A while ago, I did a review on the stove I use for camping, which at the time was the Coleman Sportster Duel Fuel Backpacking Stove. However, on our last camping trip, one of the two stoves (yes, we bring two along – it makes supper prep so much faster) bit the dust. And since the price has doubled over the past five or ten years on the Sportster, we just couldn’t see ourselves shelling out $75 for a stove with other, less expensive models on the market.
The biggest problem was that we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on fuel, either. So I did a bit of research on propane vs. butane vs. white gas (which would mean buying another Sportster) and finally came to the conclusion that although there is a price difference, it’s not astronomically different. Which left us back where we started from: just looking at various models of stoves.
We had a few requirements. It had to be single burner. It had to have good reviews. It had to cook food reasonably fast (there goes Sterno). And it had to be not over the top huge – we may not be backpacking , but there’s still only so much room in the van.
I considered the MSR PocketRocket (kind of expensive, but good reviews and personally recommended by friends), the GasOne Portable Gas Stove (priced better, but fuel could be difficult to get in the wilderness), and several others. What finally decided us was not brand, looks, or even firepower. It was that we found a hoard of Coleman 16-oz. propane bottles that could become ours. With more than half a dozen bottles of the stuff, we just couldn’t imagine not getting a stove to use the propane!
So we ended up with the Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove (sometimes called the “Coleman Bottletop Stove”). It’s not the biggest (or smallest!) or the best, but it does work and meets our needs just fine. So here are some pros and cons of the stove, after using it on our last two-week camping adventure!
What I use this Stove For: I car camp, often in the wilderness without picnic tables or other semi-necessities. We cook one meal a day (usually), which means we’ll be boiling about 6 qt. of water on any given night (none of us are coffee drinkers, so no need for that hot water in the morning). Space is always a premium in the van, what with all our camping gear and the fact that we sleep in it, too!
Pros of the Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove
Fairly good reviews. On Amazon, 75% of reviewers gave it a five stair review, and only 1% gave it 1 star. Pretty impressive for Amazon!
Cooks food fairly quickly. One person said that they could boil 2 cups of water in 3 minutes on medium or high heat – I can’t speak as to if that’s true (when was the last time I tried to boil only 2 cups of water?), but it’s about comparable to the Sportster.
Pretty fuel efficient. The same person as above said they could run a bottle (16 oz.) of propane for 2.5 hours. I don’t think ours lasted quite that long, but it’s a good estimate.
Nice, wide grate. It’s a lot bigger than it looks in the picture; great for a large pot like ours, although small pots would be fine, as well.
Inexpensive. Especially compared to other stoves.
No pumping or priming necessary – yay!
No smelly fuel – the bottle screws right onto the bottom of the burner.
Fuel easily available. The propane bottles are sold just about everywhere, from BJ’s, Dick’s and Walmart to campground convenience stores.
Fuel not too expensive. I saw a double case (2 lb. overall) in Walmart the other day for just over $5 – comparing that per pound to the Sportster, it’s about the same. Now whether they use the pounds of gas at the same rate is another question…
Pros of the Coleman Single Burner Propane Stove
Large and heavy. All that propane takes up space, too. Without the bottle, it’s almost 8 inches wide by 6 inches tall; the bottle adds a good 6 inches to its overall height. And you wouldn’t want to have to carry the propane (that’s a whole extra pound!) on a backpacking trip…
No carrying case. We’re still using the cardboard box that it came in. This is a big con for me.
Burner could be screwed on wrong, with the possibility of the stove not working properly.
It’s tall – a lot taller than the Sportster. Most of the time that isn’t a big issue, but it means that windblocks must be higher and I can’t put both stoves under a single large pot – more’s the pity.
The burner area remains hot for a bit – it has to cool before the stove can be taken apart and put away. But so does the Sportster, and I’d say they cool at about the same rate.
Danger from leaking canisters – if the white gas is leaking, we all know from the smell almost immediately. Also, the white gas evaporates quickly if it does spill.
Propane, even in canisters, is more dangerous to transport than white gas… and we’re traveling across the country.
Almost impossible to know how much fuel is left in a bottle of propane – will I need another canister, or am I ok for dinner?
Very tall; might be easier for the stove to tip over, although with the wide grate that isn’t very likely, even on uneven surfaces.
Heat control limited. I’ve heard that high and medium are quite similar except for how much gas is used, so medium might be better to use than high. It might be slightly better than the Sportster (on which heat control is a joke), but it’s still not very good.
Coleman not as trusted a brand as in years past. Sorry, but true. The brand is not high end. Just ok for casual campers.
Might have issues in cold temperatures. I’ve heard that this is a problem, but I’ve never experienced it myself. And considering how many winter trips I haven’t taken in recent years, I don’t expect it to be a problem, either.
Still to be seen
Durability. Just how long will it continue to run?
Will it run ok in cold weather?
Have you used this, or a similar, stove before? What did/do you think of it?