When you’re camping or backpacking, meal time is an event everyone looks forward to. Having an effective and reliable camp stove and mess kit is pivotal to preparing your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whether you’re setting up a campsite for the week and want to assemble a fully operational portable kitchen, or you’re backpacking through the wilderness with an ultralight burner — we’ve found some great camp stoves that are up for the task. From full size burners to your classic Coleman propane stove, we’ve compiled a list of reliable portable camp cookers that should cover whatever your outdoor cooking needs might be.
If high packability in particular is what you’re looking for make sure to check out items two, four and six on this list. If you’re adding to your ultralight backpacking equipment than make sure to check our our posts on the best highly packable rain jackets, compact mess kits, backpacking sleeping bags and emergency radios — there’s some killer gear for the trail there as well!
1. Coleman Perfect Flow Grill Stove
When it comes to searing steaks or cooking up some dogs, the Coleman Perfect Flow Grill Stove is all you need. This simple and reliable unit by Coleman is a great camp stove and grill all in one. The two in one design allows you to use the stove and grill at the same time, so you won’t waste any time cooking your meals. Coleman’s Wind Block panels help to shield the burners from wind and can also be folded down and used as side tables. I can’t speak enough about this feature — when battling high winds in the field it’s really helpful to have some built in protection from frustrating gusts. The Perfect Flow Grill/Stove puts out 20,000 total BTUs of cooking power, so there’s not really anything this unit can’t do in terms of camp cooking. It will fit up to a ten inch pan on the stove and sports 130 square inches of grill space, so despite its compact size you can cook a pretty decent amount of food on this bad boy!
Price: $81.76 & FREE Shipping (9 percent off MSRP)
- Very fuel efficient unit
- Packs well (collapses to a thin rectangle when closed) if you are car camping
- Conveniently combines both a camp stove AND a grill
- A bit too heavy to hike with
- Grill space although adequate, is pretty small and won’t cook for a lot of people
2. Etekcity Ultralight Outdoor Backpacking Stove with Piezo Ignition
This tiny little unit by Etekcity is a great stove for the weight conscious backpacker. At less than half a pound, this stove simply screws into a 7/16 thread fuel canister and is ready to ignite. It uses a butane or a butane propane mix that burns very hot. Some fuel options for this stove include small canisters made by MSR, Coleman, Jetboil, or Primus. Made of an aluminum alloy and stainless steel, this is a pretty tough burner for the cost. An adjustable control valve allows you to cook with high or low heat. Etekcity claims this stove can boil a liter of water in three and a half minutes, and customer reviews insist this stove can really crank. This ultralight stove even comes with a carrying case, so plan on bringing this one with you in the wilderness.
Price: $12.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $25
- Super lightweight and acceptable for backppacking
- Is compatible with a variety of fuel options
- aluminum and stainless steel construction makes for a tough build
- Adjustable control valve allows you to cook with precision
- Customer complaints that this stove leaks fuel (sounds like some have a tendency to be factory defected)
- Because of the size of the unit, you cannot cook with large pots or pans
- No windscreen of any kind to protect the flame when cooking
Find more Etekcity Ultralight Outdoor Backpacking Stove with Piezo Ignition information and reviews here.
3. Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove
Everyone’s uncle, grandfather or scout master owned a Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove — and for good reason! This burner is a reliable and affordable option that you can count on to effectively cook your meals. It’s not quite as portable as some of the ultralight backpacking stoves listed here, but could still certainly be stowed in a backpack and hiked with. The burner and base separate from the propane bottle for compact carrying. Coleman’s “PerfectHeat” technology ensures this burner cooks efficiently and wont burn through all your propane. It puts out 10,000 total BTUs of cooking power — not bad for such a small unit. The burner is adjustable and it even includes wind baffles to help protect the flame from frustrating breezes. Lots of customer reviews mention how they have owned and used this stove for more than ten years, a sure sign of reliability!
Price: $28.00 & FREE Shipping
- This stove is highly fuel efficient — giving you quite of bit of cooking time off of one propane canister
- Very lightweight and portable, could be taken backpacking if packed mindfully
- Is compatible with Coleman’s standard propane canisters which are one of the cheaper options in camp stove fuel
- Fairly heavy to backpack with (combined weight with fuel canister is about three and a half pounds)
- The platform for the canister is kind of cheap and takes up a considerable amount of space if trying to pack small
4. Wolfyok Portable Stainless Steel Wood Burning Camp Stove
This stove is a very cool option for the camper or backpacker who wants to leave the fuel canisters behind and cook with what nature already offers! This lightweight (less than a pound) and highly portable camp stove can fit in a backpack easily, and doesn’t require the added weight of propane or butane canisters. If you’re going to be hiking through wilderness that provides an abundance of twigs, leaves and pine cones, then this stove could save you some serious space and weight in your bag. Constructed from stainless steel, this five piece unit is corrosion resistant and will hold up to high heat just fine. The three arm pot support system provides a stable cooking platform for a pot or pan. Due to its small size, you cannot really effectively cook with a large pot or pan. One neat thing to consider with this stove is that it’s environmentally friendly in the sense that it doesn’t have any emissions or batteries! If you are looking for a real space saving stove, or like the idea of cooking with a real wood flame fire, then definitely check this one out.
Price: $19.98 & Free Shipping (33 percent off MSRP)
- Requires no fuel canisters!
- Very lightweight and packable
- Environmentally friendly (no emissions or batteries!)
- Stainless steel design should hold up well in the long term
- Can use wood pellets for burning if you’d prefer to not search for your “fuel” in the field
- If you don’t have adequate burnable material where you’re camping, this stove is a no go
- Pretty small size, so don’t plan on cooking for the whole family with this one
- There are no included instructions, so figuring out this five piece set will require a little initial patience
5. Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner Range
Now here’s a badass unit for the diehard camp kitchen. This larger sized two burner propane unit from Camp Chef is a serious camp stove for the serious camper. It features 448 square inches of cooking space, so this is a great option if you want to cook for larger groups. The burners are aluminum and can be customized with a number of different features/attachments by Camp Chef. BBQ grill boxes, griddles, cast iron grills and even Dutch ovens and pizza ovens can be attached to this versatile unit. The highly efficient “blue flame” burners have an impressive output of 30,000 BTUs each. This stove connects to a bulk propane tank with an included regulator or to disposable canisters using an adapter that’s sold separately. Great for cookouts, tailgates or for creating a real deal camp kitchen, this two burner unit by Camp Chef is well made and will cook with far more power than your conventional camp stove.
Price: $99.99 & FREE Shipping (20 percent off MSRP)
- Connects to a full size propane tank OR can be modified to fit disposable canisters
- Can cook with really high heat compared to conventional camp stoves
- This stove can be modified to fit a number of different cooking attachments — its a customizable system that you can fit to your needs
- Quite affordable considering the heat output, materials used and customization potential
- Can be detached from the legs and placed on a table for more portability
- Customer complaints that the legs on this stove are a little short for some!
- The regulator gives some people trouble if it’s not used gently (cuts off gas flow) so be careful when connecting/disconnecting from your fuel source
6. Sahara Sailor Ultralight Collapsible Camping Stove
Another ultralight and ultra affordable backpacking stove. This unit by Sahara Sailor costs a mere nine dollars and should serve you just fine in the field as a portable camp cooker. The Piezo electronic igniter allows for quick ignition, and an adjustable flame control allows you to dial in the desired heat for whatever you’re cooking. There’s no priming or preheating required — just fire her up! This stove is compatible with most single butane or butane-propane blend fuel canisters, so you conveniently don’t need to purchase any particular fuel source. The aluminum alloy and stainless steel construction is meant to withstand some abuse in your backpack, but don’t let this stove get too knocked around because it’s still quite a delicate unit given its small size. The folding design paired with the included carrying case really makes this stove one of the most portable available. For just nine dollars, don’t expect this stove to last you a lifetime, but definitely check it out if you’re looking for a tough and tiny camp stove to stuff in a backpack.
Price: $10.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $25
- Super lightweight (less than a quarter pound!)
- Very affordable option
- Operation of this stove is simple and intuitive
- Some customer complaints about this unit spraying fuel when attaching/detaching from the fuel source
- The Piezo igniter seems to fail before the rest of the stove’s components — don’t expect this stove to last more than a few seasons even with the proper care
7. Camp Chef Universal Output Single Burner Stove
This single burner unit by Camp Chef is comparable to the Camp Chef Explorer 2 Burner Range, the difference of course being it has one burner instead of two. It’s also customizable and can be fitted with an array of different attachments (griddles, BBQ boxes, etc) for different cooking methods. This unit might be what you’re looking for if you want the power and durability of a heavier, high powered camp stove, but don’t necessarily need two burners. The single burner design certainly makes this unit a good bit more portable than Camp Chef’s two burner option. The leg extensions are detachable, so feel free to use it with or without the legs. The burner is made of commercial quality cast iron — a fan favorite amongst many avid camp cooks. Sporting 30,000 total BTUs, this stove is truly the real deal in camp cooking. Rig it up to a full size propane tank and use it at home, or use it as the main power behind your portable camp kitchen.
Price: $69.99 & Free Shipping
- Cast iron burner is well built and will outlive most camp stoves
- This is a high powered burner with a lot of cooking potential
- Customizable unit that you can use for many different cooking styles
- Removable from legs for added portability
- Customer reviews stating the legs are a little short for some users
- At $70, you might just want to spring for the $100 two burner option
8. Coleman Butane Stove
Here’s another solid option in portable camp cooking by Coleman. Although it’s nothing special, this unit is built reliably and might be all you need to prepare your morning coffee and simple meals. Some campers prefer this style burner to the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove because of the way it packs and how it sits on a table surface. I personally like how this style burner sits nice and flat, and is less likely to tip over when cooking with heavier pots or pans. This unit will fit up to a ten inch pan, and has a 7,650 BTU output, so it’s not the most powerful stove out there if you need to cook with particularly high heat. Flame adjustment control allows you to cook on its higher setting as well as at a simmer. A cartridge safety locking system is a nice feature to ensure your fuel source is drawn from safely. This unit takes a different style butane fuel canister than the previous stoves mentioned, so be prepared to stock up if you choose this one. All in all, this is a simple and reliable butane camp stove that will hold up and cook for years with the proper care. If you’re preparing simple meals and don’t require the high heat of a more high end portable cooker, then definitely consider this low cost, low maintenance camp stove.
Price: $20.06 & Free Shipping (31 percent off MSRP)
- Sits nicely on a table top or on the ground for no spill cooking
- Includes carrying case
- Very affordable and built to last — good value for the money
- The butane fuel canisters required for this stove are reasonably priced
- Relatively low heat output — look elsewhere if you’re interested in a powerful camp stove
- It’s not a very lightweight stove at almost five pounds and is an awkward size and shape for packing in a backpack
- Complaints that the fuel canisters may leak if not removed from the stove after use
9. BioLite Wood Burning CampStove
This portable cooker is a seriously cool gadget for any camper that appreciates both unique and useful gear. This camp stove is a super neat piece of equipment because it utilizes the thermal energy it creates to charge any USB compatible device! Biolite claims that 20 minutes of charging with a strong fire can give most smartphones up to 60 minutes of talk time….pretty sweet! This burner is fueled by inserting twigs and sticks, so it can be a great option for the backpacker who wants to save space on fuel canisters and also have a charging device. It’s only about two pounds in weight and has roughly the same dimensions as a one liter Nalgene bottle, so I’d say it’s highly portable. It even comes with a carrying sack, and customer reviews insist this stove burns super clean and won’t turn the inside of your pack all sooty. When this bad boy gets going, it can boil a liter of water in about four and a half minutes — pretty decent. An internal starter battery conveniently helps to kick-start your cooking fire before the stove starts to generate its own power. Considering it’s both a portable charging device AND a reliable camp cooker, Biolite’s price tag at $110 is pretty reasonable. If you have the funds to spring for this unit, then you’re sure to impress your camping pals with this unique piece of equipment.
Price: $123.95 & Free Shipping
- Both a camp stove AND a charging device
- Lightweight and highly portable
- Burns very clean and won’t make the inside of your backpack soot ridden
- Burns on natural fuel sources, so leave the canisters at home
- BioLite offers some cool attachments/accessories for this unit (LED lights, grill attachments, etc)
- If there’s not an abundance of dry twigs and burnable material where you camp/backpack, then this isn’t the stove for you
- Requires pretty frequent additions of fuel to maintain even, high heat
- A bit on the heavy side for backpackers who are serious about trimming pack weight
10. Blackstone Tailgater Portable Gas Grill and Griddle Combo
The Tailgater Portable Gas Grill and Griddle Combo by Blackstone is one of the ultimate options in portable camp cookers. There’s practically no assembly required, so this grill and griddle combo is ready to rage as soon as you pull up to the campsite. I love how this unit offers versatile cooking options without needing to purchase any attachments or accessories. One burner has an output of 15,000 BTUs and the other is capable of 20,000 BTUs, so this is a pretty powerhouse cooker. The heavy duty ventilated grill box comes with durable, high quality cast iron grill grates, while the griddle is steel for optimal heat distribution and control. This grill/griddle is a whopping 75 pounds, so it’s not going to stray far from your vehicle or home — but it’s none the less a fairly portable unit due to its easy assembly and carrying handles. The higher weight of this unit stems from the higher quality cast iron and metal construction, so it’s heavy for good reason. If you want to be the grill master at your next camping outing on a top performing cooking unit, then look into this sweet set up by Blackstone.
Price: $172.14 & FREE Shipping
- Comes with a removable grill box AND griddle
- Constructed with high quality materials
- Capable of a variety of cooking styles without having to purchase any attachments/accessories
- Quite a heavy unit — you might need a friend to get this big boy out of your vehicle and set up
- Due to the materials used, it’s a pretty pricey portable camp cooker at $180
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