Many campers need propane to fuel their stoves, grills, heater, and lanterns. For a lot of people, the small 1 lb propane tanks are the main solution to power these devices, but it’s time to consider getting a 5 lb propane tank for camping instead.
Why is a 5 pound propane tank the best option for most campers? A single 5 lb propane tank holds enough fuel for a multiple-day camping trip, so you don’t have to deal with multiple tanks. 5 lb propane tanks can be refilled countless times, while most of the 1 lb camping propane tanks are single-use and disposable. Five pound propane tanks are much cheaper to fill, can save money in the long run, and are better for the environment.
This article goes over the best 5lb propane tanks for camping, how to connect a camping stove to a larger propane tank, and the reasons why you should ditch your 1 lb propane tanks for a 5 lb camping propane tank.
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Looking for the best 5 lb propane tank for camping? Check out these:
- Best Ready-to-Go: Ignik 5lb Gas Growler (with carry case & adapter hose)
- Best Quality: Worthington 5 lb Propane Tank
- Best Budget: Flame King 5 Pound Propane Tank
What to Know About 5lb Propane Tanks for Camping
Before we go over the best 5 lb (1 gallon) propane tank, you need to understand how to use it, including getting the right adapter hose and learning how to refill it.
Get a Camping Propane Tank Adapter Hose
A lot of camping stoves and grills use the 1 lb (16 oz) propane tanks. These are small, green canisters (usually made by Coleman) which screw into the grill, stove, lantern, or other propane-using device.
The camping stove threads are small and fit the 1 lb propane tanks perfectly, but do not fit large 5 lb or 20 lb propane tanks.
So how can you use a 5 lb propane tank when your device is built for the small threads of the 1 lb propane tanks?
Get a propane adapter hose for 1 lb to 5 lb tanks. Since most 5 lb tanks use the same fitting as 20 lb tanks, a propane adapter for 1 lb to 20 lb tanks will work as well.
The 5 lb tanks hold about 1 gallon (sometimes 1.2 gallons) of propane while the 20 lb tanks hold about 4.5 gallons. If you can fit a 20 lb tank in your camping gear, then get an adapter hose and bring that for your camping needs!
Commonly sold in a 3-5 foot length, the propane adapter hose will connect on one side to your device and the other side to the full-size fitting found on the 5 lb propane tanks. You can find longer hoses, ones made from rubber or stainless steel, and some with built-in regulators and/or gauges needed for specific low/high pressure devices.
It is not difficult to find a propane adapter for 1 lb to 20 lb (or 5 lb) tanks. Don’t let this stop you from using a large, refillable tank while camping. Check out the best adapter hoses here.
Tank Capacity and Storage Size
It’s obvious that a 5 lb propane tank is larger than a 1 lb propane tank. But let’s apply that to camping needs.
A lot of people use around 1/2 lb of propane per day while camping. If you use a furnace or lantern, your usage may be higher.
As a result, it is common to bring multiple 1 lb propane tanks camping. After all, it’s a recipe for disaster to run out of fuel in the backcountry. I used to always bring at least 2, sometimes up to 4 or 5.
How many do you usually bring?
Rather than lugging around a handful of the small tanks, get one 5 lb tank to last through your entire trip! You should be able to fit a 5 lb tank in the same area you would put 3-4 1 lb tanks.
Worried about having an emergency backup? Bring a small backpacking stove (or one 1 lb propane tank as a backup if you prefer). The MSR WhisperLite Universal has been our backpacking stove for years because it can run off of nearly any fuel source available. I usually run it with white gas, avoiding the single-use canisters that have become popular with backpacking stoves.
TIP: Looking for the best 5lb propane tank? Check out this 5lb propane tank that we use for full-time van life and camping.
One Time Use Versus Refillable Propane Tanks
One of the absolute worst aspects of the 1 lb propane tanks is that the majority of them are meant for one-time-use and should be disposed of properly after use.
This means that if use around 1/2 lb of propane per day (like a lot of people), then you go can easily go through two 1 lb canisters over a long weekend. Think about all of that waste for your camping trips alone! How much each season? How much each decade? In Yosemite National Park, they collected about 23,000 1 lb propane tanks in 2014 alone.
Now multiply that by the number of people exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. Many of us are passionate about conserving the beauty of this world, yet somehow we’ve been convinced that single-use canisters are acceptable.
It’s time to change that. There is no reason to use these wasteful products when better, cheaper alternatives are readily available.
Should You Refill 1 lb Propane Tanks?
There are people who refill the 1 lb tanks at home. And they do make products which can aide in doing so.
While I understand the drive to avoid excess trash, refilling most of the 1 lb tanks is outside of their intended usage and dangerous. They are created with a thin sidewall which can degrade over time. Why risk it when you can get a tank which is properly designed for reusing?
The 5 lb propane tanks are meant to be refilled. And since they use the same adapter as the 20 lb propane tanks, you can get them refilled anywhere that the 20 lb tanks can be filled.
If you prefer 1 lb propane tanks, then take a look at this truly refillable 1 lb propane tank. However, these tanks are not cheap and you will most likely need multiple ones for any serious camping. Plus, why deal with multiple tanks when you can find one that will give you enough fuel?
Where to Fill 5 lb Propane Tanks
In most cities and towns where camping or RVs are prevalent, it is not hard to find a propane refill station. Loads of RVers, vandwellers, and overlanders use refillable tanks. You are not breaking new ground here and you should not be discouraged because you think it will be too hard to find places to fill them.
Many gas stations, repair shops, hardware stores, and even U-Haul locations have the ability to fill the propane tank. Look for options along major transportation routes for your best chance.
Most new propane tanks must be purged before they can be filled with propane. Call ahead to make sure they can provide this service when filling your new tank for the first time.
So what if you just simply don’t have any refueling stations nearby but you want to stop using the single-use tanks? You can either (A) bring a 20 lb tank camping or (B) buy the Flame King refillable 1 lb propane tank mentioned above, which can be safely refilled at home with a 20 lb tank.
Cost Savings with a 5 lb Propane Tank
Now the thing that matters the most: money.
Good news! The 5 lb propane tanks are a cheaper way to bring propane camping! How can that be? Don’t you have to buy an expensive tank, adapter, and get them filled? That surely must be more expensive, right?
Not at all. For most people, a 5 lb propane tank will pay for itself rather quickly and will actually decrease your propane costs over time.
Price Comparison: 1 lb Tanks Versus 5 lb Tanks
The cheapest 1 lb propane tank is usually sold for around $4 in the United States. At that price, 5 lbs of propane costs $20 ($4 x 5 tanks = $20). And this is basically the lowest price possible; I’ve seen them sold for nearly $8 each in popular camping areas!
Meanwhile, filling up a 5 lb propane tank is usually less than $4. Or about the same cost as a single 1 lb tank.
$4 can get you one 1 lb single-use propane tank or 5 lbs of propane if you have the 5 lb tank. Which sounds better?
You save a minimum of $16 each time you fill up the 5 lb propane tank! And that’s if you are buying the 1 lb tanks at the lowest price possible.
Yes, you have to invest in the refillable tank and adapter. But by saving $16 each fill, you will likely breakeven after one or two camping seasons if you camp often. Plus, you still have a valuable propane tank which could be sold if you no longer have a use for it.
How to Score Free Propane
Here’s the really cool part.
Since a lot of places charge by the gallon, sometimes they won’t charge you to fill up a 5 lb tank! Yes, you read that right. I’ve been to plenty of places where people won’t bother charging for less than a gallon of propane. And I’ve talked to many others who have had this same experience.
Free energy! How often can you get anything like that? Well, unless you’re talking about using camping solar panels (which are awesome too).
If cost is your ultimate concern, then going with a 5 lb tank is still a better idea in the long run.
Which 5 lb Propane Tank Should You Buy?
Everyone’s needs are different. But this list is curated with the best options for nearly everyone looking for a camping propane tank and adapter hose. Starting with the best options around, then giving you a full list of alternatives for special-needs uses.
I’ve also compiled a short list of brackets and other storage aides. Maybe you can install these in your truck bed or to another secure location to improve the safety of transporting your propane tank.
Best Small Propane Tank
Let’s talk about what you should actually get. You want something from a reliable brand that will last a long time and will serve you well while camping.
You can’t go wrong with a Worthington 5 lb propane tank. This trusted brand also sells the 20 lb tanks at many major retailers. It also includes an overflow prevention device so you can be certain that safety is in mind.
We have a Worthington 5 lb propane tank that we have used for years for both camping and vanlife. We are extremely satisfied with it and we’re not the only ones. It has hundreds of extremely positive reviews online. Which is why we decided to buy this propane tank for ourselves after doing tons of research.
Five Pound Propane Tanks for Camping
There are plenty of other options for smaller propane tanks. Maybe a 10 lb tank suits your needs better. Or perhaps your storage area is a slightly different dimension. There are many choices for quality propane tanks and adapter hoses.
Here are some of the best small propane tanks on the market.
The Ignik Gas Growler Deluxe is the best ready-to-go propane tank kit for camping.
This Flame King 5 lb Propane Tank is another trusted brand which many campers and overlanders use. Very high reviews across the board.
Flame King 11 lb Propane Tank – If you need more than 1 gallon of propane, then check out this 11 lb tank.
Manchester Tank Equipment 5 lb Propane Tank – This 5 lb propane tank has a shorter, wider design which may fit some applications better.
Best Propane Tank Adapter Hose
As far as propane tank adapter hoses go, the Dozyant 4 Feet Propane Adapter Hose is a top choice in the market and our recommended option.
Dozyant is a reputable brand with multiple products that have over a thousand Amazon reviews, resulting in overall ratings well above 4 stars!
We purchased the Dozyant adapter along with the Worthington tank years ago and have used it camping countless times. The fitting has flawlessly connected to multiple stoves and grills without any issues whatsoever – while I’ve had some of the 1 lb tanks nearly strip the threads.
If you’re looking for the top choice in 5 lb propane tanks, go with Worthington. And for the ultimate propane adapter hose, use Dozyant!
Other Propane Adapter Hose Options
Before we go over this list, I want to make sure you’re aware of one thing. It may seem obvious, but a longer adapter hose requires more propane to fill it up and reach the grill or stove. Each time you disconnect the hose, that propane escapes and is lost. You can decrease the amount of waste by turning off the tank early and burning the residual amount as you finish cooking/heating, but it will always waste a bit. And the longer the hose, the more the waste.
So while a 20′ propane adapter hose might sound convenient, I recommend sticking with as short of a hose as possible to minimize waste and to let your tank last longer.
Propane Tank Hose Adapters:
KIBOW Propane Tank Hose Adapter – Not quite as popular as the Dozyant, but another solid option for a 4 foot propane adapter.
Dozyant 12 Feet Stainless Steel Braided Propane Adapter Hose 1 lb to 20 lb – A longer version from my recommended brand, made with stainless steel braided hose.
GASPRO 18 Feet Propane Adapter Hose 1 lb to 20 lb – An even longer hose for those who really need to stretch things out! I recommend only using this with a 20 lb propane tank due to the fuel needed to fill the line. Perfect for those with a 20 lb tank in a secure location on your rig!
Propane Tank Brackets and Storage Options
Make sure to be aware of the rules and safety regulations regarding the transportation of propane tanks. Here are some storage solutions for keeping propane tanks secure.
Tanksetter Compact Portable Cylinder Propane Tank Base – A lightweight option (which does NOT require bolting down) to give nearly any propane tank a bit more stability during transit.
Propane Tank Bracket for 9″ Diameter Cylinder – An adjustable bracket that fits a lot of the 5, 10, and 11 lb propane tanks. Great option for secure transportation.
Amerex 810 Heavy Duty Vehicle Bracket – This is meant for fire extinguishers, but can fit most tanks up to about 7″ diameter (good for tall/skinny tanks). Throwing this out there to show another world of brackets which might be of use to some serious overlanders.
Final Thoughts on 5 lb Camping Propane Tanks
Hopefully you’re convinced to stop using the 1 lb propane tanks. They are wasteful, overpriced, and far too often don’t even cover the basic needs of most campers. If you really want to stick with them, get the Flame King 1 lb refillable tank.
But for most people, ditch the 1 lb tanks, get as short of an adapter hose as you can, and get a small 5 lb propane tank for camping. You will be ready to tackle the great outdoors without having the headache of using the small green bottles ever again.
Do you have any advice for getting rid of single use camping or travel items? Share your sustainable ideas by leaving a comment below!