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- A reliable camp stove is a great way to enjoy a warm meal and a hot cup of coffee when you’re out in the field. It can also be must-have for purifying water and safely cooking food.
- The Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Camp Stove is our top pick because it’s reliable, easy to use, and weighs less than 2 ounces.
There really is nothing like a hot cup of coffee on a cold mountain morning, except maybe a hot meal on a cold mountain evening. Or some fresh fish cooked up minutes after it was pulled from the stream. Or a mug of hot cocoa sipped by the campfire as snowflakes dance beneath the winter stars.
With a good camp stove, you can enjoy a bit of creature comfort even when you’re a multi-day hike away from the comforts of home. In my woodland wanderings, I’ve used three or four stoves of my own and I’ve cooked and/or boiled water using easily a dozen stoves owned by fellow mountaineers. I’ve used camp stoves to cook up multiple course meals during leisurely afternoons at well-established campsites and I’ve used them to melt snow and ice just so I had enough water to drink in order to rehydrate after an exhausting climb. Mostly, though, like all campers, I’ve used them to boil water.
In fact, it’s worth noting that, more than any other use, a camp stove will be used to boil water, not for actual cooking. This is so both for purifying water and because so many ready-made camp meals simply require the addition of heated H2O. So along with that camp stove, make sure you also get a decent pot for boiling.
Any decent stove will produce plenty of heat and will resist the elements, but beyond that, there are all sorts of differences between various brands and models that make a given unit ideal for one user but a poor choice for others. In discussing the five camp stoves on this list, I’ll cover not only each option’s inherent qualities but will also talk through why each model is well suited to specific activities, as well as why a given stove may be a poor choice for other scenarios.
Each of these camp stoves is unique in several ways, but a few factors must be universally considered with backpacking stoves. These are weight, fuel source, and boil time, which is tantamount to considering BTU output. Beyond that, go ahead and let personal preference help inform your choice of the best camp stove. After all, you’re the chef who’ll be using it out there in the field.
Here are the best camp stoves you can buy:
- Best camp stove overall: Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove
- Best budget camp stove: Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove
- Best high-powered camp stove: Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill
- Best wood-burning camp stove: Ohuhu Portable Wood Burning Camping Stove
- Best high-tech camp stove: BioLite CampStove 2
Updated on 5/23/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting.
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best camp stove overall
- Snow Peak
The Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium stove achieves a maximum heat output rated at more than 11,000 BTUs, but the stove weighs only 1.9 ounces and folds down smaller than a pack of playing cards.
I own and use a Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium stove, but that’s not just why I’m recommending it. Rather, my top choice for the best camp stove is also many other people’s favorite. And, I’ve been through enough camping stoves to know when I’ve found a good one.
Folded up, the LiteMax Titanium is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It tucks away into a pack without taking up any space worth noting, and the stove adds a mere 1.9 ounces to your overall gear weight. The standard canister of fuel used with a Snow Peak stove (shown in photo) weighs only a little more than half a pound and is smaller than a softball, so no concerns regarding weight or size, either.
Setting up this little stove takes about five seconds. You flip open its three legs, fold down the valve control rod, screw it onto the fuel canister, and you’re ready to cook.
In most conditions, the Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium stove can bring a small pot of water to boil in about five minutes, and with its standard fuel canister it should offer up to 50 minutes of burn time. The only real complaint I have about this stove, which is one to be expected from such a small device, is it’s rather unstable. You need to be sure you center a pot or pan on those three little legs and make sure to place the fuel canister on as flat and solid a surface as possible. If you’re not careful, you will end up with spilled water or, worse, a spilled dinner.
The Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium is a favorite of many Amazon customers, with average ratings above 4.4 stars. One customer put it best: “Small and compact, lightweight, [and] high build-quality. What’s not to like?”
Trailspace Outdoor Gear Reviews notes how the stove “sets up in seconds” and praises its “excellent flame control.” Backpacker also called the LiteMax Titanium the best all-around camp stove, calling it the “lightest of lightweights.”
Pros: Very lightweight, excellent flame intensity control, easy set-up
Cons: Not very stable, can be extinguished by gusty wind
The best budget camp stove
The Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove acts like a standard stovetop burner, and it’s powerful, rugged, and well priced.
You know how the razor companies get you by selling the handles cheap but then pricing the blade cartridges at astronomical rates? It can be like that with camp stove fuel, too. But the best field stove in the world is just a paperweight without fuel, so buy it you will, regardless of the price. With the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove, those canisters of propane fuel are surprisingly low-priced – you can often get a two-pack of the 16-ounce fuel cylinder for less than 10 bucks. One such tank will burn for two hours at full blast and as long as eight or nine hours on a low setting. So if you want to make campsite risotto, go for it. Oh, and the stove itself is affordable, too.
Flame control is remarkably easy with this stove, just twist that large plastic knob all the way open for a roaring 10,000-BTU output or dial it back for hours of simmering. And thanks to the deep bowl shape and generous wind baffles, this stove will maintain a consistent burn in all but the most powerful gusts of wind. The burner is large and stable enough to accommodate an 8-inch pan or pot, so you really can almost treat it like a standard stovetop.
I used one of these stoves for several years and still keep one on hand in case the stove in my house ever has a problem or for some sort of apocalyptic nightmare during which I still wanted to cook pasta. But you’ll probably never see me bringing this stove along for another hike or climb. Why? Weight and size. This stove weighs more than two pounds, with the canister adding another three pounds or more when filled. That’s heavier than some tents and sleeping pads combined. So while I highly recommend this stove for car campers or emergency preparedness, it’s a poor choice for climbers or trekkers.
That said, the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove currently enjoys a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon. If there’s one thing many people singled out about their Coleman stove, it’s reliability. One customer who bought her stove years before Amazon even existed, wrote, “I purchased this [stove] in 1992 and use it regularly while camping today.” Anne’s Travels blog says the Coleman stove is “great for a large pot” and “fuel efficient.”
Pros: Low price point, long burn time, easy flame output adjustment
Cons: Very heavy and bulky
The best high-powered camp stove
- Mr. Steak
The Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill cranks out 14,000 BTUs and can heat up to an astounding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re pushing for the mountain summit of Denali or the Eiger, then it’s probably best to leave the Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill back at base camp. At around 30 pounds and measuring 25 by 16 by 16 inches, this is most definitely a car camping grill. But with that size comes 165 square inches of cooking space, below which an immensely powerful ceramic infrared burner can heat up to as much as 1,000 degrees. Not that you will need that much heat most of the time, but hey, it’s there for you.
The Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill works with a standard one-pound propane cylinder (the squat green ones, like the ones the Coleman stove uses) and has an electronic ignition system. When you’re not using the grill, you can fold its legs up for easier storage or transport, and when you are using it, you’ll appreciate the cool-to-the-touch silicone cover on the handle and a latch that can hold the cover open while you’re flipping burgers.
An Amazon customer who owns a Mr. Steak grill says he “never would have thought [he] could personally grill steakhouse-quality steak on a lightweight, portable grill like this one,” adding that it is “super easy to transport” (unless you’re scaling Everest). Another customer calls the grill “the best of the best.”
And having owned one, I can attest to both customers’ comments.
Pros: Amazing heat output, large cook surface, electric ignition system
Cons: Expensive, not suitable for hauling on foot
The best wood burning camp stove
Unless you’re camping on a glacier or in the middle of the barren desert, you will always have a plentiful supply of fuel for the Ohuhu Portable Wood Burning Camping Stove.
Using a gas-powered camping stove is much easier and more convenient than using a wood-burning camp stove. But the latter option means you will almost never run out of fuel, and that fuel will always be free. You just have to spend the time to collect and prepare the trigs, brambles, pine cones, and other small tinder that the stove uses to produce heat.
Ohuhu’s compact wood-burning stove is made out of hardy stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about it melting while you use it. In fact, it will even radiate out a good deal of heat, helping keep you and your fellow campers warm while you prepare a meal. The base is designed to promote ideal airflow and the combustion chambers channel the heat and flames upward and toward your waiting pot or pan. It disassembles and packs down small for storage or transport, fitting into an included sack.
There will be a learning curve with this stove, and before you rely on it in the field, you absolutely need to take the time to figure out what type of tinder works best, how to get the fire at the right heat level for your needs, and how best to feed more material into the stove to keep the heat coming. Once you master the use of the Ohuhu Portable Wood Burning stove, you will have at your disposal a cooking tool that will never cost you another penny and that should last for years.
This Ohuhu stove has an admirable 4.5-star rating with more than 900 reviews posted on Amazon. An owner praises the stove for requiring “less than 10 seconds to put together or disassemble,” while another reviewer says the Ohuhu is an “excellent balance of durability and lightweight.”
Pandaneo notes the Ohuhu Portable stove’s “space-saving design” and light weight, while a video review from The Outdoor Gear Review points out that the stove can be used as a wood burner alone or can be used with a special alcohol cooking solution, adding versatility.
Pros: Low-cost option, abundant fuel supply, compact when disassembled
Cons: Requires practice to master, hard to use in wet conditions, requires foraging for fuel
The best high-tech camp stove
The BioLite CampStove 2 can cook your meal and charge your phone and GoPro camera at the same time thanks to an ingenious built-in generator fueled by heat.
When you’re out there in the wilderness, you shouldn’t be staring at your phone; you should be looking at the stars, the mountains, or the valleys and such. That said, keeping a charged phone is important for safety – and for selfies. Keeping a rechargeable flashlight fully powered is always a good idea, and those GoPro camera batteries always seem to need recharging, don’t they?
Maintaining battery life in all those devices when in the field means carrying battery packs, using a solar charger, or firing up something you’re probably traveling with: your stove.
The BioLite CampStove 2 is a wood-burning stove that has a built-in generator capable of producing 3 watts of electricity while the fire is hot. That’s enough power to charge small devices, illuminate a Biolite lamp, or to charge the unit’s internal battery for later use when the fire isn’t burning.
Besides providing power, it’s also a damn good stove. With a decent fire built up, the BioLite CampStove 2 can bring a liter of water to boil in less than five minutes and produces plentiful heat for cooking. In fact, there are compact fans inside the burn chamber that you can set at four different speeds to increase or decrease the intensity of the heat.
That’s right: This is a wood-burning, electricity-producing stove that effectively has adjustable heat settings. How badass is that?
A reviewer from GearChase put the BioLite CampStove 2 through the motions and found it easy to cook “with fuel found easily around a campsite” thanks to the high heat output. He also found the “build quality very durable.”
The Insider Picks team is a fan of BioLite’s gear, having tested a few of the products and visited its design studio. Check out our review of the BioLite FirePit.
Pros: Charges small devices, built-in fans regulate heat, works with myriad accessories
Cons: Getting initial fire burning can be frustrating
Check out our other great camping gear guides
- Julian Bialowas/Unsplash
With a good tent, you can always feel at home, even when you’re actually miles from civilization and a few thousand feet up in the mountains. The Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2 Person tent is our top choice for best tent, thanks to its great price, ease of setup, and ability to keep you warm and dry even in bad weather.
You should also consider the Flytop Outdoor Backpacking 2 Person Tent, the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 Person Tent, and the Coleman Evanston Screened 6 Person Tent. One of these options will surely suit you and your fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
A great set of camping cookware brings the comfort of the kitchen to the campsite. The Gear4U Camping Cookware Mess Kit is our top pick because it contains 13 useful items that tuck together into one compact package weighing just 1.3 pounds. Here are all of our favorites:
- Best overall: GSI Bugaboo Camper Cookset
- Best low-cost set: MalloMe 10-Piece Cookware Mess Kit
- Best for the solo camper: Stansport 360 Stainless Steel Mess Kit
- Best for boiling water: Terra Hiker Camping Cookware Set
Sacrificing weight while backpacking is common, but you don’t have to sacrifice comfort, too.
Ultimately, the type of tent you pick to join you on the long haul depends on the type of trip you intend to take. Short trips can err on the side of a heavier tent while longer, multi-day trips may call for an ultralight option. No matter the scenario, tent makers like Big Agnes, MSR, and even REI have a sea of available options designed specifically to keep you cozy while catching some shut-eye.
Here are our top picks for the best backpacking tents:
- Best tent overall: Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2
- Best tent for ultralight backpacking: Nemo Hornet 2
- Best tent for couples: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2
- Best tent for 4-season backpackers: The North Face Mountain 25
- Best budget-friendly tent: REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus
A sleeping bag is more than a matter of comfort. In extreme circumstances, having the right sleeping bag can be a matter of life and death. But that’s no reason not to find one that’s nice and cozy, too.
Here are the best sleeping bags you can buy:
- Best overall: Sierra Designs Zissou 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag
- Best for extreme cold: Mountain Hardware Lamina Z Bonfire
- Best on a budget: Coleman North Rim Extreme Weather
- Best for comfort: Teton Sports Fahrenheit
- Best for couples: Sleepingo Double Sleeping Bag
- Best for kids: Kelty Big Dipper 30 Degree Sleeping Bag