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Meatcrafter: Benchmade Blade Is Highly Functional Work of Art

Benchmade worked with renowned hunter Steven Rinella on a knife for the express purpose of turning wild game into table fare. The Meatcrafter is born!

Hunters and anglers know the value of a sharp knife. From the moment a hunter pulls the trigger, the priority is to get the animal carcass out of the woods, cooled quickly, and transformed into food. In many ways, a good hunter must be a good butcher to truly enjoy the fruits of their labor.

And exquisite tools, while not required, certainly don’t hurt.

Enter the Benchmade Meatcrafter. I would hesitate to call the Meatcrafter a hunting knife. For me, it’s too big for much fieldwork. When gutting, skinning, and caping in the field, I prefer a smaller, high-quality hunting knife.

But once you move from rough field cleaning to the next phase — breaking down the animal into steaks, chops, roasts, and stew meat for the freezer — a razor-sharp knife remains a critical tool. And this is where Rinella and Benchmade want the Meatcrafter to fit into the process.

In a video here, Rinella talks about how he worked with Benchmade to design the Meatcrafter, which is essentially a boning knife.

Benchmade sent me a Meatcrafter to examine and use before writing this article. It’s frankly tough to find any wild game to process in Colorado in the spring. So I did the next best thing: I pulled some venison from the freezer, thawed it, and went on slicing and dicing on the way to some carnitas.

Benchmade Meatcrafter Knife: SelectEdge Technology

Before getting into the review, I want to mention a few things about this knife that aren’t apparent on the surface.

First, Benchmade used the Meatcrafter as a launchpad for its new SelectEdge technology. The brand hasn’t disclosed exactly what this tech does, but without going down a deep knife-sharpening rabbit hole, Benchmade notes that this provides a sharper, more polished edge than anything it has created before. And from the appearance and performance of the blade, it seems like there’s something here.

The edge is polished and smooth. Out of the box, it glints like a mirror to a perfect 14-degree apex. And for the record, that’s crazy sharp for a hunting knife. It’s also a little fine for a hard-use knife, so don’t plan on batoning this one through wood! This is a meat knife after all.

Second, the knife uses extremely high-quality “ingredients.” The full-tang blade is CPM-S45VN premium stainless steel, which provides a balance of fine grain, sharp edge, and blade flex. It’s a step forward from the excellent and widely used CPM-S35V from Crucible Industries and one of the first applications of this steel we’ve seen in person.

The black, brown, and ivory G10 handle is really a thing of beauty. It sits perfectly in the hand and provides an excellent grip at several angles. For those working through a pile of elk meat for hours on end, it’s a very nice texture and shape.

Finally, the Meatcrafter comes with a very nice Boltaron sheath. The material has a stiffness of Kydex but has a surface feel like nice leather. The knife fits in securely.

One note that speaks to the intended use of this knife: The sheath has no belt loop. I thought this a little odd until I considered that the knife will more likely ride in a pack, truck, or sit in the kitchen. While it would certainly work in the field, it’s not exactly meant for gutting or survival — it’s a meat-processing tool.

Benchmade Meatcrafter: Steven Rinella Explains

I had a few questions about the knife and sent them to Rinella. Check out his interesting replies below.

GearJunkie: Why did you decide to go with a scimitar blade shape?

Rinella: When I was working on this knife with Benchmade, the priority was versatility. We wanted to take their proven technology that produces the strength and edge retention of the kind of knives I take into the field, but stretch it into a longer, thinner blade that’s best for making precise and drawn-out cuts.

Our long, trailing-point blade lets you remove muscle groups in a single cut, work around bone and joints, and get into hard-to-reach corners so you can get a precise cut the first time around. Everything from the shape of the blade to the angle of the edge was developed specifically for this knife and for the kind of work I needed it to do.

The other day, I was filleting some lake trout with the Meatcrafter, and it was a dream. The tip was perfect for opening cuts and precision work, while the thicker portion of the blade easily sliced through the heavy rib bones. I love that thing.

Do you expect to carry the knife in the field at all, or will it live in your truck (or kitchen/garage/meat processing location)?

While I do a decent amount of processing in the field, most of the work is done at home on my butcher block. That said, this is now my go-to butchering and processing knife, so I’m taking it wherever I think it’ll be useful.

I might be cutting up a turkey on my tailgate or an elk hind in my kitchen, and it gets the job done right in either place. So far, I’ve been keeping mine in the DECKED system of my pickup truck half the time and in my kitchen knife drawer the other half.

What role do you see this knife filling that you felt was missing from the market?

You can easily find a great field knife, chef’s knife, or pocket knife, but in all my years of working with game meat, I’ve never found the perfect purpose-built blade for processing. I work with a lot of animals, from moose to beavers, and even if I’d found a knife that worked well for one task, it never had the full versatility I needed. The Meatcrafter fills those gaps.

While it seems a little stiff for a fillet knife, do you expect to use this knife on fish much?

For the right fish, definitely. I’ll often use a more flexible blade for something really delicate. But when I’m ripping burbot out of the ice, this thing makes cleaning them damn easy.

It’s best when working on four-legged fare, but throughout the testing process, we found that it can handle almost everything that ends up on your plate. I don’t imagine using it for panfish like bluegills and perch, but definitely for everything from walleye to salmon to tuna.

Obviously, a $300 knife is a significant investment. Who should buy this knife?

This knife isn’t for everyone. It’s made for folks like me: the ones that have always felt like their processing knives just aren’t up to snuff. When you spend as much time butchering game as I do, even small frustrations can take the joy out of the work, and using this thing helps keep me focused on why I do what I do. I want to create great meals for me and my family, and this knife makes that easier.

It’s a work of art and one that I’ll be using for years to come. My kids will have to fight over which one of them gets it after I’m dead.

Benchmade Meatcrafter Review

This is a super-early first look at the Meatcrafter. So far, I’ve used it to process a little stew meat from a deer and a bone-in pork loin roast. And without a hunting season for months, this knife won’t get to properly craft a full carcass for some time

But my initial impression is great. The long belly of the scimitar shape and the very fine point give you both a very fine/exact blade as well as a long cutting edge. It provides versatility for small, accurate cuts or long slices, both of which are a major part of meat processing.

The flex of the knife is just right for deboning large cuts of meat. While stiffer than a fillet knife, it offers enough flex to closely follow bones in big game. And while not its intended purpose, it would probably work fine to fillet a fish.

The handle is lovely to use. And while the appearance of the multiple G-10 colors is in the eye of the beholder, I personally love it. Its layered appearance, with splashes of color around the large lanyard hole, just oozes quality.

With a fresh edge from the factory (which you can have re-serviced by Benchmade for free for the life of the knife), the blade fell through meat like it wasn’t there. Cutting away silver skin took almost no pressure as I touched the blade to the meat, lifting the skin away from the muscle. It was impressively sharp. And cutting pork was like the proverbial hot knife through butter.

I am excited to use it on a big project. I expect it will be a lot easier thanks to such a fine tool.

So, who is it for? My gut tells me that serious hunters who like to process their own meat from field to fork will love this knife. It makes the work of cutting down big-game muscles into small cuts of meat easy, and I expect it will hold an edge well for most of a hunting season with regular stropping.

So now, what will be the hangup for many people? Price. The Meatcrafter rings in at a hefty $300. However you slice it, that’s a lot of money for a knife.

But I can pretty easily justify this purchase. If you take an elk to a butcher, you’re likely looking at a $400 bill just to have one animal turned into steaks, burger, and sausage. Do it yourself once, and the knife pays for itself.

Obviously, you need other tools too, like a meat grinder and sausage packer. But these things all pay for themselves over years of use and animals processed.

Avid hunters who fill freezers in the fall will likely enjoy a high-end knife like this season after season. And yes, you can use a much cheaper knife to do the job, keeping a butcher’s steel at the ready.

But if you enjoy a finely crafted tool and have the budget to buy one, I expect the Meatcrafter will do its job flawlessly for years to come.

The post Meatcrafter: Benchmade Blade Is Highly Functional Work of Art appeared first on GearJunkie.

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The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2020

After months of testing, we found the best women’s climbing pants for every style and budget. Suit up and climb on.

Whether you’re planning an epic climbing trip or working a project at your local climbing gym, these women’s climbing pants will have you ready to get on belay.

Finding the best climbing pants can be a pain. They need to allow full movement, keep you covered, and endure heavy use. And it doesn’t hurt if they look good while doing it.

We’ve spent months researching, testing, analyzing, and geeking out on everything from the feeling of the seams to range of motion to find the best women’s climbing pants. The pants we’ve chosen move with you, are long-lasting, and even bring a bit of style to the local crag.

The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2020
Best Overall: Patagonia Caliza Pant ($89)

New for 2020, The Patagonia Caliza pants are the answer to the female climber’s prayers. The wide elastic waistband is comfortable and perfectly placed for your harness to fit over.

Snaps on the bottom cuffs can be adjusted to fit your ankle. And the pockets — both in the front and the back — are so flat and low-key that we didn’t even know they were there until we looked in the mirror.

We were immediately impressed by how well they molded to the body. Unlike other climbing pants that are either too baggy or too tight in the wrong areas, these seem to have the perfect amount of stretch in all the right places. Plus, these organic cotton-blend pants earn high marks for durability.

For more, check out our full review of the Patagonia Caliza Rock Pant here.

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Patagonia Caliza: First Look at a Go-To Crag Pant

The Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants for women release in spring 2020. They’re comfortable, technical, and could soon become your go-to crag pant. Read more…

Best Leggings for Climbing: Arc’teryx Oriel Leggings ($89)

The Oriel Leggings are the answer for every woman who prefers the body-hugging feeling of tights and loves to send — or jam, scrape, scramble, and hang — in super-streamlined attire. These Arc’teryx pants withstood beatings against granite on rain-tossed multipitch granite face and a variety of cracks in Squamish, British Columbia.

They showed zero pilling, tears, or visible wear following a gutsy seven-pitch (1,000-foot, 7.5-hour) send up 5.9-5.10 routes in the reputable Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The fabric also survived wedged slides on trad climbs up sandstone.

The seams, which are narrow and made with tough thread, show no signs of failure after regular use. The Powernet Stretch Mesh waistband is the perfect height to protect against the harness. And the fabric — a highly abrasion-resistant, stretchy blend of nylon and elastane — dries fast.

The pockets aren’t ideal, and we wouldn’t trust a stretch opening for our phone, camera, or wallet, especially when hundreds of feet off the ground. But anyone looking for a bomber pair of climbing leggings should consider the Oriel.

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Best Leggings for Cool Weather: prAna Rockland Matchstick Leggings ($89)

For the legging-lovers who are sick of their climbing tights not holding up to the rock, prAna’s Rockland Leggings are your answer. Reinforced in all the right places with a double “chakra” fabric overlay means you can bushwack to the crag and climb all day without worry.

The wide waistband stays in place even on big moves. And the side pocket has a zip enclosure to keep essentials on hand. We wanted to use it for our phone but found it dug in a bit too much. Plan to use it for smaller items like chapstick.

While not the best for hot days, as the fabric is quite thick and durable, these are a No. 1 pick for crisp fall climbing days.

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Technical Pants: ORTOVOX Colodri Pants ($170)

“These are now my go-to climb pant!” our tester exclaimed after climbing and scrambling dynamic granite routes. The routes were in a mix of direct sunlight and shade with cool breezes. And the approaches were scrappy through sagebrush, tall grasses, and thorny bushes.

These lightweight (296g) pants are breathable yet manage to shield a chilly breeze. The cut allows a wide range of movement for heel hooks, stemming, and high steps. With a loose fit, the Colodri is made out of cotton, polyamide, and elastane — for a bit of stretch — plus a smooth, tough interior liner of merino wool, Tencel, and polyester.

There are also four deep pockets, one zipper-enclosed leg pocket, drawstring-adjustable ankles, and a center-back loop to hang a chalk bag.

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Best of the Rest
Patagonia Chambeau Rock Pants ($99)

Also new for 2020, these pants are perfect for long days on multipitch climbs. Their fast drying, stretchy material coupled with a comfortable waistband make them one tester’s first pick for all outdoor climbing excursions.

The recycled polyester/spandex blend is light and breathable for hot summer days. And the DWR coating repels light moisture. The cuffs adjust with a pull cord, so you can guarantee proper foot placement without baggy pants getting in the way.

Drop-in front pockets can hold small essentials, and we appreciate the addition of the zippered leg pocket. Best of all, the pockets all lay flat and don’t cause any discomfort under the harness.

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prAna Kanab Pant ($79)

These are everything that a climbing pant should be — durable, comfortable, and stretchy. The canvas material holds up to abrasion, and the reinforced knees give an added dose of protection. And while built for heavy use, they manage to also be incredibly breathable and stylish.

We also appreciate the deep, usable pockets. We’re easily able to stash a phone or snacks comfortably.

The organic cotton canvas blend coupled with a wide, comfortable waistband, cuffed bottoms, and double-walled knees make them great for everything from climbing indoors and out to camping, hiking, and Sunday morning hangouts.

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Black Diamond Notion: $79

These pants are super comfortable on the wall, but also while camping, hiking, bouldering at the gym, and traveling. We found the Notion Pants comfortable while belaying and awesome for single-pitch sport climb laps.

“If you’re sensitive to heat and humidity, and have a tendency to sweat a ton, this fabric — which is mostly cotton — isn’t really breathable for superlong or sun-bearing days on the wall,” said one tester.

But they’re a go-to comfortable pant for moderate temps and mild weather conditions. The drawstring waistband has an easy fit for ladies who don’t like hugging on the midsection.

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Patagonia Escala Rock Pant: $99

Looking for a climbing pant that works hard on rock but looks like an everyday pant? Then you need to meet the Escala. It’s that functional, attractive everyday pant you love, but way more durable.

The organic cotton-polyester-spandex blend is comfortable and stretchy. And the streamlined pant legs taper and properly shield the ankles. In blazing summer sun, the pants absorbed sweat well but weren’t top-notch at fast wicking and drying.

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GoLite ReLite Jogger ($78)

What’s not to love about a pair of pants that are made from 20 recycled plastic bottles? Along with feeling good about your carbon footprint, these pants are some of the lightest, most breathable, UPF-protected, and water-resistant pants we have ever worn.

They are perfect for those hot days at the crag where you want to be covered but don’t want a lot of material on you. The Flex4 fabric has just enough stretch for big moves, and the drop-in pockets keep personal items handy.

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How to Choose the Best Climbing Pants

First, take a few moments to imagine your climbing habits. Do you plan to mostly use these pants climbing indoors or out? Will it normally be hot and muggy or cool and breezy? Do you prefer body-hugging clothing or a bit more room?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but having a clear idea on how you’ll use these pants will help determine the best option.

Fit, Style, and Features

All body types and climbing styles are unique, so climbing pants are a personal choice that can make each approach-to-anchor experience more comfortable. As you consider your needs, the biggest differences between pairs are the rise, waistband design, pockets, fabric, closures, and overall fit.

Repellencies are applied to some fabrics, which adds barriers against water, stains, and UV radiation. And a handful of products weave in sustainable fibers too.

The Caliza Rock Pants fit comfortably under a harness; photo credit: Jason Cornell

Beyond choosing a silhouette that complements one’s ergonomics, the No. 1 most important component of a pair of pants is that they are durable. They’ll need to withstand walks through abrasive brush, scrambles up and down steep spur trails, grinds against granite, and rubs against sandstone. At some point, they may need to shield rain or sleet.

Have a favorite climbing pant we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.

The Best Women’s Climbing Shoes of 2020

We tested and reviewed the best women’s climbing shoes of 2020, including picks from La Sportiva, Five Ten, SCARPA, and more. Read more…

The Best Climbing Harnesses for Women in 2020

We tested and reviewed the best climbing harnesses for women, including top picks from Black Diamond, Petzl, Metolius, and more. Read more…

The post The Best Women’s Climbing Pants of 2020 appeared first on GearJunkie.

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The Best Camping Stoves of 2020

We tested the best camping stoves from Coleman, Camp Chef, Kovea, Snow Peak, and more for this review. Read on to see how each performs and which stove came out on top.

Camping and food go hand in hand. And nothing makes camp cooking enjoyable like a good stove. This year, we tested several new 2020 stoves and many models from previous years. We also have years of combined experience with camp cooking, and all of that knowledge went into this review.

For each stove in this comprehensive review, we considered design, ease of use, BTUs, windy weather performance, simmer control, weight, cost, and boil time. On the surface, these stoves all have a lot in common. But at the heart of it, each stove is different. And most importantly, each stove in our top picks performs the best for specific uses and reasons.

This list is for car camping stoves. If you want to eat hot food while hiking or backpacking, check out our review of the best backpacking stoves.

The Best Camping Stoves of 2020
Best Overall: Kovea Slim Twin Propane Camp Stove ($130)

This stove impressed us from the get-go for two main reasons: the design and functionality. The Kovea Slim Twin was almost completely redesigned this year, with two 10,500-BTU burners, short and sturdy legs that work well on a variety of surfaces, adjustable windscreens, and an incorporated piezo igniter. It weighs 10 pounds.

When we tested last year’s model of the Kovea Slim Twin stove, we had issues with the leg supports (they were thin and wobbly), burner design (it required two separate propane cans), simmer control, and price ($190). Overall, Kovea made tons of great updates this year, and the effort shows. The 2020 Kovea Twin Slim is a fantastic improvement.

Pros: The Kovea Slim is a good price, and its slimness is great for those who like camping but don’t have a lot of storage space. It performs well and offers all the basic features (plus a spiffy auto-igniter so you don’t have to carry matches).

Cons: The only con we have with this stove is that it’s so slim, the propane adapter doesn’t fit inside the stove for storage. We recommend labeling it or attaching a leash, carabiner, or clip to the adapter so it can be stored with the stove.

Shop the Kovea Slim Twin Stove

Runner-Up: Camp Chef Everest 2X ($130)

The Camp Chef Everest 2X replaced the older Mountain Series Summit model from this brand. The Everest is definitely as high-powered (if not more so), with two 20,000-BTU burners, an auto-igniter, and a redesigned burner area and exterior.

Although the Camp Chef Everest has the strongest burners we tested, it still simmers well. And with the new burner and cookspace design, you get a few more cubic inches of cooking space for the same weight.

Last year’s Camp Chef Summit 2-Burner Camp Stove ($150) model had impressive heat output, but we had issues with the striker (and the price tag). This year, we found the auto-igniter to be more consistent.

Pros: The Everest produces strong flames and works well in windy conditions. Its burner design evenly spreads out heat, and the windscreen tabs stay secure with exterior locks, which is a nice touch.

Cons: It’s a bit heavier and bulkier than we’d like.

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Best Budget: Coleman Classic Propane Stove ($43)

The simplest option on the list is also one of our favorites and has been a go-to choice on our staff for a while now. The Coleman Classic Propane Stove might not have all the fancy features as the others on the list, but it’s hands down the most bang for your buck out of all camp stoves on the market.

For as low as $43, you get two 10,000-BTU burners in a classic, trusted design. We cooked up plenty of meals on the Coleman Classic and appreciate how simple it is. It blocks wind well enough and has really nice simmer control. The Coleman Classic weighs 12 pounds.

Pros: It’s budget friendly but still durable enough for the outdoors.

Cons: It doesn’t have a striker, so you’ll have to use matches or a lighter. And the simmer control could be a bit better.

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Best One-Burner: Snow Peak Home & Camp Burner ($110)

One-burner stoves serve a lot of cool purposes. They’re great for those short on space, for solo campers, and for building out vans or off-road vehicles. (And as the name implies, they also work for home cooking.)

Snow Peak’s newest Home & Camp burner has all the compactness and intricacy of origami, with all the durability of a two-burner camp stove. The burner completely folds into itself (about the size of a 48-ounce Nalgene). Simply open the top, slide out the legs, and engage the locking pin to swivel the burner out onto any surface. Then slide in a butane gas canister.

Pros: The legs and burner are low to the ground, reducing wind interference. If you choose a one-burner, you want to make sure it has good simmer control for when you need it. And the dial on the Home & Camp provides that.

Cons: It’s on the pricier side at $110 for only one burner, but its compact design, versatility, and overall good performance are why this stove made the cut.

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The Best of the Rest
Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove: $100

The Eureka Ignite 2-Burner Camp Stove is an exceptionally well-rounded camp stove. It comes in Quiet Green (shown above) and works well time and time again. The wind panels block wind reasonably well, and it has excellent simmer control. It weighs 10 pounds.

As we noted in our 2019 camp test review, the reason this stove didn’t impress us more is that it doesn’t excel in one particular area. It does all things a camp stove should well. But when compared to others, its performance falls a bit short.

Pros: This stove falls in the middle/upper end of the pack — it simmers really well and isn’t an outrageous price, but its boil time is slower.

Cons: Occasionally, we had issues with the strikers. One of the burners would fail to ignite or a striker would stop working altogether. But average is fine; average will cook meals well at the campsite and look great in photos.

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Primus Profile 2-Burner Stove: $108

The Primus Profile 2-Burner Stove has a clean design with with a moderate heat output at 12,000 BTUs per burner. It functions with a piezo ignition striker and has one of the larger cooking areas compared to other stoves. That means you can place larger pans on the Profile. It’s also on the lighter side for two-burner stoves, weighing in at 9 pounds.

Pros: The heat can go really low, and the dial is slow to turn, meaning you don’t accidentally crank it and burn your food.

Cons: The flame blew out twice in one test, leaving our editors at the conclusion that the side panels and burner are not designed for really windy areas.

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Kovea Cube Stove: $50

This stove was our close second choice for best budget stove, if it weren’t for its poor performance in windy conditions. The Kovea Cube offers a lot of functionality for just $40. The Cube has a lightweight frame, and although it doesn’t fold, it’s fairly compact too. The Cube is powered by butane gas instead of propane, which we believe contributes to its slower boil time (a little over 7 minutes per liter, or a little under 4 minutes for 500mL).

Pros: it’s lightweight (unlike most one-burner stoves), simmers very well, and the price is hard to beat.

Cons: the square style pot support is minimal, and there’s absolutely no wind protection. We solved this problem easily by using a windscreen. Note: the lower-range 7,800 BTU output gave us a few issues in cold and windy conditions.

That said, it weighs almost nothing at 1 lb 8 oz., so you might as well pack it. 

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Primus Tupike: $250

The Primus Tupike is a great stove, but it comes at the hefty price of $250. What you get is a beautiful stainless steel stove accented with oak slats on the cover. We’ve had this one in testing for nearly 3 years now, and it’s proven itself time and again as a durable, reliable cook setup.

On the plus side, its 7,000-BTU piezo ignition burners fire up every time at the push of a button — even 3 years into testing and dozens, if not hundreds, of meals cooked. And while its doesn’t have the highest BTU output, it has proven sufficient for everything from boiling water in below-zero weather to searing steaks on a warm afternoon.

Pros: It simmers well and performs well in cold weather.

Cons: On the downside, the windscreens are oddly designed and are held open only by weak magnets. They don’t work protect the lower area of the stove (where the fire is), so it loses a lot of heat in wind. Finally, the price is a heavy hit. While yes, this is a luxury-level stove, $250 is pretty crazy for something you’ll bring camping.

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Camp Chef Versatop: $150

While not technically a stove, a griddle can also bring a lot of joy and simplicity to outdoor cooking. The Camp Chef Versatop has a nonstick cooking surface with a wide 15,000-BTU burner underneath, plus a grill accessory.

The unique part about the Versatop is its versatile design. With separate attachments, you can cook on a flattop, grill, or even bake bread in the Versatop. You just pull off the cooking surface, place on another, and start cooking. During our 2019 GearJunkie campout, our editors had a blast cooking breakfasts, sandwiches, and large helpings of stirfry on the Versatop.

Pros: The Versatop provides an even cooking surface and is great option when cooking for large groups of people. Another benefit of the Versatop is you don’t need to bring additional pans thanks to the flattop.

Cons: It takes a while to heat up fully, and if you’re cooking any meals that require boiling, you’ll need to bring a second stove. It also weighs a hefty 24 pounds.

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Jetboil Genesis: $260

The Genesis from Jetboil brings one of the more novel if not genius designs to the classic camping stove. It functions with a clamshell design that unfolds to display the cooking surface. And underneath each burner is a place to chain additional burners.

“Where the Genesis really shows through is its simmering ability. The burner knob can be spun in four full rotations from the lowest to the highest setting, and each slight movement of the knob makes fractional adjustments to the flame,” we wrote in our full-length Jetboil Genesis review.

Pros: The clamshell folds down small and has great simmering controls.

Cons: The stove is more expensive than other stoves on the list at $260. But its simmer control and the ability to daisy-chain additional stoves make the Genesis a solid investment.

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GSI Outdoors Pinnacle 2-Burner Camp Stove: $170 (available in July 2020)

While we haven’t been able to review this stove yet, we’re looking forward to it, as it’s one of the most highly awaited stoves for the industry this year. The GSI Pinnacle was nominated for an innovation award at January’s Outdoor Retailer trade show, and we gave it our Best in Show award, as it shows lots of promise and innovation in design for a camp stove.

The stove, similar to the Kovea Slim Twin, is designed to be as slim as possible, with foldout legs, two 11,000-BTU burners, a collapsible grate, and thin windscreen and frame — all adding up to a stove that’s just 1.4 inches thick. The claimed weight of this stove is around 10 pounds, and it will retail for $170.

Note: We plan to test this stove later in 2020 and will provide feedback here once we do so. 

How We Tested: Best Camp Stoves

Besides just boiling water, we also cooked meals on each of the camp stoves for this review (including mac and cheese, sauteed veggies, hot dogs, rice, and more). The boil and simmer tests are by no means perfect, but they are a consistent way of comparing stove performance, and we believe they provide a good understanding of the stoves’ more technical functions.

Note: We tested these stoves over a period of several weeks, hence the absence of some (including the Coleman Classic and Primus stoves) from testing photos. However, we’ve reviewed all of the stoves on this list in depth.

Boil Test

We subjected each propane stove to a boil test. We boiled 1 L of water with the same GSI pot and lid on each stove. Before each test, we made sure the pot and water were the same temperature as prior tests. We checked the water occasionally to see when it began to boil.

Different air temperatures and altitudes will boil water differently. (We tested all of these stoves at the same altitude.) Don’t buy one of these stoves and expect it to boil water at these specific times; instead, use this as a rough guide as to which stove heats the most effectively and gets the hottest. Some stoves might have faster boiling times, and others might have better simmer capabilities.

Best Camping Stove Boil Test

Camp Chef Everest 2X: 3:06 per liter (compare to the 2019 Camp Chef Summit at 4:50 per liter)
Snow Peak Home & Camp Burner: Around 4 minutes per liter
Kovea Slim Twin: 4:30 per liter
Coleman Classic: 3:40 per 500 mL (a little over 7 minutes per liter)
Kovea Cube Stove: 7:45 per liter
Eureka Ignite: 4:10 per 500 mL (around 8 minutes per liter)
Primus Profile: 4:10 per 500 mL (around 8 minutes per liter)

Simmer Test

To test how well a stove could simmer, or cook gently, we tested the knobs and saw how low the flame could go while still remaining active. I placed my hand above the flame and lowered to see how close I could get before it got uncomfortable. This directly relates to how low a burner can go. The closer my hand could comfortably get (measured in inches), the lower we found a burner could go.

We also tested each of the dials to see the range of control they allowed. The higher the degrees of rotation, the more you can turn the dial and change the heat output. Generally, the higher the better, as this lets you clearly know if you’re cooking on low, medium, or high. Some knobs are also marked with high and low settings to indicate the range.

A close-up view of burners on the Kovea Slim Twin (left) and Snow Peak Home and Camp burner (right)

Best Camping Stove Simmer Test

Camp Chef Everest 2X: 1 inch, 360+ degrees
Kovea Cube: 1-2 inches, 120 degrees 
Eureka Ignite: 1-2 inches, 440 degrees
Primus Profile: 1-2 inches, 120 degrees
Snow Peak Home & Camp: 2 inches, 3 settings
Kovea Slim Twin: 2.5 inches, 360 degrees
Coleman Classic: 2-3 inches, 270 degrees

Conclusions: The Best Stoves for Camping

None of the stoves included here are a bad option, and we like all of the stoves on this list. They all work well and will perform for your outdoor cooking needs. They just have different strengths that will suit different camping scenarios.

When compared head to head with other camping stoves, one clear winner for 2020 emerged: the Kovea Slim Twin Propane Camp Stove.

How to Choose a Camp Stove: What to Consider

Think about how much, and under what conditions (i.e., in cold weather), you’ll be using your stove.
Think about who you’re cooking for. Is your group size usually one to two people, three to four, or a larger family?
Consider what you’re cooking. Do you make a lot of one-pot meals, or do you like sauteeing, simmering, slicing, dicing, and baking in the outdoors?
Finally, consider your budget. If you see a stove on sale for less than the others, we recommend jumping on it.

Have a favorite camp stove we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.

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