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Camping Stoves

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
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There are several different types of stoves for camping, coming in all different shapes and sizes and powered by different fuels so it can be very confusing when determining which to buy.

Types of Fuel

To simplify the range of stoves available, you can categorise them in terms of the fuel they burn. The most common fuel types are:

Gas Canisters

These usually consist of a propane and butane mix and provide a good level of performance. The best thing about gas canisters is their ease of use. You just switch on the stove, light it and you're away. The downside are the running costs and the waste (disposing of the empty canister) The canisters are available in many sizes and in a variety of fittings for several different types of stove so if you choose this method, be sure to check that the canisters you buy will fit onto your specific stove. They aren't suitable for high altitude cooking or for use in extreme cold conditions as these will both affect the pressure inside the canister and, thus, will reduce performance.

Petroleum Based Liquid Fuel

These stoves all need some method of pressurising the fuel (usually an integral pump) and need priming to pre-heat the fuel and convert it to gas. This means that the liquid fuel stove will take a little extra effort to light. On the plus side, a liquid fuel stove will perform better in a wide range of situations and will cost less to run. Liquid fuel stoves will often also be multi fuel stoves which burn a range of liquid fuels giving them more versatility. They also use fuel more economically than other camping stoves which mean that you have to carry less fuel which can be important if you have limits on the weight you can carry.

Methylated Spirits

These stoves rely on the vapour emitted from a static burner. They're generally considered to be safer than other stoves as they're less explosive and burn at a lower temperature. However, this does mean that cooking takes longer.

Solid Fuel

These stoves use tablets or gels and are generally safe, lightweight and very cheap. However, they take longer to cook with, are generally messy to use and offer no real adjustability.

Stove Types

Choosing a stove should be something you consider in relation to the fuel you wish to use and just like fuels, they come in several shapes and sizes and designed for all different purposes. That said, they can be broadly categorised into three types:

Mountain Stoves

These have to be strong, reliable and lightweight and come with a fast boil time. They're usually liquid fuel stoves as this gives you the power and performance in extreme conditions. A mountain stove will usually be designed so that its burner is low to the ground and its fuel source detachable for easy packing. There are a few gas canister based mountain stoves available using the same design principles as the liquid fuel range which perform well on British mountains but would not be suitable for high altitudes or extremely low temperatures.

Backpacking Stoves

These can be used for virtually any purpose and you'll often see them if you're out rambling, hiking, cycling or fishing. They're easy to use and relatively light to carry. They can either be fuelled by gas canister, methylated spirit or solid fuel. Each type of fuel offers the backpacker different advantages. The convenience of gas canisters, the safety and economy of methylated spirit burners and then there's the simplicity and low price of solid fuel burners, although the latter can only really be used for short camping trips.

Family Camping Stoves

Family camping stoves have to be safe and easy to use. The weight of the stove is not usually an issue as these are more the kinds of stove you would only transport by car. A family stove will usually be powered by a larger gas canister than the mountain or backpacker equivalents and the design will quite often follow the form of a normal domestic hob. Quite often, these types of stove will come with a grill attachment, the aim of them being functionality.

These are just the basic facts. It's always wise to take a look at the various options for yourself and weigh up the pros and cons depending on the types of trip you take, the number of people who will require use of the stove and the climate and conditions in which you're planning your camp trip.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I absolutely love 'survival' camping, but haven't been since I had my little one. My kid's 5 next year, and I think that's old enough to start going again. I used to cook on campfires (only where it was legal of course) but I have a much stronger stomach than a 5 yo. I was wondering whether anyone could give me some advice on lightweight camping stoves, as I don't want to risk feeding my kid something that's undercooked or anything. Is a gas stove or a solid fuel stove better? (i.e. lighter to carry, safer to use, easier to store fuel.) I should note that I'm not particularly fussed about using the temperature adjustability, I've cooked on campfires, so I can work around that. Thank you for any help!
Survivalist - 14-Aug-15 @ 6:36 PM
A camping gas stove is the most popular choice, agreed, but by laying out all the options the article allows people to know about some of the other types of stove available, which many might not know about, like the mountain stove. For most people, though, it’ll be the standard stove of backpack stove.
Tentman - 24-Sep-12 @ 10:57 AM
You lay things out and show what's available, but you don't make any specific recommendations. For most people the regular camping stove powered by canister gas is fine, especially as they'll be going in a group or with family, so they'll need the extra room to cooker bigger dishes. Most others will already have their choices made through experience.
Tom - 30-May-12 @ 11:07 AM
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