Today, the most common portable stoves that you will find on the market are powered by propane or by butane. Both gases are used regularly for many different purposes, but propane is considerably more popular and common throughout most of the world. Propane is used to heat houses up, to fuel barbecues and lanterns and also used in some vehicles (as LPG). Butane powered gas stoves tend to burn more efficiently than propane ones, and the butane gas is also cheaper. What this means is that a lot of backpackers choose to use butane as they need to conserve weight as much of possible!
The biggest problem with butane though is that the gas does not like cold temperatures. Propane can be used in the snow (and will be taken over anything that runs on butane) simply because butane will freeze up and become unusable. When you are literally surviving because of the gas that you carry, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the right ones! Propane is stored at a higher pressure point, which means that it is much better equipped for elements and being bashed around a little bit.
A lot of people purchase butane powered gas stoves with the little canisters that are about the size of a drink bottle. These are used up incredibly fast, and although they are cheap you end up paying for the packaging more than the gas itself. Propane is usually kept in larger bottles, which is great if you are camping with a car. I much prefer propane, but then butane burners do have their own advantages, as mentioned above.