What to Look For In a Camping Stove

JetBoil cooking systemWhen it comes to cooking while camping or backpacking, nothing beats the convenience and versatility of a stove. Unlike fires that take a while to build and don’t maintain a consistent temperature, stoves offer a quick and controllable way to do everything from boil water to sizzle up some fajitas.

Choosing the right camp stove isn’t too difficult, it just takes a little thought and consideration. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a portable camping or backpacking stove.

The very first thing you need to think about is how you will be using your stove. Are you a car camper or a backpacker? If you stick to car camping, the size and weight of your camping stove isn’t necessarily going to be a deciding factor. If you are going to hike with all of your gear, however, you will want a smaller, lightweight backpacking stove.

Many car campers opt for two burner camping stoves. Most of these stoves allow you to use a single burner at a time, or use both burners simultaneously at different temperatures. This is ideal for cooking meals for big groups, brewing coffee, or making different dishes at the same time. The disadvantage of these stoves is that they are big and heavy, and not practical for backpackers.

If you’re hiking, you have to consider the size and weight of your stove. Backpacking stoves are usually just a single burner. They are also much smaller and lighter than camping stoves. Single burner stoves are best suited for simple cooking for 1 to 2 people.

Other factors to consider when choosing a stove:

  • What conditions will you be using your stove in? Factors such as altitude, temperature, and wind will all play into the performance of your stove. If you get outside in ideal conditions, you can make do with a basic stove, however if you’re looking to get into mountaineering, you need a stove that can deliver high performance.
  • What type of fuel does your stove use? Some stoves can only use fuel canisters, while others can use a variety of different fuel sources. Consider things like how easily you can find fuel, and how expensive the fuel costs. For example, alcohol burning stoves are cheap and easy to use, but you might not be able to find denatured alcohol as easily as you can find white gas, propane, or isobutane.
  • Consider your cookware and how it will work with your stove. Different types of cookware perform differently. For example, titanium doesn’t distribute heat evenly, and a stove with a focused burner will create hot spots more readily than a stove with a dispersed burner.
  • If you’re backpacking, consider whether or not your stove will fit in your cooking pot.┬áSome set ups, like the Jetboil cooking systems, can fit fuel canister and the stove conveniently inside the cooking cup.

The best way to figure out what type of stove is right for you is by getting outside and figuring it out. Before buying a stove, go on a few camping and backpacking trips, and see what is important to you.

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