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

T3 logo T3 29/06/2020 Mark Mayne
Best camping stoves: Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Stove © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Stove

Picking up one of the best camping stoves can be a very worthwhile investment. A hot brew on a cold day; sizzling breakfast outside the tent as the sun rises; a nourishing meal after a long hike – these are moments of joy available to us all, with the right stove for the job, of course. 

Figuring out the best camping stove requires a bit of a trade-off between size, weight and fuel type, with all sorts of interesting compromises in between. The smallest gas stoves are simple, lightweight and relatively cheap, while the largest camp cookers offer food-prep facilities to feed an army (just combine it with one of the best camping cookware sets for efficient catering in the wild). It all depends what your priorities are – in this guide we've included a range of different options to suit different use cases.

Aside from the bewildering array of camping stoves out there, an important question to consider is just how vital your stove is. Although the same gas burner might work as well melting snow on an overnight bivvy in the Alps, as it does making tea after a long walk in Kent, the consequences of failure are somewhat different. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you invest in one of the best camping stoves it should last for decades, so spending a few pounds more will pay off in the longer run. 

While you're topping up your camping kitlist, you might also want to check out our pick of the best head torches, the best camping mats and the best sleeping bags

The best camping stove: our expert pick

  • The best camping stove overall is one that's rugged yet with enough versatility to handle outdoors and campsite cooking in all their 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 excellent Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Stove, which delivers all the above with aplomb, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for your outdoor cooking needs. 

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 establishing what you'll be using the stove for, and where.   

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

a little boy that is sitting in the grass: Best camping stoves: woman charges tablet on BioLite stove while man cooks kebabs © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: 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 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. These have low running costs and are excellent for longer expeditions 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 same lengthy priming operations as many older models. 

Most commonly, canister gas stoves are the popular choice, being simple to light and offering good flame control. Options 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 onto 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

1. Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Stove

Simply the best camping stove for all-round use

Best for: Efficiency | Design: Stove plus pot | Matchless: Yes | Weight: 1060g

Efficient in most weathers
Compact design
Durable

The Primus PrimeTech 2.3L is a gas stove with a difference... or three. As an integrated system, this takes all the trial and error out of a setup: just add gas and you're ready to cook up an outdoor storm. 

As a ‘system’ cooker, it builds in a variety of efficiencies that save fuel and help fight some of the issues all gas cookers suffer from. Firstly, one of the two non-stick 2.3L pans has a heat exchanger in the base, there’s a built-in wind guard to keep heat where you want it, and the built-in burner has a regulator to help smooth out gas delivery. This is particularly useful as the gas canister empties, but also at altitude or in cold conditions. That ‘remote’ gas canister can be insulated from cold ground too, unlike traditional ‘stand-up’ gas stoves. 

Because the PrimeTech has a broad base it’s also very tough to accidentally knock over, making this a great option for family weekends away as well as more serious 2-5 person mini-expeditions. With included tongs and a built-in igniter, this is an entire kitchen in a stuff sack – add a spork apiece and you’re set for adventure. The only disadvantage here is the kilo-plus weight, but you’ll tote less gas than with other setups thanks to the efficiency, and split between 2-5 people and it's not such a burden.    

(Image credit: Solo Stove) © Provided by T3 (Image credit: Solo Stove)

2. Solo Stove Lite

An ultra-efficient camping stove that'll run on a handful of twigs

Best for: Fuel economy | Design: Stove | Matchless: No | Weight: 9oz / 255g

Efficient burn
Runs on twigs, no fuel required
Lightweight
Requires a shield in windy conditions

While it's not the lightest camping stove on this list, the Solo Stove Lite has a trick up its sleeve: you won't need to carry fuel around with you. This stove will run on a handful of sticks, twigs, pine cones or other biomass (or an alcohol burner), which means you'll never be short on fuel if you're camping in the countryside. The double walled design gives a secondary burn of the wood gas, essentially providing a hotter fire with less smoke. It's eco-friendly, efficient and compact, making it a great choice for your next trip into the wilderness. It's also extremely well reviewed across the board, with many users commenting on how effective and efficient this stove is, as well as praising the quality of design and construction.

(Image credit: Vango) © Provided by T3 (Image credit: Vango)

3. Vango Atom Stove

A small but perfectly formed gas stove

Best for: Lightness | Design: Gas stove | Matchless: No | Weight: 66g

Simple design
Very lightweight
Compact

The Vango Atom encapsulates all the reasons gas stoves are so popular, as well as their shortcomings. Very packable (6x4cm folded), lightweight (66g), and with no igniter to fail, this is as simple as stoves get, while still knocking out a potent 3000W that’ll boil a litre of water in 3.5minutes. When weight is a concern (backpacking, trekking, mountaineering) this is an ideal candidate.

The drawbacks are the potential for instability when fully-laden with a big pan of dinner, and the fact that gas isn’t ideal in low temperatures or at altitude. However, for everything else this is well worth a look, especially at such a reasonable price.

The best camping stoves: Coleman Fyrestorm PCS © Provided by T3 The best camping stoves: Coleman Fyrestorm PCS

4. Coleman Fyrestorm PCS

Simply the best camping stove for all occassions

Best for: Fast-boiling | Design: Stove plus pot | Matchless: Yes | Weight: : 486g

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. 

a close up of a computer: Best camping stoves: Outwell Jimbu Stove © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: Outwell Jimbu Stove

5. 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

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 © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: Jetboil Flash Java

6. Jetboil Flash

The idiot-proof hot water generator for camping

Best for: Ease of use | Design: Stove plus pot | Matchless: Yes | Weight: : 371g

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 OmniLite Ti © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: Primus OmniLite Ti

7. Primus OmniLite Ti

Take it with you on hardy expeditions

Best for: Expeditions | Design: Stove only | Matchless: No | Weight: 350g

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: Primus Onja Stove © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: Primus Onja Stove

8. Primus Onja Stove

The best camping stove for both style and substance

Best for: Home cooking - outside! | Design: Stove | Matchless: No | Weight: : 3,250g

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: MSR Windburner © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: MSR Windburner

9. MSR Winderburner

This lightweight camping stove is a stone cold classic

Best for: Hiking | Design: Stove only | Matchless: No | Weight: : 432g

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.

  a close up of a toy: Best camping stoves: Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV © Provided by T3 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

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. 

Best camping stoves: BRS Titanium Stove © Provided by T3 Best camping stoves: BRS Titanium Stove

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

Ultra-lightweight
Smaller than a lighter

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. 

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