19/04/2022
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The best camping cookers and stoves

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Gas camping stoves come in all sorts of different styles and sizes, all with different benefits depending on the type of trip you’re planning.

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Finding the right cooker

From lightweight cooking systems to double-burner units with grills, there is something to suit every need and budget, no matter the level of your cooking skills.

Don’t expect exactly the same performance as your gas cooker at home, though. The rings might not be as quick to boil water and, all too often, you won’t be able to get the controls down low enough for the lightest of simmering. But that shouldn’t put you off.

There’s a wide variety of gas cartridges and cylinders – ranging from pierceable, clip-on or screw-on versions of the former. Typically larger, cylinders can be propane or butane, while cartridges tend to be a mix of both.  

Check if a regulator is needed and included in the price of your cooker. Make sure you’re supplied with sufficient rubber piping, too. It’s usually black for low-pressure devices and orange for use with cylinders.

Whatever cooker you go for, there’s no reason not to let your inner gourmet loose and, even if you only want a brew, there’s some thinking to do about what’s ideal. Our round-up lifts the lid on the many gas cookers that are out there.


Camping stoves put to the test

Whether you want to heat a tin of beans or rustle up a gourmet-standard meal, you can find the perfect camping cooker for your needs. Camping magazine editor Iain Duff puts a selection of gas stoves through their paces.

#1 Outwell Jimbu

Outwell Jimbu

(Picture by Iain Duff)

Price: £109.99

Weight: 3kg

Burner output: 3.5kW

Website: outwell.com

Our review:

At first glance, this tabletop cooker looks like a conventional double-burner stove, but it actually offers a couple of key features that make it stand out from the crowd.

First is how it’s powered. Most stoves of this size connect to a refillable gas bottle through a rubber hose and regulator. The Jimbu, though, uses smaller, self-sealing gas cartridges via a steel braided hose that comes included. It basically means you can get cooking straight out the box, without the faff of buying the right regulator and attaching it.

The compactness of the cooker and canister means it takes up a lot less space in the car boot, a bonus when you’re carrying a lot of kit with you. I took it on a two-week tour around Europe and it was ideal for the job, and I’ve been using it regularly for the last three years.

The second difference is the actual burners themselves. The Jimbu offers the versatility of a single gas burner alongside a removable grill plate with non-stick finish. It means you can cook in a pan on the standard burner while grilling on the plate at the same time. A fairly minor issue with a temperamental piezo ignition aside, I’ve found it to be a practical, easy to use and versatile stove.


#2 Outdoor Revolution Twin Burner Stove & Grill

Outdoor Revolution Twin Burner Stove & Grill

(Photo courtesy of Outdoor Revolution)

Price: £76

Weight: 3.87kg

Burner output: 2 x 1.4kW (grill 0.6kW)

Website: vango.co.uk

Our review:

With twin burners and a grill, this piece of kit lets you tackle pretty much any meal that you can cook at home. But where I’ve found it really comes into its own is at breakfast time.

Cooking a full English (or Scottish, in my case) on the campsite can be tricky, and usually involves trying to keep several elements warm as you go along. But the powerful double burner means you can have bacon, sausages, black pudding and fried eggs all on the go at one time. If you do need to keep anything warm, you can stick it under the grill for a few minutes until everything else is ready.

The grill also means you don’t need to fry everything and, perhaps more importantly, makes toast so much easier than relying on those hopeless burner-top camp toasters!

Unusually for a double burner and grill, this runs off a 450g screw-fitting butane/propane canister rather than a heavy, refillable cylinder, cutting down on space and weight when you’re on the move.

This is a great option for weekend trips with the family, and it comes in at a decent price, too.

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#3 Campingaz Camp’Bistro 3

Campingaz Camp’Bistro 3

(Photo courtesy of Campingaz)

Price: £76

Weight: 3.87kg

Burner output: 2 x 1.4kW (grill 0.6kW)

Website: vango.co.uk

Our review:

For me, this is a camping design classic. I’ve had a single-burner like this since the very first time I went camping and I pack one in the boot of the car for every journey, whether camping or not. 

You’ll see plenty of versions of this in the shops and online – some of them temptingly cheap. But beware of cut-price imitations – there’s a certain reassurance from seeing the Campingaz name on the side that makes it worthwhile to pay that little bit extra. I’ve used others and, while they generally work fine, I’m always happier to have that famous French brand.

This new version of the Camp’Bistro has had a few subtle design tweaks to make it even safer to use, but it is essentially the same stove that it’s always been.

It is still extremely easy to use, operating off a simple gas cartridge, so there’s no need to take a bulky cylinder. And the cartridge locking system makes it almost impossible to set up wrong. The Camp’Bistro is perfect for single pot cooking, frying bacon or simply boiling the kettle for a brew, and it’s just as useful for days at the beach as for weekend camping trips. A camping essential.


#4 Vango Combi IR Grill Compact

Vango Combi IR Grill Compact

(Photo courtesy of Vango)

Price: £76

Weight: 3.87kg

Burner output: 2 x 1.4kW (grill 0.6kW)

Website: vango.co.uk

Our review:

The Combi IR Grill Compact is a traditional two-burner stove with the addition of something called an infrared grill. This infrared technology has been around for a few years now and it has been hailed as the microwave of outdoor cooking. 

There’s lots of baffling science behind it, involving the likes of electromagnetic spectrums and heatwaves. But in simple terms, the main benefit is that it provides very high heat output and cooks evenly but remains low on fuel consumption and emissions.

In fact, Vango says it saves 10% on fuel and delivers a 90% reduction on emissions. The Compact is a smaller and lighter (and cheaper) version of the original double-burner cooker, and has all the features you’d expect, including piezo ignition, a drip tray, anti-slip feet, windshields and a vibrant green, lockable protective lid.

Overall I found the cooker was extremely easy to set up with the gas bottle and it was very straightforward to use. The IR Grill certainly performed as well as promised, creating a good, even heat across the food – although I haven’t used it long enough to really vouch for the longer-term fuel efficiency claims.


#5 Campingaz Camping Chef Folding CV

Campingaz Camping Chef Folding CV

(Photo courtesy of Campingaz)

Price: £69.99

Weight: 4.8kg

Burner output: 2 x 1,500kW (grill 1.5kW)

Website: campingaz.com/uk

Our review:

This is a brand-new twin-burner stove for 2022, and is just the thing for feeding a hungry family on longer holidays.

I’ve not had as much time to put it through its paces as I’d like, but it is almost identical to the existing Camping Chef Folding Stove, which I’m very familiar with. The difference between the two is that the CV operates with a CV470 canister, while the older version uses a larger gas bottle, with a regulator. As is the case with the other similar stoves in this round-up, that makes it much easier to pack and transport.

In the old Camping Chef cooker, critics felt the grill pan was too far away from the flame to make it work properly, and that has been remedied in this replacement version. I’m pleased to report that the grill does make very good toast indeed, and the two burners also do a fine job, with good-sized pan supports for large pots.

It all packs away neatly into its own case, which comes with a carry handle. While there are other stoves that look and operate fairly similar to this, the Campingaz brand gives you the reassurance that this is one that won’t let you down.


#6 Primus Alika

Primus Alika

(Photo courtesy of Primus)

Price: £245

Weight: 4.7kg

Burner output: 3kW/3.9kW

Website: primusequipment.com

Our review:

There’s no doubt that Scandinavians know how to do outdoor living properly. It’s an integral part of the Nordic culture, instilled in children from a very young age. In Sweden, where the Primus is from, communal cooking and eating around a campfire is a big thing and the Alika stove was designed with that in mind.

The large cooking surface can easily handle two big pots and the body of the stove is designed to let two people cook side by side. Alternatively, the removable lid provides 360° access to the burners, so you can have a chef working on both sides at the same time. The burners are different sizes and are ideal for cooking on a range of pans. Another nifty feature is that you can flip the pan supports to create a flat griddle surface.

The lid also doubles as a pot stand when it’s removed from the main body of the stove. It operates off a small canister so there’s no need to buy a regulator.

Scandinavia is famous for is its design, and the Alika is lovely to look at. It’s not cheap, though. This is aimed squarely at the sort of camper who wants to buy into a lifestyle, but they’re certainly getting a quality product for their money.

 


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