8 Best Car Camping Stoves for Easy Camp Meals

by Carissa Stanz
Updated January 13, 2020

best camp stoves
Photo: Nathan Shipps

If you’re going to do car camping right, you’ll need a camping stove.

One of the best parts about car camping is hanging around camp while someone cooks up a mean breakfast or hearty dinner. Of course, it’s also all about waking up to morning coffee. All of which require a solid camping stove.

Finding the right one, however, can be tricky. With varying sizes, performances levels, and costs, choosing the best camping stove for you can mean the difference between a satiating camp meal and epic ramen fail. And unfortunately, pizza delivery isn’t an option when you’re camping.

To help you out, we scoured through camping stove after camping stove to find which ones are up to the task. We took into consideration size, performance level, construction, and cost to narrow down the options to the best of the best.

If you’re looking to cook up a storm with the best camping stove around, take a gander our top eight picks.

Editor’s Choice: Camp Chef Everest

Since 1990, Camp Chef has been making it easier to cook outdoors thanks to their line of useful and efficient products. For the all-around best camping stove, we recommend their Camp Chef Everest.

The Everest camping stove checks all the boxes when it comes to performance. The two well-spaced burners produce a powerful and steady flame that can go from a boil to simmer in a few minutes. And while some camping stoves create hot spots on pans, this one cooks food evenly.

Another major concern with camp stoves is wind protection. Anything from a slight breeze to a gust can easily blow out a flame. With the Everest, the lid and side panels offer better protection for windy days than many of their competitors.

With the piezo igniter you can light the stove at the push of a button while the stainless-steel drip tray makes cleaning up all that bacon grease a breeze.

Backed by durable and quality construction, this camping stove is worth the price.

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Best Budget Stove: Coleman Classic Propane Stove

There’s something about the sight of a timeless Coleman Classic Propane camping stove that brings comfort to the campground. A constant in the car camping community, this stove delivers when you need it most.

Capable of fitting a 12-inch and 10-inch pan side by side, the two-burner Coleman Classic has just the right amount of space to cook your outdoor meal. This means you can flip flapjacks on one burner while you heat up your morning coffee on the other and not have to worry about an extended wait.

To get cooking, simply lock the effective windscreen side panels into place, rotate the burner dial, and light it up with your utility lighter. As both burners are independent of one another, you can adjust them accordingly.

With 20,000 BTUs backed by the pressure control and heat technology, you’ll find this stove gets the job done every time. The only downside is if you’re looking to simmer your gourmet outdoor meal, this technology will be a bit too hot to your liking.

However, if simmering isn’t a concern, you won’t find a better value than the durable and reliable Classic Coleman Propane Stove.

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Best Group Camping Stove: Camp Chef Explorer 2X

With an overcrowded picnic table and forgotten folding table at home, finding a flat surface with ample space for your camping stove isn’t likely. That’s where the Camp Chef Explorer 2X stove comes in. Equipped with removable legs, this freestanding stove can be set up anywhere you fancy.

Light up this bad boy and get to work. The two 30,000 BTU cast aluminum burners have enough heat — and then some — to match your stove at home. Whether you’re in the mood to grill up some burgers, fry some eggs, or steam some veggies, you can do it all.

Since you’re getting ready to feed a crowd, you’ll probably also want to ditch those tiny camping propane tanks for a 15-pound one like you’d use in your backyard. Equipped with a 3-inch hose and a regulator, you’ll have enough fuel to last you the entire week so nobody has to resort to cold cut sandwiches. 

While this does come with a 3-panel windscreen, we’ve found it’s not the best for when the breeze really starts to kick up. For cooking in really windy conditions, you may want to go with another option.

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Best For Minimal Cooking: Coleman Butane Stove

If your main priority for a camping stove is prepping your morning cup of coffee, then perhaps the single burner Coleman Butane Stove is right for you.

The Butane Stove is super portable, weighing a mere 5.8-pounds. With the single burner system, you’ll get precise temperature control and enough room to fit a 10-inch pan.

This camping stove also has a built-in automatic ignition that lights at the turn of a knob along with built-in wind baffles that act as a flame shield. That means you don’t need to worry about wet matches or rummaging around for a lighter.

Easy to clean and even easier to carry, this burner keeps things simple for an inexpensive price. Considering you’d rather be spending your time enjoying the outdoors and less time cooking, this single burner is all you and your partner need.

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Best Triple Burner: Sansport Outfitter Series 3-Burner

On the other hand, if you ever find yourself wishing you had just one more burner, we recommend going with the affordable Sansport Outfitter Series 3-Burner. The beauty of a three-burner camping stove is you have the option and ability to cook more at once if you so choose.

The Outfitter Series 3-burner comes with two powerful burners at 25,000 BTU and one at 10,000 BTU. This means you can grill up some brats, toast the buns, and get the bell peppers and onions going all at the same time.

Equipped with an oversized frame and heavy-duty cooking grate, you can use your cast iron pans without thinking twice. To increase efficiency, it has a built-in ignition lighter and temperature controlled knobs to dial in the right heat.

Bonus points for the high-pressure altitude regulator. We love to camp in all types of terrain so it’s nice to know our stove will still maintain optimum performance.

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Best Wood Burning Stove: Solo Stove Titan

Solo Stove is innovation at its finest. Their line of cleverly designed wood-burning rocket stoves offer a more complete burn with less smoke and a powerful flame. If you prefer to cook your meal over an open flame, consider the Solo Stove Titan.

Weighing in at 1 lb. 5 oz., this lightweight stove lets you cook with wood without the need to build up the campfire.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Stove Titan is the cooking ring on top. This is designed to act as a windscreen while providing a place to rest your pot or pan. As it directs the flame it will also increase heat while decreasing your cooking time.

As you prep your meal, you can easily add in more fuel to the fire while the bottom cold intake air holes make it easier for you to keep the flames going.

Sleek in design and innovative in construction, the efficiency of this wood burning stove makes it an excellent option for anyone looking to cook outdoors over an open flame.

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Best Solar Cooker: GoSun Sport Pro Pack Solar Cooker

If your idea of camp cooking is chillaxing while your stove does all the work for you, then you’ll want to take a look at the GoSun Sport Pro Pack Solar Cooker.

Unlike typical camping stoves, the GoSun Sport Portable Solar Cooker runs solely on the sun. This means you don’t have to worry about packing extra propane tanks just in case.

Innovative and efficient, operating this tubular solar camping stove is more simple than you’d think. To start, prep your food like normal, then plop it in the cooking chamber. The durable borosilicate glass tube will then convert 80% of sunlight to heat so you can bake, roast, or sauté your meal.

That may sound like it will take all day, but this thing is actually pretty fast. Reaching up to 550 degrees, your meal can be ready in as little as 20 minutes, all while remaining cool to the touch on the outside. So chop up your veggies, toss in the brats, and kick back — dinner will be ready in no time.

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Best Lightweight Stove: JetBoil Genesis 2-Burner Stove

If you’re not too fond of packing bulky stoves, yet need something more efficient than a small backpacking stove, the JetBoil Genesis 2-Burner Stove may be the best option for you.

Jetboil is known for producing quality compact and portable stoves for backcountry cooking. At just over 6-pounds and right under 12-inches folded, their Genesis 2-Burner Stove makes a terrific option for a lightweight, packable car camping stove.

As for performance, this folding dual burner stove has an exceptional simmer ability. It comes equipped with a lever ignition, attachable windscreen, and easy-to-clean drip trays.

One of the highlights you’ll get with this stove other than its space-saving design is you can set it up anywhere. Flat or uneven terrain, you’ll be able to get cooking.

The one major drawback is price. However, if you value packability as much as performance, you may find the Genesis 2-Burner Stove is well worth it.

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Wait — What Does BTU Mean?

Given all of this talk about BTUs, we should take a second to mention what a BTU is. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and is essentially a measurement of energy. Strike a match and the energy released is equivalent to one BTU.

To put that into better context, outdoor manufacturer Camp Chef puts it like this:

“Your household stove burners are probably around 10,000 BTUs—that’s like burning 10,000 matches at once.”

10,000 BTUs is generally a good target to look for when choosing your camping stove, though it never hurts to go with a stove that puts out more BTUs.

For more camping tips and recommendations check out the 6 Best Folding Camp Chairs, 12 of the Best Double Sleeping Bags, and 7 Ways to Start a Fire Without Matches.

Seen in: Camping, Gear

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