If you, like everyone else, have been itching to spend more time outdoors — whether it's because you're an avid star gazer, have been cooped up during quarantine, are looking for a new family activity, or simply want to take advantage of good weather — there's a good chance you've picked up (or are at least thinking thinking about) camping. Camping has become quite the popular hobby, with 40.4 million people overnighting in the wild sometime during the last year, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
Not only is camping a way to connect with nature, yourself, and loved ones, but also the health benefits are pretty vast: It can act as a mental detox, bolster your immunity, and sleeping outdoors can even help to reset your body clock. And if those aren't reason enough to get outside, scrolling through all the dreamy outdoor pics on Instagram (those tent photos, though) will definitely have you running to the nearest gear shop to stock up on the essentials. (Related: The 12 Best Camping Tents, According to Outdoorsy Reviewers)
While items like tents, sleeping bags, and headlamps might be a given, you should also consider how you'll be fueling your body. Packing a PB&J or living off snacks and protein bars for a day is certainly doable, but if you're planning a multi-day or week-long excursion, having a reliable stove is the key to cooking delicious food and hot drinks at your campsite. Whether you're in need of an option that's lightweight enough for your backpack or compact enough for your car, you can expect consistent fuel output, great simmer controls, and strong flames from today's best camping stoves.
From small tabletop models to freestanding stoves for large groups, this list of the best camping stoves has you covered and will ensure yummy gourmet meals — at the beach, park, or in the woods. (Related: Cute Camping Gear to Make Your Outdoor Adventures Pretty AF)
Coleman Gas Camping Stove
As the best-selling camping stove on Amazon, this affordable pick has earned over 11,000 five-star ratings from shoppers and is perfect for anyone on a budget or new to camping (since it doesn't require a huge investment). The tabletop stove features two 10,000-BTU burners (translation: British Thermal Unit, a form of measurement that measures energy), making it easy to cook for a few people — whether you're boiling water for ramen, cooking steaks, or grilling veggies. It has nice simmer controls and also boasts wind-blocking panels to keep your burners lit on blustery days or evenings. It weighs just 12 pounds and doesn't have a striker, so you'l have to pack matches or a lighter. While it doesn't have some of the fancy features covered by others on this list, it's the best bang for your buck when it comes to camp stoves.
A shopper wrote: "Camping lunches are commonly sandwiches and dinners are skewered over the campfire. But, breakfast? That's when you need some coffee and some substantial food to propel you into the day. That's where this little stove shines. Pot of water for your french press coffee? Check. Two skillet omelette station couple with pre-cracked eggs and pre-cooked meat and veggies? You're cooking in just a couple minutes. I don't want to build a fire in the morning. Not until I have some coffee in me. We love our little Coleman Camp Stove!"
Biolite CampStove 2+
Unlike other models, this one from Biolite doesn't use propane or butane, but rather sticks, wood scraps, or pellets. The heat from these items is converted into electricity via the generator, which powers a fan to send electricity to a USB charging port, so you can charge your phones, lights, and more. Neat, right? This portable stove also has LED indicators so you can easily view the fire strength, available power, and fan speed. And while it may be small, it's mighty: It can boil one liter of water in 4.5 minutes, so you can get dinner on the table quick after a long day on the trail. It's also worth noting that this stove weighs just over 2 pounds and packs down to the size of a 32-ounce water bottle, making it great for backpackers. (Related: The Best Hiking Backpacks for Women)
"Beyond cool and nifty, this thing ROCKS!" raved one five-star reviewer on Amazon. "Easy to use, set up, gather fuel for, cook on... does exactly what you want it to do. Used it at 11k feet for 3 days for 2 meals a day with no issues whatsoever. The blower really helps get things moving when at altitude, too. Size is manageable when transporting; weight isn't too bad, especially considering you don't have to lug fuel around everywhere you go. Keep in mind, it is a little top-heavy, so be sure you're on a level surface. Also, don't be in a rush to charge your device as it takes a little while to charge things up."
Ohuhu Stainless Steel Camping Stove
Made of durable stainless steel, this portable camping stove has a three-arm base support system that helps it remain upright in windy conditions or on unsteady terrain. Similar to the Biolite design previously mentioned, it's fueled by dried twigs, leaves, pinecones, and wood chips (although you can also use solidified alcohol tablets) — making it a lightweight model that doesn't require you to schlep an additional propane tank. It collapses and can be stored in a mesh carry bag when not in use.
"I finally got a chance to use this little stove on a camping trip, and I absolutely love it! It burns hot, and if you keep a little pile of sticks by it, it's easy enough to keep it burning long enough to cook anything you need. Just throw in more wood when it burns low and blow on it to get it going again. Couldn't be easier. On this trip, I cooked two fish, two foil pouches of vegetables, boiled countless pans of water, and all without having to pack in any fuel. It is so small that you are almost certain to find whatever wood you need in most camping locations. But you can also use this with solid alcohol fuel, if you will be going places without wood or if you are worried about finding dry wood," shared a customer.
Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove
Equipped with two burners packing a total of 60,000 BTUs, this camping stove is ideal for car camping and cookouts for larger groups (and even for emergency uses at home, if your power goes out!). While it might look slightly daunting, it's quick to set up and has easy-to-use dials, similar to the ones on your cooktop at home. The downside is that it's heavy — coming in at 36 pounds — so it's not the right fit for backpackers or casual campers. The sturdy legs keep it balanced on uneven ground in the forest or at the beach, and can also be removed if you want to set it on a flat surface. The great thing about Camp Chef is that there are so many accessories you can pair with this stove if you want to add more variety to your outdoor cooking experience, including a pizza oven and griddle. (Related: Cute Camping Gear to Make Your Outdoor Adventures Pretty AF)
One fan wrote: "Bought this grill to use camping. Liked it so much camping I decided to incorporate it into my home grilling system. Bought the pizza oven and made a BBQ island to fit it and my Imperial #5 Kamado smoker. Works great, buying more accessories over the next year."
Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Backpacking and Camping Stove
This all-in-one camping system gives you two 10,000 BTU burners, as well as a pan and pot — and everything nests together for the ultimate storage solution on the go. The 5-liter camping pot comes with a strainer lid (great for making pasta or boiling vegetables outdoors) and the 10-inch ceramic-coated nonstick fry pan is versatile and easy to clean. Reviewers commend the simmer controls, saying that it doesn't take long to heat up or boil liquids, and they like the attachable windscreen, which helps improve the stove's performance in inclement weather. The system weights less than 10 pounds — but that doesn't include a 16-ounce propane bottle that you'll need to get started.
"If you have $350 to spend you won't regret it," said a shopper. "I had boiling water in under 3 minutes last night. Compact and fits in bag. Far better than any other outdoor propane cooking system I've ever used. Doesn't take any awkward space in my vehicle. Doesn't take a lot of time to cool down. Clean up is extremely easy compared to counterparts (I hate cleaning up - but this is easy; rinse-cool-wipe-done)."
Buy It: Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Backpacking and Camping Stove, $380, amazon.com
Snow Peak Home & Camp Burner
If you're creating meals for just one or two people, a single-burner stove is perfectly efficient. This pick is ideal for anyone short on space (hello, backpackers!), great for solo cooking at home, and can even be used as your cooktop option if you're currently living that #Vanlife. To use it, you simply open the top, slide out the legs, engage the locking pin to swivel the burner out onto any surface, and insert a butane gas canister. When you're finished, the burner folds down for convenient storage (into a cylinder that's the size of a large water bottle). This stove has an auto-ignitor, adjustable knob to control the flames, and an expanded trivet to support large cookware for meals. (Related: Everything You Should Know Before Your First Bikepacking Trip)
One reviewer wrote: "Would have given this 5 stars if the outer casing was a bit thicker. It's a bit flimsy. This burner is a bit on the pricey side so I expected a bit better in this regard. If it was just a hair thicker it would be perfect. Otherwise it's a great product and very functional."