Editor’s Note: Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
The joys of the winter months are many, and they differ from person to person. Some like staying in the house, content to wait for a backcountry season that involves a few more sunlight hours. Others prefer to be in the hushed cold of the outdoors, where every individual crackle and crunch seems to echo for a mile. No matter how you like to spend your days, sitting around a bright and warm fire during this time of the year is an activity beloved by all. The only difference is that for some, it’s entertaining, and for others, fire is a necessity. If you’re in that latter group and plan to head out camping this winter, you need a camping wood stove to keep yourself warm and your food and beverages hot.
What Makes A Suitable Wood Stove?
There are a lot of ways to cook your food while camping. For car campers and RVers who can rely on the amenities of a developed campsite, a fire pit is likely to be accessible. Hot tenters who have invested in the right sort of shelters can rely on larger and more involved tent stoves that have cooktops. For everyone in between, you’ve likely debated the choice between propane camp stoves or wood stoves and ended up on the latter. Camping wood stoves have a few benefits — the primary one being that you don’t need to pack fuel, since your energy source is the forest floor around you.
There are a few different styles in the category of camping wood stoves, as well as two main materials used to construct them. When looking for one of these outdoor heaters, you’ll have a choice between canister-style, which holds a solid form, or a collapsible option. Along with being more packable, collapsible stoves have additional advantages — canister stoves are more difficult to refuel, as the design requires you to drop in wood from the top. Foldable stoves, on the other hand, often have side ports which allow you to continue feeding the flame for as long as you need to.
When it comes to construction, there are two main materials used to make camping wood stoves: titanium and stainless steel. Titanium is lighter and cools quickly, but these aspects present downsides as well. The same thing that makes titanium light and easier to cool also means that the material is less successful at retaining heat. Positioned opposite of titanium is stainless steel. Wood stoves crafted from this metal will be thicker than those of titanium. They’ll take longer to heat and cool, weigh a bit more, and might not be as collapsible. What you’ll get in return is a stove that stays warm for longer, as well as improved durability.
Shape and material are the first traits we kept in mind when choosing wood stoves to include on this list. Within the shape, we also evaluated the overall size and weight, including the built-out and collapsed dimensions of the foldable stoves below. After the overall mass and modeling of the unit, we dove into the capacity of each stove — not only how much fuel it could fit but also the burn efficiency and heat output (when that data was available). Finally — and despite this being a wood stove-specific list — we assessed possible fuel types, too. Some stoves offer a bit more flexibility with what you can feed them, allowing users the opportunity to use alcohol-based tablets as well as foraged wood fuel. What we landed on are seven camping wood stoves that cover the best of each consideration on the market. Settle in and get cozy with the best camping wood stoves of 2022.
The Top Wood Stoves for Camping
1. The Most Versatile Option
- Packed dimensions: 5″ x 8.75″
- Generates 3 watts of electricity
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about the BioLite camp stove, and it won’t be the last. If you want a device that can cook your food, provide warmth, generate light beyond that of a fire, and charge your devices (or headlamp) — all without smoke — then look no further. The Biolite 2 burns off of foraged material and can boil a liter of water in 4.5 minutes. Its updated battery can store 3,200 mAh (milliamps per hour), which is more than you’ll find in a AA battery.
The do-it-all approach of the BioLite is cool, but let’s cover some of the more basic needs of a camping wood stove. The full kit comes with a kettle and coffee press, a flexible lamp, and a portable grill top, which doesn’t cover the top-set fuel portal. In total, all the equipment included weighs under 5 lbs. 4 oz. The stove itself produces 10,000 BTUs, and a smart LED screen allows you to control four fan speeds while measuring the fire’s output (which should remain high, thanks to a wind-defending heat shield). With BioLite’s proprietary vortex combustion method, you’ll experience 95% less smoke than typical wood stoves. You can burn salvaged material or BioLite’s custom BioFuel pellets, too.
2. Our Top Pick for a Camping Wood Stove
- Packed dimensions: ??4.25″ x 4.25″ x 5.7″
- Weight: 9.6 oz.
- Stainless steel
The Solo Stove Lite earns the best all-around title for a few reasons. For starters, we prefer steel when it comes to camp stoves, as we want the heat to last as long as possible. That said, the fact that this stove is made of steel and still weighs under a pound also allows us to hold it in high regard. The bottom of the canister is studded with ventilation holes that allow the flame to have a steady source of oxygen even while the patented double-wall body protects your fire from the elements. The Solo’s body does more than create a safe place to build a fire; it facilitates the flame in a way that generates a clean burn-off, doubling combustion to reduce smoke but increase fuel efficiency. The boil time is a bit long at around 10 minutes — still, that’s a reasonable trade-off for the overall weight, size, and cost. Additionally, a low-set ash pan which is found underneath a nichrome wire grate provides for easy cleaning — and although it’s top-fed, the upper level is set with a reasonably wide cooking ring that’s compatible with a number of pots, pans, and coffee presses.
3. The Best Titanium Option
- Dimensions: 3.75″ x 7.25″
- 5.4 oz. weight
Despite being a cylindrical stove, the TOAKS kit is a highly compact model from a company that’s been creating outdoor goods for only 20 years. The model we’ve chosen is a smaller version of the company’s award-winning titanium wood stove, which achieved prized status at the 2015 Outdoor Friedrichshafen in Germany, an outdoor industry trade show. The unique design, which is three titanium pieces that stack atop one another, collapse to a packed dimension of 3.75″ x 3.75″. Besides the ultralight design and style, the TOAKS is uber-efficient. The vent designs intake air in a way that causes three separate combustions of wood and wood gas, maximizing the fuel and heat that you’ll get out of every twig or pinecone. Stash it in the included nylon case and hit the road.
4. The Best Hexagon-Shaped Wood Stove
- Dimensions: 5″ diameter at base, 3″ diameter at top, 4″ height
- Titanium or stainless steel
- 4.1 oz. (titanium) or 7.4 oz. (steel)
What we love about this model is that Vargo has developed an innovative shape for its wood stove while leaving the option of material to the camper –it’s made in titanium and steel — and in both models, the hexagon shape can hold up to a 1.5-liter pot with the hinged design snapping in or out of place in seconds. A hinged bottom opens to feed the fire, with the hex shape providing the benefit of channeling air and heat directly upwards. Overall, the slim profile adds a lot of opportunity for packing space, especially when you consider that gas cans will be left behind in favor of free and bountiful energy sources plucked from the forest floor.
5. An Option With a Multi-Fuel Source
- Package dimensions: 5.5″ x 3.9″ x 1″
- 2.8 oz. ultralight titanium
- Compatible with solid or gel fuel and certain alcohol-based stove
At first, you might look at this miniature model and find yourself asking a very valid question: Is this stove made for ants? Well, no. This USA-made option is named the Fireant, and we prefer to associate the title not with the size (although its slim mass packs down to nearly nothing in terms of width and weight) but with its powerful bite. If you happen to already have or are considering a Trangia or Esbit spirit burner, there are notches in this camp stove frame that will lock them in place and protect them against the wind. Or, if you prefer solid fuel burners, a removable tray can be fit in to hold them in place beneath your camping pot. Although the one downside is that large pots will be a bit broad for the top of this stove, it’s perfect for single campers.
6. The Best Budget-Friendly Option
- Dimensions: 4.9″ x 9″
- 9.5 oz.
- Hardened stainless steel
The portable wood stove from Lixada may not be the smallest, lightest, or most technologically advanced unit on the market, but it beats the competition when it comes to cost. Not to mention that the stove itself is of a respectable quality too. The two-part structure nests within itself to save pack space, and an extra-large serrated cooking platform keeps your cooking pan from sliding all over the place. The design isn’t the most innovative, but we appreciate that there is a side port for adding fuel rather than having to drop wood or biomaterial through the top. Overall, this is a reasonable camping wood stove for the price. It might not be the most impressive-looking model, but it will keep you from having to rely on chemical fuels in the backwoods.
7. The Best Camping Wood Stove for Backpackers
- Dimensions: 5.5″ x 5.5″ x 6.25″
- 14.5 oz. (stainless steel) or 10.4 oz. (titanium)
- Made in the USA
Looking at the technical statistics of the überleben Stoker, you may find yourself wondering why we chose this as the backpacker’s option when models like the Fireant way significantly less ounce-for-ounce. Let us explain. Yes, the Stoker is heavier than its competition, but that weight is negligible when you stop to consider the difference in dimensions between the two models. When it comes to cooking with a wood camp stove, a few extra inches in length and height translates to crucial added space for fuel, leading to a hotter fire and a quicker dinner. What may be the Stoker’s greatest value for backpackers is the foldable dimensions, which pack down to less than a quarter-inch thick. Plus, the food-grade, anti-corrosive materials ensure that this camp stove will develop a patina that remains usable for years to come, no matter what trail you take it on.