You’re going to want one of the best camping stoves to truly complete your ideal basecamp. After an adventure in the great outdoors, nothing is more satisfying than a hearty, hot meal under a darkening sky. As the stars come out to play and your expertly cooked campers’ cuisine is passed around to your grateful companions, you can allow yourself a smile, as you twist the valve and the stove’s hiss abates.
However, choosing the best camping stove is no easy feat. In this day and age there is an almost overwhelming variety of models, all boasting myriad features. Just like choosing the best tent or the best sleeping bag, choosing right stove will depend on the conditions and situations you will use it in.
If you’re heading into the wild, you’re going to want a lightweight, backpacking stove that lights easily, boils quickly and is stable in the wind. Alternatively, if you’re looking to cook slap-up campsite meals for the family, you’re going to want a stove that can take large pans and give you close control over the intensity of the flame. In essence, a tiny outdoor kitchen.
Our round up of the best camping stoves includes models that can boil water in seconds, like the perennially popular JetBoil; cook enough pasta for a pair of ravenous hikers, like the Primus; and heat freeze-dried meals whilst on a windswept mountain summit, like the SOTO Windmaster. The best camping stoves are light, efficient and easy to use – so simple that you’ll wonder why you haven’t carried one for years.
The best camping stoves you can buy
A sophisticated ultralight backpacking stove that boasts great simmer control and excellent wind resistance for a screw-in design.
RRP: $65 (US) / £55 (UK) **Power:** 3,260W / 11,123 BTU/hr | Packed weight: 100g/3.5oz | Minimum weight: 87g/3oz | Burner diameter: 4.5cm/1.8in | Pot support diameter: 14.2cm/5.6in | Assembled height (with 227g gas canister): 18cm/7in | Packed size (h x w x d): 8.8 x 9 x 4.7cm/3.5 x 3.5 x 1.85in | Boil time (500ml of water at sea level in zero wind, air temp 16°C/61°F, starting water temp 11°C/52°F): 2min 14secs
As a classic screw-in type stove, the SOTO Windmaster has all the traditional advantages of a conventional canister-top design, namely, quick and easy set-up plus minimal weight and pack size. This makes it a good choice for extended backpacking trips or fast and light missions. However, as its name suggests, the Windmaster also offers superior performance in breezy and gusty conditions compared to most of its screw-in rivals.
The secret is its effective engineering. The concave burner head has a small but well-designed protective lip, while the low-profile pot support places the pot very close to the flame. Together, these features combine to offer excellent wind-resistance.
Where a sudden gust often blows other canister-top stoves out, this one just keeps on burning. It also offers fairly precise simmer control, which makes cooking easier. The four-pronged pot support is stable in use, while the wide burner head distributes heat evenly.
Unlike cheaper stoves, the Windmaster also has some clever hidden tech. This includes a micro regulator for more consistent power output, even when temperatures drop or when your gas is running on empty. There’s also an integrated ignition, which is always a useful extra. This one is neatly enclosed within the burner stem too, while the sparker at the burner head is a strip of metal rather than a flimsy piece of wire, which makes it less liable to get brittle and snap.
If you’re building your first backpacking cookset, this competitively-priced combo is a great value option, ideally suited new wild campers and hikers getting a taste for long-distance trails
RRP: Vango Atom Stove: £20 (UK); Ultralight Heat Exchanger Cook Kit: £45 (UK) | Power: 3,000W / 10,236 BTU/hr | Packed weight (combined): 507g/17.9oz | Minimum weight: 356g/12.5oz | Burner diameter: 3.3cm/1.3in | Pot support diameter: 11.4cm/4.5in | Assembled height (with 227g gas canister): 16.2cm/6.4in | Packed size (h x w x d): 17 x 12 x 11cm/6.7 x 4.7 x 4.3in | Boil time (500ml of water at sea level in zero wind, air temp 16°C/61°F, starting water temp 11°C/52°F): 2min 38 secs
If you’re attracted to the convenience of personal cooking systems like the popular Jetboil MiniMo or the MSR Windburner but can’t afford the sizeable price tag, this kit is well worth a closer look. It bundles Vango’s ultralight Atom stove with a sturdy cooking pot and various accessories, giving you pretty much all you need to knock up a basic meal for two hungry hikers. As such, it’s a far more affordable alternative to those pricier all-in-one stove systems.
The no frills Atom stove is basic but extremely light and compact, with a competitive power output of 3,000w. The Vango pot, which simply sits on top of the stove’s spindly folding arms, has a practical real-world capacity of 1 litre. This is larger than most, making it easier to cater for two, whether you’re heating water for backpacking rations or just brewing up two steaming mugs of tea or coffee.
The pot has a similar heat exchanger base to the Jetboil design, resulting in improved fuel efficiency and faster boil times. It also has a chunky clear plastic lid with an easy-grab silicon tab and a sturdy folding handle – simple and straightforward features, but ones which plenty of other brands seem to get wrong.
The Vango cook kit also includes two small plastic bowls and folding sporks, plus a gas canister stand. It all packs away neatly into the pot, with room to spare for a 230g gas canister (which is the bigger size that you’ll find stocked in most camping shops). It’s a tidy system that is comparable in overall weight to most Jetboil systems, though it is admittedly a bit bulkier due to the larger capacity cooking pot.
Combining the advantages of a gas-powered stove with a traditional storm cooker set-up, this versatile and weatherproof system is a great option if you’re catering for larger groups or want to create more sophisticated basecamp-style meals.
RRP: Roben Fire Tick: £38 (UK)/ €44 (EU); Cookery King £89 (UK)/€44 (EU) | Power: 1,500W/5,118 BTU/hr | Packed weight: 1095g/38.6oz | Minimum weight: 635g/22.4oz | Burner diameter: 4.7cm/1.85in | Pot support diameter: 17.5cm/6.9in | Assembled height (with 227g gas canister): 12cm/4.7in | Packed size (h x w x d): 21.5 x 11cm/8.5 x 4.3in | Boil time (500ml of water at sea level in zero wind, air temp 16°C/61°F, starting water temp 11°C/52°F): 3min 31secs
Until the emergence of modern camping gas canisters, most hikers and backpackers cooked on alcohol stoves. Indeed, some still do, though generally gas offers faster and more precise cooking, without the fuss of dealing with messy, sooty meths (or denatured alcohol). One of the most popular alcohol stove systems was/is the iconic Trangia storm cooker. You might even still have an old Trangia set tucked away in a shed or at the back of a cupboard. If so, maybe it’s time to bring it back to life.
After all, these sets are robust, durable, stable and pretty weatherproof too. And Robens’ clever little Fire Tick stove makes it possible to convert a storm cooker to gas operation. Sized to slot securely into the lower windshield of a standard storm cooker, it means you can do away with the fiddly meths burner.
The Fire Tick packs plenty of punch too. It has a wide burner head for even heat distribution and a brass pre-heater to vaporise fuel more efficiently. With its braided hose, it gives you all the benefits of a remote canister set-up, such as excellent simmer control and the ability to turn the gas canister upside-down for better cold-weather performance.
If you don’t already have a storm cooker but are keen to try this set-up, Robens’ version of the classic Trangia, the Cookery King, is one to consider. It contains all you need to cater for larger groups or to make more sophisticated basecamp-style meals.
The nesting set packs down very neatly, yet comes with two large cooking pots, a frying pan, a lid and even a little chopping board – plus of course, a classic meths burner if you did want to keep things old school. This inclusion effectively makes the set a multi-fuel system that could run on either conventional butane-propane camping gas canisters or more traditional meths (denatured alcohol).
An award-winning lightweight stove designed for four-season use
RRP: $95 (US)/£105 (UK) | Fuel: Butane/propane | Weight: 178g/6.3oz | Dimensions (folded): 130mm x 70mm x 65mm/5.12in x 2.76in x 2.56in | Power: 1,400W-3,700W | Boil time: 4 mins 30 secs for 1 litre of water | Accessories: Stove bag, windfoil
A serial winner of outdoor magazine gear tests, the Optimus Vega is one of the few stoves designed to take winter temperatures in its stride. Flip the gas canister upside down (there are support legs to hold it in place) and the heat gets a ‘Turbo Boost’ – ideal for cold temperatures or if you need to cook in a hurry. Boiling or cooking in sub-zero temperatures may sound extreme, but Scotland’s Munros in winter and early mornings on Alpine summits in summer can see the mercury tumble. This winter mode does burn more fuel, so for summer it’s wiser to save gas and have the canister the right way up. The stove itself sits low to the ground, which makes it more stable, and a foil windshield shelters the flame from a breeze.
A lightweight wood-burning campsite stove with an intelligent design
RRP: $90 (US)/£90 (UK) | Fuel: Twigs, pine cones | Weight: 255g/9oz | Dimensions (folded): 97mm x 108mm/5.7in x 4.25in | Power: N/A | Boil time: N/A | Accessories: Stove bag
Solo Stoves bring out the hunter-gatherer in campers, due to their fuel source – twigs. Children will love foraging around for dry tinder to burn, and there’s something deeply satisfying about being self-sufficient, rather than relying on gas. However, there’s always the risk that heavy rain will have soaked available twigs or that there’s no combustible material around (an alcohol burner is available as an accessory for £22.50/$20). The Solo Stove has a double combustion process – oxygen drawn in through the bottom vents feeds the main combustion, while heated air rising through the double wall is fed through the top vents for an extra oxygen boost, enhancing the stove’s efficiency. Cooking pots and kettles then perch on top. This stove is slightly heavier than others, but you save weight by not having to carry fuel.
A neat, clever, backpacking stove with a minimalist design
RRP: $90 (US)/£90 (UK) | Fuel: Propane/butane | Weight: 105g/3.7oz | Dimensions (folded): 36mm x 103mm/1.4in x 4.1in) | Power: 2,500W | Boil time: 3 mins 30 secs for 1 litre of water | Accessories: Storage pouch, piezo igniter
As all experienced backpackers know, the pointy edges of a stove can stick out in a backpack and burners are vulnerable to knocks. Primus has solved both of these issues with the innovative FireStick, which folds into a cylinder similar in size to a fat tube of sweets, with the arms that support a pan during cooking clicking together, protecting the burner. The stove screws on to a gas canister, creating a tall, reasonably wide platform, and a regulated valve lets campers adjust the flow of gas and thereby control the temperature. The wide arms also provide a degree of wind protection. If saving weight is a priority, a titanium version of the same stove shaves off 16g (0.6 oz) and costs $30 (£30) more.
A compact stove with a built-in piezo lighter
RRP: £30 (UK) | Fuel: Propane/butane | Weight: 274g/9.6 oz | Dimensions (folded): 110mm x 110mm/4.3in x 4.3in | Power: 2,900W | Boil time: 3 mins 45 secs for 1 litre of water | Accessories: Hard plastic case
With its ‘Easy Clic’ connection to the gas bottle and in-built ignition system (the piezo or P) the Campingaz Twister Plus PZ is a quick and simple stove to set up, and there’s no fumbling around for matches or cursing as the wind blows out a match before you’ve had a chance to light the burner. A neat heatshield protects your fingers from the flame as you turn the knob that adjusts the supply of gas and heat. When not in use, the hard, plastic case provides more protection than many carry solutions for stoves. Just be aware that it will only work with canisters that have the Campingaz Easy Clic valve.
A complete backpacking cook system, with stove, pot, sleeve and lid
RRP: £75 (UK) | Fuel: Propane/butane | Weight (stove, pot and lid): 486g/1lb 1oz | Dimensions (folded): 204mm x 136mm/8in x 5.4in | Power: 2,200W | Boil time: 4 mins 30 secs for 1 litre of water | Accessories: 1 litre pot with lid and neoprene sleeve
It’s deeply satisfying to be able to pack up a cook system into a compact bundle, rather than have a separate stove, pot and gas canister. With the FyreStorm PCS, the stove and a small gas canister fit inside the pot for great portability. In use, the long hose keeps the gas canister away from the stove, the piezo ignition delivers a match-free spark to the gas, and the wind shield shelters the flame from the breeze. The heat is adjustable, allowing for a vigorous boil or a simmer, while the lid and neoprene sleeve provide extra precaution against accidental scalding. So that’s all bases covered for campsite chefs.
The FluxRing heat exchanger element transformed the boil speed of backpacking stoves
RRP: $110 (US)/£120 (UK) | Fuel: Propane/butane | Weight (stove, pot and lid): 371g/13oz | Dimensions (folded): 104mm x 180mm/4in x 7in | Power: 1,320W to 2,640W | Boil time: 1 min 40 secs for 0.5 litres of water | Accessories: 1-litre pot with lid and neoprene sleeve
For any backpacker in urgent need of a cuppa, there’s only one place to turn. The Jetboil Flash is astonishingly fast to boil water, its FluxRing roaring away like a… well, jet. This makes it ideal for rehydrating dried meals, as well as brewing a tea or coffee (an optional £15/$20 coffee press turns the pot into a cafetiere). Fold-out legs attach to the base of the gas canister, improving stability; push button ignition starts the fire without faffing with matches; and a colour-change heat indicator shows when water is boiling (if plumes of steam haven’t given you a clue). For portability, the stove and a small gas canister slide into the pot, while a small bowl protects the FluxRing.
We’ve been using a first generation Jetboil Zip for almost a decade, the stove sounding the death knell for our flask, and it’s still a pack essential for any long day in the hills.
Choosing the best camping stove for you
Knowing how to choose a camping stove is tough. Whether you're taking the kids on a camping break or going fast and light in the mountains, this is an important decision. Getting some warm sustenance into your system after a day of hiking is a vital factor in making any backpacking or camping trip a success. The best backpacking meals should be just as reinvigorating and nutritious as those you'd have at home. Choosing the best camping stove allows this to become a reality.
The best camping stove for you is the one that suits your ambitions. In this day and age, the variety of camping stoves and the myriad features they offer can be a little bit overwhelming too. Many backpacking stoves are designed to be lightweight and stable in a strong wind, while others boast rapid boil times. If you're cooking for the kids, you'll need a stove that can take a large cooking pot, rather than something designed for one.
These are the most important factors to consider when choosing the best camping stoves:
1. Boil times
The equivalent of a car’s 0-60mph acceleration time, most manufacturers will advertise how long it takes a stove to boil 0.5 litres of water. The time is only a guide, and depends on how much gas is left in the gas canister, the ambient temperature, the strength of the wind (and the effectiveness of any windshield), the type of gas (typically propane/butane), and even the shape and insulation (lid) of the pan.
Note: Water boils at 100°C (212°F) at sea level, but for every 150 metres (500ft) you ascend the boiling temperature drops by about 0.5°C (just under 1°F). At 2,400 metres (8,000ft), about halfway up Mont Blanc, water boils at just 92 °C (198 °F).
A built-in piezo igniter, similar to the spark-creator of a domestic gas hob, is most convenient for lighting gas, but some stoves rely on matches.
Imagine you've braved the elements for hours, are soaked to the skin and the only thing keeping you going is the thought of that freeze-dried expedition meal and a piping hot cup of coffee. You find shelter in the woods, hastily erect your tent and reach for your matches. They're sodden. At this point, you're going to wish you had a stove with a built in igniter.
A stove that requires matches is fine for family holidays, where you can store them in the car or know they'll stay dry in the tent, but for expeditions in the wild you might want to consider an igniter.
A decent breeze can seriously impact the performance of the best camping stoves, so a protective windshield around the burner is a useful feature. There's nothing more frustrating then waiting an age for that water to boil when it is blowing a hoolie, which is likely if you're wild camping up high.
Consider what you are willing to compromise on. A windshield is great if you're camping in the mountains, but it does represent a little bit of extra weight, not ideal if your priority is going fast and light. Can you instead check the wind direction and plan to camp in a sheltered spot? Can you use natural barriers like boulders or trees to find that shelter?
4. Size and weight
If you're peak bagging and looking to shave off every last gram so that you can merrily skip from summit to summit, you're going to need a lightweight stove. There's no point setting out with the best lightweight camping gear if your stove weighs a ton.
However, a strong, stable stove with a wide diameter burner and a broad pan support is very reassuring when you’re trying to cook a vat of pasta in boiling water.
Most of the weight will be in the gas canister anyway, so it’s the stove’s fold-up size that matters more – some will encase the burner and gas canister inside their cooking pot.
5. Burn control
Boiling water may be a race to 100 degrees, but there are occasions when it’s very handy when the best camping stoves have the ability to regulate the heat for more sensitive cooking. If you're just making a brew or heating an vacuum-packed expedition meal, this won't apply.
However, if you've got the best camping utensils and you're trying to do your best Heston Blumenthal impression to impress the rest of the campers, you'll want easy access to the flame-control valve. The last thing you want is burnt sausages.
6. Canister compatibility
Most stoves will connect to a screw-thread canister, but some, such as Campingaz, have a non-thread connection, so will only work with a non-threaded, Easy-Clic canister, which could be limiting if you need re-supplies in a far-flung area. If you’re concerned, small adapters are available.
7. Fuel type
Most of the best camping stoves burn a mix of propane and butane. Propane is better for colder temperatures, and butane for warmer weather. If you're going to be heading out for a winter wildcamp, look for a canister with a higher propane content. Whereas, butane is ideal for the perfect summer camp (just as long as you've remembered to pack the best insect repellent for those pesky midges and mosquitos).
Some multi-fuel stoves can also burn paraffin (kerosene) and unleaded petrol, which work better at higher altitude and can be easier to source in remote areas of the world.
8. Stove type
Screw-in or integrated upright canister camping stoves: Probably the most popular type of stove for most backpackers and wild campers, these stoves consists of a lightweight burner head that screws on to the top of a propane, butane, or isobutane gas canister. While lightweight, highly packable, and very easy to use, these stoves often aren't the most powerful and don't perform quite as well as others in windy conditions.
Best for: all-around backpacking, thru-hiking, and wild camping.
All-in-one/personal cooking system: These consist of a burner head with a screw-in fitting along with an integrated cooking pot. Both components lock together in a compact nesting system, making them the second most packable varietal after screw-in/integrated models. Generally, these systems offer fast boil times and excellent fuel efficiency, even when you're doing your cooking in windy conditions.
Best for: solo campers or couples who value convenience and efficiency.
Liquid fuel and multi-fuel camping stoves: These run on white gas, kerosene (paraffin) or petrol, and some multi-fuel stoves (like the MSR Whisperlite) can run on all three. Generally speaking, these stoves are robust, reliable, and work well in all conditions. On the downside, they do tend to be heavy, bulky, and require frequent cleaning and maintenance.
Best for: large groups or for expedition basecamp use.
Wood camping stoves: These stoves run on foraged fuel such as twigs, pinecones, and other small pieces of wood. While this does mean you'll need to find these when you get to your campsite, it also means you won't have to carry fuel from home on your trip.
Best for: lovers of old-school aesthetics and/or campers who would prefer to forage for fuel rather than schlep it into the wilds in their backpacks.
Hose-fed/spider camping stoves: These stoves have a burner head that sits on tripod legs and a braided metal hose that attaches to a gas canister. Because these stoves sit closer to the ground, they are typically more stable and burn better in strong winds than their screw-in siblings. On the downside, spiders are usually much bulkier and heavier.
Best for: Backpacking and wild camping in a larger group.
Alcohol camping stoves: These stoves burn non-pressurised denatured alcohol (methylated spirits or ‘meths’). While cheap and ultra-reliable, they offer no control over power output, are slower to cook, and not as fuel efficient as gas canister-type stoves or pressurised liquid fuel stoves.
Best for: Campers and backpackers on a budget, Scout and DofE groups.
Solid fuel camping stoves: These are simple, compact and lightweight stoves that were originally developed for use by the military. Solid fuel is smokeless, energy-efficient and leaves no ash, but is highly toxic, so can only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Best for: gram counters and minimalists.
Single/double burner camping stoves: These stoves have one or two full-size burners and normally use tall ‘twist and click’ butane (or propane-butane) canisters or larger, refillable gas bottles. Cooking with one of these stoves is very similar to cooking on the stove at home - they have auto-ignition, great simmer control, and are are far more powerful than models designed for backpacking. On the downside, they're far too bulky and heavy to be carried any kind of distance.
Best for: family car-camping trips
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