Camping Stove Comparison

Comparing Camp Stoves

With the holidays right around the corner, I needed to do some research on none other than camp stoves because my son-in-law had that on his Christmas list. I wanted to investigate it a bit before leaping in and perhaps buying one that would not be functional for their camping needs and I was just plain curious about what was out there since it has been literally decades since we have camped ourselves. Puzzling as it might be with all the choices, I did find the information useful and my final decision a little surprising! But you decide which you would think is more functional for your use with the information provided. Most of it I gathered from consumersearch.com but I also checked on Amazon for their product reviews as well.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

MSR REACTOR STOVE

This portable stove was rated the best as one of the top in performance. It has an isobutane-propane burner and the cooking pot is 1.7 liters. Fuel is sold separately but it is super easy to pack with as it basically fits inside the pot. The testers said that it performed very well and boiled rapidly even in windy conditions. However, under the cons it is noted that the lighter is not automatic and it also has the downside of inability to control the heat easily.

Also of note, the 1.7 liter pot is recommended to only be filled to 1 liter so you have in all truth a 1 liter pot rather than a 1.7 liter pot! It can, however, boil a liter of water in less than 3 minutes!



The MSR Reactor stove weighs 19 ounces, which they say is heavy for a backpacking stove. It also only works with the included pot so it is not a great choice for groups. For solo campers though or groups of perhaps 2, it is recommended as a top canister stove.

This little stove goes for roughly $140 and is available on Amazon as well as other places.

SNOW PEAK LITEMAX STOVE

The Snow Peak LiteMax Stove was rated best stove for lightweight camping and also best in budget camping stoves, so if cost is a factor, this is your stove!

It is one of the lightest camping stoves on the market at 1.9 ounces! However, the price does not include an isobutane-propane fuel canister nor does it include a cooking pot and Amazon did not carry those because I checked. You would have to buy them from another source (Cabela's had a link though from Amazon to purchase).

It earned the Best of Adenture award though from National Geographic Adventure magazine where they listed a test of 6 camping stoves conducted by Backpacker magazine. It does have 3 sturdy pot supports and boiled a liter of water in about 5-6 minutes. However, it is not tolerant of wind so that would decrease its efficiency - and it also has HIGH carbon monoxide emissions - you would not want to burn this one in or near your tent, which is another drawback.

It has a heat output of 11,200 BTU and it is small, folds up to fit in a backpack and the supports are said to be very sturdy for even a large pot. Again, there is no windscreen and the carbon monoxide emissions is definitely a factor. They have a slightly bigger model (Snow Peak GigaPower Stove at about $50) that weighs in at 3.75 ounces and also got good reviews.

The Snow PeakLite Max is priced at about $60 and is available on Amazon as well but don't forget the pot and the fuel as they are not included in that price.

Rated BEST by Consumersearch.com

BEST CAMPING STOVE
BEST CAMPING STOVE FOR BACKPACKING
BEST CAMPING STOVE FOR GROUPS
BEST CAMPING STOVE FOR WINTER  
BEST CAMPGROUND STOVE 
MSR REACTOR
SNOW PEAK LITEMAX
JETBOIL HELIOS
MSR XGK EX 
BRUNTON WIND RIVER RANGE 
PROS
PROS
PROS
PROS
PROS
Compact
Pot support sturdy
2 and 3 liter pots can be used
Dependable 
Durable 
Dependable
Inexpensive
Does great in cold weather
Burns different fuels 
Easily adjustable heat 
Wind friendly
Super lightweight
Compact
Does well in cold or high altitudes
15,000 BTU per burner
Boils quickly
 
Boils quickly
 
 
CONS
CONS
CONS
CONS
CONS
Hard to control heat
High carbon monoxide emissions
Expensive
Loud
Pricey
Pricey
Pot is not included
Igniter does not dependably light
Poor control of temperature
Not as portable
Igniter is not automatic
Fuel canister not included
Heavy in weight
Priming of fuel line required
 
Small
 
 
 
 
Approximately $140
Approximately $60
Approximately $150
Approximately $140
Approximately $315

JETBOIL HELIOS STOVE

The Jetboil Helios stove was rated as best stove for groups. There are 2 or 3 liter pots available which obviously would be better for more than 1 or 2 campers. It weighs 28 ounces so it is not as light as some of the others but it did get very high marks for efficiency. The stove itself fits inside the pot for packing. Testing found the Jetboil's boil rate a little off a few times but for the most part it clocked in on a 2 liter pot of boiling water in about 3 minutes.

It reportedly did very well in cold weather and does have a wind screen. It also burns isobutane-propane fuel.

If you are just cooking for 1 or 2 people, then the MSR Reactor or the Snow Peak LiteMax might be a better deal. It also has an automatic piezo igniter but several reviewers did report trouble getting it to consistently light first time.

If you want to add a 3 liter pot to the Jetboil Helios, you would have to purchase that separately at $50 so the Jetboil Helios Guide Stove at $160 would be a better deal as it is the same stove but you get both a 2 and 3 liter pot.

The Jetboil Helios Stove with one 2 liter pot sells for about $150 and is available as well on Amazon.

MSR XGK EX STOVE

The MSR XGK EX stove was voted best by many reviewers for camping stoves for high altitudes and winter conditions. Canister stoves reportedly perform badly at freezing temperatures or at high altitudes and it is thus recommended that multi-fuel stoves be used in these situations. The fuels that this stove can burn include white gas, kerosene, unleaded gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

The MSR XGK EX got high marks for stability and boiled water quickly. The magazine Outside claimed that it was the most reliable stove they had used.

The downsides to multi-fuel stoves is that they require priming so that would involve a longer setup time and after priming, etc. it is difficult to control the heat. One of the other drawbacks is that this stove is very noisy. This stove though was rated as excellent by many websites and by many camping magazines for extreme temperatures though or high elevations, as long as you accept the obvious downsides associated with the stove.

If you are not going into extreme temperatures with the stove or high altitudes, the MSR Reactor is a better stove being more compact and having faster boiling times, etc.

The MSR XGK EX sells for about $140 and is available on Amazon as well.

Camp Stove Runners Up

  • MSR Pocket Rocket (backpacker stove) - approximately $40
  • Snow Peak GigaPower Stove (backpacker stove) - approximately $50
  • Century Matchless Deluxe Stainless Steel 2-Burner Stove - approximately $80
  • Jetboil PCS - approximately $100
  • Optimus Nova/Nova+ approximately - $135
  • Brunton Profile Duo - approximately $85
  • Optimus Crux Lite - approximately $40
  • Primus Atle BBQ - approximately $90
  • MSR Whisperlite Internationale - approximately $80
  • Brunton Vapor AF - approximately $1150

 

Brunton Wind River Range Stove

The Brunton Wind River Range stove was voted best stove for campground usage. These are usually designated as car-camping trips where you plan to cook in the campground and for lots of people. This one was rated best overall because of its durability and many additional features. I actually looked at this one at REI and was impressed by it myself although the salesperson did point out to me that Brunton has not been around for as long as Coleman, which was always a personal favorite of ours.

This stove does have two 15,000 BTU burners, and comes with a storage compartment, plastic cutting board, windscreens and a removable stainless steel grate. I also included on my Amazon post the optional wash basin which I would think would be great! It sells for about $23 on Amazon.

One of the best things rated on this stove from multiple reviewers was the ability to adjust the heat so that the stove can cook without scorching or burning. Reviewers liked all the 'extra' things with this stove such as the cutting board, windscreens, removable grate and storage compartment - although those contribute to the weight since it weighs in at 23 pounds!

For something more portable, they recommended going back to the Jetboil Helios which weighs 23 ounces and comes with the 2 or 3 liter cooking pot but if campground camping is what kind of camping this stove is for, this is your pick!

This stove is sold on Amazon and is approximately $315.

My Pick

After looking over all those stoves and the specs on them, and also visiting our local REI store which is rather small and has only limited on-site products, I decided to go to Amazon just to see what they had in the Coleman line. I still can't believe that not one of their stoves made it into the BEST category but I did read a lot of the reviews and I think I'm convinced that I will buy one or the other of these 2 models.

Coleman 2-Burner Propane Stove   Approximately $60
This one weighs in at 11.8 pounds and both burners put out the same - 10,000 BTUs. Although some folks wrote that they thought more BTUs per burner would be nice, the price is still more affordable than the best pick stove at nearly $300. If you can't afford the higher price ticket, this is a good option and folks that reviewed this claimed that they had had theirs for upwards of 10 years and were still enjoying their stove. Coleman has been around for over 100 years so think that speaks for itself and they certainly were top of the line when we were in our camping years.

Coleman 2-Burner Dual Fuel Compact Liquid Fuel Stove   Approximately $90
This stove weighs 11.4 pounds and is equipped with 2 burners, one 11,500 BTU burner and one 9500 BTU burner. This stove uses clean-burning Coleman fuel or unleaded gas and 1 tank gives you about 2 hours of burn time. This stove can boil a quart of water in 4 minutes. It also folds up nicely for easy packing. It got rave reviews from family campers and although it is too heavy for backpacking, it appears to be top-of-the-line for campground camping. It is also a greener version of stove and thus environmentally friendly.

Both of these stoves would seem to be great values and more bang for the buck in my opinion - although the others certainly have their merits as well! Tough choice but I guess I'm going to have to decide on one here shortly.

More by this Author


Comments 15 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Good point, RT~ We should check ours as well!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

A good camp stove is an excellent product to have on hand during the winter season in case of power outages. You've reminded me to ask my husband to double-check the condition of our trusty Coleman this fall. Thanks for this comparison should we need another one or a new one.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks tankless~


tanklessheater 3 years ago from USA

I want to compare my http://onlinecampingstove.blogspot.com

Thanks for this so big comparison site.I ant to buy stove from your comparison system.Thanks for posting nice words for comparison stoves.


Bruce 4 years ago

Great hub. I have about three or four camping stoves. Each for a specific reason. As to which one is the best, well it depends on what you're doing and where you're going. My rule of thumb is that lighter the weight great for distance. Heavier is good for car camping. Kinda depends on your personal preference too. I got all of my stoves at http://campingstovesandmore.com.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, Eddy - kinda cold to be thinking about camping here but there is always spring~~


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A very useful hub and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon Author

I agree Gus - that would be one of my all time favorites from the 1970s onward~


Camping with Kids profile image

Camping with Kids 5 years ago from Maryland, USA

Good review information. But you still can't go wrong with a Coleman Camping Stove.

Gus


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks Jrsearam, did already purchase one for my son-in-law but someone else may benefit from your great recommendation! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave it.


jrsearam profile image

jrsearam 6 years ago from San Juan, PR

Hi there. I know this comment probably comes too late to help and you've already made your purchase, but I still wanted to suggest you look up the Svea 123. The most dependable trekking stove ever built! Happy trails!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

To be honest, I don't think you can go too wrong with any of them! Thanks so much John B for stopping by!


John B. 6 years ago

I am still torn. You have some very helpful info on your hub. Thanks


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks mquee for visiting! The Coleman drip coffee maker sounds like right up my alley....must have coffee or I cannot camp - much less function. I have a hub I have to do shortly on my camping experience with stoves - another ridiculous mess I got myself into - thanks again for commenting though and IF I still camped, I would have definitely bought the Coleman!


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

This is great for those who like camping out. The camping out experience is not totally enjoyable if you can't prepare good meals. Having a good cooking stove is a must. Coleman also makes a drip coffe maker that fits over a Coleman burner. It makes a great cup of coffee, one of my weaknesses. Thanks for a useful and enjoyable hub.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working