Choosing a camp stove for camping and emergencies

Stove types

There are essentially two types of stoves, lightweight backpacking stoves, and larger camping stoves. The backpacking stoves have one burner and are extremely light. This stove can go right into your Go bag. Camping stoves generally have two burners and are relatively heavier, but still convenient enough to fold up and throw in the back of your car. This stove can go into the storage area next to your Go bags. After you decide which type of stove you’re looking for there are a couple things to consider. 

Types of fuel

What kind of fuel will it burn? Propane is a common fuel for both backpacking and camping stoves. Propane canisters are easy to store, are sold everywhere, and the pressurized canisters are simple to use; just screw on the tank and light up the stove. 

Backpacking stoves often burn white gas, a liquid similar to kerosene. A great, hot burning fuel, but not one I would want to store in a bag. There are also wood burning stoves which are efficient and extremely lightweight, however, not very convenient in your home or an urban environment. You should also avoid butane which is harder to buy and doesn’t work well in cold weather. You want to have the best tools for cooking, and heat makes a difference. 

Stove output

How many BTUs? Just like your BBQ, stove performance is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. The higher the BTU rating the faster your stove will cook food. You don’t need high BTUs for a pan of eggs, but when it comes to heating soup and boiling water, you don’t want to waste time. For a camping stove don’t consider anything below 10k BTUs. Backpacking stoves look for BTUs above 9k. 

Stove extras

A few other things to consider. Look for good wind protection to help protect the flame. A push button ignition system is a great way to start your stove without matches. Finally, I said how important high BTUs are for your stove, but make sure your stove has a good micro adjustment nob so you can simmer or sauté with more control.


Camp Chef Everest 2 Burner Stove

This two burner stove has all the features that would make it perfect for cooking, easy to wipe down top, wind flaps, push button ignition and an easy to remove grill which makes it simple to clean. One thing really stands above the rest though, 20,000 BTUs. All comparable stoves are generally 10,000 BTUs which means it takes far longer to boil water. It also has a very responsive control knob which allows me to turn the flame way down to simmer mushrooms or get just the right temperature for pancakes. Check it out on Amazon.

MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Ultralight Camping and Backpacking Stove

This tiny stove can easily be packed into your Go bag and is super simple to use. The propane canister you screw it onto becomes the base of the stove. There are two versions of this stove. The deluxe has a pressure regulator which means better performance in low temperatures, and includes a push button push-start. Check it out on

What can you do right now?

If you already have a camping stove place it next to your Go bag right now. You can always get better gear later. The goal is not to be done, but to do one little thing today that makes you better prepared for the future.