Camping stoves can warm your cocoa on a cold night under the stars. They can also cook up a feast in the middle of nowhere. In emergencies, camping stoves can purify water and keep you alive.
Camp stoves are ideal additions to your camping equipment list. There are many options, price points, styles, and designs out there, so it helps to know what you’re looking for.
Here’s everything you need to know about camping stoves, from how they work, to specs, features, and tips to get you the perfect camp stove.
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Do I need a camp stove
Camp stoves aren’t as necessary as a tent, sleeping bag, and boots, but they’re still one of the most important pieces of camping kit.
Bringing a camp stove with you in the wilderness is a great way to ensure some creature comforts to help you enjoy the Great Outdoors. There’s nothing like a warm meal or hot cup of tea after a big day of hiking to get you ready for a good sleep in your tent.
But stove tents can also save your life. If there’s no firewood and you need to either cook your food to prepare it or boil water so it’s potable.
If you run out of water and don’t have chlorine tablets or a filter, then boiling water on a camp stove for 10 minutes is a good way to sterilize potentially harmful germs.
So, you might not need a camp stove if you’re going for an overnight at a big campground within walking distance of a good pub or restaurant, but to maximize your camping experience as well as minimize any possible risks, a camping stove is a really useful bit of camping gear.
Do I need a gas regulator for a camping stove
Most camping stoves burn pressurized gas that comes in screw-on disposable canisters. You can get propane and butane camping stoves, and each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Because the gas is under pressure, without a regulator, you wouldn’t be able to control the size of the flame.
If you’re boiling water to sterilize it or cooking up a feast of chorizo and beans, you’ll need to regulate the amount of gas coming out of the burner.
Luckily, most camping stoves come with their own built-in gas regulators. These tend to look like smaller versions of the knobs on your stove.
Camping stove regulators are often made of plastic, though sometimes they’re metal. Most of them work on the ‘lefty-loosey, righty-tighty’ rule, where left increases the flame and right decreases it and turns the stove off.
If you have a camping stove without a gas regulator, you can buy add-on gas regulars. There are a few different types of gas regulators like clip-ons, bolt-ons, and Bull Nose gas regulators, so make sure your regulator is compatible with your stove/hose set-up.
How do you light a camp stove
To put it simply, you need to light the gas on fire using a source of ignition. There are a few different ways to light the gas coming out of a gas stove burner, and each one has its own pros and cons.
Matches are some of the best tried and true ways to get a fire going of any kind, and it’s no different when it comes to lighting a camp stove.
Matches are cheap, light, and reliable. Plus, you get a good few dozen or more per box. You can even get stormproof matches with a wax coating that keeps them waterproof.
Lighters are another popular way of lighting a camp stove. You can get cheap disposable lighters from any supermarket or gas station, and chucking a couple in with your gear is always a good idea.
You can also get more durable, refillable lighters like Zippos, jet flame lighters and pocket torch lighters. These tend to be better in windier conditions, though they are more expensive.
Last but not least is the fire steel. Fire steels, or Ferro rods, are ingeniously simple, long-lasting and don’t require any fuel. All you have to do is strike sparks off the fire steel to light your camp stove.
This technique requires a little bit to learn and can be more finicky than matches or a lighter but Ferro rods are great for emergencies.
How does a camp stove work
Multi-fuel camping stoves are simple to use and efficiently designed to cook food and boil water in the wilderness.
The most common types of camp stoves use pressurized gas canisters, usually propane or butane or a mix of both. By regulating the gas through a burner, you can heat a meal no matter where you are.
You can also get wood-burning camp stoves as well as liquid-fuel stoves. There are plenty of different designs, but the essential laws of thermodynamics remain the same, no matter which camp stove you use.
You can get single-burner, lightweight camp stoves for backpacking and multi-day hiking trips, and you can also get big, BBQ-style, multi-burner beasts with 10kg steel tanks.
Whenever you’re cooking using a flame, make sure you follow some basic safety protocols. Always make sure you use a camp stove in a well-ventilated space that allows the fumes to disperse.
It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of water nearby and make sure there’s nothing flammable too close. Never use a camp stove inside your tent as carbon monoxide can build up and kill you.
Pots and pans get really hot when you cook in them and putting them down directly on the tent floor is a great way to ruin your tent. When you’re using a camp stove, make sure you also use common sense!
What should I look for in a camping stove
Like I always say with kit, get the best you can afford. While there are some ridiculously expensive premium gas stoves, your best bet is somewhere in the middle.
Try to get a gas stove with a simple design. Anything too complicated tends to break once you’ve put it through the rigours of camping outside.
A simple metal burner that screws directly into the top of a butane bottle is as good as it gets with camping stoves for backpacking and wild camping.
If you’re making a base camp or staying a few nights in a campground, then a double-burner with dial adjustments, collapsible legs and lid should do the trick.
Whatever camp stove you go for, try to envisage where and how you’ll use it. This should help you get the right one and enhance your camping experience.
Have fun out there.