Buying camping cookers and stoves
See also: Choosing the right gear
Camping stoves come in different styles, sizes and fuel types, all with different benefits depending on the type of trip you’re planning.
From lightweight cooking systems to double burner units with grills, camping stoves and cookers come in a range of different styles, sizes and fuel types.
So whether you want to heat a tin of beans or rustle up a gourmet standard meal, you'll be able to find the perfect cooker for your needs.
If you are feeling ambitious, you can even do a Sunday roast in a camping oven!
- Camping stove fuel options
- Single burners
- Twin burners
- Electric camping cookers
- Lightweight cookers
- Windshields for camping
Camping stove fuel options
There are several fuel options for camping cookers, but gas - propane, butane or a mixture of both - is by far the most popular, either in a cartridge or cylinder.
Propane can be used in much colder temperatures than butane but for general family camping, a cartridge will usually have a mixture of both that will be ideal for use all year round.
However their use with larger stoves is the most practical option by far, especially for families and other groups.
Cookers like the classic single burner stoves use cartridges which clip and lock into place and can be disconnected when not in use.
Small camping stoves, especially for backpacking and lightweight camping, use disposable cartridges that screw or clip on to the equipment. They come in two types – pierceable or with an integral valve – and in a range of sizes.
Other appliances such as double burner stoves and barbecues use larger refillable bottles and need an appropriate hose and a regulator to control the gas pressure delivered to the appliance.
Check with your retailer which type of regulator you will need for your gas and cooker as they often aren’t supplied with the appliance.
Other fuel options include alcohol and methylated spirits. Unleaded petrol and even aviation fuel can be used in some cookers for longer trips in cold climates but for family camping these would be rare.
Single burner cookers
Simple, compact and relatively lightweight, single burner camping cookers are inexpensive and can be found in all camping shops and many supermarkets. They come in their own carry case and run on gas cartridges, which easily clip into place and can be replaced in seconds.
For one-pot cooking and brews, they are absolutely fine. They’re rather limiting for anything too ambitious but for frying bacon or sausages or heating up a tin of beans they are really all you need.
If buying one of these gas cookers online, make sure the brand is reliable and from a trustworthy source , as there have been examples of cheap, sub-standard models bought from overseas that have exploded, causing serious injuries.
Double burner cookers
With a double burner gas cooker and the right pots, you can tackle almost any meal that you would cook at home.
Some double ring cookers sit on a table top or a specialist kitchen unit. You’ll find more information about buying camping furniture here.
More advanced camping cookers come with their own foldable legs and built-in windshields.
A grill option means you don’t need to fry everything and makes toast much easier than relying on burner-top camp toasters.
Double burner cookers use the larger gas bottles and you will need a suitable hose and regulator to control the gas pressure.
Electric camping cookers
Cooking inside your tent on a gas stove is generally not recommended. Not only does it pose a fire risk, but you face the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Unfortunately, the great British weather means cooking outdoors is not always possible – so an electric stove could be the answer.
Electric camping cookers are less common than gas and obviously it relies on you having access to an electric hook-up on the campsite. But they are safer than gas, especially if you have young children in the tent.
Remember that induction hobs require pans that contain iron to work so make sure your cook set is compatible.
Lightweight camping cookers
For solo campers, lightweight stoves are the way to go. These are lightweight and compact and basically screw directly into the gas bottle. They can be quite unstable in rugged ground but are ideal for lightweight camping.
Cooking ‘systems’ such as Jetboil and MSR’s Reactor, where the pot is integrated with the cooker, have become really popular in recent years although, of course, Trangia led the way decades ago.
The Biolite stove lets you use twigs and other natural fuel sources and at the same time, generates enough energy to recharge your mobile phone.
Windshields for camping cookers
A good windshield is essential when you are cooking outdoors. Some bigger cookers come with them built-in, but even then it’s worth buying a standalone shield, to really protect the flames.
Without a windshield, water takes ages to boil and food takes longer to cook, using up more gas than necessary. And if the wind is too strong it might never be ready.
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