the expense of fuel efficiency so a stove like a flamethrower isn't always the best thing. In general, quicker cooking means less fuel usage.
  • Safety - safety switches can be a lifesaver, literally, although they aren't strictly necessary.
  • Stability - I can't even begin to tell you how disappointing it is to spend ages prepping dinner after a 10-hour hike only to accidentally kick it over before realising that was your last bit of grub for the evening. Especially important for those with kids and clumsy friends...
  • Durability - buying a longer-lasting model can be more expensive but is worth it if you're going to use it over the long term and is also better for the environment.
  • Reliability - buying a quality camping stove is a good investment. Opting for a poorly built stove will come to bite you when you and the gang are hungry after a hard days trekking. It doesn't have to be expensive. The recommendations below should all last.

Jetboil zip - best camping stoves for qu


Bonus tips

  • Don't cook inside your tent....I probably should have opened with that!
  • Make sure you know how to use your camping stove before you're out in the backcountry. We had a very frustrating evening on our first night in Alaska when I just couldn't figure out how to use the stove. No phone signal for a YouTube instructional meant I was out of luck. Fortunately, we later met another bike traveller who enlightened me to the ways of priming. Swat up.
  • If travelling abroad and burning petrol as your fuel, try to get some directly from the pump as opposed to a bottle / jerry can, which is likely to be mixed with other, cheaper alternatives.
  • Diesel and kerosene both burn very dirty and clog up your gas stove. Stay away where possible.
  • Keep fuel in a proper fuel canister as opposed to a plastic bottle. If a plastic bottle is the only option though, keep it out of direct sunlight. The UV rays can degrade the quality of the fuel and lead to stove problems.


Best camping stoves FAQ

Which camping stove is the best?

The best camping stove depends on your needs and budget. For family camping, the Campingaz Chef Folding Stove is a great option. For longer adventures, the MSR Whisperlight International is certainly one of the best camping stoves available.

What is the best multi fuel camping stove?

The MSR Whisperlite International has been a firm favourite in outdoor circles as one of the best camping stoves due to its reliability, ease of use/repair/and cleaning, adaptability (burning white gas, kerosene, and petrol), size, and durability.

What is the best single burner camping stove?

The best single burner camping stove is the Campingaz Bistro. It's easy to use, has 2.2kW of power, comes with a Piezo ignition, is easily cleaned, and comes with an adjustable flame making it a great option for cooking a wide variety of food on. It also comes with a carry case. You'll usually need to buy the gas canister separately.

Are camping stoves dangerous?

Often used on camping trips, in the garden or even on a boat, portable stoves are handy but can be dangerous. Be very careful using them (or don't use them at all) in enclosed areas for example inside tents or vans. Design flaws, gas leakages (carbon monoxide poisoning), explosions, and burning are all things to be aware of. Even the best camping stoves can be potentially dangerous. Carbon monoxide is odourless and can be lethal so take car.

What gas canister should I use for my gas stove?

Different gas stoves take different types of gas canister. Some of the best camping stoves like the Terra Hike Portable are compatible with a wide range of gas canisters. Campingaz makes their own portable gas canisters like the CP250. Coleman is another popular brand who offer gas canisters like the Coleman C300. The size of the gas canister is also important. Opt for a bigger variety like the Coleman C500 for longer burn times. Remember that one gas canister is may be filled with a different mix to another. Be sure to check that both the fitting thread and the mix of gas in the gas canister is compatible with your camping stove.

What is a Piezo ignition gas stove?

A Piezo ignition gas stove means that your camping stove comes with an ignition button. A Piezo Igniter is a god send when you've forgotten or can't find the matches. Less durable stoves can see problems with their Piezo Igniter. A portable stove isn't much good unless you can spark a flame so be sure to bring a back up.

MY PICKS ARE BELOW FOR THE BEST CAMPING STOVES

ourComparison

Terra Hiker Portable Camping Stove

Such good value

Biolite Wood Burning Campstove 2

Clean cooking and charges your batteries

Jetboil Zip Stove

Quick and easy

Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove

Does the job at a great price

Campingaz Chef Folding Stove Double Gas Burner and Grill

Cook up pretty much anything

MSR Whisperlite International Stove

Tested in the field for nearly 20 years

final score

73

%

final score

80

%

final score

80

%

final score

75

%

final score

75

%

final score

90

%

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • In-built ignition
  • One of the cheapest backpacking stoves
  • Ability to change heat
  • Good solo stove / backpacking stove

The Good

  • Clean burning
  • No need to carry fuel
  • Charges batteries
  • Multiple fuel types (organic) makes it adaptable
  • Good backpacking stove (in the right places)

The Good

  • Quick to boil
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Too easy to use
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Great solo stove / short trip backpacking stove

The Good

  • Great price
  • Does the job
  • Fairly light, especially for car camping

The Good

  • Two burner set up - cook whatever you could on the hob at home
  • Easy to clean
  • Two burners both have good power

The Good

  • Durable, efficient, & effective
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Tried and tested
  • Multiple fuel types makes this very adaptable
  • Perfect backpacking stove / adventure stove

The bad

  • Some problems reported with ignition
  • No windshield
  • Requires gas canisters, so less adaptable than multi-fuel burners

The bad

  • Requires suitable organic fuel
  • Can't be used everywhere
  • Small load capacity

The bad

  • Limited by what you can cook
  • Canisters limit usability

The bad

  • Slower to boil than some other options
  • Too big and bulk for longer backpacking trips
  • No wind protection

The bad

  • Poor toast rack
  • No side wind protection
  • Not the lightest option available

The bad

  • Not the cheapest option

Performance

80

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

60

%

Adaptability

60

%

Performance

90

%

Weight

60

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

90

%

Performance

90

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

60

%

Performance

80

%

Weight

70

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

70

%

Performance

80

%

Weight

70

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

70

%

Performance

90

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

90

%

Adaptability

90

%

Stove fuel type

Stove fuel type

Burn time

Varies

Boil water time 1 litre

3 minutes

Weight

325 g

Stove fuel type

Solid (organic)

Burn time

NA

Boil water time 0.5 litre

2.5 minutes

Weight

940 g

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time

110 minutes

Boil water time 0.5 litres

2.5 minutes

Weight

340 g

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time

110 minutes

Boil water time 1 litre

5 minutes 25 seconds

Weight

1.4 kg

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time per 600ml of fuel

110 minutes

Boil water time 1 litre

3.5 minutes

Weight

4 kg

Stove fuel type

Liquid fuel (multi)

Burn time (white gas) per 600ml of fuel

approx. 155 minutes

Boil water time (white gas) 1 litre

3.5 minutes

Weight

318 g

Terra Hiker Portable Camping Stove

Best budget backpacking stove

Why we like it

Such good value

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • In-built ignition
  • One of the cheapest backpacking stoves
  • Ability to change heat
  • Good solo stove / backpacking stove

the bad

  • Some problems reported with ignition
  • No windshield
  • Requires gas canisters, so less adaptable than multi-fuel burners

Stove fuel type

Stove fuel type

Burn time

Varies

Boil water time 1 litre

3 minutes

Weight

325 g

Whilst the MSR Whisperlight (or perhaps the Primus Primetech 2.3L Stove) maybe the best in class backpacker portable stove, they do cost a fair bit. I wouldn't say they are expensive because I think they are well worth every penny, but if they are just out of your price range then the Terra Hike Portable offers a great alternative.

It's cheap. Really cheap. And it boils 1 litre of water in 3 minutes. So it's fast. Really fast. This means you'll save fuel and get to dig into dinns super quick.

Unlike many of the more expensive portable stoves, the Terra Hike comes with a Piezo (in-built) ignition. So you'll still be able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee even if you forgot the matches.

The flame is also adjustable so you won't have the same troubles as some of the other more powerful yet less flexible options available.

It's made of stainless steel and aluminium alloy which make the camping stove top easy to clean and fairly robust. Despite its small size it can support 18 litres of cookware making it useful for larger groups.

At just 325 grams it's also very light. The folding design means it packs away small (12cm x 9cm x 7cm) making it ideal of backpacking. It comes with a plastic case to keep it from getting squashed.

With 3.5 kW of power, it also kicks out a decent amount of heat making cooking nice and easy.

The Terra Hike Portable Stove is compatible with most cartridges.

There have been some complaints with the ignition and worries about leakage. You also have to consider the build quality at the price. Having said that, most of its competitors don't even come with an inbuilt lighter and many in the community swear by this one so it's certainly well worth a look, especially if you're not looking to spend a lot.

Performance

80

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

60

%

Adaptability

60

%

No items found.

final score

73

%

Terra Hiker Portable Camping Stove

Check latest price

Biolite Wood Burning Campstove 2

Best solid fuel burning stove

Why we like it

Clean cooking and charges your batteries

The Good

  • Clean burning
  • No need to carry fuel
  • Charges batteries
  • Multiple fuel types (organic) makes it adaptable
  • Good backpacking stove (in the right places)

the bad

  • Requires suitable organic fuel
  • Can't be used everywhere
  • Small load capacity

Stove fuel type

Solid (organic)

Burn time

NA

Boil water time 0.5 litre

2.5 minutes

Weight

940 g

This thing is ace!

Look at it. It looks ready to launch you into space. Unfortunately, it might not take you to Mars, but it can charge electronic devices using a USB cord.

Turning fire into more battery time for the DSLR, phone, or GPS is awesome. For that alone, this one deserves a special shout out. It's not just a gimmick though. The Biolite also does a good job of producing a decent flame and heat to cook on.

It's very capable of cooking meals as well as boiling water.

At 940 grams it's still a very portable stove, small enough to carry in your pack. However it's around 3 times the weight of the Jetboil and more than double the MSR Windburner (so not for the ultralight crew).

Not needing to carry fuel is a major bonus. If you've ever spilt fuel in your bag you'll really appreciate this.

So how does it work?

The Biolite first captures heat from the fire. This heat is then converted into electricity through the thermoelectric generator. That electricity then powers the fan and supplies electricity to the USB charging port. Extra power charges up the internal battery so you can charge later too. Genius.

The internal fan drives air back into the burner to help create almost smokeless flames which are banging for cooking on - not only because it's cleaner but also faster.

There are a couple of notable downsides though.

Firstly, you need to keep feeding that fire regularly to retain a decent flame so it requires a lot of twigs / wood.

And secondly, it needs suitable fuel to be available in the first place. If it's wet, you're above the treeline, or you're in the middle of the desert this isn't going to do you much good. Having said that, most people reading this will be camping in Europe and North America where you're likely to be able to find plenty of fuel.

This should go without saying, but only burn deadwood never chop down trees for fuel...

There is also a load limit of 3.6kg for food and pans. This is more than enough for a couple of people but not suited to larger groups.

The Biolite is one of the best stoves going if you're going to be somewhere with fuel to burn, don't mind spending a bit of cash, and like your gadgets charged.

Performance

90

%

Weight

60

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

90

%

No items found.

final score

80

%

Biolite Wood Burning Campstove 2

Check latest price

Jetboil Zip Stove

Best stove for a quick weekend microadventure / wild camping

Why we like it

Quick and easy

The Good

  • Quick to boil
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Too easy to use
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Great solo stove / short trip backpacking stove

the bad

  • Limited by what you can cook
  • Canisters limit usability

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time

110 minutes

Boil water time 0.5 litres

2.5 minutes

Weight

340 g

Nothing perks camp up like a mate revealing that she's brought along the Jetboil meaning its out with the crackers and in with a hot dinner.

MSR offers a very similar looking option with their MSR Windburner, and if the price isn't much of a factor, you might want to go for that. It's a couple of hundred grams heavier but is quicker to boil in high winds. The Jetboil is considerably cheaper though and arguably just as good if not better.

It's unbelievably simple and it packs down into itself Russian Doll style which is nice. Not only is it compact but also very light at just 340 grams.

The Jetboil is also lightning fast meaning time from prep to food-in-belly is minimised - paramount for many, including me.

One nice feature is that you can easily drink through the lid. The insulating jacket also has a handle on it so you can warm those cold hands whilst sipping on your tea.

Just be aware that it can be tricky to find the canisters for this camping stove if you're going into the sticks, so best for local adventures.

If you want a boil in a bag and a few brews whilst out for shorter trips, a Jetboil Zip is a superb and very portable gas stove.

Performance

90

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

60

%

No items found.

final score

80

%

Jetboil Zip Stove

Check latest price

Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove

Best stove for family camping on a budget

Why we like it

Does the job at a great price

The Good

  • Great price
  • Does the job
  • Fairly light, especially for car camping

the bad

  • Slower to boil than some other options
  • Too big and bulk for longer backpacking trips
  • No wind protection

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time

110 minutes

Boil water time 1 litre

5 minutes 25 seconds

Weight

1.4 kg

Whilst this stove may not burn 3 types of fuel, or charge your gadgets for you (coming up), the Campingaz Camp Bistro is often the best camping stove for many of you.

The Camp Bistro is super easy to use, and more than powerful enough with a 2.2 kW hob stove. The heat is easily adjustable so cooking on it is easy breezy.

At 1.4 kilos it's not the lightest camping stove available but on shorter hikes / day hikes you could easily carry this in your backpack. It comes with a stove carry case for easy transport too.

Where it really comes into its own though is when car camping or staying in a campsite.

It's very cheap, burns liquid gas pretty efficiently, comes with a piezo igniter (inbuilt ignition), and is pretty robust in its design. It's also one of the easier to clean cooking stoves here, keeping maintenance to a minimum

Butane cartridges are readily available so getting fuel shouldn't be a problem. Just note that disposing of these cartridges after use comes at an environment cost so not one for the green explorer. The run time is estimated at up to 1 hour 30 minutes on the Campingaz CP250 cartridge. You don't need to by Campingaz cartridges for this by the way...

Another downside is that whilst it has sufficient power in terms of Watts, it's slow compared to many of the other camping stoves featured here at 5 minutes 25 boil time.

Performance

80

%

Weight

70

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

70

%

No items found.

final score

75

%

Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove

Check latest price

Campingaz Chef Folding Stove Double Gas Burner and Grill

Best stove for family (4 - 6) camping (vehicle camping)

Why we like it

Cook up pretty much anything

The Good

  • Two burner set up - cook whatever you could on the hob at home
  • Easy to clean
  • Two burners both have good power

the bad

  • Poor toast rack
  • No side wind protection
  • Not the lightest option available

Stove fuel type

Canister

Burn time per 600ml of fuel

110 minutes

Boil water time 1 litre

3.5 minutes

Weight

4 kg

This gas stove is perfect for family camping or festivals.

It's nice and big so give you the option to cook two dishes at the same time.

There are two high-performance and fully adjustable 1.5 kW stainless steel burners which give plenty of heat to the pans and start chucking out some decent heat relatively quickly.

It also comes with a 1.5kW downward burner with a toast rack and tray. Sounds amazing, I know, but this could do with some improvement so the two regular burners remain its strength.

The lid acts as a wind guard offering good protection but the sides remain exposed so you might find yourself swivelling round to stay protected. I'd like to see wind flaps on each side but given the amount of heat the burners throw out, this isn't a major issue.

Given its size, this is one of the most versatile stoves for camping. You'll be able to rustle up pretty much anything you fancy making this a solid option.

It weighs in at 4kg which is fairly middle of the range for a family camping portable stove. It's also 60cm wide which means you have plenty of space but won't have trouble finding somewhere to house it, unlike some of the monster stoves available.

It runs off a gas cylinder which is sold separately and I'd recommend using it with the regulator and hose (also sold separately)

Finally, this stove is cheap as chips so easy on the wallet, especially compared to some of the other stoves available.

Performance

80

%

Weight

70

%

Durability

80

%

Adaptability

70

%

No items found.

final score

75

%

Campingaz Chef Folding Stove Double Gas Burner and Grill

Check latest price

MSR Whisperlite International Stove

Best stove for longer human-powered adventures

Why we like it

Tested in the field for nearly 20 years

The Good

  • Durable, efficient, & effective
  • Good fuel efficiency
  • Tried and tested
  • Multiple fuel types makes this very adaptable
  • Perfect backpacking stove / adventure stove

the bad

  • Not the cheapest option

Stove fuel type

Liquid fuel (multi)

Burn time (white gas) per 600ml of fuel

approx. 155 minutes

Boil water time (white gas) 1 litre

3.5 minutes

Weight

318 g

After much deliberation, this was the stove we chose for our 18 months bikepacking trip. It served us very well and we (well, my girlfriend) used it to cook up some real yummies. I do wash up like a champ though....

When travelling through different countries, the ability to burn different types of liquid fuel is essential. In Europe and North America, it's pretty easy to find beautifully clean-burning white gas (AKA Coleman's). It's a lot harder to come by in the remote mountain villages of Guatemala though.

Having the ability to burn petrol meant hot dinners were still on the menu even when well and truly off the beaten track. Just know that petrol is more 'dirty' to burn so you'll have to do more maintenance, cleaning things out so only use this option where necessary (more on this in top tips further down if you're interested).

The stove is light, robust, easy to use, and efficient. It performs brilliantly in extreme weather, high winds, and at altitude. The Whisperlite is also fast boiling, which saves liquid fuel.

It's well worth learning how to clean this bad boy before you go deep into the backcountry though. Ours clogged up after a couple of months when we were about 5 days into a remote canoe trip down the Yukon River in Canada, literally days from the nearest town. Fortunately, an Austrian engineer came floating down the river to the rescue and saved me from having to read the instruction manual on my phone.

Be sure to keep the maintenance kit handy as over a longer trip you're likely to have to clean things out and replace O rings.

This super portable stove also comes with a guard for wind protection which comes in very handy in more testing weather.

One drawback of the Whisperlite is that it's difficult to get it to do anything other than full steam ahead. Sometimes you want to simmer and that can be tough. A good trick is to take the pot off the heat, blow out the flame, unscrew the top of the fuel bottle to depressurise and then only pump the primer a couple of times before lighting, as opposed to the 20 recommended for normal use. Your welcome!

In terms of price, it's certainly not the cheapest stove of this kind, but if you want a reliable option that has been proved out in the field for nearly 20 years, you'll struggle to do better than this.

The MSR Windburner is also a very good option if you're looking from something more like the Jetboil design (great fuel efficiency, simple to use, but more limited in cooking options).

Performance

90

%

Weight

90

%

Durability

90

%

Adaptability

90

%

No items found.

final score

90

%

MSR Whisperlite International Stove

Check latest price

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