Camping stoves vary in size from big three-burner propane stoves, useful for car camping, to pocket-sized backpacking stoves that weigh 3 ounces or less. Backpacking stoves are recommended for hiking trips and whenever you need to carry your stove with you. The bigger stoves are obviously limited to the campground, since you won't want to add 20 pounds to your pack load. The most credible and detailed reviews we found evaluate lightweight backpacking stoves. In fact, we found no in-depth testing of large camping stoves -- just a handful of subjective reviews. Since large stoves remain popular for family and group outings, we focused on user reviews to evaluate these models. Unfortunately, most of the user reviews we saw for campground stoves were pretty poor, indicating quality may be a concern for these stoves.
There are many reviews of smaller backpacking stoves, but we found BackpackingLight.com to have the best objective reviews; editors conduct incredibly detailed tests that are thoroughly documented and full of analysis. While it's not quite as technical, we also found good testing in TGO (The Great Outdoors) magazine. The magazine conducts tests on multi-fuel and canister stoves, and each stove receives an overall rating; the best earn Recommended or Best Buy tags. Backpacker magazine, Backcountry.com and Rock and Ice magazine also conduct tests on backpacking stoves. Some user-review sites are helpful for evaluating camping stoves, including BackpackGearTest.org, Trailspace.com and Buzzillions.com.
The Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS) has been very popular for a number of years, but it was subject to a recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in February 2009. The Jetboil PCS was the first integrated canister stove, meaning it comes with a pot and attachments (sold separately) designed to snap onto the stove frame. Upon its introduction in 2003, the Jetboil PCS was considered quite innovative, and it received several accolades from Backpacker and Time magazines. However, the CPSC received a number of reports of gas leaks and fires from a faulty fuel valve on the Jetboil PCS. As a result, the CPSC recalled 15,000 of these stoves. Also in February, the CPSC recalled 6,700 Field & Stream Dual Burner Camp Stoves sold by Dick's Sporting Goods. See our Useful Links section for a full list of affected models.