The mighty camping stove should be right up there near the top of your camping checklist of essential camping items. The ability to cook hot food and drinks is a bit of a game-changer for the spirits and for your well-being, not to mention the sheer enjoyment of it. It’s not a huge overstatement to say that the success of many a camping trip can hinge on this altogether crucial piece of camping gear. For this reason, getting your hands on the right stove is nothing short of imperative and that’s why Cool of the Wild is here to guide you through our best camping stoves of 2020!
- FAQs when choosing the best camping stoves
- Our picks of the best camping stoves in 2020
- What to take into consideration when buying a camping stove
Summary of our pick of the best camping stoves
This quick overview of the best stoves for car camping gives you an idea of which stoves might suit your needs the best. For more details on each stove read on to see the top camping stoves section where each stove is compared with the others. Or, if you need a little more information on what to look for when choosing a high quality stove, skip to our buying guide at the bottom of the article.
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|BioLite CampStove 2 Bundle||N/A||N/A||No||Freestanding||$$$$|
|Primus Tupike Stove||10,200 BTU||2||Yes||Tabletop||$$$$|
|Coleman Triton||12,000 BTU||2||Yes||Tabletop||$$|
|Camp Chef Explorer||30,000 BTU||2||Yes||Freestanding||$$|
|Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove||10,000 BTU||2||Yes||Tabletop||$$|
|Camp Chef Everest||20,000 BTU||2||Yes||Tabletop||$$|
|Primus Onja||10,000 BTU||2||Yes||Tabletop||$$$|
|Camp Chef 3 Burner Blind||17,000 BTU||3||Yes||Tabletop||$$$|
|Coleman Classic||10,000 BTU||2||No||Tabletop||$|
|Stansport 2 Burner Propane Camp Stove with Infrared Broiler||6,000 BTU||2 + broiler||Yes||Tabletop||$$|
|Coleman Butane Instastart||7,650 BTU||1||Yes||Tabletop||$|
|GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker||Solar||/||No||Tabletop||$$$$|
FAQs when choosing the best stoves for car camping
Low weight isn’t an especially important property of car camping stoves. However, low weight stoves are more portable adding versatility for picnics and beach cooking. The GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker is the lightest stove on our list, weighing only 2lbs / 900g. This is closely followed by the Coleman Instastart (4.7lbs / 2.1kg) and theBioLite CampStove 2 Bundle (4.9lbs / 2.2kg).
However, if you are looking for mega lightweight stoves then check out our guide to backpacking stoves.
The best camping stoves in 2020
Weight: 4.9lbs / 2.2kg
Fuelled by wood, sticks or biofuel pellets, the BioLite CampStove 2 Bundle doesn’t need gas to put out power, making it the another superb eco-friendly camp stove, along with the GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker. Newly designed for more efficient cooking, this lightweight wood burning stove bundle comes with a KettlePot for fast boiling, and a detachable grill to cook your regular camping meals on. The grill, KettlePot and CampStove combined, weigh only 4.9lbs (2.2kg), putting the bundle up there with the most lightweight options on our list. To further add to its appeal and versatility, the CampStove 2 Bundle also has the ability to charge your devices thanks to the built-in battery pack that is powered by the heat of the stove. The battery pack also powers a built-in fan for optimal combustion within the stove. Clever stuff! It’s the ideal stove for sustainable car camping, and is a great option if you enjoy grilling as much as regular cooking.
- No gas needed
- Built-in battery charges devices
- KettlePot included
- Light included
- Isn’t instant like gas stoves
- Fueling it correctly can take some getting used to
Weight: 9.3lbs / 4.3kg
If portability is important then the Primus Tupike Stove is an excellent option to consider. Its compact design and low weight makes it ideal for picnics and beach excursions. Plus, the adaptor fits with small backpacking canisters, further adding to convenient carrying. In fact, the stove fits in a 30 litre daypack with gas and cooking equipment too.
Though one of the most expensive options on our list, the Tupike is well worth the spend for its solid construction and stylish aesthetics. Glampers will love the wooden handles and panels on the lid as much as they’ll love the subtle details such as a slanting drip tray and removable pot holder for easy cleaning.
Power-wise, each burner puts out 10.2 BTU which are lit by separate piezo ignition buttons.
For more information read our full review of the Primus Tupike Stove.
- Lightweight and portable
- Super sleek and stylish
- Very easy to clean
- Comes with griddle pan
- European buyers need to buy fuel adaptor separately
Weight: 10.2 / 4.6kg
With an efficient, three-sided windshield, two 12,000 BTU burners, measuring in at only 23 by 14 inches and weighing only 10.2lbs, the Coleman Triton is a very portable, lightweight and reliable little stove than can easily be squeezed under a seat in your car (or even a large glove compartment!) when you hit the road for a camping trip. Compared to other tabletop competitors such as the Everest and Stansport, the Triton is a long way short in terms of power but is a touch lighter and cheaper. All in all, the Triton stands as a solid, middle-of-the-road option between true budget stoves and the more advanced, high-performance deities of the tabletop stove canon that are the Camp Chef Everest and the Stansport 2 Burner. Compared to the Coleman Classic, the Triton packs a bit more punch BTU-wise and is a tad sturdier – whether this is worth the slightly higher cost is for you to decide!
- Reasonably priced
- 2×12,000 BTU burners
- Great simmer control
- A tight squeeze if using two largish pots or pans at the same time
- Moderate wind protection
Weight: 36lbs / 16.3kg
While you wouldn’t fancy carrying the Camp Chef Explorer any kind of distance (it weighs a meaty 36lbs!), this reasonably-priced, powerful, freestanding beast of a double-burner just might be a contender for the title of Best Car Camping Stove. The Explorer comprises less in the way of wind protection than some freestanding competitors and is very awkward to carry, but if you’re pitching up where you park, have a big trunk and want plenty of power while you cook, it’s a nicely-priced, functional and efficient alternative to the better of the tabletops and, of course, it comes on four legs.
- Like having half your kitchen at home!
- 2 x 30,000 BTU burners
- Awkward to carry
- Heavy (36lbs)
- Not great wind protection
Weight: 11lbs / 5kg
The retro style of this compact little camp stove is a highly appealing factor for glampers and car campers who like to keep things cool. But it’s also a huge hit for gourmet camp cooks looking for excellent flame and temperature control. With two 10,000 BTU burners, it may be less powerful than many of the options on our list, but power means nothing without control (unless you’re only interested in boiling water quickly!). Additionally, the Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove boasts an easy to use ignition button, a sturdy three-sided windshield and rubber feet to keep it securely in place. Plus, the JetLink compatibility allows you to connect from the output on other Eureka! stoves allowing you to run multiple stoves off of a single gas canister.
- Reasonably priced
- Excellent simmer control
- Push button ignition
- Can link with other stoves from one fuel source
- Not as powerful as other options
Weight: 12lbs / 5.4kg
Named after the mightiest mountain on the planet, the Camp Chef Everest just might be the mightiest tabletop stove too. Boasting two 20,000 BTU burners, solid wind shields, robust construction, button ignition and effective simmer control, this hardy little gem is an all-round winner with which it is hard to find fault. A dead-heat competitor with the Stansport for best tabletop camping stove, the Everest is a little shorter on power but is also a fraction cheaper and with a more user-friendly ignition switch.
- Good wind-resistance
- 2×20,000 BTU burners
- Button ignition
- Good range of flame-control
- It won’t flip your pancakes or stir your soup for you. Other than that…none!
Weight: 7lbs / 3.1kg
If appearance is just as high on your list as performance, the stylish and compact Primus Onja just might be the stove for you. With two 10,000 BTU burners, the Onja is not the most powerful among the tabletops in our review but is slightly more powerful than the Coleman Instastart and more portable than the Coleman Classic, though a great deal pricier than both. Aesthetically endearing and ideal for picnicers and glampers, but far pricier than equally potent and practical competitors.
- 2 burners with 10,000 BTUs each
- Free cutting board…we love a freebie!
- A looker – very stylish design
- Very compact
- Easier to use on the ground than other tabletop models
- Carry strap
- Poor wind protection
- Each burner requires its own fuel canister (propane)
- Not the most powerful
Weight: 25lbs / 11.3 kg
If you happen to be inviting the neighbours round or have an especially large appetite, the Camp Chef 3 Burner may well be the most suitable stove for your needs. It’s not the lightest option out there, nor the cheapest, but for your extra buck and poundage you get something of a beast of a machine which runs 3 high-powered burners which will allow you to prepare even the most elaborate of dishes. Compared to high-power competitors the Everest and Stansport, the Camp Chef Blind comes in a little weaker in the power per burner stakes and doesn’t offer the same range of flame regulation. It does, however, provide similar wind resistance and, of course, that very attractive third burner.
- 3 burners (17,000 BTUs each)
- Button (piezo) ignition
- Pretty good wind-resistance
- Can cook 2 large pots or three medium-sized ones simultaneously
- Heavy (25lbs)
- Slightly sketchy ignition
- Not the best flame regulation (low-simmer setting not very low)
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Weight: 9.8lbs / 4.4kg
For a reliable, reasonably powerful cooking solution on a budget, you might not have to look any further than the Coleman Classic. This neat and efficient little stove may not have any of the thrills and frills of more expensive models, but nonetheless boasts two burners, an effective wind shield and has made many a happy-camper over the years. While lagging far behind the Everest and Stansport in most attributes, compared to other budget options such as the Coleman Butane Instastart, the Classic offers a slightly sturdier construction and that potentially-important second burner.
- 2 x 10,000 BTU burners
- Good value for money
- Good wind shield
- Short on simmer control
- Not the most robust construction
- Match ignition
Weight: 10.1lbs / 4.5kg
New to the Stansport stove range in 2020, the Stansport 2 Burner Propane Camp Stove with Infrared Broiler is the only stove on our list to feature a broiler or grill. This is a mega appealing option for those not wanting to sacrifice their morning toast just because they’re out camping! The broiler, which produces a continuous sheet of infrared heat, sits beneath two 6000 BTU hob burners. All three functions can be used at the same time thanks to individual heat adjustment dials and piezo ignition buttons for the top burners – ideal for multi-pan camping meals.
Though this versatile stove may look a little on the bulky side, the clever design actually folds down into a nicely compact briefcase style package that is slimmer than many other options on our list (22″ x 12.5″ x 3.25″). It doesn’t put out the power of other two-burner players, but it certainly steps up when it comes to versatility.
- Reasonably priced
- Includes broiler
- Two piezo ignition buttons
- Includes broiling tray
- Low power burners (6000 BTU)
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Weight: 4.7lbs / 2.1kg
First impressions reveal the Instastart to be, poor thing, something of the runt of the Coleman litter. On closer inspection, however, this tidy, lightweight, solid little stove has really quite a lot going for it – and all for the price of a pizza (with a few extra toppings, maybe). The Instastart has only one burner, and at that a fairly weak one (7,650 BTUs). But at 4lbs 11oz and being far more compact than 2-burner competitors, this easy-to-use and auto-igniting little gem is about the best one or two-person tabletop stove you can get your hands on. It might not win you the campsite cooking competition, but this tidy little stove will allow you a smug smirk as you watch your neighbours try to load their weighty, huge appliances back into their tents or cars when the rain comes or heading back home.
- Lightweight (4lb, 11oz)
- Powerful enough for solo-campers
- Single burner
- No wind shield
- Fairly weak (7,650 BTUs)
- Runs on butane (not so widely available)
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Weight: 2lbs / 900g
Another option for minimalist campers is the GoSun Go Portable Solar Cooker. Relying solely on the power of the sun to cook food inside its solar vacuum tube, this is also an excellent choice for those wanting to minimise their impact on the environment. Everything takes a little longer to cook than a regular gas stove. But that’s a small price to pay for the ability to oven cook food wherever, whenever. Yes, that’s right. The sun doesn’t even need to be shining for this alternative camping stove to work its magic. And because it is insulated, it can also cook food in freezing conditions.
Weighing only 2lbs (900g), this is by far the most light camping stove on our list, making it suitable for adventures further afield. It’s not wind affected either; an ideal option for cooking dinner at the beach, on an overnight hiking trip or out on the boat.
- Eco-friendly — no fuel needed
- Super lightweight
- Highly portable
- Safe for kids to use
- Can be used in all weather conditions
- Can be used to bake stuff!
- Heats up to 550°F (290ºC)
- It takes a long time to cook food and boil water
- You can’t cook multiple things at once
What to take into consideration when buying a camping stove
A host of factors contribute to a camping stove’s overall functionality and performance. The selection process, however, can be simplified by focusing on the following factors to help you decide what’s right for you:
- Type of stove
- Type of ignition
- Wind protection
- Cooking performance
- Fuel type
- Size and weight
- Type of stove
Our review will focus on two types of camping stove: the tabletop and the freestanding. If you’re looking for something lighter and more suited to backpacking, then you’re in the wrong place – take a look at our lightweight stove review.
Type of stove
Tabletop stoves are usually reasonably lightweight and more portable than freestanding stoves but are far more limited in terms of power, cooking performance and the size or number of burners.
Freestanding stoves are usually large, often unwieldy but much faster and higher-capacity than tabletops and stand, as the name suggests, without any need for a table – usually on four legs but occasionally on three.
What type of stove you opt for will depend on where you intend on taking it and how serious you are about your camping cuisine. For backcountry adventures, a freestanding stove will most likely be out of the question – unless your have your own, personal Sherpa doing the carrying – and you’d be far better off with a tabletop stove as long as you can find a suitable, flat, table-like spot to do your cooking. If you won’t have to carry your stove far and you’re planning on cooking up something elaborate, are short on patience and will have plenty of space to operate in, a free-stander will most probably be the stove for you.
Type of ignition
Button or match? While a button ignition may be the obvious choice in terms of convenience, this minor yet handy little feature usually comes at a cost. A cost that must be weighed against the singed fingers and eyebrows that might result from opting for cheaper models which use old-school match or flame-based ignition.
Cooking in high winds without losing your patience should be, in our opinion, one of the prerequisites to sainthood. With minimalist backcountry stoves, tabletops and freestanding stoves alike, the task can be enormously frustrating, not to mention apt to leave you with a cold or undercooked meal. Thankfully, many stoves come with wind shields that help to minimise the struggle. Before buying, make sure your choice comprises something in the way of a breeze-beater or else be prepared to form a human shield while you cook!
The power of a camping stove is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). How many of these you’ll need will depend on how much food you are cooking and how quickly you want to cook it. Most camping stoves fall within the 8,000-20,000 BTU range per burner, with the lower end of the scale taking longer to cook your grub than at the higher end. Also worth bearing in mind is that the greater the power of a stove, the more fuel it will consume. Remember to factor this variable into your estimations of value for money and convenience when calculating the financial and physical outlays required to buy extra fuel and then carry it to your outdoor cooking spot!
Those who are perfectionists or die-hard foodies even when camping will appreciate a stove that can replicate the performance of your cooker at home as closely as possible. Highest on the tick-list for achieving this end is a stove’s simmer control, which basically means the user’s ability to regulate the strength of the flame and fuel output. Pricey freestanding and tabletop models often include greater finesse while budget options tend to favour a like-it-or-lump-it, one-flame-for-every-occasion output.
The vast majority of camping stoves run on propane gas. While there are other options out there – butane, liquid gas, unleaded gasoline and white gas, to name a few – propane is the cheapest and most widely available of the options. If you plan on doing your camping in sub-zero temperatures, it’s worth bearing in mind that in these conditions propane might not perform as you need it to and a liquid fuel stove will serve your purposes better.
Size and weight
The dimensions and poundage of your stove are fairly crucial considerations if you are likely to be carrying it for any distance or have limited storage space in your car or tent. The best stove for you will also depend on how many bellies you need to feed – while a two or three-burner stove will serve your purposes more efficiently if you’re cooking for a crowd, for lone campers this will likely prove to be overkill and a stove with a single burner should suffice.
The above selection of camping stoves goes to show that we are very much spoiled for choice when it comes to cooking options in the campsite. Whichever of these beauties you decided to take along with you on your next trip, Cool of the Wild is sure you’ll be cooking up five-star feasts in no time. If you aren’t, at least you know it won’t be down to the quality of your stove!
Happy camping and happy cooking!