Camping Stove VS BBQ – Which Is Better?

One of the highlights for many when camping is the cooking outdoors and enjoying the weather and social aspect. This can be done and either a camping stove or camping bbq but which is better?

Neither a camping stove or camping BBQ is better than the other, they are primarily used for different things. A camping stove is mostly used for general cooking and boiling water whereas a camping bbq is better suited to social evenings grilling food.

In this article we are going to talk about what each appliance is, what advantages and disadvantaged they have and which we think is better.

What Is A Camping Stove?

A camping stove is a means of cooking while you are in the great outdoors enjoying a spot of camping. Think of a camping stove as the same as your hob at home. It can be used to cook in the same way as you would in your home by using frying pans, boiling pots, and kettles to make tea and coffee. 

A camping stove will usually use gas as its fuel source. A simple gas-jet design gives you one or more rings that you can use as a heat source to cook on. Gas stoves, or canister stoves, use a small gas cylinder that can be refilled or replaced when empty. These camping stoves come in a range of designs from lightweight backpacking stoves all the way to multi-ring cooking stations with an additional grill.

Although most modern camp stoves are gas-powered, you will also find stoves that use a variety of different fuels. Liquid stoves, solid fuel stoves, and wood-burning stoves are the most common among the alternatives. 

Liquid stoves use, you guessed it, liquid fuel. Although with most old-school liquid-fuel stoves such as the Trangia Stove you can use any flammable liquid as a heat source, it is recommended to use denatured alcohol. Alcohol burns clean, has no odor or smoke, and produces a consistent hot flame. 

Solid fuel stoves are popular among the ultralight backpacking community. They are super compact and lightweight with some models able to fit in the palm of your hand. They usually use a paraffin-based tablet as a fuel source and although small, light, and convenient, cooking on them can be tedious. 

Wood-burning camping stoves are much rarer. Although uncommon, they are handy because you will not need an additional fuel source. Instead of bringing gas, alcohol, or fuel tablets, you can collect twigs and branches from your campsite to burn. This type of camp stove is convenient as long as you know for sure you’ll find a good fuel source on your campsite.

What Is A BBQ?

A BBQ is a way to grill food outdoors. This is how you make 5-star burgers and hotdogs out in the summer sun. Camping BBQs are much smaller than your typical conventional BBQ you’d have in your yard at home. 

Like camping stoves there are many different designs that use different fuels as a heat source to cook on. 

The most traditional BBQ and the best for flavour in our opinion is the charcoal-burning BBQ (charcoal grill). The charcoal grill uses charcoals as their heat source. The coals are heated up until amber in colour. At this point the food can be cooked on a grill suspended above the hot coals. The food will get a smokey flavour and a rich taste from this type of BBQ.

Gas BBQs use a gas cylinder as their fuel source. A row of jets that feed the gas underneath a grill rack will be found that heat up the food suspended above. You may find “hot stones” around the jets that absorb heat to spread the heat evenly over the surface of the grill. These types of camping BBQ are convenient but you don’t get the same smokey taste as you would from a charcoal grill.

Electric grills are less common to use while camping but they are convenient when camping on a campsite with electric hookup. A heating element is suspended underneath a grill rack that heats the food on top until cooked. Like the gas BBQ, you don’t get the same depth of flavour. You are also restricted to campsites with electricity.

What Are The Differences Between A Camping Stove & BBQ?

There are many differences between a camping stove and a BBQ. Generally speaking, a camping stove is more versatile because you can boil water, boil pasta, stir fry food, pan-fry meats, and toast things in the same way you would with the stove at home. BBQs are not so versatile. They are designed to do one thing and one thing only — grill food.

BBQs are great for the summer if you want to grill up burgers, hotdogs, joints of meat, and char vegetables. They are not designed to support pots, pans, and kettles so can’t be used to boil water or pan-fry anything. 

Both the camping stove and BBQ are safe to use if you use them responsibly. As a general rule, you should never use a camping stove or BBQ inside your tent. However, some variations such as the gas stove and the electric grill can be used inside providing there is adequate ventilation. You should only use cooking apparatus inside a tent if it is absolutely necessary.

If it is raining outside and you need a dry space to cook, open all the ventilation flaps inside your tent and cook in the open doorway of your tent to ensure you don’t get a buildup of harmful gasses. You should also have a small fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies. 

Camping stoves are usually smaller than camping BBQs and there are far more lightweight backpacking options available. That being said, the size of your camping stove or BBQ will ultimately depend on the product you choose. Some camping stoves will come with multiple burners and even a small grill. Others will have a single burner that sits directly on top of a fuel canister.

BBQs can be large enough to cook food for 10 people or so small that they fit 4 or 5 hotdogs on. The size of the stove or BBQ you select will ultimately depend on your needs. If you’re a family, then a large cooker will be needed. If you are the lone backpacker, then a single burner lightweight stove will suffice.

As mentioned in the last section, you will find different styles of camping stoves and BBQs that use different fuel sources to operate. Different stoves and BBQs have their advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will be looking at the pros and cons of some of the more common stove and BBQ variations on the market. 

The Camping Stove

Fuel Types

  • Gas fuel (canisters of propane or butane)
  • Liquid fuels (alcohol, petrol)
  • Solid fuels (fuel tablets)
  • Wood fuels (twigs, sticks, and other kindling)

Gas Camping Stoves


  • Able to cook food quickly
  • lightweight and compact
  • Reliable and easy to use
  • Can be used indoors and in a tent with adequate ventilation
  • Fuel is easily accessible
  • Full control over flame (can adjust heat)


  • Gas canisters can be expensive depending on brand
  • Multiple canisters can take up room on a longer trip
  • They are not effective in cold temperatures (gas freezes below -6C)

Liquid Fuel Camping Stoves


  • Effective in freezing conditions
  • Fuel is relatively cheap compared to gas
  • Versatile — some stoves will function on almost any flammable liquid


  • Varied cooking and boiling times (depending on the type of stove you purchase)
  • Some stoves are extremely susceptible to the wind
  • Fuel burns quickly
  • Cannot be used inside

Solid Fuel Camping Stoves


  • Super lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap to buy
  • Fairly efficient on fuel


  • Extremely slow cooking times
  • Fuel tablets can be expensive
  • Nasty smell from burning fuel when cooking
  • Susceptible to the wind
  • Cannot be used inside

Wood-Burning Camping Stoves


  • Environmentally friendly (renewable fuel source)
  • Don’t need to carry fuel with you
  • Fuel is basically free
  • Some stoves feature a heat-powered generator that can be used to charge phones and torches


  • Restricted to areas where there is a source of kindling 
  • Hard to light in wet conditions
  • Cannot be used in places with a fire ban on
  • Slow cooking times but this does somewhat depend on the stove you get
  • Cannot be used inside

The Camping BBQ

Fuel Types

  • Charcoal fuel 
  • Gas fuel (canisters of propane or butane)
  • Electric-powered (mains electricity)

Charcoal Camping BBQ


  • Best flavour
  • Ability to smoke meat
  • Easy to use
  • Fast cooking times once heated up
  • Lightweight (not including charcoal)
  • Fuel is cheap


  • You will have to wait up to 20 minutes for the charcoal to heat up
  • You will have to dispose of used charcoal
  • You’ll have to carry a bag of charcoal with you

Gas Camping BBQ


  • No waiting for heat up
  • Fast cooking times
  • Easy and convenient to use
  • No clean up or waste disposal of burned fuel
  • Fairly efficient on fuel


  • You don’t get the same flavour as a charcoal grill
  • Bulkier and heavier than other BBQs
  • Gas can be expensive
  • Not effective in cold temperatures (gas freezes below -6C)

Electric Grill Camping BBQ


  • Low heat up time
  • Fast cooking times 
  • Easy to clean 
  • No worries about fuel as long as you have an electrical outlet nearby
  • Can be used inside with caution


  • Restricted to campsites with electric hookup only
  • You don’t get the same flavour as a charcoal grill

Which Is Better?

The BBQ is not better than the camping stove just as the camping stove is not better than the BBQ. Which works better for you will depend on your needs.

The camping stove is much more versatile, so if you need an all-in-one camp cooking system, then a stove is the way to go. You will be able to boil water for your morning coffee, cook up pasta and noodles, and also fry up meat and vegetables. This is great if you are looking for one setup to use morning, noon, and night at the campsite.

You will be able to cook up typical BBQ food in a large pan on a camping stove however you will not get the same flavour in the meat as you would from a charcoal-burning BBQ. 

The camping BBQ is more for social dinners. Unless you love grilled food, you probably won’t be firing up a BBQ first thing in the morning and you certainly won’t be boiling a pan of water on one for your morning coffee. They are perfect for sitting around on a summer’s evening with friends and family though.

There is nothing better than grilling up food in the sunshine and for this, a BBQ is your only option (charcoal being the best in our opinion). You will need another form of cooking apparatus such as a camping stove if you plan on making hot drinks or making hot food for breakfast though. 

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