Published May 30, 2012
Whether you want to head out for a weekend in the wilderness, tailgate at a baseball game this summer, or just picnic in the park, here are some of the best portable stoves on the market.
While many propane camping stoves produce large, inefficient flames, the Jetboil’s design makes maximum use of its fuel, allowing you to bring four cups of water to a boil in around four minutes. With most stoves, much of the heat energy escapes into the air rather than actually heating your pot or pan. But Jetboil’s FluxRing produces an intense heat that is almost entirely directed at the food, which means more hot meals and less spent fuel canisters.
For ultralight hikers looking to shave precious pounds from their backpacks, this efficiency is all-important, as you can get by on a single canister rather than two. The device’s design also packs down much more efficiently, allowing you to stuff all the components into the main cooking vessel when not in use.
So whether you’re a ultralight hiker looking for a lightweight way to purify stream water, or a car camper that just can’t wait to brew a hot cup of coffee in the morning, the Jetboil is an efficient and excellent stove.
Best for: Those looking for a good, all-purpose camping stove that gets hot fast, but is light enough to take on long hikes.
Unlike many propane-fueled stoves, the BioLite allows you to use whatever twigs and sticks you find, sparing hikers the heft of heavy fuel canisters and ensuring they have a heat source on even the longest camping trips.
You wouldn’t think that a few twigs would give you enough heat to boil water or cook dinner, but the BioLite employs an ingenious design to get the fire roaring hot. By converting some of the heat energy into electricity, the BioLite powers a fan on the side, which pumps oxygen into the fire, giving you a heat source that can boil water in about three or four minutes.
The newest version of the stove also includes a USB charger, allowing you to transform some of that heat energy into electricity to charge up your gadgets and smart phones. While a USB charger on a stove might seem like a frivolous addition, the smartphone has become an indispensable camping tool for many, allowing hikers to access maps or a compass, take photos or place a call in the case of an emergency.
Best for: Hardcore hikers that can’t live without their gadgets.
It isn’t the most efficient stove, it certainly isn’t the lightest stove, and it doesn’t contain a single USB charger. But if you’re on a casual camping trip or tailgating with friends, the Coleman PerfectFlow stove will get the job done just as well as a more efficient stove at a fraction of the price.
At more than 10 pounds, you’re not going to be stuffing this in a backpack. But if you want to cook up a family-sized meal of bacon and eggs at your campsite, there’s no better way to do it.
Best for: Relaxed family camping trips and tailgating parties.
Much like the BioLite stove, the Cook-Air uses wood rather than natural gas, which means you’ll always have a supply of fuel at hand when you’re camping. With a battery-powered fan, the Cook-Air grill can reach temperatures as high as 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. And because it uses real wood, your food will taste like you cooked it over a campfire or barbecue.
While a great stove, the Cook-Air does have some drawbacks. The batteries for the fan just add more things to remember to bring along on your trip. (However, it also comes with an AC adapter, should you be camping or tailgating next to a electrical outlet.) And much like the Coleman stove, the Cook-Air is much too big for a hiking trip. At roughly the size of a small barbecue, the stove is more of a car camping or tailgating option, rather than a portable stove that you can stash in a backpack.
Best for: Causal campers that crave the flavor of barbecue, but don’t want to deal with the mess of and hassle of bringing along a charcoal grill.