Camp Stoves

Monday, 3 November 2008

Though a little less rustic, the convenience of camping stoves lets you spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time preparing a campfire in order to get cooking. Stove options vary, so the extent to which you camp will help dictate what stove is right for you.



The Basics

  • The size and weight of a camping stove can range from a few ounces to a couple of pounds and depends mostly on the number of burners.

  • There are a few types of stoves to choose from:

    • Canister stoves use compressed gases in pressurized cylinders. They’re fairly easy to use: screw canister into the stove, open the valve and light. They’re a little harder to use in windy situations.

    • Liquid Fuel Stoves draw their fuel from a refillable aluminum bottle or tank. The main advantage is that you know how much fuel you have left, they burn hotter and perform better in cold and windy situations. They are also more expensive and heavier.

    • A double-burner stove is good for car camping and cooking for more people. Three-burner stoves are also available.

    • A single burner is best for backpacking since packing light is key.

    • Remember: the weight calculation usually includes only the burner and main stove unit, not the tank or fuel cartridge.

  • The power of the stove (in BTUs – British Thermal Units) determines how quickly things heat up. Look for a stove with at least 10,000 BTUs for optimal performance – the higher the number the hotter the burner.

  • Wind protecting lid and flaps will keep you cooking in bad weather. Note: compact backpack stoves aren’t available with windscreens because the elements are too close to the fuel source; the flame ends up being pushed down toward the canister, which is dangerous.

Other Considerations

  • Stoves are fueled in a few different ways:

    • White gas (also known as naphtha or camp fuel) allows you to adjust pressure, which means it’ll work better in extremely cold weather and at high altitudes. Also, white gas is about one quarter the cost of other gases and comes with a reusable tank.

    • Propane, used by most casual car campers, lights a lot easier than white gas, but may create excess waste. If you use small propane canisters, check for recycling options in your area.

    • Butane is similar to propane burn as hot. It is available internationally.

  • If you’re planning to camp overseas, check that the gas for your particular stove is readily available. Also check airplane regulations on stove transport if you’re flying.

  • For propane users, you can be more environmentally friendly by purchasing an adapter for around $25 to attach a reusable propane tank instead of the smaller canisters, much like the ones on a full-size barbeque.


We cooked a hot breakfast for our crew one early morning using each of our five test stoves:

  • Primus (one-burner propane/butane 10,000 BTU): $34
  • Brunton Crux (one-burner propane/butane 10,000 BTU): $84
  • Escort (two-burner propane 7,000 BTU): $45
  • Century (two-burner propane 10,000 BTU): $70
  • Coleman (white gas (naphtha) 21,000 BTU): $75

Water Boiling Test

  • The Coleman with 21,000 BTUs beat out the other stoves by a couple of minutes.

Usability Test

  • The Escort lit the fastest

  • The Coleman was preferred by our expert camper


We selected the Escort. It may not have been as quick as the Coleman when it came to cooking but it did light the fastest – and that’s definitely an important feature for the casual camper. Plus, the price was right. The Coleman came in a close second.



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