The 8 Best Camping Stoves of 2021

Get the right stove to fit your outdoor cooking style

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There is a dizzying array of options in the camping stove market and that’s a great thing for outdoor cooks. While it’s never been easier to cook a solid meal on the back of your tailgate or deep in the backcountry, it’s never been harder to choose your ideal heat source.

Heavier-duty car camping stoves offer commercial kitchen-like capacity and heat control but aren’t practical for backpacking. True ultralight backpacking options usually sacrifice capacity and features for weight savings, so you’ll need to know how and where you intend to use your stove to make the right trade-offs. A backpacker who only eats freeze-dried meals can get by with a stove dedicated to boiling water quickly, while a tailgate super chef may want capacity and control over everything. Fuel type can also be an important consideration (see our What to Look For section below) as can weight. No matter, you can do it all in terms of campsite cooking.

Our selections below offer a range of options tailored to different types of outdoor eaters, and you can use the general buying advice and FAQs below to help decide which specs and features are most important in your search. These are the best camping stoves we've used and seen in 2021.

The Rundown
An all-in-one solution perfect for one that can expand for larger groups.
An ultralight, minimalist solution that gets the job done for less.
Use charcoal or wood and enjoy a bonfire built to be grilled over.
Best for Backpacking:
MSR Reactor Stove System at Amazon
Lightweight, high-capacity, and best-in-class boiling times.
Best for Wood-Burning:
BioLite CampStove 2+ at Amazon
Use freely available wood fuel instead of carrying fossil fuels into nature with you.
Collapsible, all-metal two-burner stove built to travel and last.
A lighter, compact self-contained system for cooking for a group further afield.
Uses both canister fuel or liquid fuel for reliable flame in any season.

Best Overall: Primus Lite Plus Stove System

Primus Lite Plus Stove System
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Compact

What We Don't Like
  • Small capacity

The Primus Lite Plus is an ultralight and compact stove system that you can toss in a pack for coffee on a day hike or instant meals on overnights. Like others in the genre, it’s a purpose-built stove that does one thing really well: boil water. If you’re a chef looking to prepare elaborate meals in the woods, this isn’t your stove. But for most, the Lite Plus delivers just enough capacity and function for a solo traveler or a pair. It also is compatible with an optional XL pot if you want the option to cook for more people, making it an adaptable system that can swap pieces in and out depending on your trip.

Weight: 14.1 ounces | Dimensions: 3.9 x 5.1 inches | Fuel: Butane canister | Heat output: 4,500 BTU

Tested by TripSavvy

I tested the Lite Plus in the fall in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on backpacking trips both solo and with a friend for preparing dehydrated meals and coffee. At 14.1 ounces, it’s very light, but the first thing that jumped out about the Lite Plus was how compact it is. Other stove systems I’ve used usually have larger pots and while that can come in handy, more often than not, my camping partners have their own stoves, anyways. I found the 500-milliliter size to be plenty for my solo trips and, while it was tight, I could boil just enough water for myself and a friend to “cook” one dehydrated pouch meal each.

A few add-on options really helped set the Lite Plus apart, though. The very reasonably priced Coffee Press add-on made the morning ritual simple and clean. I didn’t experience grains passing through and overall the press worked comparably to my at-home press for a quality cup of coffee in the backcountry. I also made use of the sold-separately Lite XL pot which has double the capacity and is a better fit if you’re normally traveling as a duo. You can also order the Lite XL system if you anticipate only wanting to use the 1-liter pot. Either stove system uses the same burner and the pots have a satisfyingly substantial connection. When used with the smaller 100-gram canisters, the stove is very low to the ground and feels much more stable than taller stoves, especially when I used the included fold-out canister legs. — Justin Park, Product Tester

Best Budget: GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Canister Stove

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Canister Stove
What We Like
  • Ultralight

  • Compact

  • As indicated, great price

What We Don't Like
  • No pot included

  • Longer boil times

For the backpacker who wants low-cost and low-weight, it’s hard to beat the Pinnacle Canister Stove from GSI Outdoors, which weighs just 2.4 ounces and collapses into a palm-of-the-hand package. There have been simple, single-burner stoves for a long time, but they’re often heavier and much bulkier and not much less expensive. The Pinnacle delivers a lot of bang for the buck, as well, cranking out 9,629 BTUs from a butane canister.

Because it’s not a system connected to an integrated pot for maximum efficiency, the boil times are a touch longer, but still a respectable 3.5 minutes to boil a half-liter of water. The wire fuel throttle also offers a surprising amount of flame control if you want to get more ambitious than boiling water. You’ll also still need to buy a suitable pot, so the savings get eroded a bit there when compared to complete systems.

Weight: 2.4 ounces | Dimensions: 2.1 x 1.6 x 3 inches | Fuel: Butane canister | Heat output: 9,629 BTU

Best for Grilling: Solo Stove Ultimate Grill Bundle

Solo Stove Ultimate Grill Bundle
What We Like
  • Easy to light and keep burning

  • Delivers consistent, low-smoke heat

  • Can cook with charcoal or available fuel wood

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • No temperature control

Solo Stove is best known for their stainless steel fire pits that crank out high temperatures and almost no smoke for a modern campfire experience but have modified their design to create the Solo Stove. The Ultimate Grill Bundle combines the baseline grill with some fairly essential accessories such as the stand, a cover, grill tools, lid, and a pack of charcoal and natural wood starters.

On the included Short Stand (they make a taller one), the grill is about knee-high which is just right for sitting around a campfire grilling (though the company emphasizes this grill is not ideal for a campfire and isn’t just their campfire pit with a grill grate on it). It comes with charcoal briquettes but can be run just as easily using wood or wood chunks.

Weight: 38.5 punds. | Dimensions: 22 x 22 x 29.4 inches | Fuel: Charcoal, Wood | Heat output: 400-500 degrees F

Tested by TripSavvy

I tested the Solo Stove Grill with only limited, second-hand experience with Solo Stoves. I knew they burned hot and were known for smoke-free campfire-style heat for gathering around. It’s important to note that I live in Colorado's Rocky Mountains at 10,000 feet above sea level and had mostly given up on wood and charcoal grilling because the lack of oxygen made using the classic kettle grill a chore. I’m pleased to report that the Solo Stove Grill had no problems with the altitude. The design is meant to maximize airflow around the fire inside and gave me hope that I could once again grill over coals and I did. We enjoyed kebabs, burgers, and sausages and the temperature (which you can’t really adjust outside of letting it die down or adding fuel) was about right for quick grilling tasks.

The grill is shorter than Solo Stove's fire pit models so you can get the grate closer to the heat. This, however, is also why it’s not as great for a campfire, though we still found it plenty enjoyable as a thing to gather around. The included charcoal pack and starters worked as advertised, were simple to use, and lasted just long enough for a nice grilling session. Still, I enjoyed the Grill most when I used sticks and wood chunks. This requires more patience because you don’t want to grill over some woods like pine until they’ve burned down closer to coals. This is admittedly easier for me, as I have ready access to lots of wood and prefer using that to bags of commercial charcoal for thrift if nothing else.

If you’re familiar with the Solo Stove fire pits, the biggest difference here is that air doesn’t flow to the top of the blaze for a secondary burn. (That’s how their fire pits deliver a low-smoke bonfire.) So the Solo Stove Grill is going to put out more smoke, though we were never dodging smoke the way you would at a normal bonfire. If you want to use this more like a charcoal grill, definitely get the taller stand as the included Short Stand is for sitting around it, not hunching over it.  — Justin Park, Product Tester

Best for Backpacking: MSR Reactor Stove System

MSR Reactor Stove System
What We Like
  • Best-in-class boil times

  • Fuel-efficient

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

MSR is known for expedition-grade camping gear and so it’s not surprising that their top-of-the-line stove system posts the fastest boiling times and does it with supreme fuel efficiency. The 1-liter version of the Reactor is great for one to two people and boils water in 3.5 minutes. The amount of water for an average dehydrated meal (0.5 liter) boils in a minute and a half. The larger versions are even faster and more efficient, and while they take up more room only add a few ounces for each step up in size. There’s a 1.7-liter and 2.5-liter model available.

This isn’t MSR’s lightest or most compact stove option, but it is the most efficient. Plus, the entire system still weighs less than a pound and packs itself inside the cooking vessel. The flame is focused through a heat exchanger and protected from wind to efficiently transfer the energy to the water. It does one thing and does it really well.

Weight: 14 ounces | Dimensions: 6.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches | Fuel: Isobutane-propane | Heat output: 9,000 BTUs

Tested by TripSavvy

I've been able to test the 1.7-liter version of MSR's Reactor Stove System at sea level campsites in Southern California up to 11,000 feet in elevation in California's Sierra Nevada range where snow was on the ground. No matter the locale, the boil time is truly impressive. I've been using MSR's Windburner system in the backcountry for years so was excited to try the Reactor (read: I had high expectations). It held up both in fuel and boiling efficiency. While this system isn't as compact as the Primus Lite Plus, it does allow you to stash a regular-sized fuel canister into the cooking vessel—something that wasn't possible with the Lite Plus.

If you're looking for an admittedly expensive backcountry cook system, this is your pick. It might take a while, but I'm guessing you'll make up for a less expensive stove in less fuel purchased. While the system seemed secure enough to rest on the ground, I like to see the spaceship tripod fold-out canister legs for confidence in less-even surfaces. — Nathan Allen, Outdoor Gear Editor

Best for Wood-Burning: BioLite CampStove 2+

BioLite CampStove 2+
What We Like
  • No carrying fuel

  • Charging capabilities

What We Don't Like
  • Less consistent than fuel stoves

A decade ago, BioLite launched their original Camp Stove with the wild idea to capture campfire heat and turn it into electricity and, in turn, capture it in a battery that powers a fan which boosts the fire in a circle of energy. Far out, right? The Camp Stove 2 improves on the original with more efficient conversion to electricity, a better battery, and new features such as a built-in light that runs off the battery.

Weight: 2 pounds, 1 ounce | Dimensions: 5 x 8.25 inches | Fuel: Wood | Heat output: 10,000 BTUs

Tested by TripSavvy

I bought the first Camp Stove at an REI in New Mexico and was pretty sure it would be a bust. I was pleasantly surprised that it not only worked as a stove but also effectively charged my electronics for as long as I could keep the battery charged with fire. The new edition is much improved. Fires are easier to start and the battery is much easier to charge up. I thought the built-in lamp was unnecessary at first but found I enjoyed having it at camp for my food as it provides a much truer color than my headlamp.

This still isn’t as easy as fossil fuel stove systems. You have to collect sticks and break them down to fit. There’s also some required skill in starting a good fire in the Camp Stove. But once it’s running, the boil times are decent at 4.5 minutes for a liter of water. The stove is definitely heavier than most fuel-based stove systems, but that’s largely due to the battery (I would carry a battery bank separately if not carrying this stove) and you save the weight of the fuel you no longer have to carry. (The smallest canisters good for a couple of people for a few nights of cooking weigh about 4 ounces.) — Justin Park, Product Tester

Best for Car Camping: Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove

Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove
What We Like
  • At-home functionality

  • Compact form for transport

What We Don't Like
  • Too heavy for backpacking

Backpacking stove systems are great for quickly boiling water for coffee and instant meals, but they aren’t much if you’re trying to cook a proper meal. When rafting, car camping, or tailgating, you can afford some extra weight and should look at the classic two-burner Ignite Plus from Eureka. The rugged rolled steel body is meant to last a lifetime but it’s compact and self-contained and only weighs 12 pounds. Burners are 12 inches apart and deliver a distributed 10,000 BTUs each so you can cook with full-size cookware and with enough power to feed a group.

The other big differentiator is precise flame control. The gas flow knob has two full turns of adjustment so you can boil on high or simmer on low as needed. Plus, the lid pops up with two side panels that provide a built-in windscreen to keep the heat consistent. Zach Ryan, who cooks gourmet meals in the Rocky Mountain backcountry for Summit Brunch, says the classic two-burner is the closest you can get to a real kitchen when you’re off-trail. “A few two-burner stoves can feed an army of people and they give significantly better control," Ryan says. "You don’t realize how easy it is to burn pancakes until you try to cook them on a backpacking stove.” If you’re taking your stove further than your tailgate, consider Eureka’s slightly smaller Ignite which saves you two pounds of carrying weight and about $50.

Weight: 12 pounds | Dimensions: 23 x 12.8 x 4 inches | Fuel: Propane | Heat output: 10,000 BTUs per burner

Tested by TripSavvy

It was a few years ago when my partner and I were planning a road trip from our home in Berkeley to a wedding in Hood River that I splurged at the REI on San Pablo for the Eureka Ignite Plus. Up until that point, all of my camping culinary skills happened within the confines of a backcountry stove system and the occasional lightweight Jetboil non-stick pan. But I had visions of cooking as gourmet of meals as I could along California's North Coast, in the Redwoods, and in and around central and eastern Oregon.

The first night at a campsite north of Fort Bragg, I was convinced it was one of the best investments I'd ever made—especially for car camping. The Ignite Plus has supreme heat and simmering control. The double burner and knob system allows you to simultaneously rev up one burner to boil water while simmering or slow-cooking on the other. The three-sided wind protection proved to be clutch on that trip as well as trips in California's obnoxiously windy Sierra Nevadas. It also packs down small enough that we didn't feel we were sacrificing space as we cruised the coast in our Toyota Prius.

Pro-tip: While you're splurging on the Ignite Plus, add the Lodge Reversible Cast Iron Griddle/Grill to your camp cooking quiver. — Nathan Allen, Outdoor Gear Editor

Best for Group Backpacking: Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Stove System

Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Stove System
What We Like
  • Precise control

  • High-capacity

  • Fuel-efficient

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If you’re setting up a camp kitchen far afield and have to carry everything on your back, weight and space are at a premium. Bringing backpacking stoves usually means major compromises in capacity and control. Not so with the Genesis Basecamp system from Jetboil. (Jetboil is the folks that popularized the rocket stove design that dominates the camp stove market.) The Genesis keeps the famous Jetboil fuel efficiency and performance—it boils a liter of water in 3.5 minutes—but adds precise flame control and larger cookware to be able to cook at scale when overnighting with a group.

Most notably, this is a system set apart from the bulkier classic two-burner stoves. The included 10-inch fry pan and 5-liter FluxPot combine with the stove into a single, compact package that’s about 10 x 7 inches, making it easy to fit into your pack. And if you need even more cooking capacity, there’s a fuel built-in outlet, permitting daisy-chaining of additional Jetboil burners.

Weight: 9 pounds, 4 ounces | Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.2 inches | Fuel: Propane | Heat output: 10,000 BTUs per burner

Best Year-Round: MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove

MSR WhisperLite International Backpacking Stove
What We Like
  • Fuel flexibility

  • Expedition grade and field-repairable

What We Don't Like
  • No wind protection

  • Harder to use than push-button systems

Despite all the innovation in the camp stove space in the past decade, some designs have stood the test of time. The MSR Whisperlite is one of those and one of its strengths is the fact that decades of campers and explorers have put it through its paces, with MSR making small changes over the years to perfect the model. The original Whisperlite debuted around 1985 and the current model has been in production since 2012. The design is simple, made of lightweight aluminum and steel with a hose to connect to your fuel source. The stove is a hybrid model that can work with a wide range of fuel types from white gas to common canister fuel to the same unleaded gas you use in your car. 

It’s also field-maintainable and comes with a simple tool kit, so hiccups in performance don’t mean canceling your camping trip (or Antarctic expedition). This isn’t the lightest stove you can buy, but it’s pretty close and it’s the lightest in its class at just over 11 ounces (not counting fuel). The option to use liquid fuel means you can count on better cold-weather performance than canister stoves which can bog down when things get sub-zero. You need more knowledge of your fuel and the system with the Whisperlite, but if reliability and repairability are essential, this is one stove you can use for years in all seasons and scenarios.

Weight: 11.2 ounces | Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 6 inches | Fuel: Multiple | Heat output: Varies

Final Verdict

For most backpackers and car campers keeping it simple, the MSR Reactor (view at Amazon) handles boiling water for hot meals and beverages fast and with a light, streamlined setup that’s intuitive to use. If you’re able to handle more weight, the classic two-burner Eureka Ignite Plus (view at Backcountry) gives you more control and the capacity to cook more variety for more people.

What to Look for in a Camp Stove

Fuel Type

Most camping stoves use one of a few commonly available types and each has its pros and cons.

Isobutane Propane

Not surprisingly, "canister stoves" use isobutane-propane canisters. These canisters are generally not refillable without special equipment and they may have problems at sub-freezing temperatures. They also offer no indication as to their fill level, so it can be a surprise when they run empty, and hard to tell how many you might need. (This is an issue with all gas fuel in canisters.) Their advantages are that they're lightweight, available in a range of sizes, and widely available. The smallest containers are only 4 ounces and usually last for several days for one to two people.

Propane

This is the classic camping fuel and the 16-ounce canisters are available almost anywhere in North America. These are usually the fuel source for the common two-burner camping stoves and green Coleman canisters still remind me of family camping trips. They don't often come in smaller containers and thus aren't usually the choice for ultralight backpacking stoves. Notably, they use a different junction than 20-pound propane tanks that you'd use with a gas grill, though some camp stoves have adapters that permit the use of the larger tanks.

Wood

Wood is the simplest fuel available and has the advantage of being freely available in lots of outdoor environments. However, you get what you pay for and wood is obviously less consistent in shape, burning quality, and it is unwieldy if you have to carry it with you. It also produces more smoke than petroleum stove fuels which usually burn very cleanly. Startup times with wood-fired stoves are longer as well, so using them tends to require some patience and skill. Plus, many wood fires are banned for significant portions of the year in more arid western states.

Liquid Fuels

Liquid fuels generally perform better in cold temperatures and the canisters for them are often refillable. Downsides include potential mess (the cans can be opened) and a hassle factor since they are more hands-on and can require pumping to pressurize the container and are trickier to light. They're also heavier, so only choose liquid fuel if you need some of the benefits mentioned.

Automatic vs. Manual Ignition

Many modern camping stoves offer push-button, built-in ignition for their burners. Others are fully manual, meaning you'll need a lighter, matches, or some other means of lighting the flame. Even stoves with igniters aren't foolproof as you usually control the fuel and ignition separately (as on a gas grill), so you need to ignite the fuel fairly quickly to avoid too much fuel buildup before you spark it. I personally appreciate having a built-in ignition as it can be difficult to get a lighter close to the fuel in a stove with a closed design and windscreen. Still, I recommend always having a lighter or matches in your emergency/first-aid kit and they're a nice backup should your starter fail.

Boil Time & Maximum Burn Time

These two stats can tell you most of what you need to know about a stove’s performance and efficiency. Boil time is a fairly straightforward spec—just make sure you are comparing boil times for the same quantity of water. Most manufacturers list a boil time for either a half-liter or full liter. Less time is better.

That said, some stoves might sacrifice fuel efficiency in pursuit of faster boil times, so it’s worth looking at the maximum burn time as well. Again, make sure you’re comparing like quantities of fuel when you’re comparing maximum burn times.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What type of camping stove should I look for?

    Before you can shop for a camp stove, you need to determine the types of camping and camp cooking you're going to do. Are you mostly car camping where weight and size are lesser concerns? Or are you backpacking with your camp on your back for multiple nights and counting each gram? Are you feeding just yourself or an entire group?

    Zach Ryan, the founder and head chef of Summit Brunch caters meals in the great outdoors and uses a range of different stoves depending on the logistics. "I'll bring the classic two-burner stove almost anywhere that's not an overnight since you can cook almost anything on it, but for most people it's not practical to carry very far because of the weight." He recommends the two-burner stove model for short trips and car camping because it offers the most control and flexibility in your choice of cookware.

    When he needs to go ultralight, Ryan utilizes multiple MSR Whisperlite stoves but pairs them with heavier cast-iron cookware when possible since it distributes the heat better than the thin, ultralight metals used in most backpacking cookware. Unless you're as committed to haute cuisine in the backcountry as he is, you'll likely need to compromise on the cookware to avoid lugging the weight. (Cast-iron skillets usually weigh between 5 and 10 pounds each.)

    Modern canister stove systems are crazy light but have limited capabilities for cooking as their intense, directed flames and tall, narrow pots are designed to boil water and not much else. Even systems that incorporate more flame control and wider cookware still come up far short of a home kitchen experience. These stoves can deliver hot drinks and a hot meal if you're open to eating freeze-dried food, but if you haven't tried them, I recommend testing a few at home before committing to eating almost nothing but dehydrated meals on the trail. There are more options than ever in this category (I like Good To-Go, developed by a chef), but they're still not quite the same as fresh ingredients and can actually take some skill to prepare properly despite being described as “just add boiling water."

    If you fancy a gourmet cooking experience in the great outdoors, consider lugging fresh ingredients and a two-burner stove. If that's not realistic for your usual camping trips due to duration and/or distance, grab a lightweight canister stove and try a few brands of freeze-dried meals to land on something you'll enjoy.

  • How much should I spend on a camp stove?

    As with most things camping-related, the most expensive options are the ones that deliver function in an ultralight package. Self-contained canister stove systems generally cost in the $150 to $200 range and are a luxury item that provides convenience, weight savings, and space savings. If cost is a concern, simpler canister stoves such as our budget pick from GSI Outdoors provide most of the function of these pricier systems for a quarter of the cost.
    Heavier stoves aimed at car campers are usually much cheaper with the classic two-burners costing around $100 or a bit more.

  • How do I clean my stove?

    Most camp stoves are relatively easy to clean, luckily. The inline pots in canister stoves are often treated to be non-stick and thus are pretty easy to simply rinse and wipe down. The stoves themselves are very low-maintenance (I’ve never had an issue with gas flow or ignition), and won’t usually require cleaning since they’re separated from the food.

    Make sure to use non-abrasive pads when scrubbing the cookware so as not to damage the non-stick performance. Likewise don’t use an abrasive cleaner. Liquid fuel stoves such as the MSR Whisperlite can require maintenance every few years but the Whisperlite, in particular, comes with tools for cleaning built into it.

Why Trust Tripsavvy?

 Justin Park is a lifelong camper based in Breckenridge, Colorado. He spends several weeks in a tent each year and has camped in snow pits above 14,000 feet and on the beach in the tropics. He started using a lightweight stove system for the weight savings after years of cooking over a campfire only and currently uses the Primus Lite Plus, unless car camping where he might pull out the classic two-burner for a “real” meal.

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