What makes a good camp stove?

NCLRbear

Adventurer
I’ve been reading some threads on here about what the best stove is. I’ve seen a lot of people mention Partner or Camp Chef Everest and even jetboil. But what makes a good stove?

Is it all about btu’s? In that case the Camp Chef should take the cake at 20,000 btu (Hr)per burner. Even my cheap Coleman Triton puts out 11,000 btu per burner both beating the Partner at 10,000.
Or is about the diameter of the burner? My range at home has different size burners and the bigger ones get hotter faster and boil water real quick.
Living in California I cook on the beach and my next trip I’m cooking at 7,000 ft at 2200 hours. So I just need a propane stove. I also hardly ever snow camp but it does get cold in the morning in Death Valley too.
So what makes a good stove? I don’t want to drop four bills on a stove that will last forever but cook the same or worse than my cheap Coleman but I’ll happily spend that hard earned money on something that cooks like my range at home.
I’m also looking for a 22” so it can fit in my alu-box.Picture below shows me cooking on a guided trip during a sandstorm in DV.
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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Everybody has their own criteria. Mine depend on where I'm travelling.

For normal "domestic" tripping with my small family, I want Easy to light, easy to clean, good heat control. I use the catering style butane/propane single burners as they hit all these points at a low price and are easy to find space for. I supplement these with campfire cooking (when available) and/or a skottle when I'm occasionally cooking for 2 families or the recipe really calls for a big surface.

For a similar scenario, but if I were regularly cooking much larger meals (10+ people), I'd want more burners, surface area, and BTUs. If I were regularly snow camping, I'd take propane and butane off the list, and maybe even iso-butane if it were going to be really cold, leaving pretty much white-gas. I keep a 30-year-old MSR backpacking stove just for such occasions.

If I were going internationally, I want something that was easy to service and find fuel for. For a RTW trip outside North America, I'd probably take propane and butane off the list - most likely I'd go coleman dual fuel and just feed it gasoline and give it regular cleanings. I own several Coleman stoves and the reasons I switched to butane were (1) weight , (2) heat control - I kept burning my eggs with the coleman, and (3) ease of lighting. I hated doing the pump/prime cycle at dawn just to get coffee going, so I brought my first butane burner just in the coffee kit. It worked so well I started leaving the coleman at home.

IMHO, too much emphasis is placed on "rugged" for most casual users. My sub-$30 butane stoves are still working as new after many years of use, so I find the cost and weight of something as beefy as a Partner stove hard to justify unless I were really going to be abusing them or doing a ton of harsh travel in North America. (Remember, they were originally designed for rafters, so river life probably justifies that kind of construction.)

When I was backpacking, I was doing strictly ultralight, so I kept my meals limited to heating-water recipes with ziplock bag cooking, so I used a beer-can alcohol stove. A jetboil would have also been an option for trips longer than 3-4 days. (The weight of the isobutane canisters starts to even out against the weight of alcohol at that point.)
 

wildo

Member
Wannabe chef here who sent more time thinking about my set up than time actually cooking out on trips. Here are some considerations that came across my mind. I use the Partner Steel Cook Partner 22" 'suitcase' double burner as it was highly recommended by the community here back when I first started in 2014/15.

These are a little heavy to me though commercial-use quality. My biggest gripe is that it's a pain to clean and I prefer an ignition built in (you'll need a lighter to light it).

The other issue is that custom size hoses require custom size ordering as the fitting appears to be unique to Partner Steel. The store that makes custom length hosing here doesn't make them for this type of valve so I have to order direct from Partner Steel.

The grill is welded on so to clean the surface at the lower portion of the stove where food bits and oil splatters on, requires baby hands to fit between the slots to wipe. I find myself using a lot of paper towels and a spatula to clean it in quadrants. If the grill surface was removable, it'd facilitate cleaning much better.
 

Inyo_man

Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.
I'm a fan of an old white gas Coleman and a Dutch Oven.
...never had drama and have used unleaded gas in the Coleman Duel Fuel while traveling out of the country (which is nice).

Cheers
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Everybody has their own criteria. Mine depend on where I'm travelling.

For normal "domestic" tripping with my small family, I want Easy to light, easy to clean, good heat control. I use the catering style butane/propane single burners as they hit all these points at a low price and are easy to find space for. I supplement these with campfire cooking (when available) and/or a skottle when I'm occasionally cooking for 2 families or the recipe really calls for a big surface.

For a similar scenario, but if I were regularly cooking much larger meals (10+ people), I'd want more burners, surface area, and BTUs. If I were regularly snow camping, I'd take propane and butane off the list, and maybe even iso-butane if it were going to be really cold, leaving pretty much white-gas. I keep a 30-year-old MSR backpacking stove just for such occasions.

If I were going internationally, I want something that was easy to service and find fuel for. For a RTW trip outside North America, I'd probably take propane and butane off the list - most likely I'd go coleman dual fuel and just feed it gasoline and give it regular cleanings. I own several Coleman stoves and the reasons I switched to butane were (1) weight , (2) heat control - I kept burning my eggs with the coleman, and (3) ease of lighting. I hated doing the pump/prime cycle at dawn just to get coffee going, so I brought my first butane burner just in the coffee kit. It worked so well I started leaving the coleman at home.

IMHO, too much emphasis is placed on "rugged" for most casual users. My sub-$30 butane stoves are still working as new after many years of use, so I find the cost and weight of something as beefy as a Partner stove hard to justify unless I were really going to be abusing them or doing a ton of harsh travel in North America. (Remember, they were originally designed for rafters, so river life probably justifies that kind of construction.)

When I was backpacking, I was doing strictly ultralight, so I kept my meals limited to heating-water recipes with ziplock bag cooking, so I used a beer-can alcohol stove. A jetboil would have also been an option for trips longer than 3-4 days. (The weight of the isobutane canisters starts to even out against the weight of alcohol at that point.)
Can't say it any better, this ^^^^ hits all the points. Best stove depends on where you are, cooking for how many, what do you eat.

That said, I like white gas, best performing fuel at high elevations, simple to refuel, easy to light, back packer or gourmet chef theres a model to suit anyone. I only like propane if it is a permanent hookup off a 20# tank.
 

shade

Well-known member
The grill is welded on so to clean the surface at the lower portion of the stove where food bits and oil splatters on, requires baby hands to fit between the slots to wipe. I find myself using a lot of paper towels and a spatula to clean it in quadrants. If the grill surface was removable, it'd facilitate cleaning much better.
If you're referring to a Partner Steel stove, the entire grid & burner assembly is removable; at least, it is on every one I've seen. Lift at the back first to release the tension between the burner tubes and the valves, then lift it straight up to fully remove it.

This isn't my stove, so I don't know why it's so filthy, but this is the grid & burner assembly:

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I don't find it difficult at all to keep my PS stove clean. I set the grid & burner assembly to the side as soon as I'm done with the stove to speed cooling. By the time I'm done eating and cleaning, it's cool enough to go back into the case.
 
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wildo

Member
If you're referring to a Partner Steel stove, the entire grid & burner assembly is removable; at least, it is on every one I've seen. Lift at the back first to release the tension between the burner tubes and the valves, then lift it straight up to fully remove it.
OMG. All these years and I had just discovered this thanks to your post. Mine was so tight that now that I had forced it apart, it comes off like a piece of cake. Thank you.
 

dcg141

Adventurer
I have 7 stoves now. I gave a couple away to my son. Propane, alcohol, butane, white fuel, singles, doubles heavy, lightweight I have a lot of stoves. Use them all depending on where I go and how I'm hauling. The 2 most used are my Camp Chef Mountaineer and my Coleman Exponent multi fuel. My favorite stove is my Coleman 60's era 425C. Found it at a estate sale still in the box.
 

geojag

Member
My considerations on picking a stove were fuel availability, sufficient power, controllable power, easy cleaning, and size. I have been very happy with my recently purchased Snow Peak Baja burner, but stove preferences are very personal.
 
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My considerations on picking a stove were fuel availability, sufficient power, easy cleaning, and size. I have been very happy with my recently purchased Snow Peak Baja burner, but stove preferences are very personal.
Agreed; and almost more consideration on fuel choice in many aspects. I have a lot of high altitude experience from my military days but lesser camping not so much. I'd like to make sure my stove that will be dedicated to the vehicle is going to work perfectly in all aspects from sea level beach life to high altitude winter life. I have small MSR multi-fuel and Jet-Boil for backpacking and vehicle use and Coleman stove with green single and 1lb propane mounted on the vehicle. I can cook anywhere but what is the best all around; I just do not know!
 

spressomon

Expedition Leader
I have owned and extensively used many different portable/"camp" stoves over many decades including several different Cook Partner stoves of varying sizes including my current 22. I like the durability of the CP's but one thing would make it even better (for me): Either a dual ring burner where flame spread for larger pans is better matched or one larger diameter burner on the 2 burner variant.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
I like my Coleman, it is a 1974 425E.

Cooks eggs and steaks just fine for me.

The last trip we were on, I glance over at another guy's truck as we were all standing around talking and had to chuckle at how beautifully simple his coffee maker was:



I don't drink coffee so it is neither here nor there for me.
 

llamalander

Active member
20k BTU from the Camp Chef is impressive, the simmer is fairly good too. I've found this closest to cooking on a gas range, but more powerful! Some folks take issue with the plastic latches or the basic sheetmetal build, but it all holds up and cleans up pretty well. I have had the regulator freeze-up at altitude when running both burners full tilt, but only once. Ours is called "One Time", thanks to the faultless ignition, and it feeds off a 10# tank most of the camping season.
 

Joanne

Adventurer
I think that everyone has different criteria. I tend to cook for groups, or at a fixed camp for a week or more. I have a CampChef weekender (now discontinued) that I use unless it's a short weekend camp. Then it's a Coleman white gas stove. Of course this is way too large and heavy for someone who wants to overland and be on the move almost every day.



Joanne
 

BagiMT

Naturalist
I was and to a point still a stove junky. I had rite at 20 stoves and up until a year and a half ago. I am down to 6 stoves now. As was mentioned above I had different stoves for different situations. My go to for 50 years is my Coleman 2 burner. I generally carry fuel when traveling, so with the Coleman I have fuel with me already. The pumping is not a problem and it just works! I also have the Jet Boil that I can heat water for my morning coffee or for the times I want to go lite.

If your traveling and have a specialty type of fuel it can take some work to find that. Regular gas is easy to find and I am already going to need to stop there anyway. To make it easy for refilling I bought a 1 gallon UN style gas can. It is good to have along even around town. I have given out the fuel more then once to a person who ran out of gas.

Is there a perfect stove? No! There are many perfect stoves. They are all just a heat source is all. Depending on your situation, each has its place.

Da Frenchman
I am also a big fan of the Coleman stove that burns regular car gas, especially for longer trips. Fill up when you pump gas and carry some extra. Once you learn how to operate and clean them they are almost as easy to use as a propane stove. Also have a MSR Whisperlight that I have had for 25 years for backpacking, burns different fuels but mainly use it with car gas. Cheap and easy. My wife recently got a JetBoil to quickly boil water for coffee when we don't want to setup the Coleman. Pretty amazing how fast that thing is!

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