Sifting through trying to find the best camping stoves that'll suit your type of trip can be quite a tricky process. There are dozens of different types to choose from – some fully integrated and some smaller than a pocket knife – and several types of fuel. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, so we’re here to unravel the secrets.
We’re only reviewing gas camping stoves here; in the British weather and for trips no longer than a week we’ve found it to be the best all-around type of fuel. Petrol and paraffin stoves tend to be used on very long journeys in very cold conditions where you’re only likely to find a snowmobile refilling station rather than a Cotswold Outdoor.
The other more common option are stoves that use methylated spirits or alcohol (the best ones also allow the use of solid fuel tablets and wood). Stoves of this kind are also very simple with few specialist parts. Some people even fashion their own out of an aluminium can. However, you can’t control the flame as well, and it won’t be as powerful – that pasta could be a long time coming. If meths stoves are something you are interested in, look at Trangia’s Triangle or Alpkit’s Bruler.
"The stoves reviewed here were all included in either our Winter Outdoor 100 or our Summer Outdoor 100."
Gas stoves using butane/propane canisters are the easiest to use, they're the most common, and they can in some instances be the lightest option for your type of trip. Gas stoves tend to fall into two categories: those that screw directly into the top of the canister and low-profile stoves that attach to the canister with a hose. The former are lighter and more compact and excellent for solo use but can be unstable. The latter tend to be steadier and would be recommended for bigger pans. Some hose linked stoves are useful for cold weather when gas doesn't burn so well as they can be inverted to run off the liquid contents rather than gas.
Another consideration is whether the system integrates the stove and the pot. Of the stoves tested here, the JetBoil MiniMo, Primus PrimeTech, Coleman FyreStorm and MSR Reactor are integrated. This means the pots, often with heat exchangers, can attach directly to the stove. This is more efficient for fuel usage and burning time, but they tend to be heavier, and only some can be used with other pots.
Final points to consider (phew) are the size of the burner – the wider the burner, the more the flame can spread just like the burner on your stove at home. Many stoves also come with a Piezo ignition that allows you to spark it up. However, always carry matches as these fail a fair bit in our experience. All these stoves have a flame control allowing you to simmer or boil water rapidly. Some also come with a windshield as well. It makes a significant difference, so if it doesn’t come with one, it’s worth picking up a cheap foil one.
Best Camping Stoves 2018: Camping Stoves on Test
The stoves reviewed here were all included in either our Winter Outdoor 100 or our Summer Outdoor 100. There is a wide variety in terms of price, features and styles while all using propane/butane gas cartridges. Here are seven of our favourites.
Jetboil MightyMo Cooking Stove: £60 / 95g
“… as well as filling an obvious gap in their line, we reckon they’ve produced one of the industry’s best stoves this year. They call it the MightyMo."
Jetboil was one of the first manufacturers to offer a fully integrated system – everything about the stove was designed to boil water as quickly as possible from the windshield to the heat exchanger. This stove, however, is the first they’ve released as a stand-alone burner, and it’s good; very good. The excellent control and Piezo spark ignition are particularly useful.
10,000 BTU burner / simmer control / push button igniter / 95g
MSR Reactor Stove: £170 / 434g
“… the Reactor system is ideal for alpine climbers and adventurers heading out for serious but speedy climbs and expeditions; those who will be staying in temperatures not too far below zero and using the stove to boil snow or make simple meals."
One of the downfalls of the gas cartridge stove is its ability to heat in frigid weather – liquid burning stoves are just better. However, this MSR stove works brilliantly in chilly weather (it’s designed for alpine climbers). The burner is very efficient, the heat exchanger works well, and the whole stove fits together so well that you’ll be drinking coffee in no time. Different size pots can be attached too.
Radiant burner / heat exchanger / available in 1 litre, 1.7 litre and 2.5 litre pots / System include Reactor Pot and Stove / BPA-free strainer lid / PackTowel pot protector / folding/locking handle / 434g
Coleman FyreStorm PCS Stove Set: £65 / 486g
“… this stove will admirably perform its duties even when the wind has really gone up a notch – something we discovered for ourselves when cooking up breakfast in the shadow of Glyder Fawr on a breezy Welsh morning."
The Coleman FyreStrom is a low-profile stove that is attached by a hose to the gas canister. This means it is stable in the wind. The full set includes the stove, cooking pot, sleeve and lid, and it all fits together in one neat package. The Coleman Windblock system is particularly useful, and a clip-on lid adds an extra level of security in case of spillages. The gas canister fits in the pot.
Piezo ignition / braided steel hose / clip-on lid / neoprene sleeve / Coleman Wind Block system ./ HyperFlame down-step burner / 486g
Primus MicronTrail: £60 / 94g
“If you’re looking for a super lightweight stove to take on your adventures, make sure you suss out the Primus MicronTrail. It’s reliable, compact and will cook your packet meal in no time at all."
Primus has been making stoves for 125 years now – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen carried one to the South Pole, and Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norway carried one on Everest. So are they still relevant in 2018? It’s an emphatic yes. The MicronTrail is designed as one of their lightest and most compact models. Although tiny, it is very powerful, and a regulator keeps the gas flowing even when the canister is running out.
Separate Piezo lighter / Valve with regulator enhanced performance / storage bag included
MSR PocketRocket 2: £30 / 72g
“It essentially takes everything good about the PocketRocket and makes it even lighter."
This tiny, low-cost stove is a great option for quick jaunts into the hills. The first PoocketRocket was the definitive ultra-lightweight, canister-top camping stove and this second version is even lighter and more compact. Although small, the pan supports are sturdy, especially for a one-person pot, and the flame control is excellent.
WindClip windshield / Folding pot supports / Precision flame control / 73g
Primus PrimeTech 2.3L Stove: £130 / 870g
“The built-in wind guard will protect the flame from the elements. Combined with the built-in heat exchanger, this also helps preserve energy, so Primus reckon the PrimeTech uses only about half as much fuel as traditional camping stoves."
The PrimeTech is a complete cooking system for two to five people that cleverly packs together in a neat little sack. Once out, the regulator screws into the canister and through a hose links to the wind-protected stove. There are two pans, a gas regulator, pan handle that can be used as tongs, a foldable sheet of aluminium to protect what you are cooking on, and a Piezo lighter. The lid also has a pasta strainer. One pot has an integrated heat exchanger. A clever design that is highly efficient with fuel.
Two pots one with heat exchanger / detachable pan handle/tongs / gas regulator / piezo lighter / strainer lid / Built-in wind guard / Storage bag / 870g
Jetboil MiniMo: £145 / 415g
“You can even buy accessories including a coffee press, hanging kit and further pot support to improve the system further. But really the main selling point of this is ease of use and reliability. If that’s what you’re after, then look no further than the JetBoil MiniMo."
Jetboil leads the way in fast-burning stoves, in large part to the fully integrated system that eliminates fuel wastage at every point. The MiniMo, in contrast to the MightyMo, is a one-person, single-pot system. The heat exchanger on the pot clips directly on to the stove. The simmer control also allows you to boil pasta and the like rather than just boil water as quickly as possible. This impressive system also works well down to -6 Celsius. Jetboil’s products just keep getting better – an impressive system.
Redesigned valve and regulator for advanced simmer control / Metal handles / Push-button igniter / Lower spoon angle / Insulating drink through lid / Fuel canister stabiliser / Additional accessories incline coffee press, hanging kit and pot support