How to Pick the Best Camping Stove

man puzzling camp stove choice
Camp stove choices

Essential Cooking Gear… A Good Camp Stove

“Which camping stove is the best?” Or, “What kind of camp stove should I get?”, are two of the questions most frequently asked by new campers, and except for campers with specific extraordinary requirements, the answer is very simple:

A 2-burner Coleman propane stove!

• Skip the how-to, show me the camp stove reviews and prices!

Note: Backpacking stoves are also often called camping stoves, but they are a very different kind of stove from the ones you use in a ‘base’ camp or car camping. They are discussed in another article: Best Camping stoves for Backpacking.

Going straight to the bottom-line; barring some special task requirements as mentioned above, the best camping stove for you is going to be a 2-burner Coleman propane camp stove. Period!

A brief explanation: (only partly referring to Coleman specifically)

  • Coleman’s first camp stoves were for the US Army in 1930, and they have been improving and expanding their products ever since.
  • Like the old saying; “the proof is in the pudding,” Coleman’s stoves have been the top choice of campers, new and experienced, year after year, and for good reason, – they get the job done!

Now back to why your choice for the best camp stove is a 2-burner propane stove:

  1. a 1-burner stove isn’t really a general-purpose stove, (it’s a specific need or circumstance stove), and a 3-burner stove usually just doesn’t have enough top space to use three pots or pans at one time. Too many burners crowded into too little space. Of course you can find exceptions, but that is usually the situation.

    If you need more than two burners, get two 2-burner stoves, you will be glad you did.

  2. Propane – because it is;
    • Easier and safer to transport – Ease of use and convenience are its prime assets.
    • Quicker and easier to hook up and use. *liquid fuel stoves require the filling of tanks and pumping-up to pressurize.
    • Propane gives an instant cooking flame as soon as it is lit. (liquid fuel stoves take a minute to generate a cooking flame)
    • Propane last longer than Butane, and is usually cheaper.
Coleman Camping Stove propane hook-up
Portable propane tank hook-up is as simple as screwing the bottle to a simple connector tube.
Coleman Camping Stove liquid fuel setup
Liquid fuel stoves require you to fill a tank with liquid fuel and then pressurize it with a pumping plunger.
*Important note: If you do a lot of Winter cold weather camping – a liquid fuel stove should be your choice. They perform better in cold weather than propane or butane.

About Liquid fuel stoves:
Liquid fuel stoves have their good points. They provide a hotter cooking flame, especially in temperatures below freezing. Extreme cold weather greatly reduces the performance of propane tanks, it reduces the tank pressure which reduces the strength of the flame.

They are also a lot cheaper to operate. The typical 16.4oz camping propane tanks costs $3 – $6 and last between 1 and 3 hours cooking. Liquid fuel is $3, (unleaded gas) – $11, (Coleman White gas), and a gallon of liquid fuel will last a lot longer than a half dozen of the propane tanks. And there is the availability question. Even though the 16.4oz. propane tanks are readily available in most camping locations – unleaded gas is available everywhere! But if you are a conscientious camper, (which you should be), there is also the matter of disposal – empty propane bottles need to be properly disposed of, not just tossed in the trash, as is typical of too many campers.

Which reinforces the decision that for the majority of 3-season campers – Propane is the choice.
*Liquid fuel users are passionate about their stoves, but that is an on-going debate among experienced campers. If you aren’t in that group, then your best first choice is to go with a propane stove.

A note from Gus: Thanks to Jim, and his service dog camping buddy Beam, for reminding me of this. Almost all camping stove reviews, here and elsewhere, are done at altitudes of less than 2000 feet. If you camp at higher altitudes, a liquid fuel stove might be a better consideration. Especially in colder weather.

Basic camp stove features you want to have:

  • At least 7,500 BTU per burner – Don’t settle for less, you will regret it later. Most 2-burners with this heat rating will give you over an hour full high heat per portable propane tank, and almost five hours at low and medium settings.
    **Of course all cooking varies, but cooking for four for a weekend will usually use less than 2 propane tanks
  • Wind screen – in the above pictures, note the flaps on each end of the stove. Along with the top which opens and forms the back part of the wind screen, these flaps fold out to block the wind from each end of the stove. Without a wind screen, the lightest breeze will disperse your burner flame heat and make cooking a very long process.
    *Note that the wind screens will fold flush with the back and out of the way if you don’t need them, or need room for a very large pot or skillet.
  • Sturdy cooking grid to support the camping cookware you will be using, and a removable aluminum or steel drip pan. (a must to make your stove easy to clean)
camp stove cook top
A not-so-good stove top: support grid should be stronger and provide less “gaps” that can catch pot edges.
good camp stove top
This is an excellent stove top. Notice the sturdy, more substantial grid coverage and the complete drip-pan coverage.

If the stove you pick includes the basics listed above, you will have a good piece of camping equipment that will serve your needs on most typical camp-outs.

Portable camp stove pricing:

Of course a final factor that should strongly influence your decision, is dependability. Usually the difference between a recognized and trusted brand like Coleman, and a generic or store-brand model, is only a few dollars. Buying an off-brand to save $5 or $10 is usually a mistake you will regret sooner rather than later when it fails you at the worst time, or when you need any kind of company support.

And Coleman isn’t the only good brand you can trust, there are several others, like; Texsport, Stansport, or Camp Chef. Any of these are brands you can trust, just make sure you pick a camp stove that has a camping company to back it up.

Now about the extras:
Like any product, there is always; Good-Better-Best. Even Coleman has seven or eight different models of 2-burner stoves. You can get features like; Insta-start, (electronic ignition, – no match needed), or porcelain/steel cooking grids, or griddle and grilling surfaces, or extra-extra-heavy-duty, and even up to 60,000 BTUs, and so on. You can spend as little as $40 or $50, or up to $400 for a Deluxe suitcase-style self-contained cooking station.

Once you have the basics – everything else is gravy. Let your wallet be your guide. There is no reason you need an expensive porcelain/steel cooking grid, but if having it is worth the extra money to you, – go for it, it’s your money and will be your stove.

Caveat; These recommendations are for typical/average/normal camping use. Of course there are extreme camping conditions that may require different stove performance and construction features, but if that is the case, you are probably knowledgeable and camp-savvy enough to know what your extra needs are.

A few questions to ask yourself before you decide on a particular model:

  • How much cooking will you be doing – If the answer is a lot, and very frequently, then a propane camp stove with an accessory hose/adapter to hook-up to a bulk 20# propane tank should be a consideration.
  • What will you be using your camp stove on – a tail-gate, campsite picnic table, other camp table, or even an RV camper fold-down shelf. – The place you plan to use it, could influence the model you choose.

    For instance; If you have one of those fold-up camp cooking station tables – it’s important that your stove dimensions fit your table top dimensions.

  • Where and what time of year will you be using it. High-altitude and extreme cold weather camping will dictate that you consider liquid fuel stoves, which perform much better than propane or butane stoves in these conditions.

Here are few examples of good 2-burner camping stoves

Even if you are not ready to buy yet, or plan to buy in a store instead of online, these examples will give you important comparisons that will help your decision.
*Note – all shopping links are my own Amazon affiliate links – which I only use to recommend good-quality camping gear – Gus

#1 Top Pick in the $50 price range
This is the basic model of a durable 2-burner stove. It fits all the basic criteria above, but without the extra frills that come with more expensive models.

Not only is this a good “starter” camp stove, but it is also the model you hear other campers praising as the stove they have used for years of dependable service. Price range $50 – $60

Note: The above links will also show you other Coleman 2-burner camp stove choices.


Complete Camping Stove and Cookware Starter set, all in one package! Great for the new camper. All the basics needed for campsite cooking in one inexpensive package. – Camp Stove, Pots and Pans, Cooking and eating utensils, Plates, Cups, and more.<
And here are comparison choices for 2-burn stoves by Camp Chef, Texsport, and Stansport.




>>> See more camp stove guides and resources.

Where to Buy The Camping Gear You Need:
The logical thought is your local camping and outdoor supply store. And that may be a good choice if you can catch a hot sale. But quality camping cookware and equipment can be pricey, – so go prepared, check online prices first so you have something to compare to. is a good place to check first. They are the most trusted marketplace online, their prices are usually better than anywhere else. Almost every item qualifies for Free shipping for purchases over $35, and their free 3 – 5 day standard shipping is almost always faster than that.
Plus, their return policy is better and easier than Walmart’s.

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Here are some examples of other camping equipment and gear you might need with your camping stove.

Even if you are not interested in buying now, they will give you an idea of the choices you have and the prices you can expect.


Storage Tips: How to pack your cooking gear; The first Choice would be a real camping chuck box, but if you are not that “into it” yet, then a 30-gal plastic tote works, or even plastic milk crates, or a large canvas duffel bag. Just stay away from cardboard boxes, sooner or later, (probably sooner), the bottom will fall out and all your gear will be on the ground.

Another reason to check-out Amazon, -free standard shipping. Camping equipment can be heavy, and almost everything discussed here will ship for free if your purchase is over $35!

Notes and discussions:

Here are a few more pieces of camping gear you might be interested in:

If you go camping with kids, you should have at least one Pie Iron, (preferably one for each kid), in your camping cookware. They are versatile – you can make anything from grilled cheese sandwiches to instant fruit pies. And they are so safe and easy to use that you can let your young campers make their own fun camping recipes for kids.

Just pop in the ingredients, close, cook over the campfire, and out comes delicious sandwiches, or biscuit-dough fruit tarts, or dozens of other camp food choices.


Once you use a folding camp shovel, and discover all its uses around camp you will wonder why you didn’t include one in your camp gear sooner. This sturdy but light-weight Coleman model is so compact it even fits in a 10″ carry-bag. Here are some of the models available: Folding Camp Shovel

Here are some samples of other campfire cooking gear you can find on Amazon. Just like the fire starters, once you have one of these camp tools you will wonder how you ever did without it. Especially when you see how inexpensive they are when you buy them online.

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