Big or small, what options do you have for camping stoves? What stove should you choose if you are starting? This guide helps explain what is what.
***A portable gas camping stove is essential, even if you use it for nothing more than boiling the kettle. ***
This is the first article in a series to help you choose a gas stove and set it up, from smaller portable stoves to larger multi-hob stoves.
- The simple canister stove - ideal for your first camping trip
- What to cook with just a single hob camping stove
- The best toasting rack for gas hobs
- Top tips for using your gas camping stove
- How much the basic gas camping stove costs
- Backpacking and Multi-Fuel Stoves
- Do you really need a larger stove?
- Gas Cylinders, Regulators, and hoses
If you are starting with camping, then there's no need to invest in a big multi-hob stove, lug heavy gas cylinders around, or worry about connecting them up properly.
A single-hob canister stove is ideal for your first camping trip
You can buy simple and relatively cheap camping stoves, which are ideal if this is your first camping trip (over two decades of family camping, and we still take ours on every trip).
These work on gas cartridges (also known as gas canisters) that simply slot into the stove - so very easy and safe to connect the gas.
The type of cartridges you need for these stoves are called 'bayonet cartridges' and are readily available. The stoves come with a single hob, though you can get some with multiple hobs and a built-in lighter.
Well, cooking anything that involves more than one hob will be slow. However, here are some suggestions:
- Get a whistling kettle - you can now make a brew without needing an electric hookup to your tent.
- Get a toaster accessory - yes, you can still cook toast on a single hob
- Take a small saucepan from home - from reheating beans (perhaps to accompany a disposable BBQ) to heating pasta with a stir-in sauce.
- Take a small frying pan from home - fried breakfast, anyone?
You can get a toasting rack for your gas hob, so there is no need to hook up an electric toaster or get a more expensive gas cooker with a grill. However, these vary in design, and we've been through a few. While you can get designs that can toast up to four slices of bread simultaneously, we've found the simple folding toaster the best. Yes, it only does one piece of bread at a time, but it does it well.
How fast it takes to boil water or heat your food will depend on the outside temperature. However, the most significant factor will be the wind. Just the slightest breeze can blow the heat from your camping stove away from your kettle or pan.
Use a windshield to use less gas can cook quicker
The solution to that is to get a windshield.
If you want to buy a camping kitchen unit for cooking on, find one that has a windshield. If not, you can buy windshields separately.
When boiling water in a pan, put a lid on. It will boil more quickly. Better still, boil water in a kettle.
Another tip is boiling water for things like pasta or some of the 'rehydration' meals: boiling with the pan lid reduces the amount of gas (and cooking time) required. This is because, without a lid, much of the heat is lost straight out of the top of the pan. Better still, boil the water in your whistling kettle first.
Well, camping gear does tend to mount up and can get expensive. Fortunately, this type of cooking setup is relatively cheap.
Depending on which gas canisters and accessories you use, expect to pay between £20-£50 to get yourself set up, including canisters and accessories like whistling kettles.
Other Gas Canister Stoves
If you browse any camping shop (online or high street), you will see many other camping gas canisters that are of a different shape to the long canisters shown above.
These canisters can be used with both smaller and larger stoves than the stove above.
You can buy small hob adaptors that screw into the top of the gas canisters, clip onto the canister, or pierce the canister to release the gas.
These hobs fold relatively small and are generally lightweight, making them ideal for backpacking.
Many products are also multi-fuel and can also run on meths, paraffin, or kerosene (or even Coleman's brand fuel). This makes them more versatile in finding fuel when travelling and getting fuels that burn at different temperatures.
The downsides to these stoves are that the hobs are smaller and a little unstable, and you MUST use a windshield.
With most family camping taking place by car, this is not a stove you should consider buying unless you are considering backpacking.
Moving to a Larger Camping Stove
Larger camping stoves certainly give you more choices in combinations of cooking. They typically have two hobs, and many also have a small grill.
Larger stoves also mean more gear and more money. If you're family camping, you'll probably want to move to a larger stove soon. But before you rush out and buy one, ask yourself.
If transport space is a premium, ask yourself if you need a larger stove. The stove takes up space, and you'll need to transport the gas cylinder too securely.
Alternatives to getting a larger camping stove are to include a BBQ, cooking over a fire, or using a Dutch Oven.
These methods all bring a 'real' camping experience and are something you're kids can help out with - whereas a gas hob is, well, just like home, and the kids leave the cooking to Mum and Dad.
When you get a larger stove, you must get the correct gas cylinder, regulator, and hose.
Fortunately, we cover that in the next article in the series.
Cooking with Gas - Your guide to getting started with cooking with gas at the campsite
This is the first article in a series to help you get up and running with a camping stove.