If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best single burner propane camp stove is, we recommend the Jetboil Flash Cooking System.
When camping, sometimes we spend so much effort fretting over the obvious things like shelter that we neglect to think about other important components. Such as food (and how to prepare it).
Sure, you’ve probably packed enough granola bars and trail mix to last you a week, but you weren’t planning on living off that, were you? Heartier meals are necessary for keeping your energy high and your body healthy, thus the popularity of dehydrated food among campers. But to prepare these meals, hot water is necessary, which is why you’ll want to have a single burner propane camp stove on hand. Below are some of our top picks that we’ve personally used out in the backcountry.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following single burner propane camp stoves:
- Jetboil Flash Cooking System
- Coleman Powerpack Propane Stove
- MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove Kit
- Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System
- MSR Reactor Stove System
Single Burner Components
Single burner cooking systems are the go-to options for backpackers because of how light they are in comparison to other stoves. Most of the weight is going to be from your fuel, which is typically going to be a canister of propane that you screw your “stove” onto.
Here’s a list of components that you can expect to find with your camp stove:
- The fuel that your burner runs off is obviously an important component of your whole setup. You can get canisters of propane in various sizes, but just remember that the larger it is, the heavier it will be. Since I do a lot of backpacking, an 8 ounce canister is usually the largest that I’ll go with, and it’s still enough to last me for several trips out into the wild.
- On top of the fuel canister will be your stove burner, which screws onto the opening of your fuel tank. For many products, the burner has an opening on top where the flame comes out, with several prongs on the side of it that flip upward. This provides a space for your pot to rest while it’s heating up.
- Many stove burners also come with a built in igniter, but don’t count on this always being the case. Sometimes you’ll need to bring your own matches or lighter to get the fire started.
- And finally, you need something to put your food in, right? Like the igniter, many stoves come with a pot that was designed specifically for that setup, but don’t expect this to be standard either. In some cases, it’s possible to just get the stove burner, as the fuel is traditionally sold separately, and it may not come with its own pot.
Most single propane burners have a lot in common, but there are some notable differences to consider before purchasing yours. We’ll cover some of the biggest points below:
If you look in the photo above, you’ll notice that the stove consists of a propane fuel tank, the stove burner, and a pot filled with water. This is actually a photo I took a month ago of my personal single burner propane camp stove setup, and it’s a pretty common design used among backpackers. The burner screws onto to propane tank, but when it’s not being used, it packs away into a small, drawstring pouch. When you’re ready to put everything away, the fuel tank fits perfectly inside the pot, the stove burner rests on top of that, and I have another drawstring pouch to carry the whole contraption. Overall, the shape works really well, and it stores nicely inside my backpack.
Not every single burner propane camp stove looks like this, though. Just for reference, take a look at this item:
This is the Coleman Powerpack propane stove. As you can see, the shape is completely different from the one that I traditionally use, especially when it comes to the size of the actual burner and fuel tank. Certainly not ideal for backpackers like myself, but car campers or folks who live in their van will find a lot of value in this design. We’ll talk more about it later in the review, down below.
Weight and Durability
Since single propane burners are typically used for backpacking, weight is a very important factor to consider. That’s not to say they’re only used for trekking through the backcountry, but when you are out there in the wild with your one person tent, this is what you’ll want.
Weight is generally determined by the type of fuel you’re using – larger canisters will naturally be heavier than smaller ones. Stove burners tend to be small and the difference in weight between brands is fairly insignificant, unless of course, you go with something like the Coleman stove top mentioned above.
Sometimes a pot comes included with whatever stove top you end up buying. That was the case for me, and I’ve noticed that they’re usually very lightweight, easy to clean, and made from high quality material. However, you may decide to bring your own pot or pan to cook on, which can easily increase the weight of your pack if you aren’t careful. Bring a small, lightweight saucepan if you’d like to cook on your own equipment.
Durability is also worth considering, though it’s only relevant to whatever you cook on. Fuel tanks are well made, and the stove top itself is usually created from high quality metal, but your pots and pans are going to get beat up the most. I know some people who like to attach them to the outside of their pack, simply because they’re too bulky to fit inside. While it’s convenient, it leaves them exposed to the elements, and you run the risk of banging them against rocks or other hard objects when you set your pack down. Even if you’re able to cram it inside with the rest of your gear, expect it to get some scratches over the course of your trip.
Single Burner Propane Camp Stove Reviews
The Jetboil flash cooking system really has it all. Unlike many single propane burners that you’ll find out there, this one combined the cooking vessel and the stove top into one. Because of this unconventional union, water is able to be brought to a boil much faster than before. It’s marketed as being able to bring 2 cups of water to a boil in 100 seconds, which isn’t bad at all, though it will vary slightly based on your altitude.
The built in push button igniter makes it easy to get the flame started, and there’s even a color changing heat indicator to let you know when the water is hot. The bottom cover seconds as a bowl and measuring cup, and even the pourable lid has a built in strainer. And unlike many single propane burners out there (including the one I use more often), the container is actually quite large, coming in at a full liter.
If you have a 100g fuel canister, it will fit nicely inside the cup, along with the stove itself. As long as you can make room for the one liter cup, you won’t have any trouble transporting this single burner propane camp stove.
– Large container
– Exceptionally fast boil time
– Push button igniter
– Color changing thermal indicator
– 2 in 1 cup and burner
– Stores nicely
– Strainer in the pourable spout
– Bottom cover seconds as a cup and measuring tool
– It’s a bit large, compared to other products
– The igniter can be a little finicky to get working
Coming back around the single burner gas stove mentioned earlier, the Coleman Powerpack propane stove has got to be my favorite of it’s type. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not something I would necessarily recommend for backpackers, but that’s only because of its shape and size. If you can fit it inside your pack, and don’t mind the added weight, I’m certainly not one to judge!
The stove can accommodate any pan up to 12 inches, which is much bigger than you’d find on many other single propane burners. That’s just another reason why I think it’s a great option for van dwellers, car campers, or anyone looking for a decent, portable stove, but not so much for backpacker about to embark on a grand journey. Not only is the size a bit large for such extreme activity, but the fuel canister is bigger and heavier than what you’d find on a regular, single burner propane camp stove.
The fuel is sold separately, but you can find it here, if you’re you’re interested: Coleman 16 oz. propane canister. It weighs a pound, but will last you for a long time – yet another bonus, and reason why I think the Coleman Powerpack propane stove is a great option for campers.
– Large stovetop
– Fuel tank lasts for a long time
– Easy to clean
– Powerful burner
– Made from a durable material
– Bulky and heavy
– Not suitable for backpackers
Now to make a return to the backpack friendly options. The MSR Pocket Rocket kit is a full spectrum tiny titan that would make a good addition to the arsenal of any camper, but especially for those who can’t afford to put on too much weight. It is possible to get the pocket rocket without the addition of the pot and pot lifter, but many of you won’t already have a high quality, lightweight pot that can easily be used with such a tiny stovetop.
When you’re not using it, everything stores nicely inside of the 1.2 liter pot, as long as you’re using a 4 or 8 ounce fuel canister. A liter of water can be brought to a boil in a little over 3 minutes, making use of the broad burner that spreads out the width of the flame. The curved edges of the stovetop also help to block the wind from creating fluctuations in the amount of heat being transferred to the pot.
If you’re cooking for multiple people, or if you just don’t feel like eating out of the pot itself, there’s a small bowl that comes with the kit as well. It’s a nice touch that can be hard to come by, in addition to the pot lifter that give you the option to grab and pour the contents of the hot container.
– Handy all-in-one kit
– Total weight comes in at 13.1 ounces
– Comes with a pot lifter and extra bowl
– Broad burner
– Decent boil time
– Piezo lighter is a nice feature
– May have trouble igniting in colder temperatures
Another one by Jetboil, the MiniMo cooking system is similar to the Flash, but smaller. I love the short and wide pot design, because of how quickly it heats up and how easy it is to eat from it. The added handle on the side is a nice touch to provide a simple and safe way to grip the pot, even when it’s been on the burner for awhile.
As it is with most Jetboil products, the pot can be attached to the single propane burner for a secure way to cook your meal. It’s pretty easy to boil some pasta or veggies, heat some water for a freeze dried meal, or get a cup of coffee going in the morning, though the container can really only hold enough for one. An insulated drink-through lid does come included, along with a measuring cup.
– Nice sized cooking cup
– Rubber coated metal handles
– Push button igniter
– Fuel canister stablizer
– Small and portable
– Comes with a measuring cup
– It’s a little difficult to fit the stove and fuel canister inside the pot for easy carrying
The final stove on our list is a bit different from the others, as you can probably tell by the picture. Styled more after a traditional stove pot, with a long metal handle to boot, you may miss the most impressive aspect of the MSR Reactor stove system – the burner itself.
Designed for use in extremely cold and windy conditions, the burner is completely enclosed to block out strong wind. Because of this nifty feature, you’ll have an easier time getting the fire started, and keeping the heat where it belongs. 1 liter of water can be boiled in 3 minutes, regardless of the temperature around you or how much fuel is left in the canister. As far as single propane burners go, this is actually pretty impressive.
With incredibly quiet operation, you can still enjoy a conversation without even noticing it’s running. Oh, and that really long handle that extends from the pot? Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to stay that way. To pack it down neatly, just fold the handle up and across the lid of the pot, once you’ve got your fuel and other components safely stored inside.
– Great for extreme weather conditions
– Extended handle that folds down nicely
– 3 minute boil time for a liter of water
– Quiet operation
– Hot and fast
– Pot is a bit big and bulky
– Only good for boiling, not finer controls, like simmering
The Winner Is…
If you’re in the market for any single propane burners, it’s likely that you need a way to cook when you’re on the move. So some of our primary criteria for judging the best single burner propane camp stove were weight, portability, and effectiveness.
Bearing that in mind, the Coleman Powerpack propane stove didn’t quite make the cut for us, despite being a great stove for other uses. It’s a bit too heavy and bulky for trekking purposes, but car campers will likely enjoy using something so big and powerful.
For the best of all worlds, our favorite was Jetboil’s Flash cooking system. It’s big enough to cook for two, but packs down well enough where most backpackers won’t be able to complain about the weight or size of all the components. The design allows you to bring water to a boil faster than most of its competitors, and the color changing heat indicator is a nice addition to let you know when the water is ready to use.