We tested the best camping stoves from Coleman, Camp Chef, Eureka, Kovea, Primus, Jetboil, and more for this review. Spoiler alert: One camping stove is by far the best.
Camping and food go hand in hand. Some of my most cherished camping memories are not the hikes or scenic vistas, but cooking meals. Nothing but the sun or stars overhead, a campfire crackling in the distance, and good company.
And while I believe in the adage that everything tastes better camping, I don’t find this a valid excuse to half-ass it with your camp meals. It begins with how you cook your food.
Other GearJunkie editors and I tested the best camping stoves of 2019. Most of the items are two-burner stoves with propane fuel. Some have more unique, nuanced designs.
At the start of our test, we wondered how different the stoves could really be. All brands seemed to use the tried and true design of two burners, a grate, wind blockers, and turn dials.
Yet once we started in-depth testing, we soon realized there are a ton of differences to the stoves. So much so that one became the clear winner: the Camp Chef Summit 2 Burner Camp Stove.
We considered the ease of use, design, BTUs, windy weather performance, simmer control, cost, and boil time for this comprehensive review.
This list is for car camping stoves. If you want to eat some hot food while hiking or backpacking, check out our review of the best backpacking stoves.
If you’re looking for a good meal while camping, read on.
Best Camping Stoves of 2019: Review
Thanks to its impressive heat output, near windproof design, and larger burner diameter, the Camp Chef Summit was our favorite camp stove. It offers two 20,000-BTU burners that can get scorching hot — great for developing a nice sear on burgers and steaks or cooking a massive batch of stirfry.
We found the burners on the Camp Chef Summit to be significantly larger than the others in our test. This resulted in a more even heating surface, which resulted in evenly cooked food — a rarity when so many camp cooking stoves burn super hot in one specific spot.
In our tests, the Camp Chef Summit’s flame didn’t blow out once. Its burners (which sit in a slight well) and side panels block wind effectively.
The only downside was its striker. While functional, the turn dial used to click the striker required a lot of force.
The Camp Chef Summit weighs 12 pounds and costs $150. The cost is higher than the majority of stoves we tested, but we think it’s worth it.
The most simple option on the list was also one of our favorites. The Coleman Classic Propane Stove might not have all the fancy bells and whistles as the other items on the list, but it’s hands-down the most bang for your buck out of all camp stoves on the market.
For just $44, you get two 10,000-BTU burners in a classic, trusted design. We cooked up plenty of meals on the Coleman Classic and appreciate how simple it is.
It doesn’t have a striker, so you’ll have to use matches or a lighter, but it blocks wind well enough and has really nice simmer control. The burners are high enough to get nice sears on food, yet it offers enough simmer control to ensure slow-cooked meals don’t burn the bottom of the pan. It weighs 12 pounds.
And did we mention it costs just $44?!
The Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove is an exceptionally well-rounded camp stove. It comes in Quiet Green (shown above) and works well time and time again. The wind panels block wind reasonably well, and it has excellent simmer control. It weighs 10 pounds.
The reason it didn’t impress us more is that it doesn’t excel in one particular area. It does all things a camp stove should well. And it’s by far the prettiest stove on the list, which may make it worth it for that reason. But when compared to others, its performance falls a bit short.
Occasionally, we had issues with the strikers. One of the burners would fail to ignite or a striker would stop working altogether.
But average is fine. Average will cook meals well at the campsite and look great in photos.
Fold up the Kovea Slim Twin 2-Burner Camp Stove and it almost disappears in the back of your car or in your gear closet. This was by far the thinnest and most packable stove on our list.
It offers a slightly higher BTU output at 12,000 per burner, weighs 10 pounds, and comes with a striker and two large wind-blocking panels.
Although it offers a svelte design, the Kovea Slim Twin lacked in performance. The legs require an almost perfect surface to sit on, or else the stove wobbles. And you can’t operate the burners with just one propane tank — like all of the other options on this list. You need to place two beneath the stove to work it.
The Kovea Slim Twin performed the worst on our simmer test. Turn the dial, and the Kovea goes from no flame to full bore in just one 90-degree turn of the dial. You don’t get much control here.
It did, however, perform better than most in our boil test.
And for $190, the Kovea Slim Twin is one of the more expensive stoves on the market. But if you’re looking for a thin stove, this is by far your best bet.
The Primus Profile 2-Burner Stove has a clean design with with a moderate heat output at 12,000 BTUs per burner. It functions with a piezo ignition striker and has one of the larger cooking areas compared to other stoves. That means you can place larger pans on the Profile.
It performed well in our simmer test and weighs 9 pounds. The heat can go really low, and the dial is slow to turn, meaning you don’t accidently crank it and burn your food.
When performing the boil test, one of the Primus Profile’s main issues became apparent. The flame blew out twice in one test. It appears the side panels and burner design are not suitable for really windy areas.
Camp Chef Versatop: $146
Oh, the joys of cooking on a flattop! The Camp Chef Versatop is an outlier of sorts for this list given that it doesn’t have a two-burner design. Underneath the Versatop’s cooking surface is one 15,000-BTU burner wide enough for the whole cooking surface.
The unique part about the Versatop is its versatile design. With seperate attachments, you can cook on a flattop, grill, or even bake bread in the Versatop. You just pull off the cooking surface, place on another, and start cooking. It’s simple.
We cooked breakfast, sandwiches, and large helpings of stirfry with the Versatop.
While it takes a while to heat up fully, the Versatop provides an even cooking surface that browns food nicely. Food doesn’t stick easily to the surface, and its roughly 2-inch-tall side panels keep all of your food on the surface.
A benefit of the Versatop is you don’t need to bring additional pans thanks to the flattop.
If you haven’t cooked on a flattop, we highly recommend it. It’s a splendid cooking experience and offers a massive cooking surface. One morning, we made eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns for seven people — all on the Versatop.
Jetboil Genesis: $240
The Genesis from Jetboil brings one of the more novel if not genius designs to the classic camping stove. It functions with a clamshell design that unfolds to display the cooking surface. And then underneath each burner is a place to chain additional burners. You can add a Jetboil pot for boiling water, or pair another Genesis with it, making for a large four-burner kitchen.
In our test, we found the Genesis offers impressive simmer control.
“Where the Genesis really shows through is its simmering ability. The burner knob can be spun in four full rotations from the lowest to the highest setting, and each slight movement of the knob makes fractional adjustments to the flame,” we wrote in our full-length Jetboil Genesis review.
Each burner on the Genesis offers 10,000 BTUs, and the stove costs $240. It’s more expensive than other stoves on the list, but simmer control and the ability to daisy-chain additional stoves make the Genesis a solid investment.
Primus Tupike: $250
The Primus Tupike is a great stove, but it comes at the hefty price of $250.
What you get is a beautiful stainless steel stove accented with oak slats on the cover. And while it’s a pretty stove, it’s also very effective. We’ve had this one in testing for nearly 3 years now, and it’s proven itself time and again as a durable, reliable cook setup.
On the plus side, its 7,000 BTU/h piezo ignition burners fire up every time at the push of a button — even 3 years into testing and dozens, if not hundreds, of meals cooked. And while 7,000 BTUs isn’t one of the highest outputs of the stoves we’ve tested, it has proven sufficient for everything from boiling water in below-zero weather to searing elk steaks on a warm afternoon.
It has an excellent simmer, too, so it doesn’t scorch food if used correctly.
On the downside, the windscreens are oddly designed and are held open only by weak magnets. They don’t work particularly well or protect the lower area of the stove (where the fire is). While we’ve never had trouble with flames going out, it loses a lot of heat in wind.
And finally, the price is a heavy hit. While yes, this is a luxury-level stove, $250 is pretty crazy for a camp stove. But if you love the looks of the oak and stainless steel, this is a very capable stove for your camp.
How We Tested: Best Camp Stoves
We cooked several meals on each of the camp stoves for this review. In addition to basic breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we also subjected the stoves to boil and simmer tests.
The tests are by no means perfect, but we believe they provide a good, basic understanding of the stoves’ more technical functions.
Note: We tested the Jetboil Genesis and Primus Tupike at different times than the bulk of these stoves, hence their absence from these boil and simmer tests. However, we’ve reviewed both of these in depth. Also, we didn’t perform simmer and boil tests on the Versatop because of its differences.
We subjected each propane stove to a boil test. We boiled 500 mL of water with the same GSI pot and lid on each stove. Before each test, we made sure the pot and water were the same temperature as prior tests. We checked the water occasionally to see when it began to boil.
Different air temperatures and altitudes will boil water differently. Don’t buy one of these stoves and expect it to boil water at these specific times; instead, use this as a rough guide to which stove heats the most effectively and gets the hottest.
Best Camping Stove Boil Test
- Camp Chef Summit: 2:25
- Kovea Slim Twin: 3:35
- Coleman Classic: 3:40
- Eureka Ignite: 4:10
- Primus Profile: 4:10
To test how well a stove could simmer, or cook gently, we tested the knobs and saw how low the flame could go while still remaining active. I placed my hand above the flame and saw how close I could get before it got uncomfortable. This may not seem like a robust test, but it directly relates to how low a burner can go. The closer my hand could comfortably get (measured in inches), the lower we found a burner could go.
We also tested each of the dials to see the range of control they allowed. The higher the degrees of rotation, the more you can turn the dial and change the heat output. Generally, the higher the better, as this lets you clearly know if you’re cooking on low, medium, or high. If a stove’s dial allows only 90 degrees of rotation for simmer control, chances are you may accidently burn your food or have a hard time cooking things the way you want.
Best Camping Stove Simmer Test
- Eureka Ignite: 1-2 inches, 440 degrees
- Primus Profile: 1-2 inches, 120 degrees
- Coleman Classic: 2 inches, 270 degrees
- Camp Chef Summit: 2 inches, 180 degrees
- Kovea Slim Twin: 3-4 inches, 90 degrees
Conclusions: The Best Stoves for Camping
It may come off as if we think some of these stoves are “bad,” but that’s really not the case. We liked all of the stoves on this list. They all work well and will perform for your outdoor cooking needs — seriously.
If you see one on sale for less than the others, we recommend jumping on it.
But when compared head to head with other propane camping stoves, one clear winner emerges: the Camp Chef Summit.