Portable gas stoves have a lot to offer for campers, hikers, big outdoor events. But which ones are the best and what should you look for?
Whatever you need to do—boil, deep fry in oil, grill, or just warm up some food—a portable gas stove lets you do it all.
Since portable stoves typically have one or two burners, its easy to use for a wide variety of cooking jobs.
Portable gas stoves come in a variety of sizes and shapes, with either hook-up for standard-size propane tanks or 16oz cylinders.
Of course, you don’t have to use just propane, as butane, isobutane, and blends of propane and isobutane.
You can also choose from single burners to as many as you need in your own, customized setup.
Portable stoves provide consumers with a lot of options, depending on food preferences and the size of the group.
How to Choose the Right Portable Gas Stove
There are several factors that go into picking out the best portable stove for you or you and your family.
We’ve touched on some features above, but there is a lot more to it than that. You should also consider what you are going to need it for. Are you going camping, hunting, or family vacation?
Are you going to camp in a tent, an RV, a pull-behind, or a pop-up?
Maybe you’re just looking for an easy outside stove for family gatherings around the pool. The portable gas stove you choose should match your needs.
Portability truly becomes a factor if you’re planning on hiking, primitive camping, or just going on a solo adventure.
In those cases, the size of the portable gas stove should be as small and streamlined as you can get it. A small, portable gas stove is also easier to set up and quickly take down.
Durability and Longevity
A portable gas stove is going to be put in harm’s way a lot more than your stove appliance safely sitting in your kitchen.
In a lot of ways, you get exactly what you pay for and you should spend a premium price on premium, long-term materials that go into the manufacturing of the stove.
Durability and longevity lead us directly to price. There are a lot of things in this world you can get away with purchasing cheap.
A solid, dependable, long-term portable gas stove isn’t one of them. That doesn’t mean you should let the manufacturing pull a fast one on you.
But a high-efficiency stove will save you money in terms of durability and overall fuel consumption.
Type of Fuel it Uses
This gets tricky for those who aren’t in the know. Butane is cheap but it also burns the least efficiently and suffers in cold and hot weather.
Propane is the most popular but it’s heavier in a backpack and has trouble in freezing weather.
Isobutane is the most efficient and it’s not going to break your back from carrying it in your backpack.
Unfortunately, you will pay a pretty penny for it. The best type of fuel is a combination of propane and isobutane.
It’s heavier than isobutane alone but not as heavy as pure propane. Where propane suffers in ice-cold weather, isobutane rises to the occasion.
You get the best of both worlds with a combination of propane and isobutane, without having to spend as much money.
How Many Burners Do You Need?
This is often the sticking point with some people and they often make the mistake of purchasing a portable stove with too few burners.
For the most part, unless you are hiking or backpacking solo, you want at least two burners. That way, you can cook two things at once.
Even with two, it’s easier to support a small family of four or a small gathering, especially if you have large pots and pans with you.
Granted, dual burners will definitely eat through your stores of gas much quicker but there’s a drawback to everything, unfortunately.
Sure, the first instinct is to go with the stove burner that burns and cooks stuff. Some burners come with dials and knobs and others are digital. Some come with a number of accessories, such as carrying totes, utensils, and cooking instruments.
Then there is the number of BTUs the stove outputs and electric ignition features. Some of these things make for a more convenient cooking capability.
However, none of the tech on some of the more modern portable stoves does anything additional that you can’t do yourself.
In other words, it’s simply a matter of personal taste. If you frequently carry around matches or a lighter, is there any real need for an electric ignition?
If you’re packing light for hiking, you really don’t need the convenience of an additional carrying case.
Digital is easy to look at but an analog knob will likely last longer and provides you with the same information at a lower cost.
We could go on, but you probably get the point. In a lot of ways, you get what you pay for and in most, you don’t need it.
Our Top 3 Portable Propane Picks
Everybody has to have a favorite and the three on our list are pretty outstanding portable gas stoves.
1. MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove (For Hikers)
If you’re looking for portability, it doesn’t get any better than this. The MSR is merely a single, small contraption with a three-point base that houses the burner mechanism and a place to set your pot, pan, etc.
It’s a bit on the expensive side, at $169.95, but you can use any of the above-listed fuel sources with it, including “jetboil,” the colorful term for propane and isobutane combination.
- Quick swap couplers for different fuel sources
- Aluminum mixer tube
- Includes a fuel pump and windscreen
- Accepts propane, white gas, kerosene, and propane/isobutane
- Designed for all manner of cooking
- Stainless steel design
- Includes inverter for excellent cold-weather performance
2. Camp Chef Everest 2x High-Pressure Stove (Camping)
This dual burner stove comes equipped with a fold-down enclosure for east carrying and portability.
At 20,000BTUs of heat output, there is very little you can’t cook with the Camp Chef. It includes a matchless ignition system and excellent temperature controls.
- Nickel-coated steel cooking grate
- Manufactured for a 1lb propane cylinder
- Lid locks for easy carrying
- High-pressure cast aluminum burners
- Stainless steel drip tray
- 20,000BTUs of heating power
3. Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Stove (Add-On Stove)
The Jetboil Genesis is the kind of portable gas stove you can add on to, like LEGOs, or subtract when you don’t need them.
Compatible with additional Jetboil-compatible stoves. At the point of purchase, it comes with two flat, circular burners that are compact and lightweight.
- Folding dual-burners
- Attachable windscreen
- 10,000BTU heating system
- Comes with a 5-liter Jetboil Flux-ring boiling pot
- Compatible with 16.4oz propane bottles
- Add or subtract burner system designed for as many or few as you need
- The entire system folds into the Flux pot for easy transport
- Comes with a carrying bag
All Things Considered
Portable gas stoves are a good investment, depending on how well you know your camping gear and what you plan on doing.
Hopefully, the above information will serve you well as a general guide.
It’s a good idea to ignore the noise of marketing and go with what fits your needs, not with what’s flashy and generally useless.