Unless you only eat cold cuts and energy bars when you camp, a camping stove/burner is one of the essential pieces of equipment you bring at camp. This gives you the versatility to prepare food, coffee, or tea with or without the availability of a campfire. But you may question whether using propane or butane is better for camping? We’ve purchased and brought these 2 types of setups at our camping trips to gather our thoughts on whether butane or propane is better for camping. 


Propane vs Butane

Both gases are classified as Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG). These are derived from fossil oils and are stored in a liquid state in metal containers for personal and commercial cooking and propulsion uses. These gases may have similar uses, but they differ in some aspects.

When comparing propane and butane, the most important differences come down to the boiling point of the gases. Propane has a boiling temperature of -42°C, whilst butane has a higher boiling point at -2°C.

SOURCE – LPG Gas: What is the Difference Between Propane and Butane? (budgetpropaneontario.com)


Butane (C4H10) is a hydrocarbon commonly seen in small 250gram canisters in the Philippines and in other countries. It has a boiling point of -2 degrees Celsius. Its energy content is around 111.4 MJ/m3. It is a bit harder to produce which explains the higher retail price compared to propane. A 250g canister of butane in the Philippines would cost around 60 pesos and is often available at a discounted price when purchased in bulk (around 50-55 pesos). Despite its price, it is favorable for campers at it is lighter to carry and it gives campers the option of how many canisters to bring at camp. It is compatible with most single burner stoves, often sold at a much affordable price. 


Cons of Butane

It is safe to use butane canisters but you should treat them with care when you travel. You should not expose your butane canister to direct sunlight for long periods as it might overheat and increase the risk of explosions. As we dug through the safety information of butane canisters, there are manufacturers who store butane gas in canisters with Countersink Relief Valves that let the butane gas escape the canister at a certain pressure. Inhalation of butane gas (in certain amounts) is toxic to the body. This is why the accidental release of this gas within an enclosed space increases the risk and should be considered when transporting.


Propane (C3H8) is a hydrocarbon most commonly used within households and restaurants. It has a boiling point of -42 degrees Celcius. Which makes it better for cold climates. It may have a lower energy content ( 95.8 MJ/m3), but is cheaper to produce. It is stored in thick-walled tanks that are overdesigned for the fluctuations in the pressure of this gas due to changes in temperatures.


A 2.7kg tank of propane (superkalan) in the Philippines would cost around 950 pesos and would only cost around 250 pesos for a complete refill. Comparing the price of propane per gram to butane, it is a very considerable amount if you will be using a big amount at camp (often if you are the camp chef). It is often paired with dual burner stoves and can last you several trips before having the need to send your tanks for a refill. Propane is a non-toxic gas and is stored in very safe tanks. Propane is an asphyxiating gas. This means it displaces the oxygen in your lungs when inhaled, but the risk of having these gases vented inside an enclosed space is very little to none due to the safety design of the containers.

Cons of Propane

It is less favorable for campers in the Philippines because of its size and weight. There are small screw-type propane canisters available online, but refilling these canisters would require you to purchase an extra device or it might not be as easy for some. Propane-based stoves are often more expensive in comparison to butane stoves, but it may be also a positive factor that we will discuss later. 

When is best to use propane or butane for camping?

If you would be camping overnight, and cook in smaller quantities, then butane setups are a better choice. However, if you are an avid camper and go out camp for extended periods or cooking for a larger crowd, purchasing or upgrading to a propane-based setup is worthwhile. 

Motokampo - butane burner

Having to heat or cook food at camp with the ease of carrying lighter butane-type stoves is no doubt a choice for most if not all. The quick and easy setup factor is basically the selling point for these stoves. If you are only starting to purchase equipment for camping, it is cheaper compared to propane stoves. Setting up a propane-type stove might take a little longer compared to butane stoves, but the ease of having a bigger amount of gas in one single container is something you would notice. If you also tend to camp more often, the price per gram of propane (0.1 – propane vs 0.24 – butane) would be a wiser choice.

We at MotoKampo often use a 2.7kg tank, paired with a 2 burner CampinGaz stove to accommodate a group of 8-10 pax comfortably for a minimum of 3 days without ever changing the tank. Carrying a 2.7kg tank might be a concern for some, but that would equate to 11 canisters of butane cans which obviously is a concern for us if we now consider space. Not to mention throwing away a big amount of empty canisters may not be environment friendly. We also bring a small butane stove and a can in case we would want to cook with more burners. We use the butane burner for coffee brewing while cooking breakfast on the twin stove.


Basically, you can start off with purchasing a butane-type set for your camping kitchen. Butane stoves can go a long way when camping just being cautious of the safety measures when transporting. You can always change your setup to a propane-type setup when you feel the need. It may be costly upfront, but more often, propane stoves can last a lifetime when taken good care of. Not to mention, it looks way fancier on your kitchen table or overland setup!

3 thoughts on “Butane or Propane for Camping – Which is better?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *