Help choosing a campground stove

Later this year my family will be setting out on a two-week car camping vacation across the country. We'll be starting in northern Michigan and ending up in Montana where we have friends that we want to visit. We already have several pit stops planned along the way such as a few nights stay at Mount Rushmore over July 4th, but for the most part we plan on seeing how we do and stopping when necessary.  My kids will be 6 and 4 so there won't be any hardcore hiking taking place - mostly a few easy day hikes.

This type of camping is new territory for me, I'm used to carrying only what I need and keeping the pack weight down to a minimum. Car camping will afford us the benefit of being able to take along gear that we wouldn't ordinarily carry with us - such as a larger camping stove.  I usually carry my lightweight cooking system which consists of an alcohol stove and small pot that is just big enough to serve two people.  That's not going to work for a family car camping trip where we have to feed four in a hurry.  I'm not entirely sure what the best camping stove options or important considerations are? So, I thought I'd ask you, my readers.

I'm looking for a reasonably priced, two-burner camping stove that can be packed up small when not in use.  I'll have my two small kids with me and while they won't necessarily be doing the cooking, I want to ensure that the stove is as safe as can be.  So far I've been doing research based on the following criteria:

  • Number of burners
  • Temperature Control
  • Stability
  • Fuel type (liquid fuel, propane, butane, combination)
  • Ease to light
  • Ease to clean
  • Overall weight

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what the pros and cons are with some of these factors, such as fuel types. I use liquid fuel all the time in my alcohol stoves but dread the thought of having to carry it in a car or near my kids - in which case would propane be better/safer?

I'm looking for your recommendations on styles of stoves, brands, fuel types, and models to help me make a more educated decision. I don't know what I don't know!  If you have any experience, good or bad, with campground stoves I'd love to hear from you.  Please help me choose a reliable and safe stove for our upcoming vacation, thanks!

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