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Our guide to the best camping stoves

Cooking on our Coleman F1 beside the Snaefell mountain road, Isle of ManCooking on our Coleman F1 beside the Snaefell mountain road, Isle of ManThe stove is the centre of your camping kitchen so it’s important to have one that properly suits your needs. Of course, our needs differ widely from one another and when every store is telling you that theirs is ‘the perfect stove’ for you how exactly do you choose?

Over the years we’ve camped in a variety of conditions and used a wide variety of stoves for our own camp kitchens, some have worked well and others not so much! See below for a rundown on some of the most popular types of stove available to buy online, along with our verdict on the ones that we’ve personally used:


Click on the photos or highlighted text to shop online, links open in new window.


Coleman F1 gas stove

This one had to make the top of the list, but by no means does the order imply how ‘good’ each stove is – that’s for you to decide... We've used quite a range of different camping stoves over the years and by far this is the best we've ever had, we’ve made many a cuppa and cooked up some hearty meals in the strangest of places (how about track side at the Isle of Man pictured at the top of the page?). The gas canister is the largest element, the stove itself being so small it fits into the palm of your hand and comes complete with a small storage pouch to keep it clean with enough room to pop a lighter inside as well (you don't want to forget that!). As you can probably tell, I’m personally very much in love with ours, marvelling at it’s ingenious construction every time I’ve set it up or pack it away!

One important thing to note is that many ferry or air travel companies prohibit the transport of compressed gas so depending on where you're planning to use the stove you may have to source the fuel after arrival. The thread is a common fitment that means that as long as there is a camping/outdoors store where you're going then you'll be able to find the fuel to suit.

Pros: extremely compact, lightweight, adjustable flame, fast boil.

Cons: tricky to assemble in thick gloves, can be knocked over on uneven ground, strong wind can affect flame (though it compensates well with powerful jets), some travel restrictions for compressed gas.

Recommended accessories:

Don't forget to buy the correct Gas canister!

This orange folding windbreak helps to create a calm cooking space whilst also providing a high-visibility object in case of emergency!



Twin Burner Outdoors Gas Hob

These are perfect for setting up a decent camp kitchen for large groups etc. In combination with a kitchen stand, though not essential, they can quickly provide a user friendly and familiar cooking station. I especially like this model which also features a grill beneath the burners for the morning toast! 

You will need to purchase a gas bottle (the large kind for BBQ's, patio heaters and caravans) and ensure that you have the correct fitting regulator as some brands differ in thread size. Most sellers of gas require an existing empty bottle of the same brand to swap for the full one unless specifically advertised as selling a first-time new unit.

Pros: side by side cooking of multiple dishes at once, adjustable heat, stable and familiar design, lid becomes ideal windbreak/splash back.

Cons: Tricky to find gas for in some areas (check for petrol stations and garden centres), may require a different regulator to use with certain gas bottle brands, heavy and bulky construction.

Recommended accessories:

Don't forget your hose and regulator to suit your gas bottle!

A kitchen stand gets you up off of the floor.



Cartridge Gas stove:

Good and cheap is probably the best way to describe these simple stoves, though of course it’s often an arguable phrase to put those words together! Ryan and myself bought one of these when we began camping together (aged 19 or 20?), using it for the first time on a week away in the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales (aw, the memories!). Ours certainly did the job, providing a nice and stable place to boil water or fry up the morning bacon!

The gas cartridges are fairly cheap and are relatively lightweight, though we certainly wouldn’t want to be hiking with it anywhere so it's best reserved for camping trips in the car or to festivals where they allow the use of gas.

Pros: lightweight for it’s size, familiar hob feel, stable in strong wind, adjustable flame, cheap.

Cons: gas cartridges run out fairly quickly (depending on use of course), bulky construction despite light weight. Some travel companies or festival organisers restrict the transport/use of compressed gas.

Recommended accessories: 

Don't forget your gas cartridges!



Electric Hob

Perhaps not what you'd expect to see in a list of camping stoves, but the fact remains that we have a single-ring electric hob as our back-up for times when our gas supply is low and has already proven itself useful on too many occasions to count! The miser in me also likes to make the most of an existing resource like electric hook-up, especially if we’ve paid so much extra for it with the cost of a pitch!

Electric hook-up requires you to have your own outdoors 3 pin adapter and lead, preferably with RCD protection for safety, to which you can then plug your electronics into. 

Pros: Unlimited 'free' fuel if paid for electric hook-up with your pitch, adjustable heat, stable and familiar, multiple hob-rings available on some models, no naked flame or compressed gas, SUITABLE FOR INDOOR USE (take proper precautions near heat sensitive fabrics etc if using in a tent).

Cons: Slow to boil, slow to cool after use, heavy, limited to availability of electricity.

Recommended accessories:

Mains electric Hook-up lead with outlet plugs & RCD protection.



Trangia / spirit burners:

Spirit burners are simple and extremely cost effective compact camping stoves, also being robust enough that there’s very little chance of it getting broken - no matter what you do to it! They can be used with pretty much any flammable liquid so you suffer none of the problems associated with running out of gas, spirit being much easier to find even in small shops compared to specialist camping gas canisters.

Use the burner in conjunction with a simple wire stand to support a pot or cup, suspend your pot over the flame using a tripod or such like, or purchase the complete set which comes with the pans and a stable windproof surround to house the burner properly.

Pros: compact, lightweight, fast boil time, can be fuelled by any flammable liquid!

Cons: limited temperature control, flame affected by strong winds, require a good source of flammable liquid and the problems with carrying such material.

Recommended accessories:

Trangia's fuel bottle complete with safety valve means no leaking in your bag. 



Hobo’ / folding stove:

The twig fed types really are great little stoves, though we consider a true ‘Hobo’ stove to be one you’ve made yourself from recycled materials like a coffee can or scrap metal sheeting. They’re usually small by design so perfect for one person to use, and cleverly manage to combine the convenience of a proper stove with the back-to-basics feel of the campfire! There’s something quite satisfying in getting a fire lit, no matter how tiny it is, and feeding it twig after twig to maintain… I know, simple things!

These days you can buy all manner of lightweight flat-folding versions so you can enjoy the convenience even if you don’t quite fancy making your own but if you're feeling crafty check out this how-to guide for kindle>

Pros: lightweight, compact, cheap (if DIY), simple design, well shielded from strong winds

Cons: Little temperature control, needs constant refuelling.

Recommended accessories:

Get back to basics with this simple and effective magnesium fire striker!



Kelly Kettle

The Kelly Kettle really is the ultimate in twig-fed stoves! Cleverly designed, instead of requiring a separate pan the kettle section is hollow (the water is held in a chamber around the sides) and fitted precisely to the stove element meaning it stays put and is as efficient as possible at heating water since the heat from the fire goes exactly where you need it.

If you want to be eating more than water or soup you can also cook over the top of the kettle using the additional pot stand, or use the fire base as a mini BBQ grill! Now that definitely satisfies the efficiency monster in me...!

Pros: extremely stable design, unlimited fuel source even in absence of trees (as long as there’s twigs from heather and other tough shrubbery), well shielded from strong winds.

Cons: Needs constant refuelling, stainless versions quite heavy.

Recommended accessories: 

You can't go wrong with a trusty windproof lighter to help you get the tea on!



Electricity Generating stove:

A true marvel of the modern era, these are not something we’ve used ourselves but are an excellent idea none the less! These stoves use the heat created by the small fire to generate electricity to either charge your electronic gadgets or depending on the model, to charge a battery to enable further ‘fuelless’ cooking.

The examples we have seen are impressive, though hardly a replacement for a generator so don’t expect to keep a game console running etc with it every weekend... rather consider it a helpful option to maintain a working phone/GPS for emergencies when you’re far from civilisation. Very cool!

Pros: Ability to charge a gadget at the same time as making a comforting cup of tea! Stable design, great for areas with low light/poor weather where solar panels would be ineffective. Well shielded from wind.

Cons: Requires a constant supply of twigs etc for fuelling... I can't think of anything else - they're amazing!

Recommended accessories: 

You might like these Fat Wood sticks, high-resin content kindling to help you get cooking in a damp environment.



Hexi stoves

Ryan had one of these from his days as a young Air Cadet (he always looked so smart in his uniform!) and they work extremely well! Simply unfold, place your block(s) of fuel and light with a strike from your ferro rod and away it goes – ready for your mess tin. It’s not the kind of stove you’d want to try cooking a full meal with due to the relatively short life of the fuel blocks, so are best only used for simple things like boiling water for use with dried MRE’s or for a warming cuppa or hot chocolate.

Pros: extremely compact and lightweight, no dangerous liquid or gas fuel, stable construction, partly sheltered from wind. Can be used with alternate fuel like twigs if needed.

Cons: limited cooking time - depending on quantity of Hexamine blocks, no temperature control. 

Recommended accessories:

Don't forget your extra fuel blocks since you're probably going to be using a lot of them... ;) 


I hope this guide has helped you navigate the confusing world of camping stoves, if you have any further questions or something to add leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!


See also; our tips on camping and fire safety.

Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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