I have long been an advocate of “keep it simple, stupid” when it comes to campground food. But to keep it hot-dogs-and-smores simple, you need a fire.
Yet another drought year in Colorado resulted in statewide fire bans, meaning campfires were out of the question. We kept (naively) kept hoping the bans would get lifted, but a week out from our camping trip, we realized that wasn’t going to change. We didn’t have a way of cooking hot food, so we quickly scrambled to figure out what our camp stove options were.
My husband dove headfirst into Internet Research to find a camp stove that was affordable, but not crappy. We quickly settled on the Coleman one-burner butane camp stove, found here at REI or here on Amazon. At $29, the price was right, and we hoped we wouldn’t regret this spur-of-the-moment decision to become camping cooks.
Spoiler alert: we didn’t. I’m an official convert.
Besides fire bans, is there a reason I’d want a camp stove?
Camp stoves cook food way more quickly than a fire. You can boil water in just a few minutes plus there’s about one minute of set up and no waiting for the fire to catch.
You can also save a ton of money by cooking more meals at camp. We would typically plan on going into town to a restaurant if we were camping for more than one night. Or, we’d want a hot breakfast so we’d pack up early and stop somewhere on the way hom. Now, we can have a hot meal (plus coffee!) at camp without going tout to eat. Plus, firewood can really add up if you are burning multiple bundles!
So how’d the Coleman work out?
Because it’s ightweight and inexpensive, I was worried there would be a catch (aka it would turn out to be a piece of crap). The Coleman brand bolstered our confidence, and we really didn’t want to spend a ton of money, so we pulled the trigger on it. Now that I’ve put it to the test on multiple overnight camping trips, I can report back that it’s a high-quality, lightweight, game changer of a stove.
Coleman puts the stove in a really convenient hard plastic case with a handle, which makes it easy to pack and carry around. Because it’s so light, you don’t feel like you’re hauling a massive stove around. And it seems fairly hardy. I’ve dropped it a few times (this is just who I am as a person) and it doesn’t even have a ding on it.
Was it easy to use?
The camp stove is pretty idiot-proof to begin with and also comes with easy-to-follow instructions. Butane is sold separately, and that was honestly the trickiest part of getting the stove to work. You have to make sure to line up the notch on the nozzle of the can of butane with the loading area for it in the stove or the stove won’t light. It’s for safety reasons I think but was initially easy to miss. All of this information is in the instructions, so don’t worry!
The stove lights instantly and cooks quickly. Water boils in about the same time it does on a real stove, and a can of Spaghettios is piping hot in about a minute. I’ve made corn fritters and pancakes on it, too, and they cooked just the same as they would at home. We’ve made at least ten meals on it by now and we’re still on our first can of butane, so it seems pretty fuel-efficient as well.
Is one burner enough? Should I get two?
I’ve only used the stove to cook for two people at a time, so one burner was totally sufficient for us. If you have a bigger family or are trying to make multiple things at once, you may need to upgrade to a larger model (or buy multiple of these).
What’s the bottom line?
Light-weight, powerful, and easy-to-use, the Coleman one burner butane camp stove has totally changed my outlook on camping. Eating terrible junk food is fun for a few days, but ultimately gets pretty tiring if you have no way to make something better. Waiting forever for water to boil on a campfire when you just want your morning coffee will be a thing of the past.
Invest $30 in a camp stove to broaden your options for yummier meals without sacrificing your desire for simplicity.