Best Camping Stove
One of the joys of camping is cooking outdoors – it simply doesn’t get better than firing up the camping stove, whacking a few burgers onto the Ridgemonkey griddle and cracking open a beer.
There are a wide range of camping stoves available to buy – some electric, some gas, some extremely compact for wild camping, and some huge monsters which feel like they could feed the 5000! The best camping stove is therefore the one which offers the functionality you require for the particular situation you expect to use it in.
In this article we look at the best camping stove for each of the main fuel types and then we examine different scenarios in which you may be usingit and the trade-offs you may encounter – for example campsite use vs wild camping on a mountain top.
Finally, value for money is always at the back of our minds, and so we have been rigorous in only testing and recommending items which offer the best quality and performance at the lowest prices.
Gas Camping Stoves - Overview
Take some flammable gas and squeeze it down under pressure until it liquifies – then store it in a small metal cannister. Hey presto, you have a ready made fuel supply which can provide a surprisingly long burn-time of several hours, even from some of the smallest cannisters.
Gas camping stoves are popular for a reason – they are portable, last a long time, can be easily controlled and can heat liquids and foods up extremely quickly if required. You can buy large 15kg gas tanks for your caravan or small 100g cannisters to pack in your rucksack for a wild camp.
We often get told that the different types of gas cannisters are confusing, so below we have outlined the main types you might encounter. Also be sure to check out our in depth guide to the different types of camping gas.
Understanding Gas Cannisters
The most common type of gas cannister which use a 7/16” threaded valve known by the European Standard EN 417. If you’re starting from scratch then it’s probably best to go with these. They can be removed at any time from the stove without gas leaking.
The ‘Easy Clic’ valves use a press-on attachment to the stove. Commonly used by the Campingaz brand, these are incompatible with the screw-on valves unless you use an adaptor. They can be removed at any time from the stove.
These are ‘attach and forget’ cannisters which use a gas lock valve on the stove to attach to the can. Once it is connected it cannot be removed without losing the gas. These gas cans are cheaper than the other options and so could be worthwhile if you buy a Campingaz Blueberry 206 Plus burner stove for example.
Aerosol gas cannisters are used on cheaper stoves such as the ‘cheap-as-chips’ Marksman Gas Cooker (see photo below). The aerosols are simple to use and easy to find in DIY shops, but can take up a bit more space than the other cannister options. Also the connection to the stove is not as secure as a screw-on or snap-on valve.
Best Gas Camping Stove for Campsites
If you’re staying at a campsite you will most likely have driven there in a car, campervan or motorhome and so will presumably have ‘reasonable’ space to store a decent size camping stove. In this section we therefore look at the best camping stoves on the market which are not purely about saving as much weight and space as possible.
An honourable mention is the Weber Q2200 gas BBQ, but we feel it is just a little too large to recommend for all scenarios.
Cadac Safari Chef 2 – Gas BBQ stove
If you like grilling your grub at the campsite then a gas BBQ is ideal because of the high heat and responsive flame they produce. The Cadac Safari Chef 2 low pressure stove is renowned in the camping world as the best option for this kind of cooking, and we find it hard to disagree.
What makes it one of the best camping stoves is the flexibility it provides due to the four interchangeable cooking surfaces which are included. There is a pot stand for heating up a standard pot or pan, a BBQ ridged hotplate, a non-stick flat griddle and a larger dome pot which also doubles as a lid to the stove. You don’t really need any other pots and pans as you can cook it all on the Cadac directly!
There are two versions of the Safari Chef 2 – low pressure and high pressure. The low pressure version requires a regulator and hose which are sold separately and can be used with both standard screw-top cannisters or plugged directly into your caravan gas outlet. The high pressure version of the Safari can screw directly into cannisters without a regulator, but costs a bit more to buy.
We cooked a wide range of items on the Cadac over a weekend and were impressed by the piezo ignition switch and the quality design of the inter-changing hot plates. You can even heat your coffee up on this stove if you have a suitable coffee pot.
The Cadac Safari Chef 2 is a classic camping BBQ which is able to cook a wide range of food in a fun and adventurous way. We love it!
Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV
Campingaz are a massive brand and so they were never going to let Cadac monopolize the gas BBQ camping sector. With the Campingaz Party Grill 400 CV grill stove they’ve pulled a blinder.
The 400 CV is designed to take the Campingaz ‘easy clic’ valve cannisters like the CV470, so you don’t need a hose and regulator – this simplifies the operation a bit. but costs a bit more than the standard 400 which does need a regulator.
The 400CV is a great BBQ and in some ways better than the Cadac. Yes we said it! For instance the lid has an in-built thermometer which allows you to set your cooking temperature accurately. The piezo ignition worked flawlessly on our test unit, and we liked the convenience of the gas can being underneath the BBQ rather than to the side (which is also available on the high pressure version of the Cadac).
The Party Grill has several different hot plates and ways of working – for instance you can use it as a traditional hob to heat a pan or boil water (4 mins 20s for 1 litre of water). There is a reversible BBQ grill and griddle plate and the lid can double as a wok. This means you can cover all bases on the cooking front.
The BBQ is very portable and perfect for quick trips away, but the size may be a limiting factor if you need to feed more than about 1-4 people. It all folds up nicely in a good quality carry bag for transporting. Overall, the Party Grill 400 CV is definitely worth a look and is one of our favourite camping stoves.
The Campingaz Party 400CV is a great BBQ and stove. It's ideal for weekends away and has enough space to cook for a small family. It's our top gas stove buy!
NJ FS-430 Triple Burner Camping Stove
If you prefer more of a traditional gas burner hob, this folding NJ FS-430 triple-burner will be right up your alley. The size of a small briefcase (60 x 35 cm and 4.7 kg), it feels high quality when you snap open the lid and hook up the hose and regulator to your gas bottle.
With three burners each having independent heat control, you can easily cook a decent family meal using pots and pans on the outer two. The middle burner is a ‘tube burner’ which means you can grill on it and even make toast using the special toast rack included! The central burner needs a match to light, whereas the outer burners have piezo ignition. We love the FS-430, so be sure to check it out.
Marksman Aerosol Cannister Gas Stove – Best Value Choice
For a budget choice, we always keep a simple aerosol burner stove as backup. At £14 with piezo ignition, flame power control and an automatic safety cut-off it’s a no-brainer and heats stuff up just as well as any equivalents.
You can pay more for a branded version, e.g. the Campingaz equivalent – however, we have had no problem with using the cheaper versions, and recommend them to all our friends and family.
Best Camping Stove For Wild Camping
If it’s just a backpack between you and the elements then you need to choose a gas burner which will pack up small and be as light as possible. We recommend gas as a fuel for wild camping expeditions because it tends to be more efficient than other options like ethanol/propanol/solid fuel – by this we mean that you will get more heat into your food for the same carry-weight using gas versus the others.
At their simplest, a gas stove can just be a small metal stand which can attach directly to the gas bottle, but you also need to remember that wind deflectors and heat exchangers can be a godsend if you are camping in challenging conditions.
Terra Hiker Portable Wild Camping Gas Stove
For a great value lightweight burner we recommend the folding Terra Hiker Portable Camping Gas Stove. At only £9.25 currently on Amazon this is the bargain of the century!
With a three-legged stable platform for supporting your pan, the aluminium Terra Hiker includes piezo ignition, serrated edges, a flame-adjustment nob and a screw valve cannister attachment.
Incredible value, and weighing only 295g, it won’t give you a heart attack lugging it around. Folds up pretty small too – we think this cannot be overlooked for the price!
Shayson Wild Camping Gas Stove
For another great deal, check out the Shayson portable gas camping stove and pots. In this case, the stove screws directly on to the gas cannister and is absolutely tiny but still includes piezo ignition.
The Shayson also comes with two portable pots/pans of 1.2 and 0.6 litres. These are lightweight, and the combined weight of the burner and pans is only about 400g. For £18.99 at time of writing, this is another bargain.
MSR Pocket Rocket 2 – Our Top Portable Choice for Wild Camping
Speak to any solo wild camper who treks and camps in the UK mountains and you will hear about the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Ultralight Gas Stove. Famous for weighing a mere 73g, this is an ingenious design which delivers excellent performance – it will boil 1 litre of water in only 3.5 minutes.
With three serrated arms, the Pocket Rocket will support your pot nicely, but make sure the gas cannister is large enough to counterbalance the pot you are expecting to use. Smaller is better here – just bring what you can get away with. The Pocket Rocket is excellent, and comes in a lovely little red carrying case. Recommended for proper wild camping enthusiasts!
Docooler 25g Super-Lightweight Folding Gas Stove
We recently also found a cheaper alternative to the Pocket Rocket which weighs an astonishing 25g. The Docooler 25g super lightweight folding gas stove is a superb mini burner and should be considered if minimum weight and maximum value for money are at the top of your wish-list. It’s so small, you may have trouble finding it to check it out!
Electric Camping Stoves - Overview
From a purist’s point of view, the thought of using electricity to power your stove is sacrilege. They would say that using an electric stove takes all the fun and romance out of camping, and basically it’s just not cricket! Added to this is the simple fact that if you’re hiking up in the mountains and need to cook, there’s hardly a plethora of 240V sockets to plug into. As a result, electric stoves are often overlooked by many campers as a means of cheap cooking.
In our view, the arguments for electric stoves are quite compelling. For example, if you’ve already paid for an electric hookup at a campsite, or if you have access to solar power and a big AC battery then it seems a waste of money to spend additional cash on gas or solid fuel for your stove. In these circumstances, electric options can be a great solution, especially if you use a hookup splitter to send a portion of your pitch electricity feed to where you wish to cook.
But money isn’t everything and there are some downsides to using electricity – electric stoves are often slow to react when you try and change temperature – it can be difficult to cook food on them which requires a bit of finesse to make – for example scrambled eggs. Also, electric stoves can remain hot for a long time after the power is switched off – bit of a safety risk. It can also be a bit of hassle unwinding an electric cable to get the stove working where you actually want to cook – you don’t get with some of the other fuel options.
Best Camping Stoves - Electric
Russell Hobbs Dual Electric Stove
If you need a hob then who else can you buy from apart from Russell Hobbs?!? The Russell Hobbs dual electric hob is great value and has two hot plates for use at campsites where you have access to oodles of free juice.
Running at full whack it uses 1500W which is about the same as a kettle – no chance of tripping the supply to your pitch. Size-wise it’s 47cm across and 28cm deep – you therefore need a sturdy camping table to put it on. We think it’s excellent value at £29, but you will need additional pots and pans to actually cook anything on it – not normally a problem.
Sunavo Portable Induction Hob
If you only need one hob then it might be worth splashing out a bit more for an induction version. The Sunavo 2000W induction hob can boil two pints of water in about 3 minutes which is up there with some of the best kettles.
We’ve found that induction hobs are generally better at quickly and accurately tweaking the temperature, and the Sunavo is no exception. It also happens to look pretty sleek and sexy!
Because the surface of the Sunavo does not actually get that hot, it is much safer than the conventional hot plates. Make sure you use induction-compatible pots and pans though.
George Foreman BBQ Grill – Our Top Electric Choice
There’s no reason you need to miss out on the outdoor BBQ experience if you go electric – big George Foreman has got you covered with his stylish non-stick electric BBQ grill which can safely be used indoors or outdoors.
The BBQ uses a ridged griddle pan which is specially angled to allow juice and fat to flow off into a trap. The griddle is removeable for easy cleaning.
The BBQ can be used on a handy stand which is included in the purchase price, or it can be removed to use on a table top – very versatile.
In use, a thermostatic temperature controller is plugged into the edge of the hotplate and we like the safety aspect of this – without the hotplate properly fitted in place, there is no way of connecting the controller. A dome lid is also provided which can cover the food and allow temperatures of >200°C to be reached. It looks the business too!
We had great success cooking chicken and burgers on the GF (not the girlfriend!) – the meat was tender and moist – just how we like it! The BBQ can also cook vegetarian options really well like halloumi and bell peppers.
At a push you could also use the George Foreman to heat through a saucepan of soup, but it’s not really designed for this. A dedicated hob is probably better suited if you want to boil water or just heat through rather than sear.
Overall we absolutely adore this BBQ and at £79 on Amazon it’s a veritable bargain.
The George Foreman Electric BBQ grill gives the Cadacs of this world a real run for their money. Who said an electric hob can't be fun?
Spirit or Alcohol Burners for Wild Camping
Trangia Spirit Burner and Lixada Stove
We’re not massive fans of the alcohol burners. They’re essentially liquid candles and are pretty inefficient in terms of heat transfer. However, they have one great advantage – they can be extremely small and lightweight. They also do have a certain ‘back-to-basics’ charm.
The best option for an alcohol stove is the world-famous Trangia Spirit Burner. This will work with any ethanol, propanol or even white spirit and only weighs 100g.
The Trangia takes about 7-8 minutes to boil 1 litre of water which is more than double the time of the gas burners. You literally just top it up with the alcohol of your choice and seal it shut – these things don’t leak which is great.
You can’t rest a pot on top of the Trangia directly, so you need to either dig a hole for it to go in, or arrange some stones or similar to hide it, with the pot sat on the rocks. Alternatively, buy one of these great folding stove frames from Lixada. They are very lightweight, don’t take up much space in your rucksack and look pretty damn cool!
Solid Fuel Stoves
Even more inefficient than alcohol are the solid fuel stoves which typically use hexamine tablets. We don’t really recommend these stoves for more than novelty value, as it takes more than one tablet to even boil 1 litre of water. There’s also no way of controlling the power of the flame, so it’s a case of lifting the pan away from it to cook/boil less – not ideal!
The good news is that they’re as cheap as chips. The Fire Dragon solid fuel burner is a good example – at only £4, it could be a nice little stocking filler for your pyromaniac best friend!
Finally, you should definitely check out our review of the fantastic Cobb BBQ which gives several hours of slow cook oven and grilling greatness. We love it!
That concludes our summary of the best camping stoves on the UK market at the moment. It’s always difficult to narrow choices like this down, but in our heart we feel you can’t go wrong with a small gas burner – the portability, efficiency and space-saving ability just floats our boats!