Best Camping Stoves

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Sidebar ambassador Ben wrote up a comparison review of his four favorite camping and backpacking stoves: the Coleman 2-Burner Propane Camping Stove, the Vargo Triad Multi-Fuel Stove, the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove and the MSR Expedition Stove. Ben lays out in great detail the scenarios that each stove is best suited for:

Best Car Camping Stove

Coleman Triton Series 2-Burner Stove

The longevity of this stove is in its no frills, manual start with match or lighter form dates back over 50 years. If maintained and cleaned properly, you'll get years, possibly decades of use out of it. Fuel is easily available almost anywhere in the USA that sells outdoors equipment. These are car camping and base-camp stoves only; durable, reliable and practical as they are, they are not small enough or light enough for backpacking.

Best Backpacking Stoves

Vargo Triad Multi-Fuel Stove

This is primarily a denature alcohol stove, but has the option of also using solid fuel tabs as well. This stove is VERY lightweight at only 1oz, and very sturdy for as small as it is, I've never had issues with it handling any backpacker sized pots and pans. Once it’s started and the flame ports are fully lit, it will boil water in about 5-7 minutes depending on weather conditions. You can purchase denatured alcohol almost anywhere in the world. It’s also completely silent and great for ultralight camping. Highly recommend using a wind screen. However, there’s no getting around the fact that alcohol stoves can be messy. Also, your burn time is limited to right around 15 minutes max. This is NOT an expedition or extreme weather stove. If it’s pouring rain, high winds, snow, ice, etc there are MUCH better stove options.

MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove

This stove is very light weight at only 2.5oz, and compact even in the plastic case it comes with (I keep two small lighters in mine). It’s very powerful (boils water in about 2 ½ minutes), the simmer option is outstanding; it’s sturdy and versatile (you can use any lightweight camp cookware such as stainless steel, aluminum and titanium). Isobutane-propane fuel canisters are currently easily available in multiple sizes not only in the USA, but several other countries as well, so there’s no messy liquid fuel to deal with. You are limited to canisters (that is your only option), and reportedly it can be finicky at extreme low temps and high altitude. However, I’ve used mine at over 14,000 and temps as low as -2 degree Fahrenheit with absolutely no issues.

MSR XGK EX Stove

This is the stove I’ve owned the longest and have taken on my most extreme adventures (the Smokies, the Superstations, Kilimanjaro, the Alps, the Rockies and Carpathian Mountains). It’s durable and will work anywhere, uses both white gas and regular unleaded gas. It’s VERY powerful and reasonably light at 3.2lbs with fuel bottle. Some cons are that it requires a fuel bottle and you may need to ship one ahead if you’re going out of the country or certain places within the United States. It’s a liquid fuel stove and can be messy; it requires regular cleaning and has no simmer option to conserve fuel, and it’s NOT SILENT (it sounds like a jet engine, no joke)!”

To see what other gear Ben relies on for his adventures, check out his Sidebar profile. If you’re looking for more stove options and reviews, you can find them here!

Sarah Holdeman