The Best Camping Stoves and Grills: Staff Picks

The humble two-burner still reigns, but our quest for fire has evolved

Ken Knapp|Updated June 8, 2023

15 reviews with an average rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars
Person feeding a fire at camp

Two-burners have dominated the camping stove market for years—and why not? It’s convenient to cook bacon and eggs side by side, or crisp chickpea hash while boiling water for your morning java. Of course, single-burner stoves remain a great choice when we need to save space in our car and don’t have an elaborate meal plan. 

But the number of burners is only one feature to consider when choosing a stove—you may also want to prioritize portability, size, fuel source and the cooker's environmental footprint. That's why this crop of stoves and grills found at REI Co-op includes a variety of options, from a freestanding version that feels a little like a traditional campfire (without the cleanup) to a smokeless stove that emits fewer emissions. Read on for our staff's top picks. 

Coleman is known for its durable, time-tested outdoor camping stoves, and the Cascade 222 is a sleek update on a classic. This cooker features two independently adjustable burners that can each deliver up to 11,000 British thermal units of heating power. That's enough to seamlessly sear a salmon filet or whip up a campsite stir-fry at a moment's notice. Plus, you won't have to worry about the wind ruining your culinary masterpiece—this stove has built-in shields on both sides that help protect flames from gusts.

Coleman is a brand that's been at the forefront of the camping scene for decades, and its gear is known to withstand years of adventure. "My 2-burner Coleman liquid fuel stove that I still use is over 35 years old," says Portland REI sales associate Steve Jackson, adding that he also has a Coleman gas lantern that is more than 60 years old.

The Cascade 222 has a sturdy aluminized steel cooktop that can support medium-size pots and pans, plus a latching lid that keeps everything secure when it's not in use. Says one customer-reviewer: "The stove is compact and very easy to take while traveling." This unit can run on propane cylinders (sold separately) or attach to a 5- to 20-pound propane tank with Coleman's High-Pressure 5-ft Propane Gas Hose.

To set up the stove, simply attach the fuel cylinder, turn the knob and use the automatic ignition like you would for a gas range at home—no need for fancy gadgets, complicated instructions or even a lighter. It's not the most fuel-efficient stove on the market (some others, like the Camp Chef, have a faster boil time), but it's a fan favorite that'll surely get the job done.

There's something soulful about cooking over a fire, whether you're watching a marshmallow turn golden and gooey on a roasting fork or warming a pot of chili mac over open flames. But, if you're camped in an area that doesn't allow DIY ground pits or you want to avoid the hassle of fire cleanup, check out the Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill. It lets you enjoy the best of both worlds: a cozy fire and a freshly grilled meal. (The breezy cleanup is just the cherry on top.)

The Takibi Fire & Grill is made of stainless steel and built to last many seasons outside. (And should something happen—like the grill rusting or a part breaking—Snow Peak provides a lifetime warranty).

Plus, it's portable and collapsible (making it easy to stow), so outdoor lovers who want to end their day with food over flames can take it anywhere they go. "I personally love cooking over the fire when I'm camping instead of using stoves most of the time," says Elizabeth Nguyen, a camp sales lead at the REI store in Atlanta, Georgia. "This can handle a 10-inch cast iron and still has room for cooking burgers and vegetables."

The kit comes with five pieces: a grill net, a grill bridge, the fireplace, a baseplate and a carrying case. (If you want to burn charcoal, you'll have to purchase the Fireplace Coal Bed separately.) This modular design allows whoever's playing chef to lower and raise the grill into three different positions, adjusting the heat intensity from a full scorch to a mellow simmer. The baseplate protects the ground from heat and ash, and the carrying case makes it easy to store and take anywhere.

One caveat: Some online customer-reviewers shared that they had trouble burning larger logs. You may have more success with small sticks and twigs. Still, customers appreciate this wood- and charcoal-powered grill for its versatility, packability and style. It'll make even the most novice camp cook feel like a master chef in the great outdoors.

BioLite raises the camp-kitchen bar with its CampStove 2+, a wood-burning, canister-free cooking setup that does everything from sizzle sirloin to charge your devices when you run out of power. And it's smokeless, thanks to a small, heat-generated fan that feeds the flames. This can amount to a lot fewer emissions compared to a traditional wood fire.

The main unit also features a 3,200-milliamp hour battery, a small 100 lumen LED light and a port for charging your phone. "It's for someone who needs to have their technology close by while camping," says Nguyen.

REI Sales Associate Jackson says this versatility makes it popular with far-out adventurers, like a journalist Jackson met who paddled the entire length of the Columbia River. The writer relied on the stove for cooking and to power his devices so he could document his journey, Jackson reports. "He said that there was plenty of wood along the river and that, other than some rust, he was very happy with its performance." The ability to create electricity for charging small devices using green power (from utilizing biomass and wind power) makes this a solid choice for multiday camping trips or anyone who likes to have a way to power their devices.

The CampStove surface is made of stainless-steel grates that can hold up to four standard-size hamburger patties or six hot dogs, which will come in handy if you've got a couple of little ones (or hungry mates) in tow. Plus, the burner temperature can be adjusted between high, medium and low for that just-right char on your camp steak (or just to heat your noodles quickly). Pitching a tent where there's not much wood? No problem. The stove also burns biomass pellets.

Telling ghost stories around the campfire is a rite of passage for most outdoorsy kids (and their parents), but with a historic drought in the American West and fire restrictions common throughout peak recreating months, s'mores-loving campers may have to get a bit more creative.

Enter the Ignik FireCan Portable Fire Pit, a compact and more-sustainable alternative to traditional wood fires (wood fires release more emissions). "It uses propane for a campfire experience, making it useable during [lower-level] burn-ban season," says REI sales associate Jackson.

The FireCan is an ammo box-style metal canister that holds a propane-fueled flame to give the look and feel of a traditional fire. It's easy to set up, even for first-timers—just attach a propane cylinder (sold separately), light the flame with a match or lighter and adjust the flame with a simple knob. This unit can burn for up to nearly 2.5 hours at max flame, and it produces no eye-singeing smoke or ash.

The Ignik FireCan is designed to be low-maintenance, making it ideal for car camping and backyard gatherings alike. It provides mega warmth and a cozy ambiance without the hassle of finding (or buying) logs, building a fire pit or cleaning up coals. Plus, it boasts a metal mesh that prevents sparks from flying out willy-nilly, helping to reduce wildfire risk. Our online reviewers love it too, calling it "the friend-maker" for its ability to draw in other chilly campers like moths to a, well, flame!

Jackson noted that, at this price point (plus the cost of a propane canister), this portable fire pit is more expensive than other stoves on this list. But it's worth it for campers who live in areas where burn bans are common, or for backyard stargazers who want to add some extra toasty vibes to their patio.

If you're in the market for a more traditional stove with the same level of portability, consider this one. The REI camp stove specialist who recommends the JetBoil Genesis loves both its versatility and its aesthetic: "It looks like it's something out of the future." Its compactness bona fides come from the fact that its two burners fold together so it can be slipped inside the included carrying case and JetBoil's 5-liter pot (not included) to make a clean, packable unit. That also makes this stove a great option when your camping vehicle of choice is a bike or backpack.

The Genesis' versatility comes from the ability to link a single fuel source to both your Genesis and many other JetBoil and Eureka propane stoves (adapter hose not included). "Your JetBoil backpacking stove can become an extra burner if you'd like," says the camp stove specialist. "That sets you up for the ultimate camp chef moment—frying bacon and eggs side by side at the same time you have water boiling for the coffee." You can also pair the Genesis with a compatible two-burner camp stove to create a group kitchen.

Our camping specialist shared another, more altruistic use for your Genesis: "It's a great stove for trail angels. It's so compact you can pack it in on a side trail to fry up a feast. That'll make you a hero to a whole lotta thru-hikers."

Not everyone needs a two-burner, which is why one-burner butane stoves like the Eureka SPRK+ Camp Stove also have a dedicated following. "One-burner butane stoves are smaller, lighter and more affordable than their two-burner propane counterparts," our REI camp specialist explains. A one-burner butane stove makes an ideal choice for people who have compact vehicles or less elaborate menu plans.

A low weight and a low price do not equate to low performance, though, as the Eureka SPRK+ Camp Stove is a truly impressive cooking appliance. Its solo 11,500-BTU burner eclipses the individual burner output on a basic two-burner stove. The SPRK+ also offers precise flame control from a rolling boil down to a simmer.

This stove also includes adjusters to keep your cookware level even when the cooking surface is not. Sides all around the burner shield it from breezes in any direction, and the stove also has a dedicated compartment to house your 8-ounce butane fuel bottle. Other nice touches include push-button ignition and a handy hard-sided carrying case.

Our camp specialist noted one other compelling reason for many REI customers to buy this stove in recent months. The SPRK+ is ideal for an emergency kit, something more and more of us are assembling these days. If severe weather, a natural disaster or a plain old power-grid failure happens, it's nice to be able to whip up a belly-warming batch of comfort food. Buy now

Related Eureka SPRK models: The Eureka SPRK Camp Stove is a little smaller, has a slightly less powerful burner (10,000 BTUs) and comes without leg levelers. It also costs less than the SPRK+.

Buying Advice

Aside from budget, which, let’s face it, is the starting point for most gear purchases, your choice is largely dictated by the size of your group and the complexity of your cuisine. Big groups require stoves with enough cooktop space for big pots and frypans. If your meal plans are uncomplicated, your group small and your vehicle space limited, then a compact two-burner (like the folding JetBoil Genesis) or a one burner (like the Eureka SPRK+ Butane Camp Stove) will work just fine and save you some coin in the process.

Why BTUs Matter 

Having a burner that puts out some serious heat is good for large groups because you can cook up a cauldron-size pot of stew for your extended family or friends. A powerful burner also gives you a full range of menu choices and speeds up prep time for any meal. A good stove might have 10,000-BTU burners (like the BioLite CampStove 2+ Complete Cook Kit and JetBoil Genesis 2-Burner Stove), but you can also find some with 20,000-BTU burners or even 30,000-BTU burners (Ignik FireCan Portable Fire Pit).

You might wonder why your camp stove needs more powerful burners than your typical home stove, which puts out about 7,000 BTUs per burner. The answer is simple: Wind isn’t a factor in your kitchen. You need more power outdoors because even a camping stove with good wind protection will have a flame that dances around when you’re trying to cook. 

Stove Choice Based on Fuel Source 

Most camping stoves (and several of the stoves in this roundup) use propane fuel, so fuel source isn’t necessarily your first consideration, but it is worth thinking about. Being able to hook to a bulk propane canister is a nice feature for festival-size cookouts or letting your stove do double duty on the back deck. Many stoves that use small propane canisters can be adapted for bulk canister use, too, (though check the manufacturer for directions). 

Compact butane stoves (like the Eureka SPRK+ Butane Camp Stove) have gained popularity in recent years, which is noteworthy because that’s also meant that butane fuel canisters are becoming more widely available. 

And, of course, there are other fuel sources as well—such as liquid-fuel or wood-fueled (Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill) options. 

Worthy Camp Stove Features 

Auto ignition: This push-button system sends a spark into the burner to light the stove—no matches required. Igniters are incredibly convenient, but they can wear out and are one of the stove components most cited in negative reviews. Interestingly, it’s a trend for most top stoves to include igniters, so you should always pack a lighter or matches as a backup. 

Pressure regulator: Propane and butane canister stove performance can lag when canister pressure drops, a scenario that can happen in below-freezing temps, at higher altitudes and as fuel in the canister gets low. So most canister camping stoves have a fuel regulator that prevents that from happening and keeps the heat output consistent. No-frills stoves lack this feature, which will make their cooking performance more uneven. 

Windscreens: Most two-burner stoves have windbreaks on three sides: The fold-up lid serves as one in the back, while two smaller fold-up side panels offer more modest windscreens on two sides. Some of the most compact stoves forgo windscreens altogether, which requires you to be more mindful about where you place them when you cook—and makes cooking in blustery weather super challenging. 

Leg levelers: Few stoves have this feature (only the Eureka SPRK+ Camp Stovein our roundup), but it’s handy because not every campsite or camp table is level. A slanted cooking surface complicates meal prep, and a canted cookpot can’t hold its full liquid capacity.

Methodology

We turned to seasoned REI camping specialists who have extensive knowledge about camping stoves. We also looked closely at feedback from customer reviewers, who might or might not be picky eaters, but are most definitely picky about their cooking gear.