Scroll down to the bottom to get right to the full reviews for the best camping stove
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 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.
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
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.
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.
- 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