A camp stove is an essential piece of camping equipment that provides warm brews and hearty meals. But with so many options, how do you pick one that's safe, dependable, and able to withstand Australia's tough conditions?
We created this guide to help you find the best camp stove for any kind of camping.
My Review Process
My camping adventures over the years have involved loads of outdoor cooking. Whether that’s out of the back of a car or out of the side of my tent in pouring rain, one thing I’ve always got is a portable camping stove. I’ve tried a lot of stoves in a lot of situations, and I’ve learned what separates the best from the rest.
High-scoring designs on this list will be versatile, easy to use, affordable and compact. Because, if possible, you want to only have to buy one stove. Furthermore, when you need to haul everything in, size and weight always count for a lot.
Let’s be honest, the best camp meals are always simple ones. Camp cooking is all about doing things with the fewest possible tools, usually just one pan, grill, or dutch oven.
In the spirit of simplicity, the Gas One 10,000 BTU CSA is an excellent single burner stove. It’s portable, easy to use, and holds a simmer like nobody’s business. Its burner output makes it a perfect companion for the average camper. It's ideal for hearty breakfasts, fresh veggie sautées, or pan-fried steak dinners.
But if you like to go all out, you may prefer to find something that can handle more than one pan. It’s also too bulky for backpacking and doesn’t resist wind very well.
If you’re the kind of camp chef who goes camping just to bust out their grill, the kind with a “kiss the cook” apron, this one is for you. The Coleman Roadtrip 285 Stand-Up Propane Grill is the ultimate tool for outdoor cooking away from home.
The Roadtrip 285 features three powerful burners that can put out a total of 20,000 BTUs, making it the most powerful stove on this list. The burners sit under a large griddle plate, perfect for mixing it up with different meats, veggies, or whatever you like.
The integrated thermometer helps you dial the heat. And the push-button ignition will make sure you’re never scrambling for matches.
While this do-it-all grilling station is incredible, it’s got a few downsides. For one thing, it’s the largest gas stove on this list. And for another, it’s by far the most expensive. However, you do get the peace of mind knowing the unit is covered by a 3-year limited warranty.
All in all, the Coleman Roadtrip 285 caters to those who grill first and camp second.
If you’re cooking for two people, a two-burner stove will give you just enough cooking space. Still, you probably want something that’s compact and easy to use. The Coleman Triton 2 is a perfect match for these requirements.
Besides being very packable and providing space for a wide range of dishes, the Triton 2 is highly wind resistant. The fold-out design, complete with stainless steel sidearms, does an excellent job of blocking wind and trapping heat.
This makes for a more efficient stove and saves you gas in the long run. The flame control is good, and it can reach 11,000 BTU per burner.
But, while it’s packable in the context of car camping, it’s not lightweight by any means. For any sort of “pack it in” type of adventure, you’ll want to look elsewhere. It also uses propane fuel, which is heavier.
When you have to carry all your gear on your back, every ounce counts. You want something that can boil water or fry eggs in a small pan. The Jetboil does all this without exceeding a tenth of a kilogram.
The Mightymo is versatile for its size, at just over 10 cm long. Its fold-up arms allow for use with either a compact saucepan or frying pan. The flame control is simple but doesn’t limit how much you can trim the flame.
But unlike other Jetboil models, it lacks an integrated windshield. This makes it less efficient and can increase cook time, especially when boiling water.
The Coleman Fyrelight is as ultralight as camping stoves get. At 76 grams, you’ll barely even feel it. It packs into a convenient storage sack and lays flat in your pack, ideal for multi-day trips.
The design is like that of the Jetboil Mightymo. It’s a flat single burner that sits on top of a compact butane canister, so you don't have to carry heavy propane tanks. Its flat arms allow you to use whatever kind of cookware you want. This reduces the weight and improves packability even more.
But it faces a lot of the same issues as the Mightymo. The lack of a windshield reduces its efficiency. And the max heat output isn’t very impressive, either.
Jetboil has been developing the most wind-resistant backpacking stoves on the market for over twenty years. The Jetboil Flash Carbon is their top-of-the-line model and is likely the most fuel-efficient designs currently available.
The Jetboil Flash Carbon works by directing the flame through a vented wind guard, allowing air to get in and trapping heat. It's claim to fame is the ability to boil a full litre of water in just five minutes. Plus, it works just as well in blustery weather but Jetboil stoves aren’t as packable as other backpacking models. They’re also expensive, and additionally, they can only boil water. This means you won't be cooking any gourmet meals on it.
When you’re working on a budget, you want the most versatile, cost-effective option you can get. Luckily, with the Coleman Portable Bottletop Stove, you can have both versatility and quality.
The Coleman Portable Bottletop is a great stove for its compactness. It’s a single burner that, as the name implies, sits right on top of the propane bottle.
It accommodates a wide variety of cookware, and the flame control works well. For a simple camping set-up, it’s ideal. Best of all, it won’t break the bank.
But like the other single-burners on this list, it’s neither packable nor big enough to cook large meals on.
How To Choose The Right Camping Stove
When buying a camp stove, the main thing you need to think about is what kind of camping you like to do. But even still, there are a lot of products and types of camping stove to consider. Here are a few deciding factors to help you narrow things down.
Regardless of what you’re shopping for, price is always an object. Luckily, you can pick up a solid camp stove without spending much money. You can expect to pay $50-125 for a basic stove for car camping.
Backpacking stoves can be a little more expensive, ranging from $50-150, depending mostly on the brand. If you’re going all-out and getting a camping grill, you can pay anywhere from $100-700. It depends on how nice of a set-up you want to invest in.
Number Of Burners
The main thing that determines what your camp stove is meant to do is how many burners it has. Backpacking stoves always have a single burner, usually with a design that fits on top of the fuel canister.
Freestanding stoves for car camping may have a single, larger burner, or they may have several. Camp stoves max out around three burners total. This is enough to cook for a whole family or a large group.
Most lightweight designs use a mix of butane and propane. This fuel comes in canisters sold specifically for camp stoves. Multiple-burner camping stoves always use propane. In short, butane stoves are lighter but gas camping stoves have higher output. Both work well in their own areas.
Portability And Weight
Even if you’re going car camping, portability is always a consideration. You want something that’s easy to move around and adjust, even if you’re setting it up in one place for a whole weekend.
Obviously, lighter is better, but there’s always a balance. You don’t want to skimp on cooking surface if you’re cooking for a lot of people.
For backpacking with a portable stove, weight is a much bigger issue. Many ultralight stoves have folding arms to increase their portability. Smaller still are the alcohol stoves I mentioned above.
As always, you don’t want to sacrifice reliability for weight. Jetboil’s flame guard may make it heavier, but if you’re trying to heat water in high wind, you’ll be glad to have it.
If you’re only using your stove to boil water, heat adjustment doesn’t matter much. Some designs use a three-setting flame adjustment (low, medium, high). This is enough precision for basic cooking.
But if you’re simmering, sautéeing, or slow-cooking anything, having adjustable flame control is going to be important. Nicer stoves let you trim the flame more precisely, ensuring the heat level is how you want it to be. But, these options are more expensive. So consider how much precision you need before you buy.
You never know what the weather is going to do, especially when you’re at higher elevations. Trying to boil water in windy conditions can leave you sitting in the cold and waiting for long periods. It’s a solid choice to get something with as much wind resistance as possible.
For some people, having wind protectors permanently attached to their stove is too bulky (it also increases the cost by a lot). There are ways to “engineer” a wind guard in a pinch.
For example, you can wrap a piece of aluminium foil around your stove to direct the flame up and keep it from getting caught up in the wind. It’s not quite as efficient, but it’s much lighter and costs you nothing.
Whenever you're hooking up gas bottles to a naked flame, safety is always a priority.
All of these products should come with some kind of safety certification, either here in Australia or from places like the US and Canada.
You'll also find safety features like an automatic shut-off if irregular gas flow is detected and safety levers that lock the cartridge in place, or eject it safely if a problem occurs.
The best overall camp stove on the market is the Gas One GS-3000. For large families, the Coleman Roadtrip 285 is a superior option. If you need a lightweight option for backpacking, go with the Jetboil Mightymo. And if you’re on a budget, the Coleman Portable Bottletop Stove will do fine.
Coleman makes the best camp stoves for car camping. Jetboil makes the best stoves for backpack camping.
The Jetboil Mightymo is a great compact camping stove. In windy conditions, the Jetboil Flash Carbon is more efficient.
Butane-propane fuel is often used for small, lightweight camp stoves. Larger stoves normally use propane. Both are effective for their intended uses.
Coleman is a great manufacturer of heavy duty stoves and other camping gear. Their stoves for camping are very practical and versatile.
Getting a stove for camping is well worth it. Even if you don’t cook much, having a basic stove with a single burner can be very helpful around camp.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.