Whether needing a cooking source for camping, a cooker as part of an emergency kit, or simply needing an extra cooker at home, the humble camping stove is an essential item for everyone.
Even if you do not go camping, or need an extra stove at home, everyone should have a basic emergency kit, capable of supporting them for at least two to three days.
An emergency kit is not just for the “preppers” out there. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, can and do occur.
While it would be easy for some people to dismiss the need for a camping stove, on the grounds that food can be eaten cold, there is reason and logic to the old saying “Cold food is cold comfort”. Whether camping or at home, there is something comforting about having hot food, especially when the weather is cold or when you are physically tired.
No matter your reason for needing a camping stove, we have selected the best camping stoves in three different categories to make things easier for you. These categories are Best Camping Wood Stove, Best Portable Camping Stove and Best Lightweight Camping Stove.
Best Wood Camping Stove
Best Portable Camping Stove
Best Lightweight Camping Stove
Best Camping Wood Stove
These camping stoves have been chosen based on their features, and the reviews and opinions of people who have actually bought and used these camping stoves.
Solo Stove Titan
When it comes to camping wood stoves, our clear winner was the Titan from Solo Stove. Solo Stove is an American company that specializes in the manufacture of camping stoves for the camping and outdoor market.
While there are several wood burning camping stoves available on the market, the Solo Stove Titan uses a patented double wall system for optimum air flow, that provides secondary combustion and hence is cleaner, and more efficient than traditional wood burners.
This also creates a lot less smoke. The reason for less smoke is due to this camp stove more fully burning its wood than many other wood burning camp stoves available, helping to maximize the heat generated, while minimizing the waste at the same time.
One of the things that we like about the Solo Stove Titan is that since it uses wood for its fuel source it is able to be used anywhere that there are twigs, branches, pine cones or any burnable biomass.
This has the advantage that you will not need to carry a fuel canister with you and you need never worry about running out of fuel. While it may take time, you could feed an army with the Solo Stove Titan.
Its stainless steel construction and lack of moving parts, has to make this one of the most robust camping stoves available on the market. When you are camping, the last thing you need is to discover some important part missing when you are in the middle of nowhere and in no position to do anything about it.
This is not going to be an issue for the Solo Stove Titan. It is so robust that if you did somehow manage to damage it, a crushed stove will be the least of your worries.
In spite of its robust nature, it weighs in at a mere 16.5 ounces, making it easy to transport. Since it works on burnable biomass located at the campsite, you will not need to carry any of your fuel source with you, helping to lighten the load you will need to carry with you.
The Titan by Solo Stove was our easy winner, in the camping wood stove market. Efficient, robust, lightweight and friendly on the environment; who could ask for more.
Best Portable Camping Stove
Portability is an important aspect to consider when choosing a camping stove. Whether it needs to conveniently fit into a backpack, or some spare space within the car, the portability of a camping stove can be important to get right.
Winner: Iwatani 35FW Portable Butane
When you want a versatile portable camping stove, we are of the opinion that you cannot do better than the Iwatani 35FW Portable Butane camping stove. This camping stove has been CSA approved for indoor commercial use, as well as for outdoor use.
Many camping stoves cannot be safely used indoors due to a risk of carbon monoxide build-up. For a camping stove to be certified as safe for indoor use, it has to be pretty special. The Iwatani 35FW is just such a camping stove.
This camping stove is capable of putting out 15,000 BTUs when it is cranked up. That is a lot of heat; better than some people will get with their home stove. It is reassuring to know that when you need heat, the Iwatani 35FW delivers.
The Iwatani 35FW has been carefully designed with a double windbreaker system, that helps to shelter the flame, when it is burning. This shows a sense of careful thought in design that we appreciate. Whether being used indoors or outdoors, wind and drafts are a possibility. The Iwatani 35FW makes allowances for this.
The Iwatani 35FW uses a magnetic locking system to lock the gas canisters in place, helping to make it one of the easiest gas camping stoves to use. Since there is no need to use levers to lock the canister in place, and it is not possible to put the canister in wrong, we think that this is a clever design feature.
We were especially impressed by the use of the heat panel system to provide more efficient heating. One of the problems that some portable gas camping stoves can face, is that the flame will get smaller, as the canister begins to get low.
The Iwatani 35FW compensates for this using its heat panel system, that helps to regulate and provide a more even flow of gas, no matter how full or empty the canister. This makes for more even heating and more efficient use of the canisters, eliminating any waste.
A Piezo-Electric ignition means that you will not need to carry a separate ignition source for this gas stove. When it comes to a portable gas camping stove, you will see why we had to make the Iwatani 35FW our clear winner.
Runner-Up: Gas One GS-3900P
The Gas One GS-3900P was an easy choice for our runner-up in this section. Capable of producing 15,000 BTUs using either propane or butane as a fuel source, this camping stove is clearly versatile in terms of its usable fuels. While there is an adapter hose for use with propane, the ability to use either fuel source is invaluable.
The Gas One comes with a wind blocker showing its practicality for outdoor use. Recognition of the need for a wind blocker by the designers is an important feature that we would expect to find in a good camping stove. The Gas One GS-3900P is just such a camping stove.
The Gas One GS-3900P uses a Piezo-Electric ignition switch, so that you will not need to provide an eternal ignition source. This is especially important at the times when you are most likely to need to use your camping stove quickly.
The Gas One GS-3900P has a built in pressure sensor for cartridge ejection should the pressure exceed safe levels. Another invaluable safety feature that we would expect in a quality camping stove is the Gas Flow cutoff mechanism. The Gas One GS-3900P has just such a feature, helping to explain why we have made it our runner-up.
The Gas One GS-3900P is an easy to use portable gas camping stove. With its ability to use propane and butane for its fuel source, you will see why the Gas One GS-3900P was an easy choice for runner-up.
Best Lightweight Camping Stove
When space and weight are at a premium, and you need to travel as light as possible, you are going to want the best lightweight camping stove there is. Here is our winner and its runner up.
Winner: Coleman Bottle Top Propane
The easy winner for the best lightweight camping stove was the Coleman Bottle Top Propane camping stove.
The Coleman uses PerfectFlowTM Technology to provide a consistent operation in most weather conditions. The PerfectFlowTM Technology allows the Coleman to efficiently use its propane to provide efficient cooking ability.
This even and consistent heat will still occur even when the propane bottle is getting low. Being a lightweight camping stove, it would be unreasonable to expect the Coleman Bottle Top Propane camping stove to produce excessive heat, nonetheless, at 10,000 BTUs of output heat you will not be disappointed.
One of the requirements for any winner in this category is that it must be compact and lightweight. The Coleman Bottle Top Propane camping stove easily does this, where the heaviest weight will be from the propane bottle itself.
The compact nature of this stove’s parts allow it to be easily stored in a pack; with the burner, and its base, easily separating from the propane bottle and each other.
While the Coleman Bottle Top Propane camping stove does not have the same quality windbreakers that its bulkier cousins have, it nonetheless does have baffles to help provide some sheltering from the wind.
For such a lightweight camping stove, it would be too easy for Coleman to have not bothered to provide such wind baffles. We respect this attention to detail, when other manufacturers would not have bothered.
The adjustable burner controller allows you to control the temperature to suit your needs. Over all this lightweight propane camping stove was the easy winner in this section.
Runner Up: Solo Stove Alcohol Burner
When it comes to lightweight camping stoves, the alcohol burner from Solo Stove would have to be one of the incredibly lightweight options available. Made from brass, this is a low cost, low tech option weighing in at a paltry 3.5 ounces.
In terms of its dimensions, it has a diameter just less than three inches, making this alcohol burner, so small that it will comfortably fit into any pack or survival kit.
The Alcohol Burner from Solo Stove has a simmer lid that allows the burner flame to be adjusted depending on need. The simmer lid can be used to adjust the flame, to the point where it will extinguish the flame when it is fully closed. This is invaluable for the easy and convenient use of this alcohol burner.
The alcohol burner comes with a lid containing a rubber O-Ring that ensures that the alcohol is completely sealed inside when it is not being used, helping to prevent any wastage. Some alcohol burners will require that the alcohol be stored separately from the burner.
This is not the case with the Solo Stove Alcohol Burner. Given that an alcohol burner is likely to be packed away in some convenient space within a pack, a proper sealing lid, and the ability to store alcohol inside the burner, is essential.
The Alcohol Burner, from Solo Stove, can also be used as a backup fuel source in their Titan wood burner camping stove, though this is not essential, with the alcohol burner capable of acting as a standalone heating source.
While an alcohol burner is not going to produce the amount of heat that portable gas camping stoves will, it is an ideal option when weight and space are at a premium. When it comes to a lightweight camping stove, alcohol burners are one option worth considering.
If you decide that this is the right option for you, then we would choose the Solo Stove Alcohol Burner as the best there is.
What Features To Look For
When it comes to choosing a camping stove there can sometimes be a seemingly overwhelming amount of information that you need to consider. Even a basic look online, will show that there is a plethora of different camping stoves available, with a wide variety of different features and uses.
No matter what your need or purpose there are several things that you will want to consider when buying a camping stove.
Type Of Fuel
There is a variety of different fuel options available when buying a camping stove. Some of these options are propane, butane, wood and alcohol.
Each fuel option has its advantages and disadvantages. No matter what the fuel type you will want to consider the ease of using that fuel source and its availability. Some camping stoves may require a special type of fuel canister, while others will accept generic canisters. A camping stove that requires a specific type of fuel canister could potentially be quite limiting.
When it comes to choosing a camping stove make sure to ask yourself and consider the following things about its fuel source:
A butane camping stove can sometimes generate a lot of heat, but may require specific canisters in order to work, whereas a wood stove is able to use free, readily available twigs and branches, but may not generate the same amount of heat.
There are many different designs for camping stoves however some have had more thought involved in their design than others. There are several things you will want to consider when considering the design of a particular camping stove.
Poorly designed camping stoves are often cheaper than their better designed cousins. A camping stove that does not burn its fuel efficiently will generate more waste products, such as soot and carbon monoxide.
While they will often be cheaper they will also make a greater mess and in the case of waste carbon monoxide, will need to be used outdoors in a drafty area, in order to avoid the risk of poisoning yourself.
When considering a camping stove, it is important to consider where and when you will use it. If it is intended to be put in a pack and carried long distances, you will want a lightweight, small option. If you are looking for a camping stove suitable for an emergency kit to last two or three days, that will be stored in the house or car, then size will be less of an issue.
Fitting In/On Your Backpack
Different camping stoves will be better suited to fitting into a backpack than others. While some camping stoves will come in a handy carry case, that very same carry case is likely to prove rather bulky when looking to fit it into, or onto, your backpack.
A camping stove that can be easily dismantled into its separate parts, may be better suited for fitting into a backpack than a single bulky unit.
Depending on the fuel source used, your camping stove may be limited in how long you can use it for. Some fuel canisters will provide less than an hour of cooking time, if they are used at maximum heat, whereas a wood burner camping stove at the right location will have an endless supply of fuel available.
If you are needing to supply the fuel, by way of canisters or similar, you will want to make sure that you are going to have sufficient for your needs.
Much as size can be important to consider, the weight of a camping stove is also important, especially if it will need to fit into a backpack. Even when keeping a camping stove at home or in the car as part of an emergency kit, portability will still be important. We recommend thinking carefully about where you intend to use the camping stove and how much weight is manageable.
Some camping stoves are rubbish. Some camping stoves will still be around long after you are not. Depending upon its intended use and how long it will be used for, durability may be more or less important.
Some wood burner stoves could potentially last centuries, and still be usable, if stored and used carefully, while some camping stoves will be better suited for a few uses a couple of times a year. While generally durability is a desirable quality, this can sometimes make an item more expensive. Consider how important durability is for what you intend it to be used for.
When it comes to camping stoves, some are so ridiculously simple that there will be no need to maintain them at all. Others may require regular check-ups to ensure that they still work, especially when there has been some time between uses.
Good design can reduce the need for maintenance however it is a good idea to routinely check that a camping stove is still functioning properly before you need it. Suddenly discovering that some important part is missing when you are in the middle of nowhere is not going to be pleasant.
We recommend choosing a camping stove that can be easily maintained by you and does not require a professional to overhaul.
Choosing a camping stove is a decision that requires you to consider many things that you may not have thought to consider. While there are some things that may seem obvious, we find that it helps to have a very clear purpose for the camping stove in mind.
If you know when it will be used, and under what conditions it will be used, this will help to make it easier to decide what is the right type of camping stove for your needs. If you are looking for a camping stove, then you will not regret an investment in one of the ones listed above.