Whether you enjoy the isolation of the back country mountaintops or a drive up camp site along a river, you’ll need some kind of portable stove. With so many options on the market, how do you know which camp stove is best for your needs? From single and multi-gas options, to larger propane burners and even wood stoves, here’s a list of the best stoves for your next outdoor trip.
Camp stoves are much different than backpacking stoves. Camp stoves are larger, often free-standing, stoves that run on propane. These are best used for car camping or events such as music festivals.
Camp Chef Everest: This stove is one such free-stander that won top camp stove from Outdoorgearlab.com. It won the boil test with an even flame and boiled a liter of water in three minutes and 42 seconds. It’s good for groups and families, despite having only two burners. Not only does this model have an even flame, it also has a simmer option for more nuanced dishes. This top tier stove is available online between $110-$125 at outlets like REI and Backcountry.
Camp Chef Pro 90: If you have a larger group and need more burners, this is your best option. While it didn’t rate quite as high as the Everest in flame quality, it comes equipped with three burners and much more cook space than competitors. This group-friendly stove can be found online for around $230.
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Backpack stoves are small, lightweight and portable. They fold up and can fit in your backpack and are ideal for mountaineers or those who seek the seclusion of the wilderness.
MSR Windburner: This is the newest integrated camp stove option from the leader in the field. The Windburner has the same shape and style of the Jetboil but is far superior with a simple windshield and helpful pot cozy and handle. It also works well at altitude, which some canister stoves struggle with. Eastern Mountain Sports, Cabela’s and many other retailers offer this stove at around $100.
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MSR Whisperlite Universal: This stove is a step up from the Whisperlite international, but only because it can use canister gas. The Whisperlite series is all about versatility. Perfect for those who find themselves in a location that doesn’t provide gas canisters or even white gas, this stove can run on the likes of propane and gasoline. This stove’s price point is around $115 give or take, and can be found at REI, Amazon and others.
BioLite CampStove: Biolite stoves are wood burners that generate heat in order to charge a battery with a USB port. A thermoelectric generator feeds off the heat from the flames and powers a fan that feeds the flames in a symbiotic relationship. While boil times may take longer than a gas stove, as long as there is wood around, a gas can isn’t required, making it a perfect option for those who stay at lower altitudes and think green. Purchase this stove on BioLite’s website for around $130.
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Solo Stove Lite: Another wood burner, the Solo Stove Lite doesn’t have any fan or battery at all, which makes it super lightweight. Instead, it relies on a design that promotes healthy airflow to the flames. This is great for weekend trips that don’t go above the treeline or even just dinner on the beach or riverside. The Solo Stove Lite is also a bargain at just $70 on the Solo Stove website.
Key Features to Consider When Buying a Camping Stove
One of the most important features of any stove is being able to balance a kettle or pan of water on it. Stoves that have the fuel canister beneath the burner tend to be taller and narrower, so you should check to see if it comes with a wider base to help keep it upright. They are easy to use on would flat ground, but bear in mind that you may not always have even terrain where you will be stopping for a brew.
When you are out and about on the hills, it can be a real nuisance if the wind blows out the flame on your stove, or even just blows the heat away from the pan. Most modern stoves are now designed with some form of heat/wind shield around the burner.
The type of fuel for stoves will come in different containers and burn differently in different weather. The older style of screw in container used to be very popular, but had the drawback that once attached it cannot be removed until all of the fuel has been used. This led to them being banned for school and youth group camping due to the fire risk of accidentally turning on the stove inside a backpack. Current pressurised gas containers have a self sealing valve on the connection so that you can either unscrew them safely or release a latch.
Stoves that can use a range of liquid fuels tend to use aluminium bottles with a screw cap. The fuel hose from the stove has a connector on the end that screws into the top of the bottle. These type of stoves are great for trekking in places where you don’t know what type of fuel you will be able to get hold of. You can use methylated spirits, diesel or kerosene with these stoves.
The final feature of a stove to consider is the size. The stoves listed above have been chosen for the merits of their size in relation to when they will be used. All in all, they are currently the best portable stoves to buy.