How to choose the best camping stove outdoorgearlab nyc electricity cost per kwh


If you are cooking near your car, a camping stove is the way to go. If you’re preparing meals over half a mile from your vehicle, you’ll want a backpacking stove. That’s the general rule anyway. Beyond that, the exact type you need depends on your space and weight restrictions, as well as your cooking aspirations. Car camping stoves are heavy and awkward to carry far from your vehicle (at least compared to a backpacking stove). They are relatively large (depending on the model) and are similar to home stove burners, allowing you to cook meals more complicated than just noodles and red sauce. They are also able to accommodate standard kitchen cookware and are quite durable (most frequently made from steel).

Backpacking stoves, on the other hand, are designed to be efficient — either for their size/weight or in regards to fuel use. Some backpacking models are designed solely to boil water, while others can simmer and cook food. Most are not that stable and prone to tipping over.

The compromises backpacking stoves make to remain lightweight can result in them being delicate (frequently made of titanium or aluminum). But keep in mind that a backpacking stove that has been engineered with fuel efficiency in mind can be a useful tool for car camping as well. These stoves can be the most efficient means to boil water, especially if you don’t want to tie up a whole burner on a car camping stove to do the job. We usually bring an additional backpacking stove to make coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

If you have a group of eight or more, you need more cooking space and probably more than two burners. Either go for a large three-burner free-standing model with legs, like the huge Camp Chef Pro 90X, or multiple compact two-burner models. Or consider pairing a large freestanding two-burner like the Camp Chef Explorer or the luxurious Camp Chef Pro 60X with a tabletop model of your choice. We recommend the freestanding option as it expands your kitchen and doesn’t take up precious tabletop space. The Pro 60X also comes equipped with fold-out side prep tables which provide counter space, especially valuable if your campsite doesn’t have a picnic table.

Keep in mind that larger products require more energy to pack, assemble, and maintain. They are great if you have a large group or need more table space. If counter space isn’t an issue, however, two of your favorite compact camping stoves could be an equally powerful but more mobile option.

BTUs, or British Thermal Units, are the amount of energy that is required to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It is a measure of power. The more BTUs a camping stove has, the more power it should have. Except this isn’t everything. The overall design of the stove body, placement of its burners, and its ability to effectively resist the wind are additional significant factors in determining the true strength of a stove.

Case in point: in our boil test, the Camp Chef Everest (with two 20,000 BTU burners) beat out both the Camp Chef Pro 60X with 30,000 BTU burners and the Stansport Outdoor Stove with astounding 35,000 BTU burners. The Everest is a compact model where the lid provides an 11" windscreen in back. The Pro 60X has an open, airy design with a much lower profile windscreen and the Outdoor Stove doesn’t have a windscreen at all. For maximum efficiency, strike a balance between BTUs and a smart compact design.

While nearly all of the models that we have tested run off of propane, some operate on other kinds of fuel, such as liquid fuel. We concentrated on propane models because this kind of fuel is cheaper, more accessible, and easier to use. Propane lights instantly, burns clean, and requires none of the pumping that is necessary to get a liquid fuel tank up to pressure — not to mention the mess that can ensue during refills. On the other hand, liquid fuel performs better than propane in colder climates and also maintains its performance until it is gone. Propane becomes inefficient when its canister gets close to empty.

If you go with a propane model, we recommend getting an adapter hose that allows you to use a refillable barbecue-style propane tank. Five-gallon tanks (20 lb.) are the most common size. A hose enables you to place the propane tank under the table, freeing up valuable table space. Refillable tanks also reduce the waste that results from empty 16-ounce canisters. Big tanks can be refilled at most gas stations or grocery stores. If you still need some convincing, refillable tanks can speed up boil times by 10-20 percent in comparison to 16-ounce propane canisters, and they are much more cost-effective. Canisters are $3-6 each or $24-48 a gallon, whereas refill prices for propane are around $3-6 a gallon!

If you decide to go with the refillable tank and hose, the next question is which hose adapter to buy. During our testing period, we were constantly hooking and unhooking propane tanks. In the end, we decided that all of the adapters performed about the same. What differentiated our favorites from the rest was how easily they could be set up. This was primarily influenced by the design of the part of the adapter that is to be gripped, or turned. We suggest an adapter that has a generous plastic grip on the five-gallon tank end, like the Stansport Appliance to Bulk Tank Hose.

If you like to grill, consider getting either an add-on grill plate or purchase one of the grill versions of the products we reviewed. Our preference? We like the convenience of a good quality cast iron grill/griddle plate as it allows you to use your two-burner for boiling and simmering when needed and then convert to a full-width grilling surface. You place the cast iron grill/griddle plate over both burners to provide a large surface, which is great for grilling or cooking pancakes for a group. If the added weight of a separate grilling surface doesn’t appeal to you, consider a hybrid model that offers both a burner and grill in one unit.

If you like the Camp Chef line, we’d recommend the Rainier Campers Combo or the more expensive Denali Pro 3X Three Burner Stove with Griddle. If you are grilling for larger groups, then consider adding a dedicated portable grill which perform better than grill stoves. An example is the Weber Q 1200, which performed exceptionally in our tests both camping and at home.

If you already have a Flame King refill kit, check the serial number. The manufacturer recalled several models sold between November 2013 to September 2016 due to gas leaks stemming from the refillable bottles, not the attachment to the propane tank. If your model is one that has been recalled, you can opt for either a replacement or a refund.

One other option is looking into a stove with a refillable liquid tank, like the Coleman Dual Fuel 2-Burner. This allows you to refill the fuel chamber from a larger can. The drawback is that this still produces waste (the container you’re refilling from), and it can be messy and annoying to deal with.

• When using a 5-gallon propane tank, always first turn off the tank and wait for the flame to completely extinguish. If you turn off the stove first and then the propane tank second, some gas will be left in the system and shoot out when you disconnect the hose.

• Always keep a dedicated cleaning rag in your cooking supplies (that old washcloth with the bleach stain works perfectly). It has many uses including cleaning the drip tray and keeping hoses, propane adapters, and windscreens from rattling when you are driving.