If you plan to head into the wild, it’s useful to carry a camping stove unless you plan to live off cold beans and trail mix. Given the vast market for camping stoves, it can be a headache to choose the best deal. There’s a massive amount of models, types, and price ranges. To help ease this process, we’ll show you how to choose a camping stove based on your needs!
How to Choose a Camping Stove – Types of Camping Stoves
As a result of the various types of stoves, it can seem frustrating to choose the right one. There are standard camping propane stoves, backpacking stoves, canister stoves, wood-burning stoves, and many more. So it’s understandable why it may seem tiresome. However, there are two main types of stoves, freestanding and tabletop designs. Both are great for outdoor camping but there are some essential differences.
For one, tabletop stoves are smaller and thus, lighter. Whereas freestanding is more like an outdoor grill. Additionally, freestanding stoves have more BTUs. BTU is short for British Thermal Units and determines the heat output. The higher the number of BTUs, the faster a stove can heat up.
These stoves benefit people with larger families or generally for a larger group. Tabletop designs on the other hand consist of lower output and fewer burners. As the name implies, tabletop stoves have to be mounted on top of a table. If you’re planning on purchasing a tabletop stove, it would be useful to also look for the best camping tables. For easy mobility, it may be useful to take a light folding table.
How to Choose a Camping Stove – Number of Burners
One burner, two burner, three burner, and even four! Determining the number of burners can be a question of how much you’re willing to cook. The typical camping stove carries two burners. Personal preference along with the number of people will help determine the number of burners needed. Popular models of double burners include the Camp Chef Explorer and the Eureka Ignite. For a larger crowd, the Stansport Outfitter is a fine stove.
How to Choose a Camping Stove – Types of Fuel
Now that we’ve discussed the types of camp stoves, let’s get into the types of fuels. The majority of camping stoves use propane however, there are other options. Of the other options, there’s kerosene, butane, solar power, and alcohol. All fuels have their advantages but can differ in their availability, efficiency and tolerance. Here we’ll compare the following fuels.
Although propane is one of the most common fuels, it does not perform efficiently under colder temperatures. However, an advantage to propane is it’s longevity in storage. It could almost keep indefinitely. It can also burn the cleanest. Propane is also one of the easiest sources of fuel to use.
Kerosene is similar to propane in the sense that it can be refilled like propane. It’s also the most prevalent liquid fuel option. Kerosene is widely available due to its many other uses besides fuel for stoves and can be found at major retailers. As opposed to propane, kerosene will work very well in colder temperatures but the priming process can be difficult.
Butane is considered a lightweight liquid because of the method in which its compressed. Word of caution with this fuel, this is not the fuel you’d want to carry during winters in Colorado. The reason why is because butane does not work well in high altitudes. You will have a hard time warming the fuel and can even be dangerous. However, it is one of the cleanest fuels to burn.
Out of our list of fuel types, solar power is definitely the most environmentally friendly. Obviously, this would not work on a cloudy day, as it would not be efficient. Also, it’s important to mention, the cooking time using solar power is longer compared to the other types of fuel.
Alcohol is the least frequently used fuel but it’s inexpensive and ultralight. The availability of alcohol depends on the type you prefer to use. Alcohol has many different mixes, all of which will work and ranks as the most available fuel. Alcohol just like propane and butane has a difficult time igniting in colder climates. Conversely, the longevity of alcohol can last up to five years and longer, if properly stored.
In addition to the basic considerations mentioned above, it’s important to look at extra features. Might as well get the most out of your new camping stove! Key features to look out for include the maintenance of the stove; how easy is the stove to clean? The cooking area is also just as important. Sometimes the distance between the burners can feel limited and consequently, can be awkward to cook in. Moreover, some pots could be more convenient to use with certain stoves. Looking into the best camping cookware for your stove would make the process simpler. Other key features to look for are leg levelers for tabletop stoves and wind resistance.
We hope our roundup of cooking stoves was useful and will help you narrow down your search to find the perfect camping stove for all your trips! Bon appétit!