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Gear guide: camp stoves

OS Team • Gear Guide • Mar 07, 2022 • 10 mins

Cook in the great outdoors

This gear guide to camp stoves will introduce you to the different type of camp stoves available and highlight the key features you need to consider when buying one.
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Whether you’re brewing a cuppa or cooking a hearty meal, camp stoves can make a big difference to your outdoor adventures. There’s certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to choosing a camp stove and everyone’s needs will be different depending on where you intend to use it and what you intend to use it for.

outdoor cooking hiker 

Cooking in the great outdoors

What to consider when buying a camp stove?

When you're looking for the perfect camping stove, it's important to consider these seven key features:

Size

Where will you be using your stove? Does it need to fit into a small backpack? How big are the pots you intend to place on it?

Weight

Do you travel ultralight or is weight less of an issue? This all comes down to personal preference

Fuel

Gas, liquid or wood? More on that below

Boiling speed

Do you like to keep your stops brief or do you like to linger?

Insulation

Insulations decreases the time it takes to boil and limits the amount of fuel you ‘waste’.

Ease of use

The smallest annoyance can make a big difference if using the stove regularly over a long period of time.

Additional functions

Some stoves come with an integrated windshield and some even an USB charger.

All-in-one camp stove 

All-in-one camp stove

Different types of camp stove and their fuel

Gas canister stoves (butane or propane)

Best for…

  • Quick meals: No need to collect wood or build a fire.
  • Ease of use; portable, light and good value
  • Fire-free areas: Gas is useful when camping in BBQ and fire-free zones, like the New Forest National Park.

All-in-one stove system

Best for….

  • This type of gas stove combines the canister, burner and cooking pot making it pack down smaller and useful for backpacking trips.
  • Great for quickly heating hot water or dehydrated meals

Hose head stove

Hose head stove

Hose head stoves

Best for…..

  • Uneven ground or windy conditions where a burner attached on top of a gas canister would wobble. A separate hose connecting the two keeps the burner lower to the ground and less likely to fall over.

Liquid stoves (white gas, paraffin/kerosene)

Best for..

  • Not as popular as gas but offers great performance in harsh conditions so good for exhibitions
  • Offers the flexibility to switch fuel types depending on what’s available. Good for remote or long-distance travel.
Campsite stove

Campsite stove for bigger meals

Campsite stoves

Best for…..

  • Group cooking as they are much larger, give out more heat and can hold heavier pots and pans
  • Camping where pack size and weight are not an issue. The burner is often lower to the ground so the can be safer. Some run on electric so only suitable for pitches with a hook up/huts.

Wood stoves

Best for…

  • Long and lazy evening meals: There's nothing like the taste and smell of food cooked over a wood fire.
  • Sustainability and lightweight travel: You can leave the heavy gas canisters at home. An added bonus is that burning sustainably collected wood is carbon neutral. You might still consider bringing a packet of bio-fuel pellets as a Plan B, in case no wood is available, or it's all wet

Wood camp stove 

Wood burning camp stove

Find the best camp stove for you

Camp stoves come in all shapes and sizes, from small and portable to outdoors cookers. The key is understanding your needs, then choosing the stove which works for you. Let’s look at different use cases.

For mountain climbers and long-distance hikers:

When quick and easy hot drinks, soups and dehydrated meals are on the menu, then look for a backpack stove that's portable, light, quick to boil and easy to pack. If you're camping off-grid or in the wild, you might also consider a stove which doubles as a tech charger.

Recommended: Jetboil Flash Camping Stove

For families

Long balmy evenings, BBQs, beer and fussy kids… if you're cooking for your family, a decent sized grill or double burner is a good idea so you can cater for everyone. Look for a lightweight model which, ideally, doubles as a firepit for marshmallow toasting and smores making! Also consider a model that's easy to assemble.

Recommended: UCO Grillput Mini Flatpack & Grill and to accompany it, the GSI Outdoor Crossover Kitchen Kit

cooking hiking mountains stove 

Cooking solo

For solo adventures

If you're camping solo and carrying your own kit, then lightweight and easy is key. Look for a portable camping stove which packs away easily. Ideally, look for a stove fuelled by twigs or wood to save you carrying extra kgs and leaving precious space for a home comfort or two. Chocolate anyone? For personal safety, you might also look for a stove which doubles as a charger. Finally, as no one's around to lend you a lighter, also consider a pushbutton igniter.

Recommended: Biolite CampStove 2+ and to accompany it, the GSI Outdoors Pinncale Soloist

For friends

If you're staying in one place, consider a double burner or a medium sized grill for lazy meals and long chats. If you're hiking long distance though, lightweight and compact stoves are key.

Recommended: A lightweight accessory with multiple pots like the GSI Outdoors Pinncale Dualist

cooking campsite friends

Cooking with friends

For those on a budget

Camp stoves come in all shapes, sizes and suit all budgets. For a totally no-frills approach, consider a simple grate over a campfire. Another option is a simple grill and firepit combo.

Recommended: UCO Grillput Mini Flatpack & Grill

For hot drink addicts

Fear not, whether you're a serious mountaineer, a family camper, or a bit of both, you can still enjoy a proper coffee under canvas. There are loads of accessories you can use with your camp stove like French presses, barista drippers and tea infusers. The most important thing would be a fast boiling stove so you don't have to wait ages for a brew.

Recommended: Biolite Campstove 2 Complete Cook Kit, Snow Peak Field Barista Dripper and Camelbak Tea Infuser

Camp stove wind protector 

Camp stove wind protector

Most common FAQs about camp stoves

Here are the answers to some common, camp-stove related questions:

Where to buy camping stoves in the UK?

Try online or reputable outdoors stores including the OS Shop.

Can you cook on gas in a camping stove?

Yes, you can cook on gas which is generally a mix of propane and butane. However, wood, twigs or bio-fuel pellets are better for the planet, because burning sustainably sourced wood is carbon neutral.

Can you use a camp stove inside a tent?

No, don't use a camping stove inside a tent because there is a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Only ever do so if the tent has a chimney, and the retailer specifically states that it is safe to cook inside with a camping stove.

Are there any portable gas stoves with a single burner?

Lots of portable gas stoves have single burners. They're ideal for quickly heating water, soup or dehydrated meals.

Now you've found your perfect stove, it's time to get outside and give your mental and physical health, a massive boost.

Published: Mar 07, 2022 Edited: Mar 02, 2022

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