Family Camping Stoves – Five Features to Look For

The classic two-burner camping stove has not changed a great deal, since Coleman® introduced their model 425 stove in 1948; a version of which is still available from the company today. Gone is the white gas and the sometimes finicky hand-pump, but today's crop of two-burner propane camping stoves are immediately identifiable to anyone who is familiar with the older white gas models. Here are five important features to look for, when shopping for a dual-burner camping stove:

  • Stable cooking surface. A single grate over the top of both burners provides much more flexibility for cooking with different sized pots, pans, griddles and dutch ovens, than smaller grates over each burner.
  • Plenty of distance between burners. A two-burner camping stove is not very useful if you can only fit one pot or frying pan on the stove, at a time. Look for stoves that offer plenty of space between the burners, so that you can scramble eggs and cook a pot of coffee at the same time.
  • Ease of cleaning. Like every piece of camping gear, the family camping stove is going to be used, abused and generally flogged. Smooth, wipe-down surfaces that are easy to access are best. Stainless steel is always a real plus, when it comes to the cooking grate and the drip-tray around the burners.
  • BTU's – the more, the better. The old white-gas model 425 could put out 11,000-plus BTU's on the main burner, and it could maintain that temperature at high altitudes. The newer propane stoves have a bad reputation for their performance dropping-off at altitude but, honestly, we regularly camp at 9,000 feet in the Sierras and have not experienced any problems.
  • Wind screen. An integral wind screen around the cooking surface, like the classic Coleman 425 design, is most important when trying to light the burners, whether the stove has an integral ignition system, or not. However, a wind screen also helps to contain the heat around the burners, greatly aiding the cooking process in windy weather.

The two-burner family camping stove is a rugged and reliable piece of gear that will serve your family for many years to come. The newer propane models are easy to light and provide ample heat for just about any kind of stovetop cooking.

Happy camping!