What camping stove should I buy?

Everyone needs to eat, and if you enjoy cooked meals then deciding what camping stove to buy probably falls onto your to-do list at some point.

Since how and where we camp varies from glamper to glamper, we won’t tell you which camping stove to buy, but instead provide you some things to consider.

There are hundreds (possibly thousands?) of different camping stoves on the market and they’re all designed with different purposes in mind. They serve different types of campers. These campers range from the backpacking tourist to the more established glamper with an RV.

What you’ll notice is that the camping stoves come in a wide variety just as glampers do.

Not all Stoves are Created Equally

There are several different types of camping stoves that have their own sets of pros and cons. After we discuss the different types, we’ll dive into the various considerations to help you make a decision.

Canister Fuel. One of the most popular types of camping stoves, rightfully so, is the canister-fueled camping stove. They typically provide an hour or two of cooking time and are extremely portable. These are extremely convenient as you can pack in a few canisters of fuel to keep you going for your entire trip. The downside is that they’re more difficult to recycle and in some markets they’re more difficult to come by.

Liquid Fuel. Another popular option is the liquid-fueled camping stoves which are relatively compact and serve as an excellent option for heating your meals. The key benefit is that you can choose which type of fuel you want to use (i.e. gasoline, propane, butane, etc) which makes finding fuel very easy. The downside is they tend to be a bit bulkier because you have the stove itself, the fuel container for the stove, and the container you keep your fuel in. The additional weight and space is not much and would only be a consideration for backpackers.

This video from REI has an awesome breakdown and comparison of canister and liquid fueled camping stoves.

Unfortunately, REI didn’t include a comparison of the last type of camping stove and that is the alternative-fueled stove.

Pellet Burning Camping Stove
Alternative fueled camping stoves use fuel such as pellets or wood.

Alternate Fuel. Lastly, and honestly one of the ones I see the least, alternatively-fueled camping stoves, which includes wood-burning and pellet-burning stoves. These tend to be more compact as the fuel source can be anything from pellets to wood you find on your hike. They’re naturally compact, but they do have quite a drawback: the fuel itself can be difficult to work with. Whereas a canister or liquid fuel stove ignites quickly and gets up to cooking temperatures quickly, you need to find your fuel then go through the process of igniting it with a wood-burning stove.

Considerations When Buying a Camping Stove

When you’re looking for the perfect camping stove there are several things you should consider before pulling the trigger. These of course are not all inclusive and one may not be any better than the other, it simply depends on what your preference is.

Portability. If you’re a glamper on the go then you may consider portability being one of the primary purchasing factors. Does the stove fold up nicely or have a case designed for it? Is it lightweight? What about fuel? Do you need to carry a bag of charcoal or wood with you?

Ultra Portable Wood Burning Camping Stove
Wood burning camping stoves are well known for their portability.

These are all questions you need to ask yourself and they’re all based on how you define portability. The AOTU portable camping stove can fit in your hand, which is about as portable as you can get; however, the Coleman gas stove is somewhat portable but also provides 2 burners.

Exactly how portable are you trying to get?

Convenience. Slightly different – but also slightly related to portability – is the convenience of the stove. In addition to being able to pack it up, you might want to consider the fuel source and how much you have on hand. Better yet, how difficult is it to get fuel when you’re already somewhat isolated?

With a canister stove you can pack in a few of the 16oz canisters and you’re good to go for your trip. However, a 20lb tank might last you longer, but you may run into issues finding places to refill them. Lastly, while the fuel is always available but typically takes longer to get going is a wood-burning camping stove.

Budget. Unless money is completely immaterial to you, most of us campers need to consider our budget when making this decision. There is a wide range when it comes to price of camping stoves from as little as $20 to as much as $500, or sometimes even more.

If have a more permanent glampspot then you might consider a higher-end, less portable, but high quality camping stove such as the Camp Chef Tahoe Camping Stove which is gas, has 3 burners, and tons of accessories you can get for it. If you’re more on the go, a backpacker perhaps, then a portable budget stove might be for you.

You now have an understanding of what to consider when deciding what camping stove to buy. There are various factors such as portability, convenience, and even budget. All have their advantages and disadvantages, but the real determination is how do you camp?

So how do you camp? What are you looking for when determining which camping stove is best for you? We’d love to see what you have to say in our comments below!

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