What do you look for in the best camping stove? There are hundreds of options available for all manner of outdoor eventuality, but as a rule you'll be after something that's robust enough to be used where you set up camp, portable and light enough for you to carry around (unless of course you're getting to camp by car), and easy to use, especially when you're trying to make a meal in the dark at the end of a long day.
If you're looking for one stove to do it all, then a simple portable gas stove is probably your best pick (such as our current leader, the Primus Firestick), as these tend to be easy to maintain, hard to break, and quick to fire up. They also tend to be lightweight, so will fit the bill for most situations, from a hiking trip to a weekend car-camping. However, if you're looking for more firepower and plan to only car camp, then a larger, more robust option will suit you down to the ground.
While you're sorting your catering setup, you might also want to check out our guides to the best camping cookware sets and the best camping chairs, and perhaps the best camping lanterns too (cooking in the dark is no fun for anyone).
- Browse our pick of the best tents for camping
- Balance your stove on one of the best camping tables
- Keep cosy: these are the best sleeping bags
The best camping stove 2021
Primus knows a few things about stoves, and the Primus Firestick is a good example of great engineering combined with the very best in stove technology. There are a variety of clever things going on in this relatively small and light gas stove, which all come together to make something greater than the sum of the parts. For starters, the stainless steel pot supports fold around the central gas burner like flower petals, protecting the delicate bits with a steel shroud that's both practical and dare we say it – beautiful. Hidden deep in those delicate bits is a regulated valve, which means you get a consistent burn as the gas canister empties, making flame control much easier and less annoying in general.
This is all good news, but the real cherry on top is that the inevitable piezo igniter is in a separate pencil-style unit, allowing you to leave it at home when it breaks. Oh, and one last thing – the woolen storage pouch is designed to be used as a pot gripper. The end result is everything that good outdoor equipment should be – easy to use but pleasant to handle, multi-purpose without being impractical, and entirely reliable. A genuine keeper of a stove that you'll use time and time again.
The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L is a gas stove with a difference... or three. As an integrated system, this takes all the trial and error out of a setup: just add gas and you're ready to cook up an outdoor storm. As a ‘system’ cooker, it builds in a variety of efficiencies that save fuel and help fight some of the issues all gas cookers suffer from. Firstly, one of the two non-stick 2.3L pans has a heat exchanger in the base, there’s a built-in wind guard to keep heat where you want it, and the built-in burner has a regulator to help smooth out gas delivery. This is particularly useful as the gas canister empties, but also at altitude or in cold conditions. That ‘remote’ gas canister can be insulated from cold ground too, unlike traditional ‘stand-up’ gas stoves.
Because the PrimeTech has a broad base it’s also very tough to accidentally knock over, making this a great option for family weekends away as well as more serious 2-5 person mini-expeditions. With included tongs and a built-in igniter, this is an entire kitchen in a stuff sack – add a spork apiece and you’re set for adventure. The only disadvantage here is the kilo-plus weight, but you’ll tote less gas than with other setups thanks to the efficiency, and split between 2-5 people and it's not such a burden.
Simple to use and very portable, the Campingaz Twister Plus PZ isn't the smallest or lightest camping stove here, but you can just about stuff it in a big pocket (don't forget to put a gas cartridge in your backpack) and it'll do the job for one or two people. It has a built-in lighter so that's one less thing to worry about, and it'll happily boil a litre of water in 3-4 minutes. The lack of wind protection means you might need to pack a portable windshield as well, but overall this is a fantastic little stove at an easily-affordable price point. Head to our Campingaz Twister Plus PZ review for more info.
The Vango Atom encapsulates all the reasons gas stoves are so popular, as well as their shortcomings. Very packable (6x4cm folded), lightweight (66g), and with no igniter to fail, this is as simple as stoves get, while still knocking out a potent 3000W that’ll boil a litre of water in 3.5minutes. When weight is a concern (backpacking, trekking, mountaineering) this is an ideal candidate. The drawbacks are the potential for instability when fully-laden with a big pan of dinner, and the fact that gas isn’t ideal in low temperatures or at altitude. However, for everything else this is well worth a look, especially at such a reasonable price.
The BioLite CampStove 2 has a lot going on, being an upgrade on many fronts to the original very similar-looking CampStove. To summarise, this is essentially a tiny fire pit, so you'll need a nearby woodland for a supply of twigs, or pack some pellets along with you. Aside from that fuel practicality, the little stove delivers a lot of bang for buck, charging an onboard 2600 mAh battery with the heat of the fire, resulting in 3watts of continuous power to juice up devices. Part of that generated power is used to run a powerful fan system that ensures a clean burn, with an improved four fan speeds, controllable via the funky LED dashboard on the side. An articulated USB light can be connected to add additional lighting angles – good for the prefect 'Gram, as well as practical for loading in more fuel.
Beyond the charging technology on offer, the CampStove 2 has an integrated pot stand on the top, delivering a Boil Time of 4.5 min for a litre of water, and there's a dedicated Kettlepot and Grill if you want the full kit. The big downside here is the weight, coming in at just under a kilo, so this is really one for the car campers, but as an off-grid charger, focal point fire pit and cooker there's not much competition out there – unique and Insta-friendly, what more could you want?
The Coleman Fyrestorm PCS (Personal Cooking System) is our top pick of the best camping stoves because it’s a compact, all-weather all-rounder that delivers a lot of features for its wallet-friendly price. The main body of the stove is a gas burner and generous 1.3L cooking pot, with a hose out to the gas cartridge, which has plenty of benefits.
The external gas cartridge increases stability of the main pot, as it has a lower centre of gravity, and in cold conditions the gas cartridge can be kept warm off the ground, preventing gas pressure drop from cold. The burner has wind protection built-in, and also traps as much heat as possible, adding to efficiency. Coleman claims a 2200W output and a fast boil time of just over four minutes in no wind, increasing to six minutes 35 seconds when the winds get up. A built-in igniter also cuts down on extra faffery, and another neat touch is being able to peg the stove feet down if required for extra stability. There are lighter stoves out there, but the convenience of the Coleman will really make a difference after a long day.
The Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV has fun written all over it, with a built-in wok as well as a gas BBQ-style griddle, this is a certain winner at a festival or family campsite. It’s not light (as BBQ’s with built-in woks tend not to be), but it will feed an army in fun informality. Built in piezo ignition fires up your barbie in seconds, while a grease trap in the base makes light work of cleaning up afterwards. As some campsites dislike BBQs on the ground, this is purpose-built to placate them, and while the 2000W burner will run for 3 hours on a Campingaz CV Plus cartridge, these gas bottles are industry standard in campsites across Europe (unlike some), so getting refills won’t be an issue. Head to our Campingaz Party Grill 400 review to find out more of what we thought.
We took the Outwell Jimbu Stove on a recent camping trip and had a brilliant time cooking eggs and porridge and toasting bread each morning. It also served us well during dinner times, thanks to its split cooking surface area that enables you to handle different cooking types or pots at once. The built-in windshields came in handy when the wind picked up, protecting the flame from stronger gusts that would have put an end to lesser camping stoves. It's pretty darn easy to clean too, thanks to a removable drip-tray and grate, so you won't be faced with a messy clean-up job once you get home and unpacking your camping gear. This stove is so simple to use, even beginners will be up and running within seconds. Feed it with gas cartridges.
The revamped Jetboil Flash camping stove delivers more of the same water-warming efficiency for even less weight, much to the annoyance of it’s many rivals. Efficiency and speed are the name of the game here, with a claimed boiling speed of 100 sec per 16 oz (1/2 Litre) of water leaving the others lukewarm and late. The Flash adds in a colour-changing sleeve that shows you when the contents are hot (handy for avoiding casual burns) and retains the flux ring and inbuilt piezo igniter of older models. Although limited in terms of the cooking you can do (frying is pretty much out), the Jetboil will deliver boil-in-the-bag and rehydrated meals in a flash.
Jetboil have busied themselves in producing a widening range of accessories, including the handy but niche Coffee Press, and even more niche Hanging Kit (for big-wall climbing escapades), a Pot Support, Skillet, and additional larger FluxRing Cooking Pot. Overall it’s a great water-heating system that has only improved over the years.
Although gas is super-convenient, sometimes liquid fuel is all that’s available. Liquid fuel stoves can usually burn anything including gas, gasoline/petrol, diesel, kerosene/paraffin and aviation fuel, so for more remote expeditions they’re a real essential. You don’t need to be headed to the Karakoram for a liquid stove to be useful though, as the fuel is often cheaper than gas canisters, less bulky and more weight-efficient over long periods or when cooking for small groups.
The OmniLite Ti is the lightweight sibling (350g) of the OmniFuel, a veteran of many an expedition and a time-proven, field-fixable bombproof heating machine. With a selection of jets for different fuels, an ingenious folding construction and a flame control that is easily operated wearing gloves, this is a serious stove for serious occasions. Buy one and you’ll never need another stove, it’s that simple.
The Primus Onja Stove should certainly get a best camping stove design award if such a thing existed on T3. A beautifully engineered twin-burner gas stove, this is a real looker as well as a practical cooker for larger groups when camping and chilling outdoors. It's ideal for teaming with a luxury camping tent for some glamping action.
Of course, at a shade over 3kg this is no trekking stove! But the fact that the oak lid doubles as a chopping board probably told you that anyway. The Onja opens out from ‘flat’ into an X configuration to add stability and provide pan support, and while it really likes a table or bench to sit on, is stable with the weightiest pan. The 2x 2800W burners may eat a 230g gas cartridge in 34 mins, but you’ll be eating very well long before that, thanks to the Onja. A fantastic choice for stylish but practical family and friends outdoor get-togethers.
As you might have guessed from the name, the MSR Windburner’s biggest selling point is that it stays lit even in windy conditions, so it’s perfect for climbers, hikers, and those brave souls who like to go camping nearer the end of the year. The ‘loct pot’ design is great for retaining heat when it’s chilly outside, and the insulated cosy with handle means you can carry it around without accidental burns. The burner’s very efficient, too. If you’re looking for a camping burner for your next extreme trip, but balk at the expensive Snow Peak GigaPower, this is the one for you.
How could we ever leave this genius piece of kit out of our best camping stoves buyer's guide? If you’re looking for extreme lightness and don’t want to faff with solid fuels and an Esbit, this leftfield choice is a winner. Lightweight titanium construction brings this tiny stove down to 25g, and paired with a suitable titanium pot this will get you hot tea in minutes for barely any weight – indeed, it’s so small that you’ve probably forgotten to bring it. The downsides are really the result of this tiny design, in that stability is poor, and the tiny pot support arms will not deal with much weight at all. Flame control is also somewhat minimal (on or off), in spite of a claimed output of 2700w, which seems potentially optimistic. However, as a wallet-friendly stove that is almost non-existent in weight terms it’s brilliant. Just don't plan on cooking anything substantial on it.
While it's not the lightest camping stove on this list, the Solo Stove Lite has a trick up its sleeve: you won't need to carry fuel around with you. This stove will run on a handful of sticks, twigs, pine cones or other biomass (or an alcohol burner), which means you'll never be short on fuel if you're camping in the countryside. The double walled design gives a secondary burn of the wood gas, essentially providing a hotter fire with less smoke. It's eco-friendly, efficient and compact, making it a great choice for your next trip into the wilderness. It's also extremely well reviewed across the board, with many users commenting on how effective and efficient this stove is, as well as praising the quality of design and construction.
How to choose the best portable camping stove
The best camping stove for you is a broad question indeed, with a huge variation in performance and fuel types on the market. An important question to consider is just how vital your stove is. Although the same gas burner might work as well melting snow on an overnight bivvy in the Alps, as it does making tea after a long walk in Kent, the consequences of failure are somewhat different. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you invest in one of the best camping stoves it should last for decades, so spending a few pounds more will pay off in the longer run.
Factors such as the size of your group, what you’ll be cooking, the time of year you’ll be camping and at what altitude all come into play, as well as cost and/or availability of fuel. Broadly, the first big decision is fuel type (gas, liquid or solid), which influences the type of heat you’ll be dealing with and thus what you can cook on it. Let's take a closer look at these now...
What are the main types of camping stove?
There are three main types of fuel when it comes to camping stoves:
- Solid fuel camping stoves
- Liquid fuel stoves
- Canister gas stoves
Solid fuel stoves are intended for very light duties such as boiling water, and are relatively simple to use, except in high winds when they become almost useless.
Liquid stoves can burn a myriad of liquid fuels from paraffin through to solvents and petrol. These have low running costs and are excellent for longer expeditions and in remote places where fuel may be scarce. Liquid stoves are also the only choice for higher altitude (2000m+), as the lower pressure doesn’t affect them, and are also brilliant in full winter conditions where gas canisters can freeze up and lose pressure.
On the downside, they require maintenance and are more fiddly to operate, although modern stoves don’t require the same lengthy priming operations as many older models.
Most commonly, canister gas stoves are the popular choice, being simple to light and offering good flame control. Options range from heavy catering appliances through to incredibly lightweight burners, so there is quite literally a gas stove for every situation.
Alongside the style of stove, you also need to consider its stability. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of knocking a full dinner onto the floor when out in the wild knows it can be devastating. If you've got little ones running around your camp, you may want to avoid lighter travel camping stoves and opt for a stronger tabletop alternative instead.