The Best Camping Stoves - Side-by-Side Tests
Looking for the best camping stove for you and your family? So were we. We lined up a selection of the most highly regarded camping stoves and put them head-to-head in multiple rigorous cook-offs. In this latest testing round, we re-tested some old favorites, like the Editors' Choice for two years running, the Camp Chef Everest, and also threw a bunch of brand new players into the mix. Altogether, we tested 10 of the top-rated and most popular camping stoves on the market to find out how they compared side-by-side. Through countless cups of coffee and dozens of breakfast eggs, we were able to thoroughly assess the pros and cons of each stove and their ability to boil water quickly, resist the pesky wind, and cook with a group. The result? Read on to find out.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
|Displaying 1 - 5 of 10||<< Previous | View All | Next >>|
Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Camping Stove
The Stansport 2-Burner wins the Editors' Choice Award this year, unseating the reigning champion for two years running, the Camp Chef Everest. It was an incredibly close race, and in the end it came down to the Stansport having slightly better performance in our simmering test, 5,000 more BTUs per burner, and a $10 cheaper price tag. This stove handled fine tuning and low cooking like a boss, boiled quickly, and had great wind resistance. Across the board, the Stansport performed fantastically, with high scores in every category we tested.
Ignitor is hard to turn
Best Bang for the Buck on a Tight Budget
Coleman Butane Instastart
The Coleman Butane Instastart retails for a mere $29.99 and performs like a champ. It only sports one burner, but you could buy two of them and still have only spent 60 bucks! This stove finished in eighth place out of 10 stoves tested, but that's primarily due to the fact that we tested some amazing stoves this year, so the competition was stiff. The Instastart is light and compact and absolutely held its own, scoring highest for ease of setup and tying for the highest score for packed size. It didn't have a very fast boiling time compared to the other stoves we tested, and scored lowest for group cooking since it only has one burner, but it's definitely a purchase someone counting every dollar could make without sacrificing quality.
Only one burner
Butane doesn't do well in the cold
Top Pick for Group Cooking
Camp Chef Pro 60
The Camp Chef Pro 60 was definitely the largest stove we tested, so it's no surprise it took the win for group cooking. With powerful burners that can be finessed down for extremely low simmering, combined with a windscreen and oxygen regulators for combating the breeze, as well as two large side tables that fold out for prep space, it's almost like you're cooking indoors in a real kitchen. The tradeoff for all this luxury is a hefty price tag and the fact that the stove weighs a whopping 47 pounds and has a bit more involved setup. However, if you find yourself on large group camping trips often and you have the capability to set up and stay a few days, this could very likely be the stove for you.
Fold-out side tables for prep
Requires five-gallon propane tank
Has pieces that do not pack into the stove
Top Pick for Expandability
Eureka Spire LX
We definitely needed a special award for the clever Eureka Spire LX. As far as fun added features that are available for the stoves we tested, this one takes the pancake. The Spire LX boasts a JetLink accessory port that allows the chef at hand to either connect another Eureka stove or a JetBoil and run it all off the same fuel source. No more waiting around for water to boil before you can start breakfast in earnest. With this setup, you can do it all quickly and easily, with a stove that performed well across the (test metric) board.
Good wind resistance
Easy to clean
Ability to attach another stove or JetBoil
Carry handle is shallow and uncomfortable
Analysis and Test Results
There are several important questions to consider before buying. In a nutshell, you will want to start by considering whether a car camping stove (like the ones in this review) or a backpacking stove will better suit your needs. You should also think about how many people you typically need to cook for, how often you camp, and what the conditions of your favorite camping locations are (elevation, wind, etc). Addressing these questions will significantly improve the likelihood of being satisfied with your purchase. For a more in-depth look into these questions, check out our Buying Advice article.
Before diving into our Best-In-Class review, here's some additional information on the scoring criteria we used to evaluate each stove. Each performance metric was weighted based on importance in our effort to calculate the final scores. For example, the most important metric, "Time to Boil", has a weighting of 25 percent, while the metrics we've determined to be less important, like "Packed Size," are only weighted 10 percent. Weighting aside, breaking down the metrics in this way helps you decide which categories are most important to you and which product will ultimately best meet your needs. Simmering, wind resistance, group cooking, ease of care, and ease of setup were among the additional metrics we based our testing on.
All the products we tested in this review are car camping stoves, which means they aren't the kind of cooking implement that you'd stuff into your backpack and head into the backcountry with. Instead, they are the kind of stoves that you pull out of your trunk and carry 20 feet to the nearest picnic table. If a backpacking stove is what you're interested in, be sure to check out The Best Backpacking Stove Review.
In this review, all the stoves we tested had two burners except for the Coleman Butane Instastart, which only has one. We reviewed a plethora of tabletop models, such as the Primus Kinjia and the Coleman Triton, as well as a couple of large free-standing models, such as the Stansport Outdoor Stove. We even tested a stove that allows you to hook up and run another stove or JetBoil off the same fuel source, the Eureka Spire LX. Please see our Buying Advice guide for more information on what to look for if you're cooking for large groups, have limited packing space, or are buying a camping stove for the first time.
Criteria for Evaluation
Check out the chart below to see where each camp stove in our review ranked in Overall Performance.
Time to Boil
Time to boil was the most heavily weighted metric we used to rate the products in this review. Generally speaking, the more power a model has, the better it boils, and the more efficient of a cooking experience one would (hopefully) have. What became apparent during our boil test, however, is that BTU ratings surprise! — weren't everything.
We had a tie for first place between the Stansport 2-Burner and the Camp Chef Everest. Both stoves boiled a quart of 60-degree water in two and a half minutes and a quart of 50-degree water on a breezy day in three and a half minutes. The Stansport 2 Burner has two 25,000 BTU burners and the Camp Chef Everest has two 20,000 BTU burners. Despite the fact that the Camp Chef Pro 60 has 30,000 BTU burners and the Stansport Outdoor Stove boasts 35,000 BTU burners, they just couldn't boil as fast (though the Pro 60 was close if there was no wind present).
The large 5" burners on the Pro 60 and the 5.5" burners on the Stansport Outdoor were surrounded by so much cooking surface area that they were much more easily affected by the wind. The flame is also physically farther away from the cookware on these large stoves. The compact design of the Stansport 2-Burner and the Camp Chef Everest clearly made a difference with wind protection, allowing for much faster boil times.
The slowest contender in the boil test was the Coleman Butane Instastart. With only one 7,650 BTU burner and no wind guard, this didn't come as much of a surprise. A simple aluminum windscreen would greatly help the efficiency of this model. It's a cheap addition that would easily fit inside the handy case that comes with the stove. And it's worth mentioning that despite this stove coming in at the bottom of the pack for this test, it still boiled a quart of 60-degree water with no wind in just 5 minutes and a quart of 50-degree water on a cooler, breezier day in 7.25 minutes. The Coleman Triton and the Primus Onja both struggled to boil water efficiently and came in near the bottom of our fleet.
All our boil tests were conducted at elevations of just over 5,000 feet.
Often overlooked in favor of BTU power, simmering ability significantly contributes to the usability and functionality of a camping stove. The ability for a stove to be proficient at low heat also means better fuel efficiency, which equates to more bang for your buck over the long term. In the simmering category, our Editors' Choice, the Stansport 2-Burner, took the win, just barely beating out the reigning champ, the Camp Chef Everest. The flame power on this Stansport is impressive for its compact size, with only 5,000 fewer BTUs per burner than the giant Camp Chef Pro 60. But unlike the larger models we tested, the Stansport 2-Burner was able to tame down its power and simmer with finesse and grace. We were able to slow cook sauces, and fry eggs easily and with confidence, much like you would on a gas range at home.
The stove with the poorest simmering capability by far was the Coleman Hyperflame Fyrecadet. This stove ran hot hot hot! We were a bit surprised by this because you can actually turn the flame down very low (to the point it's hard to tell if it's even still on), but the stove still cooks hard and fast. It also didn't seem to ever cook evenly, despite the wide sturdy burners. During one testing session we tried to cook raw sausage patties and ended up with a hard char on the outside of raw meat and a pan so burnt it required an extended soak to get clean.
When it comes to cooking for a crowd, bigger is definitely better. So it's no surprise that the Camp Chef Pro 60 was our clear winner in this category. With two large 30,000 BTU burners and a fold-out prep table on each side, there's by far enough space and power on this stove to meet all your cooking needs. The cook-top over the two burners is a continuous grate, making it easy to shuffle around pots and pans of any and all sizes.
The grate is also tight enough to accommodate very small cookware like a bialetti (a small stove-top coffee maker) or a tiny pot. The side trays are really what sets this stove apart for group cooking, as they provide invaluable space for prep, and storage while cooking. If you find yourself frequently camping and cooking with large groups, this stove is highly recommended. Otherwise, the weight, size, and price of this model probably don't make sense, and you should go with a more compact model.
Another group cooking option is to use an affordable one-burner like the Coleman Instastart, along with a compact two-burner of your choice. This allows two or more people to cook at once and will likely take up less space in your vehicle during transport. By itself, the Instastart scored the lowest in the group cooking category, as it has only one burner. But with a price of just $29.99, it's a fantastic addition to own and you won't end up paying hundreds of dollars to lug around a giant stove. If you have a bigger group bring it; if you don't, you can leave it at home!
The Eureka Spire LX is another compact option with lots of potential for group cooking. With the additional purchase of a JetLink Accessory Hose, you can hook up another Eureka stove and run both of them off the same fuel source, literally doubling your available cooking area. You can alternatively purchase the Luna Satellite Burner that allows you to attach a JetBoil. Neither of these are cheap options however, with the JetLink hose retailing for $39.95, and the Luna Burner for $59.95 (not including the JetBoil Flash itself).
Ease of Setup
While car camping stoves are typically much easier to set up than their backpacking counterparts, some are more user-friendly than others. We chose the Coleman Butane Instastart as the winner in this category in no small part because the directions for how to get it up and running are printed right on the lid. This makes it super easy for a new user to be able to jump in and help out if needed. And all the stove requires for setup is placing the butane canister in the fuel compartment properly, flipping a switch to lock it into place, and then turning the knob all the way past high to self-ignite. Very fast and easy.
A close second in this category was the Primus Kinjia. The Kinjia was the only stove we tested that had an already attached fuel hose; this stove required no fussing with screwing a metal elbow into place, which is nice, especially if you have cold fingers! It comes with a special stand to prop up the fuel bottle at the correct angle after you screw it into the hose. The nice thing about this is that you can set the fuel bottle wherever you'd like within the bounds of the hose. The potential issue is that it's a separate and important piece that could get lost.
The size of the Camp Chef Pro 60 made it the most involved stove to set up. It has multiple parts that come separately (propane hose, leg stabilizer, and windscreen) and it's big and bulky. The 47-pound stove has to be flipped over in order to fold out and secure the legs. The manufacturer recommends tightening the hose for the propane tank with a wrench, which isn't included. On top of this, we had an issue with one of the barrel nuts (that connects the side tray table) falling out. Reattaching this barrel nut requires not one, but two Allen wrenches. Basically, there is a lot to potentially contend with here. If you want a stove of similar size that's much easier to set up, consider the Stansport Outdoor Stove instead.
Ease of Care
Most good car camping stoves are engineered with the assumption that they are going to get filthy and that you aren't going to want to do anything about it right away. What this means is that they tend to be pretty low maintenance and easy to clean. That being said, we did notice some big differences between the various models. By far the most low-maintenance stove was the Stansport Outdoor Stove. Its construction is such that beneath the cooking grate only the burners stand in the way of food hitting the ground. So when, inevitably, food flies out of your skillet, it will hit the ground instead of collecting at the bottom of your stove. This aspect could potentially be seen as a negative if you're camping in a place like Yosemite, where the less food to hit the ground, the better. Additionally, the entire stove is painted black, the most filth friendly color.
The Camp Chef Pro 60 was one of the most involved models to clean. Unlike the Stansport Outdoor, there is a thin metal sheet beneath the cooking grate and burners that prevents food spills from landing on the ground. Food bits accumulate here until you unscrew a special hook on the left side and remove the grate (it cannot just be lifted out like most two-burner stoves). Once you've done this, everything is accessible and easy to clean, but it's a bit of a pesky step.
At the bottom of the pack for Ease of Care was the Primus Onja. While this stove is cute as a button, it has lots of bells and whistles that do not appear to be as durable as we would have liked. The base of the stove is covered in black fabric that, though removable via tons of Velcro, is bound to get messed up and possibly burned, given enough time. On top of that, there is a removable shoulder strap and a non-removable packing strap that holds in an oak cutting board — a cool feature for sure, but both of these things get dirty and stretched out quickly, as well as often being in the way. Finally, the paint around the burners is white — after our very first use, the paint was irreparably burned black from the heat of the burners.
Wind resistance is tricky to test, as you can't exactly order up the same wind for every cooking experience. And when it does crop up, it can significantly interfere with the performance of a stove. Even the smallest bit of wind can drastically effect a flame and its efficiency. What became really clear for us in assessing this metric is that, despite the 60-70,000 BTUs available on our bigger models, wind resistance suffered due to a lack of adequate wind protection from, primarily, the large amount of physical space between the cookware and the burners. Our top two performers in this category, the Stansport 2-Burner and the Camp Chef Everest, had the essential balance of high BTUs (50,000 and 40,000 respectively), as well as a compact design.
Both the Coleman Instastart and the Primus Onja really struggled in this department. These are the stoves with the lowest BTUs and neither has a windscreen, so it doesn't come as much of a surprise. One of the tests we gave the stoves in order to attempt to measure wind in a more controlled manner, was to set up a box fan 24 inches to the side of each stove, and run it continuously on low — while trying to boil water. The Instastart took a whopping 21.5 minutes to complete the task and we gave up on the Primus Onja after 27 minutes and waning fuel.
At least in the case of the Coleman Instastart you could supplement your own windscreen, but with the funky tall and narrow design of the Primus Onja, this isn't nearly as feasible. Others that struggled with this test were the the Coleman Triton, clocking in at 15 minutes, and the Stansport Outdoor at 9.5 minutes. All of the other stoves made it through the box fan test in 8.5 minutes or less, with the Camp Chef Everest and Stansport 2-Burner hardly being phased, taking only 15 to 60 seconds longer than without the fan (remember however, that the fan was set up on the side — results would be different for wind coming from the front, or wind that was constantly changing directions).
Our winners for packed size were the Coleman Instastart and the Primus Kinjia, as noted in the chart below.
The Instastart comes with a handy lightweight plastic suitcase, measuring 14.25 x 12 x 4.5 inches, while the sleek and slim Kinjia design is a mere 18.5 x 11.75 x 3.5 inches. Both have obvious accessible handles and are just plain easy to store away in your car and carry around.
No shocker, the giant Camp Chef Pro 60 scored the lowest on packed size. Disassembled, this stove's dimensions are 33 x 14.5 x 9.5 inches. The windscreen and leg stabilizer do not pack inside the stove, so these items have to be transported separately. Add in the fact that this stove weighs 47 pounds, and you don't have the most easily transportable stove. But hey, you'll burn off a few calories lugging it around before you cook all that food.
There are many different accessories to go with camp stoves, from cookwear to griddle attachments. Some that we recommend looking into are the Camp Table with Legs 32 and the Camp Chef Two Burner Carry Bag. A camp table can come in very handy if you are planning on cooking up an awesome meal away from the comforts of a picnic table. And a carrying case helps keep everything compact and in one location, while also keeping it all protected.
Check out the Camp Chef Deluxe Outdoor Oven or the Stansport Steel Outdoor Stove and Oven if you want to bake cinnamon rolls or cookies while the rest of your meal cooks (no, we're not kidding!), as well as the various grills and griddles available from Camp Chef that you can add to the top of the Camp Chef Pro 60.
As mentioned above, Eureka has some very cool accessories, namely the Jetlink Hose and the Luna Satellite Burner, add-ons that allow you to hook up another stove or a JetBoil and run it all off the same fuel source.
The Coleman Hyperflame Fyrecadet trademarked Swaptop design allows you to unclip the burner grate it comes with and replace it with any other Swaptop accessory, such as the Coleman Roadtrip Swaptop Cast Iron Griddle. And Primus makes some lovely, though not cheap, utensil sets such as the Primus Campfire Prep Set and the Primus Campfire Cutting Set.
With a large assortment of camp stoves on the market to choose from, making a final decision about what type to buy is no easy task. Deciding how many burners you want, whether you want a free-standing or table top design, what potential accessories you may want to add to your set upů all these choices depend on the number of people you plan to camp with and cook for, the available packing space in your vehicle, the cookware you plan to use, and your basic needs as a camp chef. Hopefully our thorough testing will help you sort through the options and find the stove that is best for you and your needs. If you still need guidance on how to choose, please read through our Buying Advice article.
— Penney Garrett
Table of Contents
You Might Also Like