Whether you are backpacking in the backcountry or setting up at a campground, camping stoves are a really convenient way to fuel your body. You can rehydrate foods, cook your own raw ingredients, or boil water, which will help give you an authentic experience in whatever place you consider the wild.
So, if you choose to use one, how does a camping stove work? It depends on the type of stove, but the fuel type varies–the main types being propane, hot water, the sun, isobutane canisters, liquid gas, denatured alcohol, tablets, or even random sticks, cardboard, or grass.
These days you might even find other fuel types, but these are the most common. The type of stove ends up correlating with the type of camping trip, so you will want to know the details of each stove in order to decide on the best one for your experience.
Below, you will find a list of details of each stove, as well as why they may or may not be good for your camping trip.
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Two-Burner Propane Stove
When you think of a classic camping stove, you are probably picturing this model. It is a little bulky, so this type of stove is usually used when camping at a campground so you will not have to haul it around too far from your car.
This stove is best used for group camping and family cookouts because of its weight and accessories. You will want to bring propane, which adds some extra bulk to the stove because you have to screw the propane tank into the stove.
These stoves cost about $70-$160 depending on the model. They last a long time, and they are durable enough to withstand any normal camping beatings. And if you pack them away for a while, it should not affect their performance.
So, if you are looking for a reliable stove for your group camping trips in an average campground, this is a really good option for you.
This kind of stove is fueled by an isobutane canister. It is made to boil water fast, which would help you with dehydrated food on camping trips. These types of stoves are usually pretty small–about the size of a water bottle.
These stoves are best used for solo camping trips or backpacking trips where you have brought mostly dehydrated meals to decrease your base weight. These are also a good choice for cold weather camping as well.
At a price range of about $80-$220, you have a wide array of options for this type of stove.
This stove has a collapsible base that makes its size perfect for solo or backcountry camping trips. They are so small they are almost weightless compared to their bulkier stove counterparts.
You can use a couple of different types of fuel for this stove, and your choice will largely depend on what camping situation you are in. Propane works for ultralight burners, but since propane is heavier, you should probably only use it when camping at a campground.
If you are on a solo trip or a backcountry trek, you might want to use canister fuel or liquid gas in order to shed the pounds propane would bring. These stoves are commonly used in emergency kits as well, because of their lightness.
These stoves can be anywhere from $20-$160.
The stove’s power comes from twigs or grass or cardboard or fuel pellets. Pretty much anything dry and flammable around you can be used to power a charger stove. It is a really convenient and environmentally friendly stove.
These stoves are relatively new–you can charge your phone or another similar size electrical device (as long as the plug matches up) from the stove’s power. This is a great option for if you need a GPS to help guide you as you will have a place to charge it whenever you need.
Even though this is a small stove, it is bigger than the other small stoves you commonly see, so it is not necessarily ideal for longer backpacking trips, but if the extra charge is worth it for you, this stove is a great option.
This stove is particularly helpful if you are a camping blogger or an Instagram camper. Your device will stay charged and so your content won’t have to stop, so long as you still get a signal wherever you choose to camp.
The price range for charger stoves is anywhere from $100-$300.
The Chuck Wagon
This type of stove is best used on family or group camping trips. It is big, stands up like a normal grill, and has a lot of storage areas for your convenience. So, its limitations are often the same as its virtues–big, stocky, and heavy fuel requirements.
The actual fuel a chuck wagon uses is large propane canisters, so you have the same thing going on here as you would with other propane stoves–you have to bring the propane, too! And that is why this stove is best used when the car is nearby — less walking and carrying time.
These stoves have a lot of details and a lot of different uses. You can use the old stock burners or the new portable versions that are good for cooking meat. Since this is a classic option, you will find a lot of options under the chuck wagon umbrella.
For this stove, you are looking at a price range of $150-$190. So, while it is a little more expensive, its benefits for group camping and front country camping really show through.
Solar Powered Stoves
It is so great that we have figured out how to harness the sun’s power in multiple venues, and what is a better place than a camping stove when you are out in the wilderness and under the sun.
You technically could use tin foil to create a reflector stove that cooks your meals, but these days you will find actual stoves that work by solar power as well. The limitations for this stove, however, are that you have to cook in the daytime to actually get the sun’s power.
This type of stove is versatile–you can use it in large group settings or on solo trips. And regardless of the camping style, you have the added benefit of knowing you are not affecting the environment negatively.
These stoves are a little more expensive because of the technology used to create them. You are looking at about $280.
These stoves are so cheap, mostly because you can actually make your own from old soda cans. If you want to buy one, it will only be about $20.
You will use denatured alcohol for the fuel, which is probably the biggest weight you would carry if you choose this stove option. The actual stoves are so light so that you will see them a lot on solo camping trips or backpacking trips.
The problems with these stoves are that they are easily susceptible to even a small breeze since they are so light. They can easily be crushed for the same reason as well. You will want to find a durable way to store this type of stove if you plan on using it!
You can find the instructions for making your own here.
This stove is just a folding pot that is fueled with tablets. It is so small and light that you will see this option a lot with solo campers or backpackers. It would also be a good option for a backup emergency kit because of its lightness and setbacks.
The setbacks are mostly due to the fuel tablets. They don’t produce a large flame, so it can take a really long time to cook food or even boil water. So, while this is a fine option for backpacking, it is a great backup option for emergencies.
Because of their lightness and durability, the price is usually around $13.
Another kind of DIY stove, the windscreen is just what it says–a way to block the wind from affecting your fire. Basically, you have built up walls around your fire, which means you would be building your own fire.
The great thing about this type of stove is that it is sustainable! For fuel, you would use twigs or grass or any other piece of dry plant around you.
You could make your own with recycled tin foil around the fire, or else you could buy a model that has walls built for you. This stove is best used for backpackers, and it is not for the faint of heart. You should expect to spend some extra energy when building a fire.
So, since you could make it yourself, this stove ranges in price from $0-$60.
If you are planning on camping at a campground, remember to check if stoves are provided. Often, you will only have to bring charcoal or wood to work with this stove so that the price will vary on the cost of those items, as well as the cost of your stay at the campground.
Pick the Best for You
You know what your camping trip requires, whether it is solo or with all your friends, and so now you should be able to know what stove is best for your situation. Don’t forget backup stoves just in case anything goes wrong. Let’s say it together: always be prepared!