How to Choose the Best Camping Stove

choose the best camping stove
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There are stoves that are perfect for camping and others that are better for expeditions in High Mountain or winter conditions. As you can see, there are options for all tastes and needs. To help you choose the best camping stove, I have made this post in which we explain the main characteristics of the different types of stoves that you can find in the market.

Types of stoves

Gas stoves

The gas stoves can be as simple as a burner screwed directly to the cartridge or can be connected remotely by means of a metal hose. Among the advantages of the stoves mounted directly to the gas, cartridge are its simplicity, light weight, and small size that make them occupy a minimum of space in the backpack.

On the other hand, they are efficient when there is no wind or cold. They are ideal for trekking or camping outings where you can cook in places well protected from the wind. Among the disadvantages of this type of heater are the instability in uneven terrains or with very large pots. In addition, to the problem that is generated by not being able to use the protective screen for the wind, since the use of this could lead to heating and an eventual explosion of the gas cartridge.

A gas camping stove

On the other hand, the gas stoves with the remote burner tend to be more stable since they are located at ground level and the diameter of the burner is greater, which allows the use of larger pots. They are also compatible with the windscreen that optimizes performance in windy conditions.

Systems

Gas systems, such as the Reactor and WindBurner models from MSR, are the evolution of the high-performance stove. In an integrated “pot-burner” system, these heaters boil water and melt snow faster than any other system. Thanks to its radiant burner since they have an internal pressure regulator, the height performance is as good as that of a petrol stove. Perhaps the only flaw in this type of models is that they are designed for quick preparation meals.

choose the best camping stove
A WindBurner Stove

Stoves with liquid fuel

The liquid fuel stoves are leaders when it comes to large camping, mountaineering with high altitude camps and long trips. They are also the best option when you need to cook for several people. All liquid fuel models have a wide burner at ground level so the stability of the pots is optimal. In addition, they can be used with the windscreen. It is possible to get basic models that work only with white benzine up to multi-fuel models. The super powerful stoves and even models are designed for “gourmet” kitchen thanks to regulation of the flame.

A stove with liquid fuel

Cocinillas Hybrids

If you are going to travel around the world and you are not sure of getting the same fuel in all the places you visit, there are models that work with both gas and liquid fuel. In most stores, there are the Whisperlite Universal model, which offers all the advantages of a gas stove and a liquid fuel stove. All in one!

choose the best camping stove
A stove can work with both gas and liquid fuel

Gas stoves vs. liquid fuel stoves which one is right for me?

It is not an easy question to answer, in the election the type of trip you are planning and your personal preference greatly influences. The gas stoves have significant advantages in some situations and nowadays with the new hyper-efficient systems. The differences of performance with respect to the benzine stoves are less clear than they were once. On the other hand, the liquid fuel burners, as I pointed out above, are still the leaders in camping, winter conditions, high mountains and trips to places where gas cartridges can be difficult to obtain.

Kitchen weight

Gas stoves are the clear winners in this category. They are lighter and more compact than benzine stoves. The numbers are easy to compare and can often be a determining factor when choosing. Unfortunately, these numbers do not tell the whole story. Because they do not indicate the actual weight that you must take to the field by not including the fuel and its containers.

Fuel weight

This is where the weight comparison becomes interesting. A gas cartridge weighs less than a liquid fuel bottle, but a lot of cartridges can add significantly more weight than a full bottle. In an exit that only requires cooking a bit, the gas is king. If you have a long trip in your plans or use the stove a lot, it is best to bring a stove with liquid fuel. The weight you save compared to gas cartridges balances a little the difference in weight between the stoves. We are talking about two very different scenarios so there are a lot of trips or departures that are in between. Before buying, consider the number of times you plan to cook, the conditions and your personal habits when using the stoves.

choose the best camping stove
Let choose an Ultralight backpacking stove for camping

Temperature

In most cases, the liquid fuel stoves offer the best performance in cold conditions. The low temperatures generate a low pressure in the gas cartridges that makes them practically unusable in really cold conditions. Some climbers are able to use gas stoves in cold conditions or very high places in a careful way and managing the temperature of the cartridge, but even these types of stoves have a great challenge ahead.

Environmental impact

Although the liquid fuel may have a dirtier combustion, it offers a more environmentally friendly way of cooking. The key is the re-usable bottle. The used gas cartridges can be recycled as “Mixed Metal” (not aluminum), but practically no recycling program takes those metals, even few recognize and process them.

choose the best camping stove
A liquid fuel stove may have a dirtier combustion

Maintenance

The gas stoves do not need major maintenance and can be used for years without needing it. On the other hand, liquid fuel stoves are famous for their fidelity but require more care. Depending on the conditions and the fuel you use, you may have to do maintenance from once every two years, up to twice a year.

Economy

In most cases, gas stoves are cheaper than liquid stoves, but at the same time, gas is considerably more expensive than liquid fuel. If you are going to use your stove a lot, the low operating cost of liquid fuel models is the best option. Most of the guided services and outdoor programs exclusively use this type of fuel. If you only use your stove on short outings a few times a year, a gas stove will be the most reasonable option.

Fuel availability

Gas cartridges can be found in a wide range of places around the world, but not everywhere. If you are planning trips to exotic or out of the ordinary places, liquid fuel is the best bet. No matter where you are, you can always find fuel to run your stove.

A stove can work with both gas and liquid fuel

A combination of a system to melt snow/boil water and a Hybrids stove, for example, is the best idea of choosing the best camping stove for expeditions to the Himalayas, the Cordillera Blanca, or hills of several days.

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