The best camping stove by lake

The 9 Best Camping Stoves for Car Camping in 2017

For many outdoor-goers the time we spend camping can be one of trial and tribulation. Not only do we subject ourselves to whatever the elements chose to throw up, we also face the prospect of things becoming altogether less amenable by far because of faulty, failing or inadequate equipment – ripped tents, waterlogged sleeping bags, burst boots and a malfunctioning GPS or headlamp all come to mind.

Another item high on the list of things that can wrong is our source of hot food – the camping stove. And 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 2017!

This quick overview of the best stoves for car camping gives you an idea of which stoves might suit your needs the best. And for more details on each stove you can skip head to the top camping stoves section where each stove is reviewed and compared with the others.

ProductPowerBurnersIgnitionTypeCost
Stansport 2 Burner25,000 BTU2YesTabletop$$$
Coleman Triton12,000 BTU2YesTabletop$$
Camp Chef Explorer30,000 BTU2YesFreestanding$$
Camp Chef Everest20,000 BTU2YesTabletop$$$
Primus Onja10,000 BTU2YesTabletop$$$$
Camp Chef 3 Burner Blind17,000 BTU3YesTabletop$$$$
Coleman Classic10,000 BTU2NoTabletop$
Eureka Spire LX10,000 BTU2Tabletop$$$$
Coleman Butane Instastart7,650 BTU1YesTabletop$

But before we get down to our best picks, let’s start by taking a look at the most important things to take into consideration before you commit to buying your stove.

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
  • Power
  • 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.

backpacking stove gear guide

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.

Wind protection

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!
Cooking on camp stove

Power

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!

Cooking performance

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.

Fuel type

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 best camping stoves in 2017

Now we’re familiar with the ins and outs of the camping stove, let’s take a look at Cool of the Wild’s selection of the best camping stoves of 2017!
Stansport 2 Burner Propane Stove

Stansport 2 Burner

Barring a slightly tricky ignition switch, the Stansport 2 Burner is simplicity itself and real contender for the best tabletop camping stove of 2017. Boasting two powerful, 25,000 BTU burners, button ignition, a three-walled windshield and a good range of flame control, this super-efficient stove leaves competitors such as the Primus Onja and the Coleman Triton trailing far behind. While the Stansport stove is a fair bit pricier than its peers, your extra bucks get you a whole lot more power and efficiency and the only true challenger to the Stansport is the Camp Chef Everest, which isn’t quite as powerful but comes in a little bit cheaper.

Pros

  • 2 burners
  • Powerful (2×25,000 BTUs)
  • Reasonably priced
  • Button ignition
  • Good flame/simmer control
  • Good wind shield

Cons

  • Heavy (14lbs)
  • Not as sturdy as competitors

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Coleman Triton camping stove

Coleman Triton

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!

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • 2×12,000 BTU burners
  • Compact
  • Reliable
  • Great simmer control

Cons

  • A tight squeeze if using two largish pots or pans at the same time
  • Moderate wind protection

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Camp Chef Explorer

Camp Chef Explorer

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.

Pros

  • Like having half your kitchen at home!
  • 2 x 30,000 BTU burners
  • Cheap!

Cons

  • Awkward to carry
  • Heavy (36lbs)
  • Not great wind protection

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Camp Chef Everest

Camp Chef Everest

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.

Pros

  • Good wind-resistance
  • Powerful
  • Robust
  • Reliable
  • 2×20,000 BTU burners
  • Button ignition
  • Good range of flame-control

Cons

  • It won’t flip your pancakes or stir your soup for you. Other than that…none!

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Primus Onja Stove

Primus Onja Stove

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 but far pricier than equally potent and practical competitors.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Poor wind protection
  • Each burner requires its own fuel canister (propane)
  • Not the most powerful

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Camp Chef 3 Burner Blind Stove

Camp Chef 3 Burner Blind Stove

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.

Pros

  • 3 burners (17,000 BTUs each)
  • Button (piezo) ignition
  • Pretty good wind-resistance
  • Can cook 2 large pots or three medium-sized ones simultaneously

Cons

  • Heavy (21lbs)
  • Pricey
  • Slightly sketchy ignition
  • Not the best flame regulation (low-simmer setting not very low)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Coleman Classic Propane Stove

Coleman Classic Propane Stove

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.

Pros

  • 2 x 10,000 BTU burners
  • Cheap!
  • Good value for money
  • Good wind shield

Cons

  • Short on simmer control
  • Not the most robust construction
  • Match ignition

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Eureka Spire LX

Eureka Spire LX

The lime-green Eureka Spire LX is something of an oddball amongst our tabletop stoves in that it can be joined with other stoves and connected to the same power source. While this undoubtedly handy feature might appeal to some, others won’t be fooled by the additional (and fairly hefty) expense required to do so. As a stand-alone stove, the Spire LX is very much a middle-of-the road performer compared to similarly priced tabletops the Everest and Stansport and is too pricey to fall into the budget category of the Coleman Classic or Primus basecamp or Coleman triton, all of which outperform it in any case. A good option for those who like the versatility offered by joining stoves together but not for those seeking true value for money or power.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Can be attached to another stove
  • Good wind shield
  • 2 burners

Cons

  • Pretty small burners
  • Not the most powerful
  • Pricey to attach additional stove with Jetboil
  • Jetboil itself is expensive
  • Burners only offer 10,000 BTUs each

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Coleman Butane Instastart

Coleman Butane Instastart

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.

Pros

  • Minimalist
  • Cheap
  • Lightweight (4lb, 11oz)
  • Powerful enough for solo-campers

Cons

  • Single burner
  • No wind shield
  • Fairly weak (7,650 BTUs)
  • Runs on butane (not so widely available)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


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!

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