The important considerations when choosing the best car camping stove are Where to camp and How big of your camper group. Keep reading to find out which is the most suitable for you.
Here are the best car camping stoves you can buy in 2019:
- Best Overall: Camp Chef Explorer
- Ultra-Portable: Coleman 2000020951
- Best Dual Fuel Stove: Gas ONE New GS-3400P
- Best For Camping In The Wind: Coleman Gas Stove
- Most Versatile: Camp Chef Outdoor Oven
- Best Bang For The Buck: Koblenz PFK-400
Best Overall: Camp Chef Explorer
Powerful burners to shorten your cooking process significantly
Can handle multiple cooking tasks at the same time
You can use it as a tabletop stove or a freestanding
A bit bulky and heavy
Propane tank isn’t included
With two 30,000 BTUs/Hr. burners, Camp Chef Explorer is more convenient than a single-burner camping stove to help shorten your cooking process. It, at the same time, deliver equal to a higher power than other 2-burner or 4-burner models.
That’s why the Explorer stove is really versatile. It can perfectly fit the cooking demands of small to a large group of campers and finish any tasks really quick to give more joyful time on your hand.
What I love the most in this product are the detachable four legs that I can turn it from a tabletop stove to a freestanding in just minutes. Importantly, these legs are really sturdy and strong to handle the stove itself and food – something rarely finds in other counterparts.
Camp Chef is also very thoughtful when they include a three-sided windscreen in this set so cooking outdoors now (even on windy days) turns out to be easier.
The whole stove is crafted from cast aluminum. While this helps to cut some precious weight off for lighter portability, the product still ensures the highest quality to last you a couple of years.
Camp Chef Explorer Specifications
60,000 total BTU/hr
448 sq. in.
14 in. x 32 in.
Big cooking surface, includes detachable legs and 3-sided windscreen, durable cast-aluminum burners, four removable legs for tabletop use
Camp Chef Explorer is a 2-burner cast-aluminum stove that really meets all kinds of convenience when it comes to cooking during a camping trip.
Ultra-Portable: Coleman 2000020951
Lightweight and ultra-compact – very easy portability
Don’t require match lighting
Can adjust the heat more precisely
Short runtime – one 8.8 oz. butane gas cylinder only lasts 1.25 hours
Don’t work well in cold weather
Coleman 2000020951 is a single-burner stove featuring cooking power of 7,650 total BTUs.
To give an idea of how powerful it is, it takes 3-6 minutes to boil 1 qt pot. In comparison to other counterparts, this is really quick so, if you intend to cook 2-4 dishes during your camping trip, rest assured that it can handle like a breeze.
Because of a 1-burner stove, the whole dimensions of Coleman 2000020951 are quite compact (20 x 12 inches). It also includes a carry case for more convenient transporting. The weight isn’t a matter in this model, either. It’s super light with just 4.68 pounds.
Particularly, there’s an Instastart ignition which is not only convenient when lighting the stove but also adjustable to help you control the temperature more precisely.
If you’re a lazy camper, I’m sure you’ll love this option. Out of a durable porcelain-coated grate, the burner is crafted from high-grade aluminum to require really low maintenance.
Coleman 2000020951 Specifications
Fit a 10-inch pan
20 x 12 x 4 inches
Instastart ignition for matchless lighting; 7,650 total BTUs of cooking power, adjustable burner gives precise temperature control, large base
If you plan a camping trip of 1-2 people, Coleman 2000020951 with its ultra-portable design will be the best choice.
Best Dual Fuel Stove: Gas ONE New GS-3400P
Give more powerful cooking burner to finish your cooking process faster
Auto-shut off when the gas flow is irregular
Auto-eject butane fuel canister when detecting irregular gas flow
Easy-to-fragile plastic case
Compared to Coleman 2000020951, the burner power of this model is a bit higher – 8000 BTUs with impressively quick boil time of 2 min/1qt pot.
I think such phenomenal performance comes from the dual fuel built in the GasOne New GS-3400P. Never have to think twice about which type of fuel you should use, this can be compatible with a 16.4 oz propane tank and an 8 oz butane canister.
If you’re camping in fire restricted areas, rest assured, this model is equipped with an impressive safety feature: Automatic Safety Shut Off Capability. Accordingly, whenever detecting the gas flow is irregular, the stove will automatically shut off.
For those prefer to use butane for cooking, the Cartridge Ejection System will ensure the flow to be stably powerful for even heating. If the gas flow is 5-7 kg/cm² or greater, this system will be activated.
Gas ONE New GS-3400P Specifications
Butane & propane
5.3 x 4.4 x 1.7 inches
Compatible with both butane and propane fuel, piezo-electric ignition, adjustable heat dial, Built-in Pressure Sensor Cartridge Ejection System and Gas Flow Cut Off Mechanism
Overall, if you’re looking for a decent duel-fuel stove, GasOne New GS-3400P is worth a try.
Best For Camping In The Wind: Coleman Gas Stove
Keep consistent gas flow even in strongly windy conditions
Windshield can be adjusted to fit larger pans or removable when not in use
Large cooking area to fit various pan sizes at the same time
A bit struggling to connect to the propane tank
No push button lighter so you should equip yourself a camp lighter
I love the ultra-large wind block shield of this Coleman propane stove. It allows me to confidently cook in any conditions while the additional PerfectHeat technology helps with more efficient cooking but less fuel consumption.
Unlike other double-burner counterparts out there, the grate in this model doesn’t separate hence, it can fit a wide range of pan sizes. At the same time, this Coleman stove can handle a 10-inch and 12-in pans with no bulk.
The material of this grate is also superior – Chrome-plated – that emphasizes ultra-durable and longer-lasting performance. Not to say that it’s super easy to clean and maintain.
Two independent adjustable dials are also impressive since I can give precise temperature to heat a pot/pan. This feature can help me go the simmer efficiently and on the other hand, avoid burning food like a dream.
Coleman Gas Stove Specifications
Fits a 12-in. and 10-in. pan
4.1 x 21.9 x 13.7 inches
Powerful burners and a wind-blocking design, Adjustable Wind Block pan, instastart push-button ignition with PerfectFlow heat-distribution technology
All-in-all, for the best tabletop two-burner propane stove that can consistently perform in windy conditions, Coleman Classic is unbeatable.
Most Versatile: Camp Chef Outdoor Oven
Versatile but compact and lightweight for portability
Powerful and long runtime
Nonstick enamel cooking surface requires less maintenance
Too hot for cooking 'fire & forget' cowboy casserole
No adjustable dial
This Camp Chef Outdoor Oven is indeed amazing. While delivering two powerful 7,500 BTUs burners, there’s an extra oven working at 3,000 BTUs with the top heat of 400 degrees.
It’s no different from a mini kitchen when there are even two oven racks, one large wind block, and one oven thermometer included.
Regardless, it requires no match lighting and complicated cleansing process to keep your travel packing list shorter.
The nonstick enamel cooking surface as well as the stainless-steel construction not only deliver lower maintenance but also ensure decent durability to last you with time.
Out of such versatility and powerful performance, the whole dimensions of this buddy are just W 16″ x H 8.5″ x L 10” with 32 pounds of weight. Amazing, huh?
Camp Chef Outdoor Oven Specifications
15,000 BTUs burner power and 3,000 BTUs oven power
Oven: Fits 9 x 13-inch pan
18 x 24 x 31 inches
Powerful, Matchless Ignition, stainless steel construction, nonstick enamel cooking surface, oven thermometer, and two oven racks
Camp Chef Outdoor Oven is perfect if you intend to cook a big meal for your group with various dishes and I bet this is a perfect present for somebody who loves cooking.
Best Bang For The Buck: Koblenz PFK-400
Allow cooking various dishes at the same time
Despite a 4-burner stove, it delivers consistent and powerful heat on all four
Very compact, lightweight and affordable compared to other counterparts
Poor-quality plastic hookup
Measured by 20.08 x 24.6 x 5.12 inches, the Koblenz PFK-400 is more compact than I thoughts compared to other four-burner stoves. And with 16,000 total BTUs (plus, a windshield), it’s quite powerful to prepare a big hearty meal for 5-6 campers.
Two people can join cooking together with this type of design and equivalent to 4 burners, are 4 adjustable dials to help you easily control the temperature.
Two similarities to the Camp Chef Outdoor Oven are the porcelain enamel surface that you can easily wipe over to clean all stains and the compatibility with any 16.4-oz propane bottles.
Size is amazing, it’s only 26” x 21” and weighs a mere 15 pounds that you can conveniently carry to anywhere. But I bet when getting to know the price, you’ll be shocked – under $52 for a full set.
Koblenz PFK-400 Specifications
20.08 x 24.6 x 5.12 inches
4 Burner stove, porcelain enamel top cover, Manual ignition, fully adjustable heat-control dials
Hardly can you find such powerful four-burner tabletop stove like the Koblenz PFK-400 at that bang-for-buck price, at least this is what I can assure you.
How To Choose The Best Car Camping Stoves?
Three common types of car camping stoves are:
- Multi-burner: This allows you to cook multiple dishes at once and is very suitable for a large group
- Two-burner: Come in a perfect compromise of compact design and versatility that you can cook two dishes at the same time while conveniently store in your car for transport.
- Single-burner: This is also the lightest and most compact stove type out of a bunch, perfect for a single use or a small group.
To know which type is suitable for you, consider two things:
Your cooking styles
The size of your group
Type of Fuel
Out of diverse types of fuel out there, there are three major options for car camping stoves:
Sea level boiling point
– When it’s cold, isobutane provides decent vapor pressure
– lightweight for easier portability
– Easy to find
– Can be attached to 20-pound reusable tanks -> Save money
– If the temperature starts to approach 30°F, it’s hard to power the camping stove
– lowest vapor pressure
– highly processed -> costly
Regardless, are some other types of fuel:
Solar: An eco-friendly way to cook during your camping trip. But it depends on the weather
Charcoal: This stove type is really cheap but it emits CO which is not only unhealthy but also unfriendly to the environment. Not to say that it’s rather bulky and slow to get going.
Wood: This is a budget-friendly option that helps you cut off some fuel costs however, it produces soot at the cookware bottom while might be prohibited due to wildfire burn bans.
In general, to figure out which one is your go-to, consider where you intend to camp and which is the biggest concern to you: Budget? Low-temperature performance? Lightweight
The measuring unit of burner power is BTU (stands for British Thermal Unit), which represents for the energy amount required to raise 1 lb. of water by 1°F.
While a gas stove for home use features within 6,000 to 13,000 BTUs, a camping stove should be higher than that. Amazing, huh?
As the camping stove will perform in different kinds of weather (especially windy and cold conditions – two common factors that affect the cook times), some extra BTUs will let you compensate that problem.
But chances are that you’ve seen a camping stove with higher BTUs cooked slower than a model with lower BTUs, right? There’s no inconsistency here.
Though burner power plays an essential role in the stove’s performance, it’s not the only one. How fast of your camping stove also depends on whether it can handle the wind or not. In other words, the overall design is another worth-considering factor.
If yours is a two-burner stove or a multiple-burner stove, choosing one with a folding-three wall barrier or protective sheaths.
Freestanding or tabletop: While a tabletop is perfect when you’re camping at established campsites, a freestanding model is best for tailgating or dispersed camping.
Simmer control: Let you keep your oatmeal, creamy risotto, or polenta always warm while avoiding scorched at the bottom efficiently.
Adjustable legs: Allow you to lower or raise the picnic tables due to preference before starting to cook.
Which Brands Make The Best Car Camping Stoves?
Camp Chef is a good brand that produces really versatile camping stoves, at least in my opinion. Their products can meet different cooking demands for small to large people, simple to a hearty meal in an incredibly short time.
This is a well-known outdoor gear brand for high-quality and realistic products that meet precisely the deepest needs of users. Not an exception when it comes to their camping stove lines. The signature strength is a compact design but powerful performance.
Gasone might be new to some campers but it’s truly a must-try brand if your biggest concern is about consistent heat of burners and safety. Their products are allowed to use in even the fire restricted areas.
Koblenz is a good consideration for those who are in a tight budget. Their products are not only affordable but also versatile to fit variable cooking tasks at the same time. Don’t worry, no sacrifice of quality here.
Is propane or butane better for camping?
To give you the best answer, take a look at this table:
Performance in cold or windy weather
Ease to connect the camp stove to fuel container
Propane is an economical option and also easy to find, hence, giving you more flexibility. It’s particularly the best choice for cold or windy weather.
Conversely, butane camping stove is ideal for long-distance trips or if you’re camping in a large group.
Are butane and propane interchangeable?
This strongly depends on the manual of your camping stove since the calorific of a butane (13.62 kWh/kg) is different from a propane model’s (13.83 kWh/kg).
How hot can a propane burner get?
Are portable propane heaters safe for indoor use?
As long as a portable propane heater is designed as an indoor heater, it’s safe for indoor use.
How many BTU's do I need for cooking?
You should realistic to consider your cooking needs and practices. Which overweighs on your concerns: Lightweight or Powerful?
For camping, a car stove should be at least 12,000 BTUs to handle various cooking tasks and weather conditions.
From pasta to s’mores, food all tastes yummier when you’re camping. A stove will be your most workhorse assistant during the whole process, which is the reason I listed out detailly all must-consider features here. Hope it was helpful for you and thanks for reading!