Best camping stoves 2020: cook up a feast in the great outdoors

Whether you're camping with friends or family or enjoying a solo trek, pack a top camping stove to cook, grill, boil and toast on site

The best camping stoves: cook up a feast in the great outdoors

Nothing gives us more joy when camping than cooking a delicious breakfast right outside our tent, or boiling water for a hot drink after a long day of adventuring. If that sounds like your idea of heaven too, you'll need the best camping stove for your needs to do it right.

Camping stoves, just like head torches, come in a range of sizes and prices, and sport a variety of features to keep them protected from wind and to ensure they stay rust-free for longer. The smallest of these weatherproof stoves are ideal for use during backpacking trips and multi-day hikes – after all, you still need to eat on the trail. 

We've even used our camping stove when spending the day at the beach, using it to boil hot water for a cuppa. Whether you're looking to knock up a family meal on the campsite, or melt snow on a mountainside to get water to drink, a camping stove is an essential bit of outdoors gear to keep you fed and warm.

As you explore the wilds more and more, you may end up with a few different camping stoves for different scenarios. After all, a bigger portable stove with twin burners and a grill section is OTT for backcountry adventures on foot. On the campsite though, with a hungry brood to feed, you'll be glad of the extra cooking space.

That said, there are several models featured in this best camping stoves buyer’s guide that ‘do it all’ effectively, albeit with slight compromises on weight or capacity. Before we get to those, and especially if you're in a hurry, let's take a look at our number one stove...

Best camping stove: our expert pick

  • The best camping stove overall is one that's rugged and weatherproof, and with enough versatility to handle outdoors and campsite cooking in all its guises. It should also be easy to use, in all types of weather, and be light enough to cart around.
  • As such, our current top pick is the super-handy Coleman Fyrestorm PCS. It's tough enough to withstand the rough and tumble of camping life, and is compact enough to be thrown in your backpack if you're wild camping.

Choosing the best camping stove for you

The best camping stove for you is a broad question indeed, with a huge variation in performance and fuel types on the market. However, panic not - it’s just a matter of deciding what for and where you’re planning to use the stove.  

Factors such as the size of your group, what you’ll be cooking, what 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...

Best camping stoves 2019: woman charges tablet on BioLite stove while man cooks kebabs

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 (such as the Esbit Titanium Stove featured below) 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, and are excellent for longer expeditions, low running costs, 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 lengthy priming operations that older models might suffer from. 

Most commonly, canister gas stoves are the popular choice, being simple to light and having good flame control. They 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 on 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.

The best camping stoves to buy now

The best camping stoves: Coleman Fyrestorm PCS

1. Coleman Fyrestorm PCS

Simply the best camping stove for all occassions

Best for: Fast-boiling
Design: Stove plus pot
Matchless: Yes
Weight: : 486g
Reasons to buy
+Efficient in most weathers+Compact design+Durable

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. 

Best camping stoves: Outwell Jimbu Stove

2. Outwell Jimbu Camping Stove

The best camping stove for cooking on blustery days

Best for: Making a heart breakfast
Design: Stove
Matchless: No
Weight: : 3kg
Reasons to buy
+Wind protection+Ease of use+Dual cooking area

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. 

Best camping stoves: Jetboil Flash Java

3. Jetboil Flash

The idiot-proof hot water generator for camping

Best for: Ease of use
Design: Stove plus pot
Matchless: Yes
Weight: : 371g
Reasons to buy
+Rapid hot water+Gas efficient

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.

Best camping stoves: Primus MicronTrail Camping Stove with Piezo

(Image credit: Primus)

4. Primus MicronTrail Camping Stove

The best camping stove for backpacking trips

Reasons to buy
+Teeny and lightweight...+...yet it has a built-in piezo+Boils water in under three minutes

This super-dinky camping stove isn't quite as light as the truly featherweight BRS Titanium Camping Stove further down this list, but it's capable of supporting more weight. That makes it a versatile piece of kit on camping, backpacking and multi-day hiking trips, and without adding unnecessary weight to your pack. 

The MicronTrail is so small, in fact, that it will sit in your pocket of your waterproof jacket when not in use, or you could zip it into the front pocket of your backpack if you don't fancy losing it in the belly of your bag.

Lighting the stove is easy too, as despite the teeny size, weight and price the MicronTrail has a built-in piezo lighter. That coupled with a regulator on the valve to help you better control the flame makes this one of the easiest camping stoves we've used on the trail.

If you're looking for more ultralight camping and backpacking gear, you might also like our round-up of lightweight sleeping bags, as well as our guide to backpacking tents and comfy yet featherlight camping mats.

Best camping stoves 2019: Primus OmniLite Ti

5. Primus OmniLite Ti

Take it with you on hardy expeditions

Best for: Expeditions
Design: Stove only
Matchless: No
Weight: 350g
Reasons to buy
+Proven classic+Big heat output 

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. 

Best camping stoves 2019: BioLite BaseCamp Wood Burning Stove System

6. BioLite BaseCamp Wood Burning Stove System

This camping stove can charge your phone and cook dinner

Best for: Doing it all
Design: Wood-fired stove
Matchless: No
Weight: 10kg
Reasons to buy
+ Cook, grill or boil + USB capabilities 

We could all be forgiven for thinking that camping stoves aren’t the most future-facing bits of kit around, but in the case of the Bio Lite stove, you might be surprised. 

Not only can it grill, cook and boil, offering unparalleled flexibility, it includes its own USB-powered FlexLight for after-dark dinners, and another USB output for charging your devices. It’s also light and compact to carry, with the added bonus of running off wood, meaning you don’t have to allow space for fuel, either. 

Best camping stoves: Primus Onja Stove

7. Primus Onja Stove

The best camping stove for both style and substance

Best for: Home cooking - outside!
Design: Stove
Matchless: No
Weight: : 3,250g
Reasons to buy
+Stunning build quality+Easy to carry

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.

Best camping stoves 2019: Esbit Titanium Stove

8. Esbit Titanium Stove

It looks retro but its performance is anything but

Best for: Packing light
Design: Stove only
Matchless: No
Weight: 11.5g
Price: RRP £10.99
Reasons to buy
+ Light and compact + Adjustable 

This Esbit offering is a handsome retro-style stove for minimalist travellers who like to pack light. The titanium construction makes it incredibly light to carry, and its foldable legs make it compact and easy to pack, ideal for stowing in a pack during climbs or hikes. 

It’s customisable, to be used with a range of pot sizes, and smaller cups can rest on its edges. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a windbreak, so it’s not great for windy days — if this is more of an issue than portability, look to the SunnGas Platinum as an alternative. 

Best camping stoves 2019: MSR Windburner

9. MSR Winderburner

This lightweight camping stove is a stone cold classic

Best for: Hiking
Design: Stove only
Matchless: No
Weight: : 432g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Low faff

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.

Best camping stoves: Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV

10. Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV

A fun family camping grill that's also great for the park

Best for: Grilling and wok cooking
Design: Stove only
Matchless: Yes
Weight: : 4,920kg
Reasons to buy
+Wok frying+Grilling

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. 

11. BRS Titanium Camping Stove

A stupidly ultralight and compact hot tea-making machine

Best for: Ease of use
Design: Stove plus pot
Matchless: Yes
Weight: : 25g
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-lightweight+Smaller than a lighter

Best camping stoves: BRS Titanium Stove

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 25 grams, 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.