Open Air Camp Kitchen: Quick Guide To Camping Stoves & Fuel Options
Text by Jonathan; images by Angus Whitby
Need help choosing a camping stove? Yesterday we brought you an in-depth look at gas stoves. Today, as part of our series on all things camp kitchen, we’ve put together a handy guide to the alternative camping stoves and fuels you could choose.
Most stoves only work with a single type of fuel, and different fuels have different strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll first need to consider which type you want to use. If you want to be able to use your stove anywhere and in any conditions, a multi-fuel stove is more versatile, but can be heavier and more expensive. Otherwise, you’ll need to pick which is the most suited to your needs.
Canister Gas Stoves
Fuel types include Propane, Butane and IsoButane.
Best for: Ease and range of use
|Easy to use||Not widely available in remote places, including southern and eastern Europe|
|Very quick||Different types of canister valve are not cross-compatible|
|Requires little maintenance||Performance diminishes in cold weather (winter-specific gas mixes are available)|
|Easy to find gas in the UK||Difficult to recycle empty canisters|
|Flames can be easily regulated|
|Stoves are usually light and compact in design|
Liquid Fuel Stoves
Fuel types include Petrol, White Gas, Kerosene and Diesel
Best for: Cold weather and/or remote destinations.
|Widely available in many countries||Stoves tend to be heavier|
|Some stoves can work with different types of liquid fuel||More complicated than gas|
|Works comparatively well at low temperatures and high altitude||Stoves need to be well-maintained|
|Fuel is cheaper than gas||Initial cost for stove and fuel bottle may be higher|
Alcohol (Methylated Spirits) Stoves
Fuel types include methylated spirits (in the UK) or pure ethanol (e.g. in the USA). The classic alcohol stove in the UK is the Trangia, but they can be made out of aluminium cans!
Best for: Lightweight enthusiasts.
|Fuel widely available||Slow cooking time|
|Stoves can be extremely light and compact||Struggle in windy or cold weather|
|Stoves can be very cheap||Harder to simmer/regulate flames|
|Home-made “Coke can” stoves are simple to make||Hard to judge the exact amount of fuel needed, or to refill the stove if it goes out too soon|
Solid Fuel Stoves
Fuel types include Hexamine or Esbit tablets.
Best for: Simplicity.
|Stoves are compact and light||Slow to cook|
|Easy to use||Not great in wind or rain|
|Cheap stoves||Fuel tablets can be expensive and not always widely stocked|
|Can’t control the flames|
|Can produce a slightly unpleasant smell and leave a sticky residue on the bottom of pans|
Best for: Cost and ambiance.
|No need to carry fuel||Relies on fuel being available – don’t cut down live wood; fallen/dead branches can be important wildlife habitats|
|Fuel is free (if you can find it)||Takes effort to gather enough fuel|
|Potentially less impact than other fuels||Wet kindling is hard to light|
|Nice ambience and aroma from wood fire||Slow cooking times|
|Fire provides some heat to you||Can’t use in areas with a risk of fire|
There you have it! We hope you’ve enjoyed our quick guide to the different types of camping stove and fuel commonly available. If you have any more questions, we’d be only too happy to provide assistance. You’ll hopefully soon be able to visit us again in person at our store on Green Street, Cambridge; in the meantime you can contact us by calling, emailing or using LiveChat.
Thanks for reading!