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How To Shop For a New Camping Stove in 2021

The Best Camping Stove for You

When it comes to camping stoves, there is no universal best model. Depending on your needs, the size of your camping group and how far you're looking to travel, what camping stove is the best will significantly vary. Certain people may be looking for a camping stove for a single person, relying much more on portability and less the stovetop size. Knowing exactly what you're looking for will help you find the best product for you.

There are some universal considerations for premium camping stoves though.

  • Heat Output
  • Fuel Type
  • Safety Features
  • Accessories
  • Cooking Surface
  • Portability

Propane Camping Stoves Vs Gas Camping Stoves

The majority of camping stoves on the market will use propane, but there are multiple variations of fuel type within camping stoves. That said, propane is the industry standard for a reason. Most other options like liquid fuel stoves will fall short in one of the many categories that propane excels at, with some fuels burning too cold and others being much more expensive than propane. When shopping for a camping stove, you will want to invest in propane for the best experience.

propane camping stove

Cooking Heat

When shopping for a stove for camping, it's critical to keep in mind what you're planning to cook, for how long and for how many people. The heat generated by the camping stove is going to be one of the main things to consider. Within that, there are two primary considerations, does the maximum BTU output meet your needs, and are the lower settings also useable?

For most camp stoves, anything over 10,000BTU will be more than enough for your camping trip as that will be enough to cook most meats in a reasonable amount of time and get water boiling. Of course, higher BTU counts up to a certain point are always useful. A camping stove that offers 30,000 BTU, for example, will cook everything quite quickly and work properly during chilly nights. If you're planning trips to high altitudes or areas with cold weather, a camping stove with 60,000 BTU or more is suggested.

The second key for knowing if a camping stove is right for you is to test how well the different heat settings for the camping stove work. Powerful burners don't necessarily mean that something will be the best outdoor camping stove, as a lot of food needs to cook or simmer at low settings. Finding a camping stove that has reasonable temperature control, with diverse but useful lower settings, will ensure that dinner time is easy to manage instead of a race against burning your food.


One of the main benefits of camping stoves is bringing them wherever you need them to be, which is why portability is a crucial factor in how convenient an outdoor camping stove is. If a product is hard to pack up and move around, there isn't a reason to invest in portable gas stove camping. Luckily many manufacturers know this and ensure that their camping stoves are easy to move around. The two main factors in determining how portable a camping stove are how compact it can be and what surfaces you can use it on.

The best portable camping stoves on the market will have essential features like wheels and a foldable exterior to ensure that they aren't too hard to move around. Though most options on the market will fold away to a compact design, the top picks will include the wheels that make it easy to travel with. Camping stoves are necessarily heavy; ones that use durable materials and good construction will up to about 70lbs, which makes them hard to pick up and carry around. Even though some companies attempt to market wheels as an accessory, they are truly a necessity to anyone who wants to get their camping stove more than a few feet away from the car.

The second factor of portability is that you want to find a camping stove that can be used on or off tables. Some camping stoves will make the stovetop inaccessible or unsafe while they are in their compact state, making them inflexible. The best camping stoves can be deployed on a picnic table while folded or on the ground when free-standing; anything else is compromising on flexibility and won't be the perfect camping stove for you.

outdoor camping stove

Burners and Cooking Space

There is a broad spectrum when it comes to how many burners are on a camping stove.  It's easy to write off burner count as something that is only important to campers looking to cook for large groups, but even solo campers can benefit from having multiple burners. Outside of solo campers who are travelling to very remote places, single-burner stoves are typically outclassed by the flexibility offered by juggling various heat sources at once.

A critical caveat to the idea that more is better is that the stove should offer similar BTU burners across the spectrum and that more than three burners have massively diminishing returns. If a stove has multiple burners, but they have different power levels, it often results in having a single 'favorite' burner to use while cooking and having the others go un-used and becomes wastes of space. If the burners don't have similar boil times for a litre of water, it will be challenging to balance cooking, and you would be better off with a more compact size for your camping stove with fewer burners. When it comes to burner count, it simply gets challenging to manage more than three dishes at a time on the stove, so 3 is probably the best number of adjustable burners for most campers.

Beyond the number of burners, there is also space considerations when it comes to finding a good camping stove. The right camping stove is going to have enough cooking space to ensure that you can cook everything you need to be cooking at the same time. Having more than one burner doesn't help if the cooking space is too small to accommodate a pot or pan on each separate one. A genuinely high-quality stove will also have a little space on either side where you can rest items that aren't currently cooking or a place for you to set your cooking utensils. When you're considering these side spaces, ensure that they are guaranteed to carry a fair amount of weight. Products like the Outland Living Summerland Stove can carry up to 60lbs on either side, which guarantees that you can rest anything you're cooking on there easily.

Try to imagine what you will be cooking on the stove and what you need to cook those meals. This will help you determine the size of stove you need.

For example:

  • Large Pots for Boiling Water
  • Large Griddles for Barbecue
  • Pans for Breakfast Foods
  • Heating Racks

Safety Considerations

While safer than cooking with an open flame or a wood stove, there are some important safety considerations to consider when finding the right stove for you. The first of these is going to be build quality. Though you might save some money buying a cheaper stove, an unsafe unit is going to be useless in the long run, so it's worth investing in high-quality aluminum burners and durable steel construction. You should also watch for any sharp edges on the stove, as a good quality product will have absolutely none.

The second safety consideration involves flame and heat control. A good stove will heat the cooking surface and the cooking surface alone; this is critical to ensuring that it's safe to use, but some stoves will use less controlled intense flames to raise their BTU count artificially. It can be challenging to tell if a stove is doing this before purchase but an excellent way to know if a stove is safe is to look for CSA, or similar certification. If a stove is CSA approved, that means that they have well-controlled flames and all common touch points are safe to use. Additionally, check if a stove is safe to use on grass, the best options in camping stoves use thermal shields to keep the cooking heat off their siding. If the camping stove you're looking for is safe to use on grass, you can be sure that their thermal shielding is strong and effective enough to protect you as well.

Shopping for Portable Camping Stoves in 2020/2021

In 2020/2021 you're likely shopping for your camping stove online. When you're looking to buy online, it's essential to look for measurements like burner count, BTU//Hour and CSA certification to ensure that you're looking at a good stove. Additionally, looking for materials like aluminum burners and a steel frame will ensure that you're getting a durable stove that will follow you on multiple camping trips. Finally, it's always good to look for online reviews of any camping stove that you're considering so you can learn from other's experiences.

When shopping online, try to purchase directly from the manufacturer's website if the option is available.

Common questions

Can I Barbecue on a Camping Stove?
Yes, but you do need a griddle. Unlike traditional barbecues camping stoves aren't made to have food placed directly on the heating surface. Anything that you want to cook will need to be cooked with a pot/pan/griddle. When in doubt, treat a camping stove like a kitchen stovetop.
Are Camping Stoves Allowed Where I'm Camping?
Traditionally CSA approved camping stoves are safe and allowed to use at most campgrounds even during a burn ban. Additionally, most campgrounds that have fire rules have rules about open flames, which a camping stove is not. If you're unsure about using your camping stove at a campground, ensure that you ask about their local rules and regulations as they may be different.
Can I Cook On A Camping Stove?
Generally yes, anything that can be cooked on a kitchen stovetop can be cooked with a camping stove. The only consideration needed is the environment that you're attempting to cook in. Cold temperatures, high altitudes and high winds all lower the heat output of your stove. This means that though some dishes may be able to be cooked on a camping stove, there is a chance that your meal can't be cooked in certain conditions. Make sure to buy a camping stove powerful enough for the places you plan to explore!