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Are you planning a camping vacation for your entire family? One of the biggest stresses of camping is making sure you can cook food for your entire family during your trip. And if you have an especially large family, this could be even more difficult.
Luckily, there are a number of camping stoves on the market that are perfect for large family camping trips and making family camping dinners. But before you go out and buy one, there are several aspects you need to consider to ensure that you spend your money on the camping stove which is right for you.
Camping Stove Basics
Before you go shopping for a camp stove, you need to decide what features are important to you and your family.
Not sure what pots and pans to buy for camping with kids?
Read: The Best Camp Cookware for Family Camping
How Many Burners Do I Need on A Camp Stove?
Camp stoves typically have between one and four burners. Depending on the number of family members you have, and the complexity of the meals you will cook, you may need more than one burner. If you have a large family, you’ll typically want to look for at least a two-burner stove, if not three.
Freestanding Vs. Tabletop Camp Stoves
Where will you be camping? Will there be a table or other table top like surface to set your camping stove on? If you don’t think you’ll have access to a table on your family camping trip, a freestanding grill is probably a better choice. IF you want the best in flexibility, we often set up our camp stove on our folding camp table to give us more cooking space, and then use the table for serving the food from as well!
Camp Stove Burner Power Explained
Stove power is rated in units known as BTUs. Although it may be deceiving, a higher BTU rating does not always mean better. One of your stove top burners at home is 10,000 BTUs and this is sufficient for cooking. So, if you want a higher BTU camp stove, go for it, but know that anything over 10,000 BTUs per burner is fine for whatever purpose you may have in mind. So, if you are buying a 2-burner camp stove, it should be rated at 20,000 BTUs.
Camp Stoves for Windy Weather
If where you will be camping is subject to a lot of wind (or if you’ll be camping in a lot of different locations) you will want to look at a camp stove’s wind performance. This way you won’t be stuck out in the cold wind unable to keep a stove going to cook food to feed your hungry family. In general, you should find a camp stove which has some sort of windscreen so you can continue to cook in the elements.
Do Camp Stoves Need Automatic Ignition
It’s important to consider just how you will light your stove. Automatic ignitions tend to be both easier and safer and you won’t have to worry about bringing a lighter or a match. But there are decent manual ignition stoves out there, just make sure you are prepared to light them the old-fashioned way. For this, consider getting one of these lighters so you don’t get burned.
Stoves for Car Camping Vs. Backpacking
Another thing you need to consider when selecting a stove is the activities you plan to do with it. If you are planning on car camping with kids, the weight of the stove won’t matter much as you will usually drive in and out of the campsite. But if you are planning to backpack, you will also need to consider the weight and bulk of a camp stove, because you will need to fit it in your backpack and carry it all day long. For backpacking, I recommend this backpacking specific stove that’s incredibly lightweight and portable, instead of the stoves listed below (It’s the backpacking stove we’ve used for 16 years and it’s so easy to use and compact).
Best Camping Stoves for Family Camping
Now that you have a general idea of what you are looking for in a family camping stove, and the features you can’t live without, below are some of the best camping stoves for family camping currently on the market.
Best All Around Stove For Camping With Kids
GSI Outdoors Selkirk 540 2-Burner Camp Stove
This is a stainless steel 2-burner large camp stove with a total BTU rating of 20,000 BTUs (10,000per burner). It has an automatic ignition system, and the stove can be lit by the simple push of a button. It is fueled by propane and weighs approximately 10 pounds. If you are worried about camping somewhere with lots of wind, this camp stove is perfect thanks to its wraparound windscreens to keep the elements out. These windscreens can also be stowed away if you are cooking with larger cookware.
Best Gourmet Camping Stove
Camp Chef Pro 60X Deluxe Camp Stove
This 2-burner camping stove is an excellent choice if you are camping somewhere where you may not have a car or table to set your stove, as it has 4 legs which bring it a few feet off the ground for easy cooking. There are two side tables that can be used for food prep or to set cooking utensils. This large stove for camping is also extremely powerful, with 2 burners, each rated at 15,000 BTU’s which can be lit automatically, so dinner will be ready faster than ever. If you are cooking for a crowd, the Camp Chef is the best camping stove for large groups with it’s high heat capacity and large camp stove burners. This camp stove also has you covered for any weather thanks to its 3-sided windscreen which can keep even the coldest mountain breezes at bay. Although this stove is one of the best two-burner camp stoves, it is bulky and weighs in at a large 51 pounds. If you’re looking for the best stove for car camping, this is IT!
Best Lightweight Camp Stove
GasOne Dual Fuel Portable Camping Stove
Now if you are looking for something extremely lightweight and portable, look no further than this one burner camp stove which is the best small camp stove money can buy. We’ve had one of these stoves for 15 years, and it’s my go-to for camping trips where we’re keeping our meals simple (which is most of them), and is the best butane camping stove around.
This stove has an easy automatic ignition, so you won’t have to worry about matches or a lighter. Not only that, but it has a dual fuel system that enables you to use butane and propane interchangeably as you please. If you like to cook simple one-pan meals, this is the camp stove for you.
The output of the burner is only 8,000 BTUs, but weighing in at only 3.4 pounds this is the lightest camp stove you will find. The only downside to this camp stove is that it doesn’t have any windscreens or other forms of weather protection, and works best when you use it on a table-like surface.
Coleman Triton Propane 2-Burner Stove
This family camp stove is one of the best Coleman camp stoves on the market. It has two burners, each of which is powered at 11,000 BTUs for extremely fast cooking. The spacious cooking surface can hold a 10-inch pan and a 12-inch pan at the same time, making it easier than ever to cook for your entire family at once! This stove isn’t quite as lightweight as some, weighing in at 11 pounds, but it does feature folding windscreens to help you keep your family fed no matter what the weather may be. This is a propane camping stove for family camping and is lit via an automatic ignition system.
Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove
The Eureka Ignite 2-Burner large Camp Stove is the best two-burner camp stove if you are looking for portability. Weighing in at only 10 pounds, it is also compact enough to move around easily. And the best part is, you don’t have to sacrifice any power as each of the two burners is 10,000 BTUs. This stove has an automatic ignition, with an easy push button to get it started. And if you are traveling somewhere windy, not to worry, the built-in foldable windscreens will keep your burners running even in the harsher elements.
Coleman Gas Camping Stove
This is another excellent Coleman stove for large families that can keep your family fed on your next camping trip. This stove has two burners, each of which is rated at 10,000 BTUs giving the stove a total rating of 20,000 BTUs. The stove can be lit via automatic ignition, and you can control the temperature thanks to precise temperature dials. You also won’t have to worry about the wind, as there are wind-blocking panels that can be folded in when you don’t need them and the burners are recessed beneath a barrier to further keep them from being blown out. This is also an excellent stove to take backpacking, as it is compact, and only weighs a few pounds. The Coleman Gas Camping Stove is also inexpensive and can fit into almost any budget.
Stansport Outfitter Series Propane Stove For Camping And Outdoor Cooking
This Stansport propane stove is one of the biggest, and best, three-burner camping stoves out there. This three burner camping stove can help you easily feed your entire crew at once as it features two large burners powered at an amazing 25,000 BTUs each, as well as a smaller burner which is 10,000 BTUs. All of the burners light automatically with a switch, so no need to drag around matches or a lighter. You won’t have to worry about the wind thanks to the three windscreens which will keep your stove lit even in the most undesirable weather. And if you pair this amazing camp stove with an outdoor griddle, you can easily cook a massive breakfast buffet which is sure to keep everyone happy. This is the best camping stove for cooking a large breakfast!
Every family camping with kids is a little bit different, and so are your needs in a stove. If you want to cook a gourmet meal, the Camp Chef is your best option, but if you want something small and lightweight, the GasOne is a really incredible and affordable camping stove!