Stoves for camping

If you are car camping, road tripping or even doing a trailhead bivy before a backpacking trip, it is nice to have a stove that is a bit more versatile than a backpacking stove. And when I do trail work, it is nice to brew myself up my own coffee for the mid-afternoon pick me up. 🙂

Sure, people can (and have) done much with a simple white gas, canister or even alcohol stoves when not backpacking.

But sometimes I want efficiency, versatility and ease of use for a task rather than something that kinda-sorta works.  And when my gear is packed away for the backpacking trip, sometimes it is easier to make a quick bowl of oatmeal and some coffee. Easier than digging out my gear already packed for the backpacking trip I am about to take that very morning.

And, when car camping, I often enjoy cooking good food.

So what stoves to purchase or use? Here are a few options that involve propane or white gas.  There are camping stoves that use alcohol or butane, but butane does not work well in cool temperatures. And alcohol is not as efficient for this type of use in my opinion.

In any case, here the camping stoves I suggest. I don’t know if they are the best.

But they are the camping stoves that have worked for me.

  • Single burner propane stove

For a trailhead bivy (esp. when the rest of the gear is packed), a quick meal when road tripping, or even when I am solo car camping, this type of stove is very versatile.  It is the oldest piece of gear I own and still use.  The 16.4 ounce propane tanks are found almost everywhere.

The upright stove puts out a lot of BTUs, is compact and easy to use.

From Coleman

The table-top version (as I call it), is more stable (use that cast iron cookware! ) , but not as compact a stove and the BTUs tend to be about half.


from Texsport

Since I use my stove as primarily a water boiler for quick camping, the upright stove suit my needs better. Either one is a good item to have in any outdoor person’s kit. At only $25 (or less) for either one, it is a handy item to have.

  • Dual burner white gas stove

We all know this stove. The classic Coleman Stove that you may have used on family vacations. The design has not changed much in over eighty years! 

Though this stove or similar models can be bought brand new, you are better off buying one at thrift stores, yard sales, Craig’s List or even on EBay .  And spare parts are ubiquitous if you need a minor amount of elbow grease to fix up the stove.

The stove is bomber, white gas (or auto fuel if your stove can use it) is inexpensive versus other fuels and the stove works in cold weather rather well.

The cons of this stove? It does not put out that many BTUs overall compared to others, can be finicky to use and does not simmer easily.

But considering the often bargain basement prices if found used and the longevity of this stove,  the stove is a  very good one to have in the kit. With a white gas to propane adapter / propane bottle comboit is even possible to use this stove off a propane tank for much versatility in fuel choices.  I bought an adapter several years ago and have it used it very successfully.

  • Two burner propane stoves

Propane stoves are easier to use, often simmer better and will typically put out more BTUs per burner than the classic gas stoves discussed above.  A simple model is often less expensive versus a brand new gas stove too. 

However, I took advantage of Sports Authority liquidating a lot of their stock (sales, coupons and free shipping galore) and we bought a Texsport two-burner stove for a very good price. This stove, and our recent use of it in New Mexico, is also what inspired this article.  The stove feels heavy-duty,  puts out lots of BTUs   and the stove has wonderful simmer control. With the Piezoelectric ignition starter,  the stove is as easy to use as our stove at home.  No lighters or matches needed. Ms A.  is gun-shy using the white gas stove. This stove? No issues.


from Texsport

Note that this stove is an almost identical twin to the more expensive stove sold at REI!  Funny how the same factory can make an item, stamp it differently depending upon the client and then less money is charged at a discount store versus a dedicated outdoor store. 🙂

Honestly, this stove is one of the better gear purchases I’ve made in a while. I can see us using this stove for many, many years. It’s only  a stove… But I love gear that is simple, effective and lasts.

The cons of the propane stove? Those little green bottles can add up in price. However, with an adapter hose,  a large propane tank (such as one for a grill) can  be used.  We use a five-pound tank for space and portability reasons. A more standard twenty pound tank is actually less expensive and more efficient if you have the space and don’t mind lugging it on trips.   When my five-pound tank expires a few years from now, I just may get a twenty pound tank after all.

  • Cookware 

A simple four-quart, two-quart and one-quart pot set with a pot grip covers a lot of bases. Nests well for easy transportation. Throw in a thrift store pan if you want to fry anything up. Or just buy all the cookware from the thrift store.  Done!


Thanksgiving in Capitol Reef NP.

And that’s the camp stove kit. The Coleman has been put to pasture a bit due to the new propane stove, but we still may use it from time to time..perhaps if we do a deep winter trip again.  I suspect, as with every year, the one burner propane stove will be with me on trail projects, quick bivies and the occasional solo car camping trip.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

I know the coleman two burner is a tried and true classic but my buddy got this version:

It has been a total game changer.

8 years ago

When car camping, you really need a single burner and a double burner. With an aluminum griddle on the double burner, you can make breakfast, while the coffee is on the single burner. The food is memorable, but there will be no quick getaway.