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The best wood-burning stoves: for picnic and campsite cooking with natural fuel

best wood-burning stoves: a wood burning stove cooking food
Make your food taste extra special with a wood-burning stove (Image credit: Solo)

Food tastes deliciously different when cooked over an open flame, and using fire to prepare a meal when you’re eating outside feels exciting. It’s not always possible, practical or safe to have a campfire, however, and even when you can light one, it takes some time to build the blaze, prepare the embers and get a grill, tripod or camp oven arranged over them. The best wood-burning stoves are designed so you can start cooking quickly, while retaining all the good bits about using natural materials as free fuel.

The best wood-burning stoves offer a very effective alternative to more traditional gas canister and liquid-fuel camping stove models. They are typically simpler in design, with just a few pieces to assemble, so there’s less to go wrong. You can cook meals at the campsite without worrying about running out of fuel, or a suffering a feast-ruining glitch with a stove rendered inoperable because of a broken fuel pump or lost gasket.

The following are some of the best wood-burning stoves in the world, with designs that that have originated from all around the planet – including the USA, Japan, India and Ireland. Some are intended for backpackers, travelling light, while others are for car camping adventures, but all are powered by the original fuel humans used to cook with: wood.

Best wood-burning stoves: Patagonia Untethered Wood-burning stove

(Image credit: Untethered)

Patagonia Untethered wood-burning stove

Elegant design delivers heat for hungry backpackers

RRP: $99 (US) / £90 (UK) | Weight: 9.2oz /261g | Height (packed): 4.2in/10.5cm | Materials: Stainless steel | Extras: Stuff Sack

3-piece construction 
Intuitive assembly
Can be stored in nested pot
Stuff-sack included
Top pot holder is small
Limited space between pot and stove add fuel
Relatively expensive for such a simple set up

Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, asked his team to create a simple, minimalist wood-burning stove. They responded with the Untethered: a three-piece stove that meets Patagonia’s self-imposed design instructions to ‘go simple and go deep’.

Untethered from gas canisters or liquid-fuel requirements, the stove functions efficiently with small pieces of wood, sticks and biomass. In terms of performance, it boils 1 liter of water in an average of 16 minutes.

Intuitive assembly is as simple as stacking together three components: a base with a raised wire grate for the fuel, a cone to contain the flames and a cap that holds a pot in place securely. Constructed of stainless steel, heat will discolor the metal over time and add a patina that inspires storytelling. It is a little tricky to keep the stove fuelled while cooking, as the space between the pot and the stove to wedge more pieces of wood into. This is a simple system, with no bells and whistles or features for doing things like simmering, but this will suit some people perfectly.

best wood-burning stoves: TOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove

(Image credit: TOAKS)

TOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove

Simple, lightweight, award-winning design

RRP: Small $55 (US) / £45 (UK); Large $65 (US) / £55 (UK) | Weight: Small 5.2/150g; Large 7.9oz/225g | Dimensions (packed): Small height 3.75in/9.4cm, diameter 3.75in/9.4cm; Large height 4.2in/10.7cm , diameter 4.2in/10.7cm | Materials: Titanium | Extras: Stuff sack

Compact, three-piece construction
Pieces stacks into each other 
Ultra lightweight titanium 
Durable nylon stuff/store sack included
High efficiency fuel burning
Small opening for adding fuel

This featherweight three-piece wood-burning stove assembles to create a layered inferno of efficient heat. Two air intakes at the top and bottom of the stove enhance combustion efficiency. Stacking sticks and twigs vertically in the stove delivers heat to boil water for early morning coffee or an end of the day meal in a few minutes.

The gray matte surface reinforces a message of quality and durability. The rolled edge on the top section of the stove that helps to support a small pot shows the designers attention to the smallest details. Offered in two sizes, both models can be nested together in pots and stored in sturdy stuff sacks. For a minimalist backpacker, this rugged stove will last a lifetime.

best wood-burning stoves: Solo Stove Campfire

(Image credit: Solo)

Solo Stove Campfire

An efficient stove, with a unique double wall design that enhances combustion

RRP: $150 (US) / £145 (UK) | Weight: 2.2lb /1kg | Dimensions (packed): height 6.7in/17cm, diameter 7in/17.5cm | Materials: Stainless steel, with nichrome wire grate | Extras: Integrated heat shield

Uses Natural Convention for efficient burning
Stainless steel construction
Heat shield prevents scorching the ground under the stove
Stuff sack included
Heavy for backpackers

In addition to burning wood, this smart stove removes the smoke that brings tears to your eyes with most campfires. Pulling air from the bottom of the stove and through double wall channels, before feeding the air back into the firebox for a second round of combustion, reduces smoke and burns fuel very effectively. The campfire will boil a liter of water in 2 to 4 minutes.

An integrated heat shield separates the stove’s heat from the ground below, preventing burned or scorched grass and earth. While heavier than other wood-burning stoves designed for one to two people, the Solo Campfire is definitely well-suited for car campers who may not be as weight conscious.

Best wood-burning stoves: BioLite Fire Pit

(Image credit: BioLite)

BioLite Fire Pit

Grill first, campfire second, energy generator third. Invite your friends for a flaming good evening with this high-tech set up

RRP: $250 (US) / £270 (UK) | Weight: 19.8lb/9kg | Dimensions in use (LxWxH): 27 x 13 x 15.8in/68.5 x 33 x 40cm | Height (packed): 10.5in/26.7cm | Materials: X-ray mesh | Extras: Free Bluetooth app

Portable USB power part charges electronics
Bluetooth app controls size of flames
Full line of cooking accessories
Holds 4 standard firewood logs
Some users report rust on some pieces
Lots of parts to clean before storing
On high the fan can be noisy

The recipe for a campfire hasn’t changed in thousands of years. Mix fuel, spark and oxygen, then sit back and relax. BioLite’s Fire Pit adds modern technology to make that process more efficient. A manual or Bluetooth enabled app controls a four-speed fan that pushes oxygen through 51 air jets to promote combustion. Push a button to bring the fan speed back down. In addition, as energy is created, the USB unit/cable can be used to charge electronic gadgets, including your phone.

Better suited as a hibachi style grill, the mesh sides offer a glimpse of the fires glow, but the view isn’t as mesmerizing as an open fire. Boasting that the Fire Pit removes campfire smoke is a bit optimistic. The type and size of the wood used, placement in the pit and size of the coal bed all influence the presence of smoke.

Best wood-burning stove: Primus Kamoto Open Fire Pit

(Image credit: Primus)

Primus Kamoto Open Fire Pit

A portable design that takes just a minute to unfold and put into use to cook up a storm

RRP: Small $150 (US) / £155 (UK); Large $160 (US) / £177 (UK) | Weight: small 13.9lb/6.3kg; large 15.4lb/7kg | Dimensions (L x W): small 20.8 x 15.3 / 53 x 39; large 25.5 x 18.5in/65 x 47cm | Height (folded): 2.4in/6cm | Height (assembled): 12.8in/32.5cm | Materials: Powder-coated steel

Folds flat
Powder coated steel
Two size options
Lightweight Wind Panels
No carrying bag included

Primus has been building stoves since 1892. Early models accompanied famed explorers to the South Pole and Mount Everest base camp. The Kamoto is designed for more modern adventures. Part portable campfire, part mobile cooking platform, this stove serves both purposes well. Transported flat, the legs scissor open above an ashtray. Once started, lightweight wind panels on the sides protect the flames. Supported by the sturdy legs, a grill at the top provides a convenient cooking surface to serve up a proper feed to your friends.

Available in two sizes, neither or which are suitable for backpacking, the Kamoto is best for canoe trips, car camping, garden cooking or a celebration at the beach. Constructed of stainless steel and powder coated steel, this is a rugged, durable, easy to use, modern portable campfire.

Best wood-burning stove: Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill

(Image credit: Snow Peak)

Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill

This classy grill design turns you into a campfire gourmet chef

RRP: $320 (US) / £343 (UK) | Weight: 31.5lb /10.6kg | Materials: Stainless steel | Dimensions in use (L x W x H): 17.75 x 17.75 x 13in /45 x 45 x 33cm | Dimensions folded (L x W x H): 22 x 25 x 6in/56 x 63.5 x 15cm | Extras: Grill net, grill bridge, baseplate and carrying case

Folds flat
Simple set-up
Cooking grill included
Lifetime guarantee
Heavy duty canvas carrying case
Heavy
Pricey
Surfaces get very hot

Although the Takibi (which means bonfire in Japanese) is the heaviest of the wood-burning firepits in our guide, any concerns about weight disappear quickly once you start to use this lovely looking wood-burning cooking system. When pulled out of its rugged canvas bag, the folded unit is a collection of stainless steel curved rods and flat panels. Like a piece of stainless steel origami, however, the Takibi unfolds simply and is ready to go in seconds.

The rugged unit is sturdy, balanced and the pit holds enough wood to last a long conversation. Holes cut into the flat panels add oxygen for rapid combustion. The included grill bridge has three height settings, to help you match grill heat to your camp menu. Adding more fuel is as easy as lifting the grill and inserting more wood, and the whole thing sits on a black tray to catch ash from above. Be careful, though, surfaces get very hot.

Best wood-burning stove: Kelly Kettle Scout Kettle (1.2L) & Hobo Stove

(Image credit: Kelly Kettle)

Kelly Kettle Scout Kettle (1.2L) & Hobo Stove

Ingenious lightweight water-heating and cooking set-up that you can use almost anywhere using just free, readily available natural fuel

RRP: $76 (Stainless steel kettle); $68 (aluminium kettle) + $15 Hobo stove (US) / £54 (Stainless steel kettle); £52.50 (aluminium kettle) + £10.50 Hobo stove (UK); | Weight: 1kg/35.3oz (Stainless steel kettle); 700g/25oz (aluminium kettle) + 160g/5.6oz (stove) | Capacity: kettle boils 1.2L/41 fl oz liquids | Packed dimensions (H x W): 26.5 x 15.5cm/10.4 x 7.3in | Materials: Stainless steel/ Anodised aluminium | Extras: Whistle, fire base & drawstring carrying bag

Simple
Lightweight
Packs into itself
Reasonably priced
Stove is basic
Kettle quite large for payload

This water-heating and cooking system is made and shipped worldwide by a family run company, born and based on the west coast of Ireland, where it is very popular with campers, amblers and anglers. The beauty of the system lies in its stripped-back simplicity: grab some kindle (twigs, sticks pinecones, even dried animal dung) light a blaze in the well-aerated stainless-steel fire base, stick the kettle or stove on top and feed the flames through the hole in the middle. In just a few minutes you will have boiling water or embers fit for frying food on, and the kettle/stove acts as a windbreak. Available in anodised aluminium or stainless steel versions, the kettle is cylindrical in design (with the fire in the middle), so it’s large for the payload delivered (1.2L water), but the nifty set packs into itself, Russian Doll style, and fits tidily into a carry bag. It’s also available in smaller (Trekker, 0.6L capacity) and larger (Base Camp, 1.6L capacity) iterations. Note: in older versions, the kettle has an orange stopper instead of a green whistle, and if you have this version it’s imperative you remove the plug before placing on the heat.

Best wood-burning stove: Single Wood-burning Prakti stove

(Image credit: Prakti)

Single Wood-burning Prakti stove

Brilliant streetfood-style portable barbecue, which is reasonably priced, highly durable and easy to use

RRP: £85 (UK) | Weight: 176oz /5kg | Dimensions: 26 x 26 x 28cm / 10.2 x 10.2 x 11in | Extras: Heavy-duty cinder tray

Durable
Simple to use
Prakti donates 3% of every UK sale to the Refugee Council
Doesn’t fold down, so a little bulky
Fairly heavy

In cities and towns all over India, where the Pratki stove was purposely developed to empower people to start streetfood businesses and to cut down on damaging levels of smoke from other less-efficient designs, these cool cooking cubes feed thousands of people every day. (With its origins as a social enterprise, Prakti has consulted with agencies such as the World Food Programme in countries around the developing world.) Now, via the Charcoal Burner Company, you too can use it as a grab-and-go option for barbecues and picnics at the campsite or beach, or even just in the garden. Obviously it’s too bulky for backpackers, but car campers, festival folk and beach/backyard barbecuers will love it. Operation is simple: light a fire in the belly of the beast, using any form of burnable biomass (grass, sticks, cones, animal dung), and within 4 minutes you can begin flame-grilling food or cooking in a pot. The stove claims to be virtually smokeless, but that depends on the fuel used. A heavy-duty cinder tray allows you to maintain airflow. Different size options of this stove are also available, including the lighter Rocket, the large Double Burner and the enormous Orca.

What to look for when buying the best wood-burning stove

Different people turn to alfresco cooking systems for different reasons – from boiling water and rehydrating lightweight food packages during wilderness backpacking adventures through to flame-grilling major meals on big family camping escapades. But once you've decided a wood-burning stove is what you want – check out our guide to choosing the right camping stove for you – here are a few important considerations to bear in mind.

Purpose

What is a wood-burning stove? There are essentially two types. The first is designed for backpackers using a single stove to cook meals. Wood-burning backpacking stoves are usually constructed with featherweight titanium or rugged stainless steel and come with just a few parts to put together. Once a stash of small pieces of wood, sticks and twigs has been collected, boiling water in a small pot balanced on the top of the stove is a straightforward operation.

The second type of stove is much larger and more appropriate for small groups of people in a car camping or picnic scenario. Much heavier than backpacking models, these fire pits usually come with grills to support cooking a much wider variety of foods – they are basically portable barbecues. The portable fire pit style camping stoves burn much larger pieces of wood, requiring less foraging for sticks and twigs. Most fire pits also work with charcoal briquets as a fuel source. After cooking is finished, the fire pit style wood-burning camping stoves can serve as a portable campfire for sitting around chatting to friends deep into the night.

You can learn how to use a wood-burning stove with our handy guide.

Weight

For obvious reasons, the best wood-burning stoves for backpacking are usually very lightweight. Often sold in combination with a nested pot and stuff sack, these stoves can be much lighter than traditional canister and liquid fuel stoves, and of course you don’t need to carry fuel.

On the other hand, wood-burning fire pit style stoves are heavy and require larger, sturdier carrying bags. These are great for car camping escapades.

Durability

The best wood-burning stoves are generally constructed from titanium, stainless steel, chromed stainless steel or anodised aluminium.

Backpacking stoves focus on the lightest construction materials and use just a few pieces to create a cooking platform. Larger firepit models come with more complicated construction instructions, more pieces and a range of construction materials.

Under certain conditions it’s possible for some pieces of wood-burning camping stoves to discolor from high heat, and if left outside some parts can rust. Many of the best wood-burning stoves come with lifetime warranties.