When car camping, cabining or RVing, you can take more gear that helps make your outdoor adventure more comfortable—blow-up air mattresses, barbecue grills, camping stoves, camp chairs, roomier tents—than when you are primitive camping, hiking, or backpacking. When car camping, you usually have a permanent campsite with a level spot for a tent, picnic table and campfire ring, sometimes even running water. Car camping is good for families with children, camping newbies and for those whose idea of roughing it is no air conditioner for the weekend. Since you have the storage space when car camping, why not enjoy a few luxuries? One of those that we are never without is a propane camping stove. They provide more benefits than just getting coffee on STAT—camp stoves feed more people faster, you’ll still get hot food if it’s raining and it makes it easier to cook a wider variety of food.
The camp stoves we own and reviewed use a 14 or 16-ounce propane canister, available at sporting goods, grocery and big box stores, have more than one burner that are individually adjustable for searing and simmering. All are “tabletop” camp stoves—they need a safe and stable platform for you to cook safely.
When considering a camping stove, it is important to look at the BTUs (British Thermal Units), which is the unit of measure how much heat a stove is able to put out. The lower the BTUs, the longer it takes to cook food; however, the higher the BTUs, the more fuel it burns. You want to find a camp stove that has adjustable heat, so you can boil water quickly, but also simmer soup or chili. Most modern camp stoves do both successfully.
We’ll start with the Coleman Classic two burner, which all the other stoves have based their design.
Our resident gun blogger owns the Coleman Classic which has been working like a champ for 20 years. Affordable, durable and dependable are three words used to describe it. The Coleman classic has two separate burners at 10,000 BTUs each. It has two removable wind blockers and latching lid. The aluminum steel cooktop and chrome-plated top wipe up with a damp cloth for easy cleaning. It will Both a 12-inch and 10-inch pan will fit at the same time. It measures 23.5 x 5.5 x 14.75 inches and weighs 12 pounds. It lights using matches or a lighter.
The Stansport has no push-button ignition start and is also a total of 20,000 BTUs. It has windscreens as well. A steel cooking grate cleans up easily and is tough enough to hold up your cast iron skillets. It is smaller than the Coleman, so accommodating pans is more of a challenge. It measures 18.5 x 11.8 x 4.8 inches. However, Stansport has added a removable lid to make up for its smaller cooking space—which is cool and a feature unique to the Stansport.
Yes, the Eureka Spire is more than double the price of the Stansport, but it has a wide cooking space, which accommodates two 10-inch cast iron skillets at the same time, a three-sided wind barrier and a Piezo push-button ignition. Each burner is 10,000 BTUs and it has a nickel-coated steel grate. It measures 23.5 inches wide, 13.5 inches long and 4 inches tall. It weighs 12 pounds. It comes with a carry handle. It works just as well as the Coleman. If a bigger cooking area and the push-button start are important to you, its worth the extra price.
The Spire is also double the price of the Stansport but has excellent heat control and a solid design. It is compact, and Eureka put some thought into its aesthetics and its user-friendly functionality. It has four bumpers and rubber feet, so it’s more durable when storing and transporting. It is also 20,000 BTUs. It measures 8.7 x 4.4 x 12.7 inches. An 8-inch and 10-inch pan fit side by side. For the durability, you sacrifice cooking space. Its better for smaller groups and smaller spaces.
We threw this one in because of its vintage look, unique 4-burner stove top and versatility. We like that it goes from tent camping to the RV, to emergency and disaster prep and is a permanent staple at the hunting cabin. There is a total of 16,000 BTUs, so it is the lowest of the stoves on our list. It has a manual ignition and no windshield but does include a porcelain cover. If you are going to do most of your cooking on the stove top, this is worth the price. It measures 20.08 x 24.6 x 5.12 inches and weighs 10.3 pounds. (You must buy the propane hose separately.)
We aren’t picking a best in bunch this round because all five of these camping stoves have served our staff well. They all work virtually the same with very few differences. To decide which one is right for you depends on your budget, how many people you are feeding and how many meals you are cooking on the stove. You won’t go wrong with any of these tried and true stoves.
What is your favorite camping stove? Tell us what we’ve missed out on in the discussion below!
Prices here reflect what was listed at the time of original publication and are subject to change.