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What Is the Best Stove for Camping?

Propane gas camping stove on a folding camping table

Simple, tasty and plentiful. That’s what we want from our camping food. If you get yourself the Best Stove for Camping , you are going to make the whole camp cooking experience a lot more fun.

So, we come back to the question, “What is the best stove for camping?” It is not easy and depends on:

  • How much camping cooking you plan on doing
  • Sort of cooking – take a look at https://campingsage.com/what-food-to-take-camping/ for some inspiration. Take a look here if you are only interested in being able to make your morning coffee so that you are vaguely human for the start of the day.
  • How much space you have in your packed car – stoves and kitchen units can be a little bulky
  • Your budget – from free to quite expensive.

The type of stove you choose to buy makes a huge difference to your camping experience. Every person has their own ideal camping stove. You can make your own rocket stove or wood-burning stove with great results. If you want something more upscale, you can try a butane or propane stove.

You can cook over an open campfire – but that needs a little bit of practice and skill.

What Is the Best Stove for Camping?

The short answer is the stove that heats your food well is the best stove for camping. The long answer is that you can do well with just about any camping gear you make, as long as you’re crafty with it.

You have plenty of excellent options to choose from. Let’s look at some of the different options you can choose when hitting the great outdoors.

Best Camping Stove by Fuel

When it comes to camping stoves, few things will make as much of a difference as the fuel you use. It changes the outcome of your food, your cooking costs, and more. Many people have a personal preference for one or the other.

Propane/Butane Stoves

Fuel stoves can operate with propane or butane, and realistically, there’s little difference between the two in terms of functionality for family camping.

Butane is lighter and tends to be favored by backpackers and hikers. It is not much use in very cold climates or at altitude.

Propane can be used anywhere and is more common with the multi-burner stoves that are going to be better for family camping. The small downside of propane is weight. It is heavier than butane so may not be as good for backpacking or ultralight enthusiasts.

Using gas fuel, however, makes all the difference in the world if you’re very particular about your cooking and want to be able to cook things fast.

Here’s what you need to know about this stove type, in terms of the pros and cons.

  • Gas camping stoves offer fast heating with minimal smoke. If you’re not a fan of having to start a fire or find kindling, the convenience of a gas camping stove will appeal to you.
  • They tend to be bulkier. You won’t find many woodburning camping stoves that way over 30 pounds. The same cannot be said for gas-powered stoves.
  • These stoves can have one or more ranges. If you want to cook multiple dishes at the same time, a gas stove will be a must.
  • Gas fuel stoves can also offer you more control over the heat. With woodburning stoves, you don’t always know how much heat your food is getting. Gas stoves are better in this sense.
  • You will, however, have to take the fuel you need with you. Dealing with fuel requirements may be tricky since you will need to plan ahead for every trip.
  • Fuel stoves are also more expensive. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $150 for the stove of your choice.

Wood Burning Stoves

There’s something incredibly enjoyable about cooking a meal in the woods and smelling the nice smoke of hickory coming from your stove. It makes you feel like a lumberjack, doesn’t it? The perks and pitfalls of these stoves can be found below:

In Tent Wood burning stoves can be quite big and include smokers
In Tent Wood burning stoves can be quite big and include smokers
  • You get to taste the wood’s smoke in your food. With most camping foods, this is a great thing.
  • They are cheaper and can be made on the go. If you want convenience, portability, and affordability, woodburning stoves are your deal.
  • However, they don’t have more than one range. You will need multiple stoves in most cases, especially if you’re using a DIY option.
Many, 4-Season Tents have chimney vents for use with wood burning stove
Many, 4-Season Tents have chimney vents for use with wood burning stove

Best DIY Stoves to Make

If you are open to learning how to make a camping stove, you’re in luck. DIY camping stoves are extremely cost-effective and are easy to make. These are the best camping stoves for people who want to get their food cooked without having to worry about a budget or hauling too much stuff around.

The most common DIY stoves are woodburning stoves and rocket stoves. Here’s what you need to know about each one

  • Simple woodburning stoves are good for foods that need to be cooked, rather than heated. They are about delivering direct heat to your food, with minimal cooling.
  • Rocket stoves offer a lot more space between the food, making them ideal for heating rather than cooking. If you want a smokier flavor, you’ll probably want a rocket stove. Cooking times in a rocket stove tend to be longer than in a simple can stove.
  • Simple can stoves require less time and material to make. This makes them a better solution for people who don’t want to carry much.
Small, wood burning, rocket stove
Smaller, wood burning rocket stoves mean you don’t have to carry your fuel with you.

What Camping Stove Should I Buy?

If you’re not the crafty type, the best camping stove you can buy is easy to use, easy to carry fuel-based stove. These are safer to use than wood grills and are surprisingly lightweight. A good example of this is the “Pocket Rocket”. Supremely light weight and versatile – this type of stove is a staple of the backpacking and expedition camping.

Best Stove For Family Camping

We are absolutely passionate advocates about making family camping as comfortable as possible. This very much extends into your choice of stove. If there are more than 2 people on your trip, your cooking experience is going to be hugely improved if you take a multi-burner stove.

There are lots of great gas stoves that are good for family camping. Our choice of the best multi-burner stove is the Eureka! Ignite Portable Two-Burner Camping Stove

To be fair, there is very little between the Eureka and the Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Triton+ Propane Stove, 2 Burner. Coleman are famous for the quality of their camping products. In this case, we feel the Eureka has the edge.

Single Burner Gas Stoves

There is no shortage of single burner gas stoves. A quick peruse of Amazon or REI will give you lots of choices.

Butane stoves are your choice if light weight is a primary concern. For most family camping trips a propance stove is probably better.

Given the range of choice in this category, our top pick is something a little different. Jetboil HalfGen Basecamp Camping Cooking System

If the Jetboil Half Gen interests you then you might like to check out their multi-burner option – Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove.

You might also like Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Cooking System

You get the 2-burner basecamp stove, 5-liter (1.3 gallons) Jetboil FluxPot and 10-inch ceramic-coated nonstick fry pan. It’s quite expensive but it’s guaranteed to catch the attention of any fellow campers.

Top Tips For Comfortable Family Camping Cooking

Based on many years of experience we have 2 tips to enhance your whole family camping cooking.

1. Use a Multi-Burner Gas Stove

We love other types of stove. You absolutely need to give cooking over the campfire a try. And you should take a portable barbeque.

If you are going to spend more than a couple of nights camping – invest in a multi-burner gas stove.

2. Use a Camping Kitchen Unit

You may never of heard of a camping kitchen – we hadn’t. Then we saw one outside a tent. We were sold on the idea.

These kitchen units are quite big to pack. They do fold flat for transit/packing but they are still not the smallest items.

There are many different designs available. All of them have a place for your gas stove, complete with additional wind breaks to add to the windbreak on your stove. Usually they will have one or 2 work surfaces that you can use to prepare you culinary masterpieces. Most also have storage shelves and canvas cupboards for storing you crockery and cooking utensils.

The huge advantage (apart from having space to prepare food) is that you can stand while cooking. The change in comfort levels, compared to crouching over a stove on the ground, is unbelievable.

You can, of course, put your stove on your folding camping table to make it easier to reach. You then need somewhere to prepare your food. And the stove has to be moved if you want to sit at the table to eat in comfort.

Just remember, you cannot store food in your kitchen unit if you are camping in bear country.

What Gas Is in a Camping Stove?

Most of the time, camping stoves will use propane or butane. Propane can be found in most stores that carry camping supplies. If you want a more versatile stove, it’s best to find a stove that works with butane gas.

Where to Buy Propane or Butane Gas for Camping Stove Use

If you’re going to opt for a gas-powered camping stove, you’re going to have to buy your fuel before you get to the campground. Butane gas can be found in a wide range of different places. You can find it at:

  • Home Depot
  • REI
  • Walmart
  • Cabela’s

Should I Make My Own Camping Stove?

Sometimes, making your own camping stove is the best option. This tends to be true if you want to use a woodburning stove, have a limited budget, and want to test your mettle against Mother Nature.

How to Make a Simple Woodburning Stove for Camping

The easiest stove to make is a can-style woodburning stove. This is a quick way to recycle your cans and get a quick “single burner” style of stove. This will require two cans, some twigs, and a grate— if you’re intending on using it as a grill. Here’s how to make one:

  1. Take two cans and clean them out. One can should be slightly larger than the other.
  2. Cut a hole in the top of the large can, large enough to act as a rim for the smaller can. This will hold the can in place and act to keep the airflow steady without posing a fire danger.
  3. Drill holes in the bottom sides of the large and small can. Fire will need ventilation in order to work. Next, cut holes in the top side of the small can.
  4. Place the small can in the large can. Fill the small can with wood chips and twigs. If you have a grate, put it on top of the small can.
  5. Use your stove! It’s now ready to use.
Building a Rocket Stove

How to Make a Rocket Stove for Camping

Rocket stoves are a little more complex but make food smokier. These stoves resemble the old school model rockets, and require the use of one size 10 can, plus four soup cans. Here’s how to make this model.

  1. Clean off all cans and remove labels from them. This is a must.
  2. Trace the circumference of one of the soup cans on the size 10 can and cut out the can’s hole. It should be slightly larger than the can, just so that the soup can will fit through the opening.
  3. Cut the tops and bottoms of the soup can off. You will need to turn the can into tubing. This is the only way to make it work.
  4. Shove one soup can halfway through the restaurant can. It should be a somewhat even balance.
  5. Take the next soup can and cut the bottom off. Trace the original soup can’s circumference around the side and cut a can-sized hole in the side.
  6. Fit can #2 onto can #1 as an “elbow” inside the large can. This should be at a right angle.
  7. Cut the tops and bottoms of can #3 off and slice the can lengthwise. This is a simple fix.
  8. Fit can #3 over can #2, like a chimney. It should slide on but remain close enough to cover the can’s bottom and peek over the top of the large can.
  9. Add perlite around the exterior of the soup cans, inside the larger can. This keeps your stove from combusting and helps avoid fire risks.
  10. Cut a T-shape out of can #4 and place it inside can #1. This will hold the wood that fuels your fire.
  11. Cut a hole in the top of the large can’s lid, giving enough space for can #3 to have a chimney. Once you assemble your stove, top the large can with the modified lid. Can #3 should be secured in place by the lid, if you’ve done it correctly. Your stove is ready to use.
  12. Place some wood at the bottom of your rocket, and light it up! You can cook your meals at the top of the rocket stove, right near the lid.

Small Wood Burning Stove to Buy

If you are interested in purchasing a small woodburning camping stove you can’t really go wrong with the Lixada Camping Stove,Compact Folding Titanium Wood Stove with Mini Alcohol Stove

Pros

  • It folds flat for packing and transit.
  • As it is made from Titanium it should last for quite a few trips.
  • New fuel is fed in from the side so you don’t disturb your food while it is cooking
  • Perhaps best of all, it only weighs 10oz

Cons

  • There is only space for one kettle or pan
  • Heat is difficult to control

How to Use a Camping Stove

Regardless of what kind of camping stove you decide to get or make, you’re going to have the same needs. Before you can cook, you will need fuel. DIY stoves are typically fueled by wood and tinder. Bought camping stoves use gas.

You will need to add the fuel to the stove. In gas stoves, this means placing the fuel at the bottom (or on the “T”). In bought stoves, you should follow instructions that come with your stove. When attaching your gas to the stove, make sure that the stove is turned off.

Take a look at our article on What Food to Take Camping for some great ideas.

Once you have hooked up your fuel to your stove, you can light up!

Conclusion

There are plenty of stoves you can use, and truthfully, it’s all up to you to make that call. Any stove that you get will be able to cook your food if given enough time and fuel, so it all boils down to your camping style, craft skills, and budget.

The best stove for camping is the one that you can use when you need it, where you need it, with minimal fuel issues. Both woodburning and gas-powered stoves are worth it. If the stove is safe and sturdy, you should be all right. 

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Keith Longmire

Keith Longmire

I’m the guy that loves camping, insists on family camping trips, and the editor and owner of Campingsage.com

I love camping and the outdoors. Through this site I hope to help you enjoy it too.