fbpx

How to choose the best campervan stove for van life

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for more info.

Choosing the right campervan stove for van life will be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make.

It will impact what types of food you cook, whether you want to cook both indoors and outdoors, and which power source you’ll be using inside your van.

There are three main types of stoves you can use in a campervan: propane, butane and induction.

Propane and butane campervan stoves are good if you don’t have a fancy solar setup, which is required to power an electric induction stove.

Induction stoves for a campervan cook quickly and have great temperature control, and are popular among van lifers who have solar panels, an inverter and deep cycle batteries.

Since we live the van life in a tiny Chevy Astro van, our top pick is the single-burner Half Jen camping stove, which we use with a 6-quart pressure cooker.

We love using this campervan stove both inside and outside our van, depending on the weather. It’s small, versatile, and has great simmer control. The main downside is the price.

For coffee or simple soups like ramen, we use a JetBoil Backpacking stove because it boils water quickly and is easy to deal with.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the best campervan stoves and how to pick the right one for your particular campervan kitchen.

The Best
 

The Best 3 Campervan Stoves

Best Propane/Butane Combo
Gas ONE Stove
Gas ONE Stove
9.7

The Gas One is an affordable campervan stove that operates on either propane or butane, making it incredibly flexible.

  • 15,000 BTUs
  • Heavy duty windblock
  • Gas flow cut-off mechanism
Best Induction
Duxtop Cooktop
Duxtop Cooktop
9.6

This induction cooktop takes quite a bit of power but gives you an excellent range of 200W to 1800W for any type of cooking.

  • 200W-1800W range
  • Low profile 
  • Easy to clean
Best Propane
JetBoil Half Gen
JetBoil Half Gen
9.1

We use this rugged, high BTU stove in our campervan. We love the simmer control, portability and ease of use.

  • 10,000 BTUs
  • Full simmer control
  • Works down to 20°F

Scroll down to read details descriptions and even more campervan stove options below.

Or, Jump to our reviews section now.

The best two-burner campervan gas stoves

Two burner camping stoves for van life are sure to remind you of family trips in your youth.

They’re the most popular type of camping stove and for good reason. Two burner camping stoves are lightweight, portable and great for cooking versatile meals.

If you need coffee at the same time you’re cooking breakfast, a two-burner campervan cooker is definitely for you.

Here are our top picks for the best two-burner campervan stoves. 

Eureka Two Burner Stove

Best Two Burner
Eureka Two Burner Stove
9.8/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Two burners @ 10,000 BTUs apiece
  • 12 pounds
  • Matchless ignition
  • Excellent simmer control
  • 23 x 12.8 x 4 inches

The Eureka Ignite Plus is a popular campervan stove at REI, and for good reason.

Reviewers back up claims that this campervan cooker has excellent simmer control, a roomy cooktop and powerful BTUs.

The plus-size is bigger than typical two-burner camping stoves and can fit normal pots and pans. If you’re traveling with more than two people or you enjoy a larger cooking surface, this stove is for you.

A stainless steel cooking grate and drip tray make cleanup a breeze.

Amazingly, we couldn’t find any negative reviews for the Eureka Ignite Plus on REI’s website.

Coleman Gas Camping Stove

Best Budget Two-Burner
Coleman Gas Camping Stove
9.6/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Two burners @ 10,000 BTUs apiece
  • 10 pounds
  • Matchless ignition
  • Mediocre simmer control
  • Not good in windy conditions
  • 21.9 x 13.7 4.1 x inches

Many people swear by the familiar green camping stove of their youth: the Coleman Classic. Sadly, the hardy construction of Coleman stoves has gone downhill over the years, with many reviewers complaining about cheap parts and construction.

However, this stove is small, lightweight and a good value for the price. If you’re looking for an affordable stove that works in calm conditions on occasional camping trips, the Coleman Classic is for you.

Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove

Best Folding Two Burner
Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Camping Stove
9.6/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Two burners @ 10,000 BTUs apiece
  • 9 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Matchless ignition
  • Great simmer control
  • 9.8 x 4.6 inches

The JetBoil Genesis is not a cheap option for a two-burner stove for van life, but people who go this route don’t have many complaints. JetBoil stoves are hardy, robust, and made with high-quality parts.

 This compact, folding stove comes nested between a 5-liter FluxPot and a 10-inch ceramic skillet, which are included.

The JetBoil Genesis’ portable size makes it a hit among van lifers. It has excellent simmer control and can be attached to other Johnson Outdoor products such as the Luna Satellite Burner or the Eureka camping stove.

Reviewers say they can’t imagine going back to a Coleman after using this campervan cooker.

 On the flip side, a couple of people complained about regulators going out in the JetBoil Genesis, but this doesn’t seem like a widespread problem.

Also, the JetBoil system easily scratches the pots and pans when packed away. We’d recommend wrapping a microfiber towel around the stove before placing it inside the 5-liter pot.

Is the JetBoil Genesis out of your budget?

Check out our other favorite two-burner foldable camping stove, the Coleman Fold-and-Go Stove ($100-$130)


The best single-burner campervan stove

The best single-burner camping stoves for van life are great for people looking for minimalist gear, or as an addition to a two-burner stove.

Personally, when camping in my van I’ve only used single-burner stoves, and it’s plenty. You can cook amazing one-pot meals, and can prop the stove on almost any surface.

We boondocked in Sequoia National Park and cooked on a rock with our one-burner stove. 

Here are the best one-burner camping stoves we’ve found

Jet Boil Half Gen

Best Single Burner
Jet Boil Half Gen
9.4/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • One burner @ 10,000 BTUs 
  • 3 pounds, 8 ounces
  • Matchless ignition
  • Great simmer control
  • 9.5 x 4 inches

The fiery little Jet Boil Base Camp Half Gen stove blasts out 10,000 BTUs and is guaranteed to operate in temperatures as low as 20 degrees.

This campervan stove is half of the full Jet Boil Base Camp two-burner stove shown above, and can also be attached to other JetBoil products like the Luna Satellite Buner. 

The satellite burner option means you can make coffee and breakfast at the same time with this hardy stove.

This is the campervan stove we use when out camping in our Astro van, and I can’t say enough good things about it. The only suck parts are the windscreen, which doesn’t work at all (plastic!), and the plastic handles on the non-stick pot that comes with this stove.

We use a pressure cooker with the Jet Boil Base Camp Half Gen and it works like a breeze, with great simmer control and powerful BTUs.

Gas ONE Dual Fuel Propane/Butane Stove

Best Budget Single-Burner
Gas ONE Dual Fuel Propane/Butane Stove
9.6/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • One burner @ 8,000 BTUs
  • 3 pounds
  • Matchless ignition
  • Good flame control

Many campers swear by Gas One stoves, and the Gas One 3400-G is no exception. This compact, lightweight campervan cooker runs on either propane or butane, so you’ll always have a fuel option no matter what you find in the local camping store.

This small, one-burner stove for van life even comes with a carrying case, so you can cart around and store it with ease. Butane often doesn’t work in cold weather, so reviewers love the propane option.

You can even use an adaptor hose to hook this small campervan stove up to a larger, refillable bottle. If you’re looking for an affordable, reliable, small camping stove for van life, the Gas One Dual Zone Stove is your best bet.

 

Best induction campervan stove for van life

If you don’t want to go with gas, we highly recommend an induction cooktop for a campervan.

An induction cooktop for a camper van offers precise temperature control for simmering. You also don’t have to worry about stopping to grab another bottle of propane when you’re out in the boonies.

The main downside is they use a lot of power, and you’ll need solar panels, an inverter and deep-cycle batteries to use this type of stove in your campervan.

Duxtop 1800W Portable Induction Cooktop

Best Induction
Duxtop 1800W Portable Induction Cooktop
9.7/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Wattage: 200-1800
  • Temp Settings: 15 ranging from 140°F to 460°F.
  • Weight: 7 pounds

The Duxtop portable induction stove for a campervan doesn’t get as hot as some other induction cooktops, but does offer a larger wattage range.

Reviewers are very happy with this particular induction stove, saying it heats up to 350°F in under a minute. Way faster than a propane stove!

This cooktop comes with a 170-minute countdown timer. It’s one of the highest-reviewed induction cooktops on Amazon.

You might also like: Jackery Explorer 500 Review, a Portable Power Station for Camping

Best camping stoves that don’t use gas

Man pulls out a tray of food using the Go Sun Solar Stove
The Go Sun Solar Portable Stove cooks your dinner using the sun

Some van lifers out there want to use a campervan stove that’s more environmentally friendly. Using a solar or wood-burning camp stove means you don’t need to remember to bring propane or butane on your trip. You also significantly reduce waste as you’re not throwing gas canisters in the trash.

Here are our top favorite stoves that can cook a delicious meal without propane or butane.

GOSUN Solar Oven Sun Cooker

Best Solar Cooker
GOSUN Solar Oven Sun Cooker
9.5/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Oven volume: 3 pounds of food
  • Unit weight: 7 pounds
  • Max Temperature: 550 degrees
  • Unit Closed Size: 24” long x 8” tall x 5” wide

This portable, lightweight solar oven is an amazing solution to the waste problem caused by disposable gas canisters. The Go Sun Sport can roast, bake or steam a meal in about twenty minutes, with internal temperatures reaching 550 degrees!

The outdoor temperature and wind have little to do with this stove’s performance.

All it needs is direct sunlight, with a great rule of thumb being if you can see your hand’s shadow, the stove will work.

You’d be surprised by the diversity of meals you can prepare with a solar cooker. Anything from cookies, to bread, to pasta sauce, to french toast to a salmon bake. 

BioLite Campstove

Best Wood Burning
BioLite Campstove
9.6/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • One grill with an adjustable flame
  • Converts heat into 5-watts of usable electricity
  • Contains battery to store heat from wood fires
  • Adjustable legs
  • 17 lbs. 14.7 oz.
  • 18.1 x 17.5 x 15 – 23 inches

If you want the taste of food cooked on a grill without the smoke, you might just fall in love with the BioLite Base Camp Woodburning Stove. This amazing stove for van life can fit 8 burgers on its grill, which has an adjustable flame. 

This stove works by using thermoelectric technology which converts heat to electricity. That electricity charges an internal 2,200 mAh lithium-ion battery and powers a fan to increase the efficiency of the fire.

To boot, this wood-burning stove for van life is smart! It has an LED dashboard which lets you monitor both the fire and electricity. Plus, there’s a USB light that illuminates the stove for nighttime cooking. Talk about a fancy fire!

 

Solo Stove Campfire

Runner Up Wood Burning
Solo Stove Campfire
9.7/10 Our Score

At a glance:

  • Biomass burning camping stove
  • Natural convection
  • Stainless steel
  • Low smoke
  • Can cook for up to 4 people
  • 2.2 pounds
  • 6.7 x 7 inches

Just a casual glance around your campsite will reveal fuel for this small, but powerful, wood-burning camping stove. The Solo Stove Campfire Stove uses sticks, twigs, pinecones and any other biomass you find laying around.

A cooking ring in the stove directs heat towards the center of your pot for reliable, high-heat cooking. 

This stove gets great reviews on Amazon and is clean-burning. Also super environmentally-friendly!

 

Things to consider before you buy a campervan stove

There’s a lot to think about before you buy a campervan cooker.

For one – do you want to cook inside or outside your van, or both?

We love the flexibility of being able to cook inside or out, but some people like to have their stove permanently mounted inside their van.

Do you want one burner, or two?

We survive just fine with one burner and two pots, which we rotate on the stove if we’re cooking a larger meal. Mostly, we just do one-pot meals with our pressure cooker.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to look at the BTUs and the simmering ability of a campervan stove.

Also, you’ll need to consider the type of power, the stove’s ability to block wind if you’re cooking outside and ignition type.

We’ll walk you through each consideration when choosing the best stove for a campervan.

Feel free to skip ahead from item to item, or read through everything.

Campervan Gas Cookers: Propane versus Butane

Campervan gas cookers use either propane and butane. There is also iso-butane mix, but that type of fuel is usually reserved for smaller backpacking stoves.

Both butane and propane are combustible fuels made from petroleum. However, they cannot be interchanged on a campervan stove unless you have the Gas-One Dual Fuel Stove.

LiveStrong says butane and propane have the exact same heat output, but butane has 12% more energy. That means a butane canister will outlast a propane canister of the same size.

Some people swear by butane stoves as they are smaller and cheaper, but butane can be very hard to find. I’ve hunted near and far for a butane canister in the middle of nowhere when in my campervan, and it isn’t fun.

The scarcity of butane means when you find it, it’s more expensive, and there’s no option for a refillable bottle.

To boot, butane doesn’t work if you’re in any temperature that requires a jacket. This is warm weather fuel. Propane, on the other hand, works when it’s chilly outside, so you’ll definitely get that cup of morning joe.

We recommend propane for your campervan stove due to the above factors.

Propane is everywhere, works in cold temperatures, and we love the option to hook up a larger, refillable propane canister. Please note that most propane camp stoves come with the hookups for a 16oz bottle. You’ll have to purchase a separate adaptor to use one of the larger, 5-gallon tanks.

Is your heart set on a butane stove? This butane Iwatani stove one is a good bet.

Camp Chef Everest campervan stove on a camping table with a coffee percolater
Photo: Camp Chef Everest. This campervan gas cooker can be used both inside and outside a van.

The size and weight of your campervan stove

Size and weight are big factors when considering the best campervan cookers.

One reason we initially bought a one-burner butane stove is that it’s small and easy to store. It’s the same deal with our Jet Boil Half Gen stove.

Most tabletop two-burner propane stoves ring in at 16 pounds or less. If you’re super worried about weight and space, you could go with the Jet Boil Base Camp system, but that’s also one of the most expensive.

Want the smallest stove ever for your campervan? You can get a single-burner JetBoil backpacking stove. If you’re careful enough, you can even balance a pot on top. These stoves have almost zero simmer control, so we don’t really recommend them for advanced cooking.

The ignition type of your campervan stove

There are two ways to light a campervan stove: with a match or with the push of a button.

We definitely prefer to button-pressing types, as it keeps your hands far away from the flame. However, buttons, like anything, can break. This happened to our JetBoil Flash backpacking stove, so now, we always carry matches.

You will pay for the convenience of a push-button ignition. They are a bit more expensive than their counterparts.

No matter what type of ignition you have, always have matches or a lighter on hand.

Sausages cooking in a cast iron two-burner campervan cooker with trees and sunlight in the background

The number of BTUs your campervan stove emits

A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, measures the amount of heat a gas burner on a campervan stove gives off. One BTU will raise the heat of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. You can also think of one BTU as the heat of one match.

To put this into perspective, your average home kitchen stove will pack about 7,000-10,000 BTUs per burner. Some burners, meant to simmer, put out 3,000-5,000 BTUs.

The higher the BTUs, the faster your food will cook, but a powerful stove also requires more fuel. Some of the best campervan stoves, like the Camp Chef Everest, push out an astonishing 20,000 BTUs.

With these stoves, you better have extra bottles on hand or hook up to a larger, refillable propane canister.

Jump to our reviews section now.

Your campervan stove’s simmer control

If you’re a cook who likes finesse in your outdoor meals, you’ll want to pick a campervan stove with good simmer control. Simmer control is a stove’s ability to operate at a lower heat without burning out.

Some campervan cookers are notorious for having poor simmer control. They’re either in the “really hot” position or off. Some campers complain these stoves burn their food and ruin their camping pots.

If you’re just boiling water or cooking high heat, fast meals, simmer control doesn’t matter as much. However, if you’re scrambling eggs, cooking pancakes or slow-roasting a piece of fish, you’ll definitely want simmer control.

Another key factor to simmer control is to check out your campervan stove’s windscreen if you plan on doing outdoor cooking. Good windscreens on campervan stoves will help keep that low flame burning, even in breezy conditions.

Kristin standing in front of her Chevy Astro van with a campervan cooker on a small folding table.
Our portable campervan stove is almost so small, you can’t see it! That’s why we love the Jet Boil Half Gen for our tiny Chevy Astro

Waste considerations for propane campervan stoves

Most of us will end up purchasing a campervan stove that runs on propane if we’re not going with an induction cooktop.

But think about this: if all of us buy propane stoves and those 1-pound disposable green containers, it creates a ton of waste.

According to RefuelYourFun.org, an estimated 40 million disposable one-pound propane cylinders are thrown away every year.

Four million of those are tossed in California alone. Many of those are improperly thrown away in landfills, dumpsters or household trash bins. Think about the impact all of our actions are having on the environment.

The solution to this environmental catastrophe is simple: buy a refillable propane container.

You can buy a one-pound refillable propane canister from REI. Or you can purchase a refillable 4-pound canister from REI or 20-pound propane tank.

If you want to use a larger propane tank, which means you don’t have to refill as often, you’ll have to buy an extra bulk tank hose adaptor for your stove.

Number of burners and griddle options for a campervan cooker

Before buying the best campervan stove, you’ll want to think about how many burners you want. Tabletop camping stoves usually come in the two-burner style, but there are also one burner and three burner stoves.

Some stoves even come with one burner and one griddle.

The number of burners you choose all boils down on how you cook and how much flexibility you need while out in your campervan.

  • Do you need to make coffee and breakfast at the same time?
  • Do you make a lot of two pot dinners?
  • Are you cooking for a larger group?
  • Or are you find with one-pot meals?

One couple we camp with regularly uses a simple backpacking stove for all of their dinner needs. They only make one-pot meals while car camping and do most of their food prep at home.

Campervan cookers with more burners will be larger and use more fuel, but also give you more flexibility when cooking in the great outdoors. They’ll also take up more room when you set them up inside your van.

Griddles are another option for a portable campervan stove. Some stoves, like this Coleman 2-burner griddle/stove combo come with one burner and a non-stick griddle, which is awesome for a heaping pile of pancakes.

Camping stove accessories to complete your campervan kitchen

A good camping stove is just one component to cooking in your campervan.

Here are our top favorite accessories you might want to consider adding to your outdoor kitchen.

A camping table Compact Outdoor Camping Table

If you’re traveling in a campervan you might not always have access to a campground picnic table.

A handy folding camping table like this GCI Outdoor Compact Camp Table 20 will do the trick when you’re boondocking somewhere beautiful.

This is the stove we use and I can’t say enough good things about it. This aluminum table only weighs a little more than 4 pounds but can support 60 pounds of weight.

Perfect for cooking outside your campervan or dinner under the stars. 

A set of cooking utensils for your outdoor kitchen

Cooking utensils set by GSR

This set of folding cooking utensils weighs only 9 ounces and includes everything you need for your campervan kitchen. The GSI Outdoors nForm Crossover Kitchen Kit comes with tongs, a spoon, a spatula, scrubby pad, cutting board, spicer, soap bottle, oil bottle, camp towel and storage tote.

The waterproof spice holder can carry four different spices and is easy to refill. A great addition to your camping stove. 

A bulk tank hose adaptor

If you’re using a propane campervan stove, you’ll probably want to use a larger tank at some point. This 4-foot bulk tank adaptor connects your camp stove to a 2o-pound refillable propane tank.

It’s so much better for the environment to use a refillable tank rather than those small green bottles.

Conclusion on the best campervan stoves for van life

Choosing the best campervan stove for van life comes down to your needs. How many people are you cooking for? What is your budget? What type of fuel do you want to use? How big of a stove do you want to store?

We think propane is the best fuel for a portable camping stove. It’s easy to find and comes with the option of refillable canisters, which are much better for the environment than throw-away butane.

For a tabletop two-burner stove, we recommend the Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove.

For a tabletop one-burner stove, we recommend the Jet Boil Base Camp Half Gen.

We hope you enjoy your van life journeys, with tons of delicious food cooked on your campervan stove.

Check out some other van life stories!

21 thoughts on “How to choose the best campervan stove for van life”

  1. How about being able to have a stovetop oven for your camper van. It allows you to expand your cooking options dramatically. Check out the Omnia Stove Top Oven. One place that carries it is the Sea Dog Boating Solutions website.

    Reply
  2. Gas ONE Stove is my first stove that uses butane. The stove ignited first time and every time using the piezo ignition during testing with butane and propane using both 1lb bottle and 20lb tank, the stove certainly puts out the heat (for cooking), very simple to operate and relatively lightweight.

    Reply

Leave a Comment