Post Summary: Best Camping Stoves For Car Camping and Backpacking, Written by Adventure Contributor Whitney Matthews
Love to cook? It’s even more fun when camping because you can whip up your favorite meal in the middle of nature!
But, which camping stove to choose, and which are the best camping stoves? The options are endless, the prices are all over the place, and, on the surface, it feels like they all do the same thing. So what’s the difference? Where to start?
It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers because that’s where we come in! Keep scrolling for the best portable stoves for car camping and backpacking!
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So, what type of fuel for camping stoves should you buy? Before you finalize your camping checklist, it’s important to know the differences between fuel for camping stoves.
We’re breaking down the most common types of fuel below, and you can find the right gas to use in the descriptions of the camping stoves too.
Remember, the best camping stoves and systems depend on where you are going and how light you need to pack, so we’re breaking it down here to find your perfect camp cooking setup.
Gas: (Propane, Isobutane, Butane)
Gas canisters for camping stoves are the most commonly used source of fuel for camp cooking. They are easy to find – everywhere from Walmart to REI to gas stations have them.
Canisters are reliable and easy to use, but they can struggle to ignite in extreme cold and will lag in performance near the end of the can’s contents. These are best suited for weekend trips and casual camping.
Liquid Fuel: (Kerosene, White Gas)
Liquid Fuel often comes in refillable cans (more environmentally friendly) and can be more versatile than pre-pressurized gas canisters. Liquid fuel is more reliable at cold temperatures, so it’s a great choice for alpine camping and mountaineering.
Natural Fuel: Sticks, Twigs
Some of the camping stoves we recommend are actually fueled by your surroundings! Solo Stove and Biolite camping stoves are great examples of these. Just remember that finding sticks and twigs isn’t always assured, and it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles when collecting fuel for your camping stoves.
Also, it would be smart to call ahead to the National Forest station and ask what type of natural fuel you can use in your particular area.
Best Stoves For Camping (Car Camping Stoves + Front Country Camping)
The Best Overall Camp Stove: Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove [$145]
This propane camping stove can feel like an investment, but you truly are getting your money’s worth. The Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove has two burners and easy press-button ignition, so you don’t need to endanger your hand trying to light the burners with a lighter or match. Our favorite way to use it is for breakfast by setting up a camping toaster and making these epic English muffin recipes!
This stove also has a three-sided wind block to protect your flame and keep the heat consistent, rubber feet to keep the stove in place, and JetLink compatibility so you can connect multiple Eureka stoves to a single propane canister.
The Best Bang for Your Buck: Coleman Classic 2-Burner Propane Stove [$40-50]
The budget route can often be the best route! While this stove may not have as great of a flame and temperature control system as spendier stoves, The Coleman Classic 2-burner stove continues to be a very reliable, powerful stove for car camping – especially for the price. It’s a great one if you are traveling on a budget in the Pacific Northwest!
The Coleman Classic has two burners so you can cook more at one time and a three-sided wind block. Simple and straight to the point. There is a reason your grandparents still used Coleman products – they are built to last!
The Best Splurge Camping Stove: Primus Tupike Stove [$250]
Inspired by Swedish design, the Primus Tupike is sleek and compact, and it will be the last camping stove you ever buy.
Aside from being the best-looking camp stove at the campsite, the Primus Tupike features a two-burner system, press-button ignition, foldable legs, and it comes with a non-stick griddle grate to help you get creative with your camp meals.
The Best Splurge, Runner Up: GSI Pinnacle Pro Dual Stove [$200]
Like the Primus Tupike, the GSI Pinnacle Pro was designed to be sleek, light, and compact. When packed up, this stove measures in at about 1.4” thick and would be a great option if space is limited (say, van lifers or an extended road trip). Like the previous stoves we’ve mentioned, the GSI Pinnacle Pro has two burners for extra cook power, a push-button ignition, and a collapsible windscreen.
Note: this stove was a Kickstarter product in 2020, and will be shipping sometime in early 2021.
The Best Compact Car Camping Stove: Snow Peak Home & Camp Butane Stove [$110]
While size and weight aren’t necessarily as much of an issue when you’re car camping, if you are looking for something small and powerful, the Snow Peak Home & Camp Stove might be your way to go. It’s a single-burner stove, but just as durable as a double burner.
The design for this stove was inspired by Japanese Origami, so it folds into itself, making it about the size of a 48oz Nalgene bottle when collapsed. While it doesn’t come with a windscreen, the legs and burner are low to the ground, reducing wind interference.
The Best Wood Burning Camping Stove: Solo Stove Titan [$70]
If you’re someone who likes the idea of a classic campfire (or enjoys cooking over an open flame) then a wood-burning camping stove is right up your alley!
The Solo Stove Titan is lightweight, durable, and virtually smoke-free. Yep, no annoying campfire smoke. And, you don’t need to buy propane to fuel it! You can just scavenge for wood around your campsite, or buy some firewood on your way out of town.
However, the only drawback to a wood-burning camping stove over a propane one is what you’re able to cook. It works great for one-pot meals or roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, but can be a bit trickier if you’re trying to cook something more elaborate.
Pro tip: The Solo Stove Titan is also a great option if you plan to do a lot of free camping on forest service or BLM land where they may not be a designated fire ring. It’s also great for areas where there are burn bans in effect except for in designated fire pits. (But ultimately chek fire regulations for your area!)
The Best Overall Backpacking Stove: JetBoil Flash [$110]
The JetBoil Flash is probably one of the most popular backpacking stoves you’ll see in the backcountry. And for good reason! This integrated stove and pot system packs into itself, weighs in at just over one pound, and boils water in about 3 minutes. You’ll definitely want to add this to your backpacking gear list!
It has a push-button ignition and has a heat-changing window in the sleeve to indicate when the water is boiling so you don’t waste time or fuel. The only limitation to this set up? You can only cook what you can fit in the pot, which isn’t typically a problem if you’re backpacking because all you should only need to boil water for dehydrated meals and your morning coffee or tea.
Best Budget Backpacking Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove [$45]
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 is built to be compact, so it packs down super small and won’t contribute much weight to your pack (only about 2.5oz). It’s also super simple – just an attachment that you screw onto the top of a propane canister.
The Pocket Rocket 2 features serrated supports to hold a variety of pots and boils water in about 4 minutes. But you need to use a little extra caution when using a stove like this (versus the JetBoil) so as to not set your stove onto an uneven surface or bump your pot off the top of the stove.
The Best Splurge: MSR WindBurner Stove [$150]
The MSR WindBurner Backpacking Stove is a similar design to the JetBoil, but with one key difference: a radiant flame instead of a pillar flame, like you’ll find in a JetBoil. With a radiant flame, the pot sits closer to the heat and is less likely to be extinguished by the wind or elements. AKA: this stove is meant to work in the elements you may run into in the backcountry.
It weighs in at about one pound and boils water in about 4 minutes. However, like the JetBoil, you’re only able to cook what you can fit inside the attaching pot. But if you’re backpacking, you shouldn’t need to cook anything super elaborate anyways.
Best Ultralight Backpacking Stove: Snow Peak LiteMax [$60]
While this ultralight backpacking stove is a bit on the pricier side, considering what you get, if weight is a big factor for you, then the price is worth it! This stove is made from titanium, so it’s super light (1.9oz) and packs down small enough to easily fit just about anywhere in your pack.
The Snow Peak LiteMax features excellent simmer and flame control, fast boiling times, and does pretty well in the wind too. (But if you’re concerned about wind interference, integrated systems like the JetBoil or MSR WindBurner might be a better choice)
Best Wood Burning Stove: SoloStove Lite [$70]
One of the best upsides to choosing to go with a small, portable wood burning backpacking stove is that you don’t need to pack around fuel canisters. You can just scavenge around for fuel at your campsite, which can definitely save you some weight if that’s a major concern for you.
The Solo Stove Lite weighs just under one pound and boils water in about 10 minutes. So not quite as efficient as a propane camp stove, but the fire is hot and virtually smokeless. Not to mention, a wood fire is also a great way to warm up if you’re backpacking during colder months.
Camping Stove Conclusion
There are plenty of great camping stove options out there, for car camping and backpacking. Each of them has their own unique features, and are ideal for different types of camping trips. We hope you learned a little something about the best car camping stoves and best backpacking stoves! Hopefully, with this list at the ready, you feel confident to choose the best camping stove to fit your needs and activities.