Camping might mean roughing it, at least a little, but you don't have to live on biscuits and beans. You can buy camping stoves that might be nicer than the stove in the average American apartment, though the wealth of options available may overwhelm you. To help, we tested almost a dozen of the best portable propane gas stoves and then narrowed the field based on cooking ability, clean up, transportability, and power.
There's something for every use and budget in our list, whether you want a compact way to whip up bacon and eggs for two, or need something massively powerful to boil a cauldron of stew for a troop of hungry scouts.
Be sure to check out our guides to the best camping gear, portable grills, portable espresso makers, and trail running shoes.
Coleman's ubiquitous green camp stove has been a mainstay of campgrounds since your grandparents were kids. It's well built, sturdy on a table, and just works. It's not the most powerful stove, and it lacks frills like push-button ignition, but it's capable of holding a low flame, simmering soups, and cooking scrambled eggs without browning them. It's also incredibly durable. I cooked on this stove daily for over two years without issue when I was living in an RV.
To prolong the life of your Coleman Classic, be sure to wipe up spills and keep it as clean as possible. Older versions had a different burner design that didn't clog as easily, which I like better, but so long as you're fanatical about keeping the burners clean, this version will last a very long time.
Eureka's Spire LX offers the best of both worlds. It has two 10,000-BTU burners nearly identical to the Coleman, but offers enough space for side-by-side 12-inch pans. It also sports an output nozzle that lets you connect a JetBoil stove for a third burner. This nice extra means you can make another pot of coffee and cook the eggs and bacon all at the same time. The JetBoil add-ons, like the Luna Satellite Burner ($60), are sold separately. The biggest problem with the Spire LX is that it's difficult to find.
Primus' Tupike stove is compact, lightweight, and well made. The cleverly designed handle makes it simple to pack and carry. It's also my favorite stove to cook on, thanks to its stainless steel construction and ease of cleaning. With only 7,000 BTUs, it's not the fastest at boiling water, but for low-heat cooking—the cooking most of us actually do—it's unbeatable. It also performed well in the wind, though the screens sometimes flap around a bit.
Unfortunately, this kind of quality does not come cheap. You could blow through four Coleman Classics for the price of the Tupike. Still, if money isn't a concern, this stove is well worth the investment.
Camp Chef's Everest two-burner stove offers two 20,000-BTU burners—nearly double the output of our top pick, the Coleman. That means less time spent getting water to boil and preheating pans. The Everest can simmer as well, though it can be tricky to find the balance between a simmering flame and one that goes out in the first puff of wind.
The stainless steel drip tray makes cleaning up easy, and this stove might be my top pick were it not for the shoddy latch, which doesn't look like it's going to last long. The model I tested also had a propane leak at the nozzle when connected via a hose to a propane cylinder (I had no problems with disposable bottles).
Despite those issues, the spacious cooking area means you can fit large pans, making this an excellent choice for larger families.
The Stansport Outfitter Series stove is family-size and nearly identical to the Camp Chef Everest, but it's blue. It has more powerful 25,000-BTU burners, though I didn't notice much difference in terms of actual use. It also has the same stainless drip pan as the Everest and even the same shape of stove grate, though the bars are closer together over the burner—making it easier to balance small cookware, like a moka pot.
The Stansport is well made and has a much nicer latch mechanism than the Everest. Still, it's hard to justify the extra price on latch alone. We haven't tested its third burner or griddle option, but they're both available.
Camp Chef's Pro 60X is really a different beast, but for large groups, like a scout troop or guided trip, it's the best choice, hands down. Free-standing, ruggedly built, and weighing enough to justify renting a llama, it's overkill in most other circumstances.
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It's a wonderful stove to cook on, and I know more than a few river guides who swear by it. It's not great for simmering, but your giant pot of water for spaghetti noodles will boil in no time. It's easy to clean and packs up in a snap. I highly recommend the carrying bag with rolling wheels and really enjoyed extras like the BBQ grill box.
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