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Whether you’re vacationing in Yellowstone National Park, camping along a local trail, or setting up a tent in your backyard, a camping stove provides a way for you to rustle up everything from a reheated can of beans to a medium-rare filet mignon. Indeed, a camping stove adds a touch of fun and comfort to your outdoor adventures!
With a few pots and pans, portable utensils, and some basic foodstuffs, you can cap off a thrilling day of hiking, fishing, or running the rapids with a delicious, home-cooked meal rather than a candy bar and warm soda pop.
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If you’re interested in purchasing a camping stove, we invite you to look at the five top products in our matrix, above.
Our selections reflect quality as well as value for your money.
If you’d like to learn more about camping stoves, please continue reading this shopping guide.
All camping stoves share a common feature: they generate heat that you can use for cooking outdoors.
When perusing the market, however, you’ll find that your product choices run the gamut from one-burner butane stovetops to multi-burner stove/oven combinations with removable racks.
The products in our matrix, above, also vary somewhat in their form factor. But all of them offer superior characteristics, which you can read about in our evaluations.
With the open air as a backdrop, a camping stove makes a beautiful centerpiece in your outdoor kitchen.
The fuel source you use when cooking on a camping stove depends on the model.
Some stoves require propane or gas to start a fire. Others require a flammable biomass like wood to get the heat going.
If you like to finish cooking quickly, consider a camping stove that requires a propane or gas heat source.
A camping stove with Piezo ignition requires no matches and no electrical connection to start the heat.
As with any outdoor activity that involves fire, camping stoves should not be used by children.
For those models that rely on gas or propane, the fuel must be handled with extreme care.
It’s also wise to avoid cooking on a camping stove when it’s windy out. Not only will it be difficult to light your fire, but the wind could spread your flames to nearby foliage.
Because of its resistance to rust, hard-anodized aluminum is the best material for pots and pans to be used on a camping stove.
If you inspect the garage of your favorite outdoor enthusiast, chances are you’ll find a camping stove tucked away amidst the other gear.
And it’s a safe bet that the stove will be a bit worn around the edges, because once a camper finds a stove they like, it becomes a best friend — one that can boil water, fry eggs, and put the finishing touches on a freshly caught trout.
The Japanese Shichirin is a lightweight charcoal stove that originated in the 1600s and is still in use today.
To find the camping stove that will be your best friend, here are some guidelines —
Stove size relates to weight, which translates to portability. The smaller the camping stove, the more portable it will be.
Menu: What do you plan to cook on your stove? If someone in your camping group is a foodie or gourmet chef, you’ll probably want that person to have a stove that matches their culinary talent.
At minimum, we recommend a two-burner model.
However, if your outdoor menus will be short and simple, a small oven that handles a three-quart pot (or less) should suffice.
If you’ll be preparing meals that require some prep — chopping onions, filleting fish, etc. — consider a model with side trays for easy sous chef activity.
At this low price point, you’ll find some smaller units, many of which must be assembled and disassembled before and after each use. The reputable Coleman brand offers several gas-fed, one-burner stoves under $100. At the higher end of the range, you’ll also find some two-burner stoves which may have added features such as a broiler or baking rack.
You can make a one-pot pizza on a camping stove by pouring Bisquick (mixed with water) into your oiled pot. Layer sauce, cheese, and toppings on top and cook until golden brown.
As you climb above the $100 mark, you’ll find a heftier supply of camping stoves with actual burners for traditional cooking.
Some of these models set up like a folding table on four legs — a bonus for those who prefer the convenience of standing while cooking.
Other creature comforts you might find in this price range include side trays for food prep and a USB port for charging your phone while cooking.
When choosing a camping stove, remember that fuel-fed units require you to carry canisters of propane or gas along as well. This adds to the overall weight of your gear.
If you’re willing to pay top dollar for a camping stove, you can expect the most deluxe of features: multiple burners, temperature control, fold-out shelves, and more.
A camping stove of this caliber can turn any campsite gathering into a gourmet dining experience.
If you’re cooking kebabs or corn on the cob on your stove, soak your wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes first to ensure they don’t burn.
Follow these safety tips for a positive outdoor cooking experience:
If you’re using a propane stove, be sure the propane tank is kept upright en route to the campsite and stored and in a well-ventilated area.
Based on normal flame size, a 16.4-ounce canister of propane should grant you about four to six hours of cook time.
Put away all leftover food to avoid attracting bears and other large critters.
Let your stove cool thoroughly before packing it up.
Q. What is a “pop can” stove?
A. This is a DIY camping stove that you can make out of a regular beverage can — or even a cat food can — using a knife, scissors, and some other craft supplies. The end result is something like a Sterno burner you might see on a buffet table.
Q. What kind of camping stoves are permitted in the Grand Canyon?
A. Wood or charcoal fires of any type are not allowed. Sterno-type or fossil fuel backpack stoves are permitted.
Q. Can I take my camping stove on an airplane?
A. According to the TSA, camping stoves are allowed as either carry on or checked baggage. The stoves must be empty of fuel with no residual vapors.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.