Best Propane Camping Stove – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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Regardless of how and where you plan to go camping, one thing that you will need to do while you are there is eat. Now, assuming you do not intend to go foraging that will require some means of cooking food.

Undoubtedly, the purists among you will say the only way to cook food while camping is on a real campfire, and while we agree it is the most natural, and likely the most fun, it is not feasible, nor desirable, for everyone.

Instead, a camping stove is what most people will use for cooking their food while camping. The most popular of these are those fueled by propane. If you are unsure of what to look for when buying a propane camping stove or would like some suggestions with regards to specific products, you are in luck.

We have a comprehensive review of five of the best propane camping stoves, including their pros and cons. We also developed a buyer’s guide that details how to use a propane stove and answers some commonly asked questions about propane camping stoves.

In this post, we'll cover the following

  • Best Propane Camping Stove Reviews
  • How to Use a Propane Camping Stove
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Propane Stoves

Best Propane Stove for Camping Reviews

1. Coleman Classic 2 Burner Propane Camping Stove

This propane camping stove has two burners and would appeal to those who want to cook meals while camping, rather than just boiling water for coffee and soups.

Coleman Gas Camping Stove | Classic Propane Stove, 2 BurnerLearn More on Amazon

Pros

  • Large cooking area
  • Twin burners
  • The closable lid acts as a windshield
  • Side windshields double as shelves
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • No automatic ignition
  • Controllers are very sensitive

Review

Each burner of the Coleman Classic 2 Burner Propane Camping Stove has an output of 10,000 BTUs.  This is more than enough for you to cook just about anything you wish on this stove and do it quickly if the need arises.

The burners each have a controller used to set them at the right temperature level for the food. It is particularly appealing about these controllers that they are on the front of the stove, so they are easily accessible and are not too close to the burner flame.

When not in use, the stove's lid can be closed, and then the stove can be carried very easily to the car or the campsite, depending on whether your trip is starting or ending. This cover also protects the stove when it is not in use.

Another benefit of this lid is it acts as a windshield to prevent the flames from being affected by strong winds. It is assisted in that task by the two side panels, which stop winds blowing from the right or left of the stove, causing problems. These side panels can also be folded down and used as stands for accessories, utensils, or condiments.

Your cooking options are also greatly enhanced by the overall size of this camping stove. It is 22 inches and 14 inches deep, giving you plenty of space to cook with larger pots, skillets, and frying pans. A 10” pot and a 10” skillet can be used side by side.

Across the cooking area, there is a metal grate upon which you place your pots and pans when your cooking with them. This means any splashes or drips fall into the drip tray underneath for easier cleaning.

We were disappointed that this stove does not have automatic ignition, but given how easy access is to the burner, lighting with a match or lighter is not a problem.

This stove is fueled by a 16.4 oz. propane cylinder, which is screwed to the fuel inlet pipe at the side of the stove, you can expect up to one hour of cooking time if the burners are on full. That time is extended if only one is being used, or the burners are on lower settings.

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2. Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove

This lightweight and portable cooking stove puts out a staggering 50,000 BTUs spread across the two burners. It is large enough to accommodate two full-sized pots or pans and boils water quickly.   

Stansport 212-50 Outfitter Series 2-Burner Propane Camp Stove - BlueLearn More on Amazon

Pros

  • Easy to control burner output
  • Strong cooking grate
  • Two 25,000 BTU burners
  • Piezo electric igniter

Cons

  • No carrying handle

Review

This Stansport Outfitter 2-Burner Propane Camp Stove is no-frill and has dimensions of 18” x 10” x 4” (LxWxH), a heavy gauge steel frame, and enamel finish. The lid is detachable, making it possible to use bigger pots, pans, and griddles. The cover also serves to screen the cooking area from the wind when you are cooking, and there are two side panels that do the same job.

The burners are lit with a Piezo electric igniter. Each of the two stainless steel burners has an output of up to 25,000 BTU and are controlled by separate dials. These two independent burners allow you to fry your meat or poultry, and gently simmer some vegetables or prepare rice simultaneously. 

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3. Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove

Not everyone who goes camping wants to 'rough it' and there are many who want as many home comforts as is possible, even when sleeping each night in a tent. That is why the Camp Chef Explorer Stove appeals to many campers as it is as close to a home barbecue grill as is possible with a camping stove.

Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner StoveLearn More on Amazon

Pros

  • Multiple cooking options
  • Two adjustable burners
  • 30,000 BTU output per burner
  • Large cooking area
  • Detachable and adjustable legs
  • Can also be used on a tabletop

Cons

  • No built-in igniter
  • Controllers are too close to burners

Review

Let us be clear from the outset; the Camp Chef Explorer Double Burner Stove is not a camping stove that you are going to carry in in your backpack since it weighs over 30 lbs. and has dimensions of 34 inches by 29 inches. There are some car trunks where you might struggle to fit it in along with all the other camping equipment you might have.

Even though its size might create some issues regarding transporting it, its large size affords you many cooking advantages.

First, you have a greater cooking area, so if you are cooking for four or more, you can do so, assuming you have the pots that you will need. The actual cooking area is 32 inches across and 14 inches deep, so you have just under 450 square inches cooking whatever you wish to.

Of course, your options can expand beyond cooking with just basic pots to the likes of skillets, cooking trays, and frying pans that allow you to cook fried chicken, steaks, or burgers. You can also go a stage further with deep pots to prepare and cook casseroles, curries, and stews.

Another advantage of the large cooking area is that it accommodates two burners, so you can have different items cooking, and at different rates. Each of the burners is fully controllable using the large control dial on the side of each one. It has a total output equivalent to 60,000 BTU per hour, making home barbecues seem like also-rans.

When cooking, the stove is kept stable and secure thanks to the four detachable legs, which can be adjusted to the most comfortable height for you. You are aided further by the three-sided windshield that prevents the wind from extinguishing either burner flames.

This camping stove is fueled by propane, which is not included; however, the regulator and 3 ft. hose does come with it. You can also purchase many accessories for this stove, consisting of a grill griddle, a Dutch oven, and a barbecue box.

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4. Coleman PowerPack Single Burner Propane Camping Stove

So far, we have reviewed propane camping stoves for those who might want to cook larger meals for a family or friends. However, with the Coleman PowerPack stove, we move to the other end of the scale.

This is a stove that is ideal for those who need the minimum cooking options and the lowest possible weight when carrying their stove in their backpack. It is also useful as an extra burner.

Coleman PowerPack Propane Stove, Single Burner, Coleman Green - 2000020931Learn More on Amazon

Pros

  • The flame is easily controlled
  • Small and lightweight
  • Solid cooking grate
  • Cooks up to 3 hours on full heat
  • Easy to light, clean, and maintain

Cons

  • Small pots don’t work well since the burner is relatively large
  • Underside of the base has sharp edges
  • Controller takes time to get used to

Review

We mentioned we were moving from one extreme to the other, so let us start with one of the most apparent differences, and that is the fact that the Coleman PowerPack Propane Stove only has one burner.

For many campers, only one burner is required to cook the meals they enjoy when camping; or when they want to boil water for a hot drink.

The burner's output of 7,500 BTUs may not seem like a large amount, but it is more than adequate. Also, bear in mind this stove is not trying to compete with double burner stoves designed to cook three-course meals.

The lower output gives you a significant advantage, and that is, you should be able to cook up to three hours on its maximum setting, and even longer if you use it turned down at times. That is not the length of time the larger stoves will allow you to cook.

There is no electronic ignition, so you'll need a lighter or matches to start the flame. After that, you can control the heat output using the small control knob on the stove base’s side.

This stove has a diameter of about 11.5 inches. Sitting on the base is a chrome-plated cooking grate on which you can place your pots.

The cooking grate is removable for when it needs to be cleaned. The base surfaces are also easily cleaned, and in most cases, a wipe with a damp cloth will suffice. This unit is round and sits stable on flat surfaces while you are cooking.    

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How to Use a Propane Camping Stove

This step-by-step process using a propane camping stove requires a degree of common sense and an eye towards safety.

1. Find a Safe and Level Location to Set Up Your Stove

This ensures that there is no danger of the stove tipping over while you are cooking, any fire hazard such as dry leaves, etc. that could catch fire from the stove's flame. You should then set up your stove by opening the lid fully if it has one, setting the side shield up, and placing the cooking grate.

2. Connect the Propane Source To Your Stove

If you are using a 16-ounce propane canister, then connect the regulator to the stove and the propane cylinder to the other end of the regulator. If you are using a large propane tank, then you’ll need a high-pressure hose and adapter.

After connecting the regulator or hose, check for leaks. Be sure all the control knobs are in the “OFF” position. Open the valve on the propane cylinder one turn. Spray soapy water over the connections and check for bubbles, which indicate a leak. If there is a leak, turn the propane valve to the OFF position. Then tighten the connection(s) that are leaking and repeat the test.

3. Ignite the Stove

If your stove does not have automatic ignition, this process will involve a match or lighter. Start gas flow by turning the controller on the burner to be lit until you hear a hissing noise, which indicates the gas is flowing. You can then light the match or lighter and hold it near the burner, which should alight. When you hear the hissing noise, press the ignition button to light the stove.

4. Regulate the Heat

All propane stoves should have some means of controlling the burner or burners, and this is usually a control knob which you turn in either direction depending on whether you wish to increase the heat level or reduce it.

5. While You are Cooking

Cooking on a camping stove should be fun, but you must not lose sight of what is happening on and around your stove as you cook. Be aware of winds that can either blow flames towards you or extinguish them.

Also, keep an eye on boiling liquids in case they spill over the edge of the pot. Be especially careful that the stove remains stable to eradicate any risks of hot food or liquids burning you due to the stove toppling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use a Propane Camping Stove Indoors?

Ideally, it would be best to avoid this, and most manufacturers state their stove should not be used indoors. In an emergency, you could; however, it must be done with plenty of precautions. You should always keep a window open, have a carbon monoxide detector operating, and keep a fan running nearby to ensure all fumes are expelled, especially if you are using it in a camper or small cabin.

How Do I Clean My Propane Stove?

Always ensure that the burners are off, and the stove has cooled down before attempting to clean it. Many of them have stainless steel drip trays and chrome-plated cooking grates, so in most instances, a wipe with a damp cloth should suffice.

If you want to do a thorough cleaning, disconnect the propane tank, and use hot soapy water and a sponge. For stubborn or burnt-on food, do not use a scrubbing brush as this will scratch the surfaces.

Instead, use high-pressure water, such as a hose with an adjustable nozzle. Always ensure your stove is dry throughout once you have finished cleaning.

What are BTUs?

BTU stands for 'British Thermal Unit', and 1 BTU is the amount of energy required to heat 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. It is the measure of heat output used to classify and compare products such as grills, stoves, and barbecues. By the way, do not pay too much attention to the word British, as BTUs are used worldwide.

Is Propane a Better Fuel for Camping Stoves Than Butane?

One of the choices to be made when selecting a camp stove is the type of fuel to be used.  Two popular fuel sources for your camping stove are propane and butane gas.

If you ask camping experts, and indeed campers themselves, the majority will tell you that propane is preferable to butane. Several reasons include propane being much more readily available in stores than butane, which is often hard to find. Propane also works much better at higher altitudes or when the temperatures are very low. Finally, propane is regarded as more efficient and economical than butane.  

What is a Piezo Igniter?

Many people mistakenly think 'Piezo' is a brand that makes igniters, and while there is a company called Piezo, the word comes from piezoelectricity. This is the electric charge which is created within solid materials such as ceramics and crystals.

This process is used to create the spark that ignites many products, including cigarette lighters, barbecue grills, and camping stoves.

Can I Cook Anything on a Propane Camping Stove?

There are some limits what you can use a propane camping stove for; however,  you can cook many different dishes on them. Anything which you would typically fry, boil, broil, steam, or poach and can be placed in or on a pot, pan, griddle, or skillet, can be cooked on a propane camping stove.

How Much Propane Gas Will I Need for a Camping Trip?

This is almost impossible to answer, as there are so many variables. It will very much depend on the BTU output from your burners, and whether or not you cook with your stove on full flame all the time or vary it as you cook.

The length of your camping trip will dictate how many times you have to cook, and the size of your propane canister(s) will make a difference.

The best advice is always to take more propane with you than you think you might need. It is still better to come home with an unused propane canister than a hungry gang of campers because you ran out of propane and couldn't cook on the final night.

Conclusion

Hopefully, our reviews and FAQs have led you to feel a lot more confident in choosing the propane stove for camping that is the most suitable for you.

Bear in mind, no propane camping stove, or any other product for that matter, is perfect, so choose the one that most meets your needs in terms of stove size and weight, cooking capacity, and ease of use. Get those three options right, and you should be making the correct choice.