In this article, I go over the different things that you have to look for in a camping stoves. I look at what is important and what is not, why you should care about getting the best camping stoves there is.
A camping stove is a portable cooking stove that is specially designed for camping, backpacking and other remote locations. It is necessary to find the most reliable and best camping stove for your camping trip as it is the easiest transportable means of cooking.
Camping can be wonderful, but after a long trek through the wilderness, you might feel like having a warm meal. Of course you can light a fire to keep you warm and boil water, but a warm meal might be nice. There is no quicker and easier way than using a camping stove.
When it comes to choosing the right stove you need to consider several factors like where you’ll be using the stove, how far you have to carry it as well as other factors like the kind of fuel you may need to use to light the stove. Now, we will be discussing about the important points which must be taken into consideration before making a purchase.
Main Fuel Types
A wide variety of camping stoves are available in the industry and some of the most commonly used main fuel types by these stoves are white gas, kerosene, diesel, automotive gasoline, denatured alcohol and etc…. Let’s have a look at the pro and con of the most commonly used main fuel types in different camping stoves, which will help you to pick the best stove with safest fuel compatibility:
White gas is also famous by the name of naphtha and Coleman fuel. It is the first choice of the North American people, when they are going out for a camping trip. Any pressurized camping stove will run better on white gas because it evaporates at a much lower temperature than other fuels.
- Pro: Ideal for cold temperatures and at high altitudes. In case of a spill, it will not leave a nasty residue.
- Con: Liquid fuel systems are a heavier option and they require priming. if it is exposed to air, then it will start to degrade at a higher speed.
Kerosene is mostly available in every corner of the world, which is the main reason behind its massive popularity among the tourists heading out for a camping trip. Kerosene is considered as a highly variable fuel because it is less refined in some parts of the world. In some cases, the kerosene will burn dirtier than you expected and as a result, it will block your stove quickly than you have expected.
- Pro: It is easily available and is less costly as compared to other fuels.
- Con: It is quite stinky and dirty and is also difficult to light.
Some people love it, while mostly hate it because of its strong odor. Moreover, it is dificult to light and also has high chances of causing the stove to flare up. However, it doesn’t require a lot of energy from crude oil for refining and is quite inexpensive. Many stoves that run on white gas or kerosene, will not be able to run on diesel. So, you should check your stove compatibility with fuels before purchasing diesel.
- Pros: It is not at all costly and is widely available.
- Cons: it is quite dirty and has a pervasive odor.
Denatured Alcohol (as an alternative fuel source)
Many people have not heard about denatured alcohol as a cooking fuel. Some professional camping enthusiasts build their own burners and use denatured alcohol as a cooking fuel. Howere, this fuel will not run well on most of the pressurized stoves.
You can find alcohol in most remote parts where hiking or backpacking is common. Look for denatured alcohol, preferably high ethanol content alcohol. Never use methanol, it is toxic.
- Pro: commonly available in various countries and it also fits a wide range of systems
- Con: If the alcohol is not pure enough, it can produce heavy soot.
Most of the best cooking stoves that run on white gas can also burn automotive gasoline without any difficulty. Before using this fuel, you should be well aware with its downsides. Some additives are being added to gasoline to make sure the car engines are run smoothly. These additives are not at all safe for the camping stove as they can damage the pump and fuel line. So, you should only use this fuel if you have no options left.
You might have some issue in finding the fuel. So, while looking out for a camping stove you must check the availability of fuel because all the fuels mentioned above are not easily available. It is better to buy a model compatible with diesel or kerosene than uying a model which runs on white gas because kerosene and diesel are easily available in each and every corners of the world.
Solid Fuel (as alternative fuel source)
— These are compact fuel tablets made of hexamine. They are lightweight and great for emergency situations.
- Pro: Light and easy to light
- Con: They burn for a short time and tend to be more expensive than other systems
When you’ve decided on the fuel you can now consider other factors that will make your stove ideal.
– For short overnight stays, propane camping stove or isobutane fuel systems are good.
- Pro: They are compact units and easy to use as well.
- Con: On the downside, they cost a lot and the fuel is hard to gauge.
Wood (as an alternative fuel source)
Wood as an option is ideal for long-distance hikes and very light
- Pro: Wood is easy to source even if you are on the go.
- Con: Need constant attention; tricky to control especially in windy situations
How Big Should Your Camping Stove Be?
The size of your camping stove will depend on the number of people you’ll be cooking for. Generally there are two sizes to choose from: A two-burner that sits on a tabletop or a freestanding stove
Group of 2 or less
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Group of 4 or less
For small groups of people just camping for a few days, a compact two burner will work just fine. Look for a camping stove that is light, will easily fit into the trunk of your car and has enough cooking power to suit a small group. With a Coleman Chef Everest you can use a 16-ounce canister or use a larger propane tank. Space is limited with this model so be sure that the usable cooking space fits your pot. Some products can only accommodate a 12” skillet and others can accommodate the same size skillet with the wind flaps removed. There are models that can fit two 12” sized skillets so before you buy a camping stove, pay heed to the dimensions but remember that they can only help you in deciding if the stove has enough cooking space. The size and placement of the burner are a good indication of the usable cooking space on the stove.
Group of 8 and more
Eight is a large number and you may need more than a standard two burner stove. Freestanding models are great for large groups. The advantage is that they don’t need a tabletop. Check out camping stoves that have more powerful burners and prep trays, which give you more cooking, space. You need to keep in mind that freestanding stoves take time to pack and unpack and they take up a lot of space. If space is an issue you might want to get two compact two-burner stoves.
Groups of seven or less
If you have a mid-sized group of say, seven, choosing the right camping stove can be hard. It might help to know what you’ll be cooking, or how long you expect to be out in the wilderness. Start off with a two-burner stove and include one more if the demands increase. A freestanding burner might be too bulky and too much of a hassle to lug around and assemble. With a two-burner stove you can cook meals that you’d typically cook at home like a Pasta and Sauce meal.
Coleman and other brands offer different versions of two-burners stove. The difference with these versions is the space for the pots. Standard versions work well for small families or groups but with a little creativity these can be used to even cook for as much as ten people. A campfire can always be used to heat up some dishes.
A camping stove has a limited fuel capacity. A stove with a low fuel capacity will be a great option for a small group of people, but not for the large group. So, you should always check the fuel capacity and make sure the model you have selected has enough fuel capacity to meet your demands.
Type of food you would be cooking
There are limited models in the industry that are capable of cooking all types of food. So, you should always have a clear idea about the food you would like to cook during the camp and then look out for the camping stoves.
You must check the durability of camping stoves because it is used in extremely rough conditions. You should not compromise with the durability of the camping stove and look out for the mode, which offers you the durability for a long period.
BTUs & Power
The power of a camping stove is measured by how many BTU’s (British Thermal Units) it. BTU is a measure of the amount of energy required to heat or cool one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. So the more BTUs a camping stove has, the more power it has. This should not be the only factor that you consider when buying a camping stove, you should also consider the cooking space it has.
Look at the time it takes to boil water
All stoves should be able to boil if the temperature is ideal, wind conditions are moderate and the group size is fairly manageable. However, before you choose a camping stove you should know how fast it could boil water. This is crucial if you have a big group and time is of the essence. Boiling water for your morning coffee should not be a two-hour event. The number of BTUs should be an adequate indicator, but it is not always the case.
Simmering capability and wind resistance
Most products that are tested can boil water relatively fast but they are unable to keep a small flame to simmer down. You should look for a model that can boil water fast but also keep a small flame without turning off when the burner is lowered. The fact that you are using a camping stove should not mean you should expect it to perform any less than your stove at home.
When it comes to wind resistance things are more straightforward. You can buy a camping stove with a windscreen or you can forego the windscreen and create your own by putting your stove in a protected area. If you camp in extremely windy places then its best to invest in a camp stove with a powerful burner and a windscreen.
As you know, a camping stove can help you to prepare meals during the trip; you should not hesitate in paying a little extra to buy the best model. There are several models available in the industry, but it is better to pick the best one because a top rated stove will make sure you do not have to face major difficulties during the trip, especially difficulties related to the food.
You should only buy a camping stove after doing proper research. The points mentioned above are extremely important. If you love camping and cooking, then you must take help of the important points mentioned above. These important points will help you to buy the best model in the industry, which will be good for your camping trip.
You do not need to empty your pockets to buy a campfire stove, so you can easily look out for the top rated models. If you wish to avail more discounts, then you should prefer o buy a camping stove from an online store rather than the retail store.