What Type of Stove is Best for Camping?

Introduction

Camping can be one of the most gratifying activities that you can undertake today. Being one with nature and away from the hustle and bustle of the city can genuinely help you destress and unwind. It is also an excellent activity to improve relationships/bonds with family, friends, or your significant other. Simply put, nothing beats the serenity of out there in the great outdoors.

If you are planning on a more extended camping trip, then you will need to bring the essentials such as tents, first-aid kit, food, and a stove to prepare your meals. We can’t bring our large stove at home for this. What we need is a portable stove. Hold your horses though and don’t just buy the first portable stove you see on the aisle. There are several types of portable stoves available, each with their advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, we will be going through each type of portable stove to help you determine which type will fit your needs the most.

Three Different Types of Portable Stoves

First off, it is essential to know that you have three options to choose from when buying a portable stove for camping. There is the canister stove, the liquid-fuel stove, and the alternative-fuel stove. Understanding how each one operates will help you narrow down your choices.

Canister Stove

The most common portable stove used for camping trips is the canister stove. This type of stove is lightweight and compact, making it a suitable choice for hiking and camping. It won’t take up too much space in your backpack and won’t add any significant weight as well.

Canister stoves are also incredibly easy to use and offer excellent control of the flame. They are also quite affordable while still delivering top-notch reliability and durability. Canister stoves also come in two variations: separate and single unit (pot and cooker combined).

However, the canister stove does have its weakness, mainly when used within cold environments. Canister stoves will perform substantially poorly when used in situations with freezing temperature as well as high wind conditions.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Easy to use and operate.
  • Excellent flame control (for most models).
  • The canisters automatically seal when detached, so there are no risks of leakage.

Cons:

  • Due to its compact design, it is not suitable for use with larger pots and pans.
  • Canister stoves do not feature gauges that measure the remaining gas left inside the tank.
  • Canisters will depressurize in freezing temperatures which will lead to a weaker flame.
  • Empty canisters must be given to recycling centers.

Liquid-Fuel Stove

Liquid-fuel stoves are the ones that use fuels such as kerosene. This type needs a bit of assembly as you will need to attach a fuel bottle, which you will buy separately, to the portable stove. It will also need to be ‘primed’ before using in the form of pressurizing the fuel bottle before lighting it via the stove.

Liquid-fuel stoves are excellent choices for those who are hiking and camping in high altitude areas. It is also an excellent choice for use in cold to freezing temperatures as it can maintain stable flame under these harsh conditions. However, this type of portable stoves is more cumbersome and will require the occasional maintenance to ensure that it stays in tip-top shape.

Pros:

  • You can tell how much fuel you have just by merely looking into your fuel bottle.
  • Liquid-fuel stoves handle high altitudes and freezing temperatures quite well.
  • Most liquid-fuel stove models have a flat design which provides excellent stability/balance.
  • You don’t need to buy a new bottle/container every time you run out of fuel. You need to refill it.

Cons:

  • This type of portable stoves will require occasional maintenance.
  • Some models (such as multi-fuel stoves) can be a bit expensive.
  • Liquid-fuel stoves are heavier and bulkier.
  • Certain types of fuel may contain impurities which may damage the stove over time.

Alternative-Fuel Stove

Alternative-fuel stoves is a pretty broad description that describes portable stoves that do not fall into either canister or liquid-fuel categories. Examples of this type of stove include those that use denatured alcohol, solid fuel tablets, and those that require tinder (small sticks) to generate a flame.

Of course, this wide variety of versions does make grading these stoves difficult as each will bring something different to the table. For example, solid fuel tablet stoves are extremely popular due to its lightweight, compact, and simple nature. Still, it generates heat at a lower level which makes cooking and boiling take up significantly more time than usual.

Pros:

  • A broad selection of models that offer versatility and flexibility.
  • Specific models that use electricity can be used to charge smartphones and other electronic devices.
  • Some models offer additional attachment options/accessories such as grills. 

Cons:

  • Models that use sticks as tinder is usually prohibited in high altitude campsites.
  • Models that use twigs as its primary fuel source is ineffectual during the rainy season where finding dry twigs is virtually impossible.

Safety Precautions When Using Portable Stoves for Camping

When it comes to using alcohol-based portable stoves, extra care must be taken as the clear liquid alcohol is odorless and is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. This is why this type of camping stove is best suited for experienced campers. Proper handling is crucial to avoid accidents.

Which Type of Camping Stove is the Best?

As you can see from the above descriptions of the three stove types, each has its particular strengths and weaknesses in specific areas. Generally, the portable canister stove will be able to provide everything that a camper needs in a camping stove. It is lightweight, compact, and easy to use. However, when faced with freezing temperatures and high altitude, it will fall somewhat short.

This is where liquid-fuel stoves will come in. This type of portable stove will provide stable heat, even in frigid environments. However, extra care must be taken when handling fuel. Most liquid-fuel stove models are also quite bulky and heavy – this is something you need to factor in when preparing your camping gear.

As for the alternative-fuel type, portable stoves – recommendation will be subjective to the environment they will be used. Some will require dry wood as fuel which is impossible to find during the rainy season. These types of portable stoves do come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with some designed to fit right inside pockets.

Understanding what each type of portable stove offers will help you narrow down your choices. Know your campsite – its environment and the rules and regulations set forth by the administration of said camping grounds. Also, always take the extra step when it comes to safety, be a responsible and happy camper.

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