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11 best camping stoves and portable gas cookers for your next adventure

From cooking meat to boiling water for a cuppa, our expert put the best camping stoves to the test

Jon Axworthy
Wednesday 14 June 2023 11:14 BST
<p>We kept an eye on boiling and cooking times while testing these on wild and windy Dartmoor  </p>

We kept an eye on boiling and cooking times while testing these on wild and windy Dartmoor

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Whether it’s getting the bacon on after a night under canvas or brewing up after a morning’s trek into the great outdoors, the right camping stove will only add to the experience.

Wherever you’re headed, you will need your stove to have a good degree of portability and be able to stand up to the rigours of being on the road, track or trail. After all, whether it’s being transported in the boot of a car or in a bike pannier, you don’t want to find your dinner plans have been thwarted by damage to the stove en route.

Ease of setup, stability and cooking performance should all combine to ensure you’re never far away from something hot, which is why it’s always important to look at the wattage of the heat the stove produces, to ensure you won’t be left waiting for ages to serve up. For this reason, we refined our search for open-flame stoves to those that could produce a minimum of 1,500W per burner.

We were also looking at the full range of stoves to accommodate a variety of cooking outcomes, from simply getting something warming in your belly in the quickest possible time to stoves that could take pots and pans for more substantial fare. The final thing we were looking out for was how much control each stove gave us over our food and whether we could go from a fierce boil to a nice simmer without having to constantly fiddle with controls.

So, whether you’re bike packing, back packing, glamping or spending the night on a ledge halfway up a cliff-face, these are the stoves we would be more than happy to carry with us on our next adventure. Now, where did we put that bag of dehydrated stroganoff?

How we tested

Over the winter, we took the majority of stoves that had been sent our way out onto a wild and windy Dartmoor to see how well they could cope with the conditions.

Once there, we timed how long each stove took to boil water, as well as sizzling bacon and eggs, and bubbling up a backcountry sausage casserole and, of course, we got a brew on. Each time, noting how quickly and easily the stoves served up the grub.

The best camping stoves for 2023 are:

  • Best overall – Biolite campstove 2+: £158,
  • Best for transporting – MSR PocketRocket deluxe: £80.99,
  • Best for cooking multiple items – Coleman unleaded 2-burner: £189.99,
  • Best for cooking for large families or groups – Vango camp chef explorer 14 double: £160,

Biolite campstove 2+

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: Overall
  • Flame power: Unspecified
  • Burners: N/A
  • Weight: 935g
  • Fuel: Biomass
  • Auto ignition: No

This is a stove with a difference. Firstly, it’s serviced with small pieces of wood and twigs, so you need never worry about running out of fuel (or carrying canisters), as long as you have a steady supply of dry sticks around. Secondly, it uses thermoelectrics to create electricity from the fire, which can then be used to charge any devices that are running low, via a USB port.

Alternatively, the energy can be stored in the on-board battery for when it’s needed, so the Campstove 2+ certainly gets full marks for ingenuity, but there’s also bags of practicality too, with an included flexi LED light that can be plugged into the USB port to light up your cookery.

The fire itself is simple to start and keep stoked and can be controlled by adjusting the speed of the internal fan. When it was raging, we managed to boil our litre of water in around six minutes, with the LED display giving constant feedback on the strength of the fire, so you know when to add more fuel. Weighing less than a kilo, complete with foldaway legs, it’s a brilliantly portable heat source too.

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Campingaz party grill 400 CV

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For festivals
  • Flame power: 2,000W
  • Burners: One
  • Weight: 4.9kg
  • Fuel: Gas canister
  • Auto ignition: No

The party grill 400 design is ingenious, with a lid that doubles as a cooking wok and unclips to reveal a stove top, grill, griddle and plancha. The legs simply screw on to the base, to raise it above ground.

It uses the brand’s own CV Plus gas cartridges, which secure easily to the valve underneath the base, while the Piezo integrated ignition was suitably reliable, even in windy conditions.

Flame control was sufficient to be able to cook pretty much anything, from bacon and eggs on the plancha to a sausage sizzle on the grill.

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Primus onja stove duo

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For design
  • Flame power: 2,800W
  • Burners: Two
  • Weight: 3.25kg
  • Fuel: Gas canister
  • Auto ignition: No

Oozing Swedish style, the form of this two-burner stove is incredibly eye-catching, with its mix of oak, brass, leather and stainless steel. Its good looks are backed up with bags of functionality and portability, with an over-the-shoulder carry strap and a base that levers effortlessly out to provide a stable platform for the two powerful burners. These each require a canister and can get you boiling in around two minutes (a little longer if you’re trying to deal with the wind too).

The duo prefix means this model can receive both threaded and non-threaded valves, so you’ve got a little more choice in terms of which canister you use. Whichever you go for, they secure easily and remain hidden by the fabric base, while the oak lid that protects the burners during transport has a dual-purpose and can be used as a chopping board.

Ignition was straightforward with a separate lighter and the flame control was excellent with the burners able to be controlled separately, so you can cook multiple meals for hungry mouths.

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JetBoil MiniMo

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For backpackers
  • Flame power: 1,750W
  • Burner: One
  • Weight: 414g
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Auto ignition: Yes

If you often stop on a ledge for a cuppa, you’re going to want to have the lightweight MiniMo to hand, as it fuses portability with practicality. Integrated canister stoves like this one were simply invented to rapidly boil water, but they are now also able to simmer too – and the MiniMo’s simmering capabilities were simply superb.

The pot has a wide base, which means it’s a good option for anyone who enjoys (or, at least, tolerates) a good dehydrated meal and the pot shape and size makes it easy to devour the contents with a normal spoon.

The igniter was reliable and the heat is dispersed nicely by the MiniMo’s flux ring, so our meals were evenly heated, and the insulation on the pot was excellent, so we didn’t have to wolf down the food before it went cold.

Stability can be an issue with these stoves but the burner-to-pot interface was secure and the stubby design means you don’t have to worry too much about spillage while cooking.

If you want a brew to accompany your meal, just turn up the heat and you’ll have a hot drink in no time – in fact, we had a rolling boil in around two minutes. The MiniMo has a small packing footprint too, and you can fit an 8oz canister inside the MiniMo pot itself, to save on rucksack space.

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Primus lite plus feed zone

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: Bikepacking stove
  • Flame power: 1,500W
  • Burners: One
  • Weight: 402g
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Auto ignition: Yes

It may be small but the feed zone is big on functionality, especially as the burner (with 100g canister attached) will fit into the aluminium pot and, if you also pack the microfiber drying cloth (supplied), everything will be suitably protected against rattling rides along trails.

The burner pot coupling was easy and secure and the pot has a nice pouring spout, which avoids spillages.

The 1,500W flame is lit by a reliable Piezo igniter and is powerful enough for boiling half a litre of water in around three minutes, depending on the wind strength.

However, you aren’t restricted to simmering and boiling in the pot, as there are removable metal pegs that stabilise the system by screwing into the stove’s base, so you can use the burner with a pan if you want something more substantial.

You can also unbuckle the handle and turn it into a hanging stove if you’re limited on space or struggling to find flat ground to cook on.

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MSR PocketRocket deluxe

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For transporting
  • Flame power: 1,500W
  • Burners: One
  • Weight: 83g
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Auto ignition: Yes

The aptly named PocketRocket could probably fit in a cargo pocket but we like to pop it in a camping mug. When screwed into a gas canister, it will deliver boiling water in around three to four minutes, depending on the conditions.

Robust and lightning fast to set up and attach to the canister, there’s lots of adjustability, so you can go from low to high output and back again without any fumbling or faff.

The starter worked really well and there is a wind shield incorporated into the burner, which was really efficient, even when we were struggling with gusty conditions.

The extra 10g of weight you get with the deluxe comes from the igniter and broader burner head, so you get a wider flame and a more even simmer when dishing up a one-pot wonder. We also liked the serrated edges of the pot supports, which adds to the overall stability of the stove.

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Vango camp chef explorer 14 double

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For cooking for families or large groups
  • Flame power: 8,792W
  • Burners: Two
  • Weight: 15.6kg
  • Fuel: Propane or butane gas
  • Auto ignition: No

Easy to set up, this is an excellent option if you’ve got plenty of room in the car or van and don’t want to be restricted in what you serve up once you’ve pitched up.

From the cast aluminium burners to the steel frame, the double burner is well constructed and feels bomb-proof in its construction, and we had no problem attaching the metre-long gas hose to the canister, which can run on either propane or butane.

Boiling in less than three minutes, the explorer could also reduce to a simmer very nicely, which is great, because you can put pots and pans of any size on the burners.

The only slight problem is that, although there is an effective windshield on three sides, there is a lot of air circulating around and underneath the burners, which means, on really windy days, the burners can be affected. However, as this is a burner for car camping rather than a rocky outcrop halfway up a mountain, it’s more likely that you’ll have it set up somewhere a little less exposed. In terms of the setup, you don’t have to use it with its legs, so you can just set it up on a camping table to ensure total stability when cooking.

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Coleman unleaded 2-burner

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For cooking multiple items
  • Flame power: 4,100W
  • Burners: Two
  • Weight: 4.5kg
  • Fuel: Liquid fuel and unleaded petrol
  • Auto ignition: No

Hidden inside its green gun-metal shell are two powerful burners that will have you boiling in just a shade under five minutes. Not that you’re restricted to plates of pasta, as the Coleman has a sturdy grid covering the two burners that will easily hold frying pans or other cooking pots, so you can flex your countryside culinary muscles.

The stove performed brilliantly in windy conditions, with the shields doing a very good job of protecting the flames, which we were in total control of throughout.

There’s a funnel included, so you can accurately top up the stove with your fuel, which will give you between five and six hours of cooking time, should you need to cook for the entire campsite.

Don’t forget your matches or lighter, though, as there’s no integrated lighter.

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Vango sizzle double

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: Electric stove
  • Flame power: 800W
  • Burners: Two
  • Weight: 2.78kg
  • Fuel: Electricity
  • Auto ignition: No

Stoves don’t have to be fire-powered – if you know you’re going somewhere with an electricity supply or you have a portable power station, you can plug in this 800W induction hob and have boiling water in around two to three minutes.

The double gives you a big cooking area, so there’s plenty of room for stainless steel pans and kettles, while the hobs are really responsive, with LED controls offering plenty of control over what you’re cooking.

Easy to clean, and taking up minimal room, this is a great option for flame-free fodder.

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JetBoil flash

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: For quick boiling
  • Flame power: 2,600W
  • Burners: One
  • Weight: 3.71kg
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Auto ignition: Yes

As the name suggests, this stove is all about getting you to boiling point as quickly as possible, with the 1l FluxRing cooking pot fitting easily and securely to the burner itself and allowing the heat to spread evenly on the underside of the pot.

It took just under three minutes to get one litre of water boiling and the fact that the colour of the JetBoil symbol on the mug changes when the contents inside have started boiling was a nice touch too, because it means you can get your brew going, busy yourself with getting the tent up while keeping an eye on the mug. The piezo lighter was reliable, so if you really want something hot and wet in the shortest possible time, there really isn’t a better system out there.

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Primus firestick

best camping stoves tried and tested portable gas cookers
  • Best: Value stove
  • Flame power: 2,500W
  • Burners: One
  • Weight: 1.05kg
  • Fuel: Gas
  • Auto ignition: No

Design is everything when it comes to compact camping equipment, and you can’t fault the firestick for its ease of use. Simply take the stove and its accompanying lighter out of the woolen storage pouch (more of this in a minute), pop off the cap and the pot supports spring into life. It’s easily attached to the canister and the control valve was one of the best on test, enabling us to go quickly from a boil to a simmer without us, inadvertently, turning the whole thing off, which is one of the most frustrating things about some of the stoves we tested that didn’t make the final edit.

The recessed burner head and the pot supports act as a very effective wind break, so you won’t have to use your body to coil around the stove to stop the wind getting to the flame. We had our litre bubbling away nicely in less than four minutes (less than five minutes when the wind was strong) and once you’re at temperature, you can use the woolen pouch as a pot holder.

We’ve seen some online grumbles that the pot supports don’t do the best job of stabilising your mug or pot, but we found the serrated edges fitted our mug perfectly and we were never in danger of spilling, so it might be worth ensuring your utensil is suitably tailored to the firestick’s dimensions.

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The verdict: Camping stoves

We absolutely loved the Biolite campstove 2+ because it runs on biomass, so you really get that bushcraft vibe by hunting around for dry wood to fuel the incredibly efficient fire system contained within, that uses fans to control the flames. Then, once you’re cooking you know you have the added thrill of watching the LED dashboard light up to tell you how much power you have available to charge any of the tech you’re carrying with you. It is a bit bulky and so is probably not a backpack option. If you’re looking to travel light but still want hot, fast food at your fingertips, we’d recommend the JetBoil MiniMo, which simmered like a pro and boiled quickly.

Want extra comfort while sleeping in the great outdoors? We’ve rounded up the best camping mats

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