A Comprehensive Buying Guide for Camping Stoves and Cookers
When you head out for camping, whether it's an expedition, a family vacation, or Duke of Edinburgh, you'll likely need a stove for cooking. Surviving outdoors for more than a day means you'll need gas. Gas stoves are essential for camping, whether you're in lowlands or high mountains. But how do you choose the right one?
In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about camping stoves and gas canisters. We'll cover different gas types, disposal of empty canisters, and safety tips. So, let's explore the world of camping stoves and cookers.
What is a camping stove?
A camping stove is a vital tool for any camping trip. While campfires and marshmallow toasting have their charm, when hunger strikes, you need a reliable way to cook. Portable camping stoves provide an easy way to heat, grill, toast, or boil food and drinks. They are lightweight and easy to carry in your backpack, running on gas canisters or small cartridges.
How Gas Stoves Work
Gas stoves use liquefied gas for fuel, typically a mixture of butane and propane. These gases evaporate as they leave the canister and reach the burner as gas. Operating a gas stove is simple and safe – attach the stove to the gas canister and light the burner. Gas canisters come in various types, each requiring different attachment methods such as piercing, screwing on, or clipping on.
Types of Camping Cookers
Double Burner and Grill
A double burner and grill is a type of camping or outdoor cooking equipment that combines two burners for cooking with a grill surface for grilling food. This versatile setup allows campers and outdoor enthusiasts to prepare a variety of meals, from boiling water and cooking pasta to grilling burgers and vegetables.
Gas Bottle: Double burner and grill cookers typically use the larger gas bottles with a regulator - Camping Gaz 907 bottles or Calor Gas
Benefits of a Double Burner and Grill:
- Versatility: The primary advantage of a double burner and grill is its versatility. You can perform a wide range of cooking tasks on a single piece of equipment, reducing the need for multiple cooking devices. This is particularly useful when you have limited space or want to simplify your outdoor cooking setup.
- Time Efficiency: With two burners and a grill, you can cook multiple items simultaneously. For example, you can boil water for coffee while grilling bacon and eggs on the side. This saves time and allows you to serve hot meals more quickly.
- Varied Cooking Methods: You have the flexibility to use different cooking methods. Boil, simmer, sauté, or fry on the burners, while grilling lets you achieve that distinctive grilled flavor and texture. This variety makes it easier to prepare a diverse menu while camping.
Negatives of a Double Burner and Grill:
- Size and Weight: Double burner and grill combos can be relatively bulky and heavy compared to single-purpose camping stoves. This can make them less suitable for backpacking or situations where weight and space are crucial considerations.
- Cost: Double burner and grill units are typically more expensive than basic single-burner stoves. If you're on a tight budget, this might be a drawback.
- Maintenance: Cleaning and maintaining the grill component can be more challenging than caring for a basic stove. The grill grates may need thorough cleaning to remove grease and food residue.
Single-Burner Camping Stoves
A single-burner camping stove is a portable cooking device designed for outdoor use. As the name suggests, it typically features a single burner for cooking food and boiling water.
Gas Bottle: MSF-1A butane cartridge
Benefits of a Single-Burner Camping Stove:
- Portability: Single-burner camping stoves are compact and lightweight, making them easy to transport in a backpack or camping gear. They are ideal for outdoor campers who require a basic and easily transportable cooking solution.
- Simplicity: These stoves are easy to set up and use. They often have a straightforward design with minimal components, making them user-friendly, especially for beginners.
- Fuel Efficiency: Single-burner stoves are generally fuel-efficient, providing a reliable source of heat for cooking. They are designed to optimize the use of fuel, such as propane, butane, or liquid fuel, ensuring that you can prepare meals efficiently.
- Quick Cooking: Many single-burner stoves offer rapid heating and boiling times, allowing you to cook meals and boil water quickly. This can be especially important when you're hungry and need a hot meal without delay.
- Cost-Effective: Single-burner camping stoves are often more affordable than larger, multi-burner models. They provide a cost-effective solution for solo campers or small groups.
Negatives of a Single-Burner Camping Stove:
- Limited Cooking Capacity: The primary drawback of single-burner stoves is their limited cooking capacity. With only one burner, you can cook or heat one dish at a time, which may not be suitable for larger groups or complex meals.
- Basic Features: Single-burner stoves tend to have fewer features compared to larger, more advanced camping stoves. For example, they may lack adjustable flame controls, built-in windshields, or integrated grills.
- Fuel Dependency: These stoves rely on specific types of fuel, such as propane canisters or liquid fuel bottles. If you run out of fuel during your trip, it can be challenging to continue cooking until you can obtain more fuel.
- Stability: Some single-burner stoves can be less stable than larger models, especially on uneven or rocky surfaces. Ensuring a stable cooking platform may require additional setup.
- Cooking Space: The limited space on a single-burner stove can be a challenge when using larger cookware or multiple pots and pans. This can make meal preparation less convenient.
A backpacking camping stove is a portable and lightweight cooking device specifically designed for backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts who need a compact and efficient way to cook meals while on the trail or in remote locations. These stoves are intended for minimalists who prioritize portability, weight savings, and simplicity in their camping gear.
Gas canisters - Screw on butane propane mix
Benefits of a Backpacking Camping Stove:
- Portability: These stoves are incredibly portable and designed to be carried in a backpack. They are compact and lightweight, making them ideal for backpackers and hikers who need to minimize the weight and volume of their gear.
- Efficiency: Backpacking stoves are engineered for fuel efficiency. They are designed to use a minimal amount of fuel to achieve maximum heat output, allowing users to conserve fuel during their trips.
- Quick Setup: These stoves are typically easy to set up and ignite, providing a quick and hassle-free way to start cooking. Many models come with integrated ignition systems, eliminating the need for matches or lighters.
- Compact Cooking: While compact, these stoves are capable of boiling water and cooking simple meals. They are suitable for single or dual users who need basic cooking capabilities while camping.
Negatives of a Backpacking Camping Stove:
- Limited Cooking Capacity: The primary drawback of backpacking stoves is their limited cooking capacity. They typically have a single burner, which means you can only cook one dish at a time. This may not be ideal for larger groups or complex meals.
- Basic Features: These stoves often have minimal features compared to larger camping stoves. While some models have adjustable flame control, integrated windshields, or pot supports, they may lack the conveniences of larger stoves.
- Stability: Some backpacking stoves can be less stable than larger models, especially when placed on uneven surfaces. Careful setup and balancing may be necessary.
- Cooking Space: The limited space on a backpacking stove can be restrictive when using larger cookware or multiple pots and pans. This may make meal preparation less convenient for certain dishes.
A camping electric griddle is a portable cooking appliance designed for outdoor use, particularly when camping, RVing, or picnicking. It consists of a flat cooking surface that is heated by electricity, allowing you to cook a variety of foods like pancakes, eggs, bacon, burgers, and vegetables. These griddles are specifically designed to be used in outdoor settings and are usually more compact and portable than their indoor counterparts.
Power Source: Mains electric
Benefits of a Camping Electric Griddle:
- Convenience: Camping electric griddles are easy to use. Just plug them into a power source, set the desired temperature, and they heat up quickly, providing a consistent and even cooking surface.
- Versatility: The flat and spacious cooking surface of a griddle allows you to cook multiple items at once or prepare larger meals. This versatility makes it suitable for group camping or when you want to make a variety of dishes.
- Even Cooking: Electric griddles typically have a consistent heat distribution, resulting in even cooking across the entire surface. This ensures that your food is cooked uniformly without hot spots.
- Easy Cleanup: Many camping electric griddles come with non-stick cooking surfaces, making them easy to clean. This is especially convenient when camping, where access to running water may be limited.
- No Open Flame: Unlike traditional camping stoves that use gas or open flames, electric griddles are safer in terms of fire hazards. They also eliminate the need to carry and manage fuel canisters.
Negatives of a Camping Electric Griddle:
- Power Source Dependency: To use a camping electric griddle, you need access to a power source, such as a campground electrical hookup. This can limit your camping locations as you will need to go to sites with mains hookup points.
- Size and Weight: Camping electric griddles can be bulkier and heavier than other camping cooking equipment, which may not be ideal for backpackers or those with limited space in their camping setup.
- Outdoor Exposure: Electric griddles are designed for outdoor use but should be protected from rain and moisture to avoid electrical hazards and damage to the appliance. This means you might need to use them under a shelter or awning.
Camping Induction Hobs
A camping induction hob is a portable cooking appliance designed for outdoor use, particularly during camping trips, RV adventures, or other outdoor activities. It utilises electromagnetic induction technology to generate heat, allowing you to cook food on a flat, smooth cooking surface. These hobs are specifically designed to be used in outdoor settings and are known for their efficiency and safety features.
Benefits of a Camping Induction Hob:
- Speed and Precision: Induction hobs heat up quickly and offer precise temperature control. You can achieve high or low heat levels instantly, making them ideal for various cooking techniques.
- Safety: Induction hobs are considered one of the safest cooking methods for outdoor use. They do not produce open flames or hot surfaces that can cause burns or fires. The heat is generated directly in the cookware, and the cooking surface remains cool to the touch.
- Efficiency: Induction cooking is highly efficient, as it heats only the cookware and the food inside it. There is minimal wasted heat, making it energy-efficient and reducing fuel consumption during camping.
- Even Cooking: The even and consistent heat distribution of induction hobs ensures that food is cooked uniformly without hot spots. This is particularly useful for preparing delicate dishes that require precise temperature control.
- Easy Cleanup: Induction hobs often feature smooth glass or ceramic surfaces that are easy to clean. Spills and splatters can be wiped away with minimal effort.
Negatives of a Camping Induction Hob:
- Power Source Dependency: To operate an induction hob, you need access to a reliable power source, such as a campground electrical hookup. This can limit your camping locations as you will a site with an electric hookup point.
- Cookware Compatibility: Induction hobs require magnetic cookware with a ferrous (iron-based) bottom to function properly. Not all camping cookware may be compatible, so you may need to invest in suitable pots and pans.
- Weight and Size: Camping induction hobs can be bulkier and heavier than some other portable cooking equipment, which may not be suitable for backpackers or those with limited space in their camping setup.
- Cost: Camping induction hobs can be more expensive than other camping stoves or cooking options due to their advanced technology.
Choosing the Right Gas
Selecting the right gas for your camping stove is crucial. Two main options are available: refillable gas cylinders and canisters.
Refillable Gas Cylinders
Refillable gas cylinders come in butane or propane and various sizes. Most camping stoves work with both butane and propane, depending on the regulator you use. These cylinders offer versatility and can be refilled, making them suitable for extended camping trips.
Pierceable Gas Canisters
Pierceable canisters are lightweight and affordable, ideal for short-term camping trips. However, they can only attach to specific stoves and cannot be removed until empty.
Threadable Gas Canisters
Threadable canisters are reusable and suitable for multiple camping trips. They are lightweight and self-seal, fitting most stoves with a threaded attachment point. These canisters are commonly found at campsites and often screw-on cylinders.
Resealable Gas Canisters
Resealable canisters, sometimes called 'aerosol canisters,' are cost-effective and compatible with bistro-style stoves. They are lightweight and easy to use. Aerosol canisters can also be used to refill larger canisters.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Gas Stove
When picking a stove for your camping trip, there are some important things to think about.
First, think about how you'll be getting around. If you're hiking, your stove and fuel will be in your backpack, so it should be light and not take up too much space.
The weather and where you camp matter a lot. Cold weather and wind can affect how well your stove works. Stoves with a wind guard can help with this, and ones made from reflective material keep the heat in.
Speaking of reflections, using a reflective base plate under your stove can stop heat from escaping into the cold ground and keep things safe.
Also, remember that if your gas canister gets too hot, it can explode. So, make sure there's some ventilation if it's warm out.
The most important thing to think about when choosing a stove and fuel is the type of gas you'll use.
Butane or propane gas: which one is better?
Most camping stoves use either propane, butane, or a mix of both gases. The key difference is in the temperatures they work best at, determined by their boiling points.
Camping stoves are handy tools, but they become less efficient in colder temperatures because the gas doesn't evaporate well. So, for chilly camping trips, you want gas with a lower boiling point.
Butane is less harmful than propane and offers about 12% more energy. However, it has a boiling point of 0°C, making it unsuitable for cold weather (5°C and below). While it can save you money, it's not the right choice for winter or chilly climates.
Propane is lighter, has higher pressure, and a lower boiling point (-42°C) compared to butane. Higher pressure means it burns hotter, cooks faster, and performs better in the cold.
You probably won't be camping in extreme cold in the UK, but propane is your go-to for winter trips.
Alternatively, some stoves use a mix of propane and butane. This combines the efficiency of butane with the versatility of propane. That's why many camping canisters contain a gas blend.
In certain cases, you might come across isobutane. It's similar to regular butane in efficiency but has higher pressure and a boiling point of -12°C.
How do you dispose of a gas canister?
When you've wrapped up your camping adventure and used up multiple gas canisters, it's essential to dispose of them safely and responsibly. Here's a closer look at the steps you should take:
1. Empty the Canister Completely: Before you even think about disposal, make sure the gas canister is entirely empty. Check for any lingering fuel or gas that might remain inside. Emptying the canister ensures there's no risk of accidental combustion during the disposal process.
2. Pierce the Canister: To make it clear that the canister is empty and safe, you'll need to pierce it. This step is crucial because it signals to others that the canister is no longer in use. Use a sharp tool to carefully puncture the canister. This piercing should be done in a controlled and safe manner to prevent any accidents.
3. Mark the Hole: After you've pierced the canister, it's a good idea to mark the hole you've created. This simple action increases visibility and helps avoid any confusion. You can use a pen or a marker to clearly indicate that the canister is no longer filled with gas.
By following these steps, you not only ensure your safety but also take a responsible approach to disposing of gas canisters. It's an essential part of being environmentally conscious during your camping adventures. Proper disposal prevents harm to the environment and helps maintain the beauty of the outdoors for future generations of campers to enjoy.
Camping Stove and Gas Canister Safety
Safety should always be a top priority when it comes to camping stoves and gas canisters. These containers hold compressed fuel, which, if mishandled, can pose significant risks. To ensure your camping experience remains enjoyable and free from accidents, it's essential to adhere to the following safety guidelines:
1. Gear Inspection: Precaution First
Before you even think about igniting your camping stove, take a moment to inspect your equipment thoroughly. Faulty gear can lead to fires and other hazardous situations. Check for any signs of wear and tear, such as damaged hoses or connections. Ensure that all parts are securely fastened and in good condition. Regular gear maintenance can prevent potential disasters down the road.
2. Outdoor Cooking: Fresh Air Is Essential
When it's time to whip up a meal, opt for cooking in the great outdoors. Cooking outside the tent in a well-ventilated area is a fundamental safety measure. This practice prevents the accumulation of smoke and dangerous fumes inside your shelter, reducing the risk of suffocation or fire hazards. Adequate ventilation ensures that any gases produced during cooking are safely dispersed into the open air.
3. Flammable Materials: Keep Your Distance
Maintain a safe separation between your gas cylinders, flammable liquids, and open flames. This includes keeping spare gas canisters away from any active cooking or heating elements. Flammable substances can catch fire or explode when exposed to direct heat, making it imperative to store them at a safe distance. This proactive approach minimizes the potential for dangerous accidents that could ruin your camping experience.
4. Child Safety: A Watchful Eye
Children are naturally curious, and their curiosity can lead them to explore the cooking area. To prevent accidents, store matches and lighters out of their reach. Keep these fire-starting tools well away from the cooking area when your stove is lit. By securing these items, you reduce the risk of children accidentally igniting a fire or getting injured while playing near the stove.
5. Stable Ground: The Foundation of Safety
Cooking on an unstable surface is a recipe for disaster. Ensure your stove is set up on level ground to prevent accidents and fires. A wobbly stove can lead to spills and accidents, not to mention the potential danger of a hot stove toppling over. By choosing a stable location, you create a secure foundation for your cooking activities, enhancing overall safety.
By following these safety measures, you can enjoy the convenience of a camping stove while minimizing the inherent risks associated with handling gas canisters and open flames. Your safety and the safety of those around you are paramount, ensuring a worry-free and memorable camping experience.