Guide to Choosing a Great Camping Stove

Cookware on Camping Stove

One of the things that make camping activities a heck of a lot easier is a camp stove. Although it is entirely possible to cook your food over a fire, it can be challenging and you probably need experience in order to make sure food is thoroughly cooked and that you don’t get burned.

This is why many campers that are new to the hobby choose to get a camp stove instead. Camp stoves have the advantage of being familiar, allowing you to cook over an evenly heated surface without having to build a complicated stand (that won’t burn) for the fire to cook your food.

What is a Camp Stove

A camp stove is a small set of burners that are fueled by a power source such as propane. Camp stoves are very portable and can easily be moved around or packed up when not in use. Camp stoves generally have just one or two burners, although you can find models that will rival your own range at home, and may not get as hot as you are used to.

Tea Pot on Portable Camping Stove

But camp stoves can be used to cook all sorts of things and they make cooking much easier. There are models of camp stove that range from your standard one burner portable to large ranges with four or more burners. There are also camp barbeque grills that are portable with their own fuel source.

Advantages of a Small Camping Stove

There are lots of advantages to using a single burner camp stove or other portable cooking unit to prepare meals rather than trying to use your fire.

  • You have less chance of getting burned
  • You have a stable surface to cook on
  • You can control the temperature so that you don’t burn food
Fire Burning on Camp Stove
  • Your heat stays at the bottom of the pan where it is meant to go instead of on the sides
  • Food gets cooked evenly and thoroughly
  • Camping stoves produce less smoke and less heat than a campfire
  • Camp stoves are unlikely to start external fires, whereas a fire pit can throw burning embers that you have to be careful of
  • Camp stoves are much easier to light than campfires

The Propane Camping Stove

One of the more popular options when it comes to camping stove is the propane stove. Propane – similar to natural gas – is a fuel that powers barbeque grills and other devices around the world.

Cookware on Propane Camping Stove

There are a number of advantages to using propane as a fuel source for a camp stove rather than going for the electric option.

  • Propane camp stoves are portable and do not require anything external to make them work
  • Propane camp stoves heat up instantly without waiting for the burner to warm
  • Propane camp stoves allow you to instantly adjust the heat so if your food is burning so you turn down the gas much faster
  • Propane is a cheaper fuel than gasoline – which is usually required to run a generator and all electrical devices
  • Propane is more energy efficient and it is better for the environment

The only real drawback when it comes to propane cooking is that the wind can sometimes blow out the flame which means it will need to be relit. In addition, when this happens, it can be a little unsafe as the propane continues to be released even the fire isn’t burning it. However, accidents rarely happen, and most people find that with a stove that has side and back walls for protection, the wind almost never blows out their burner flame.

The Electric Camping Stove

Some people prefer the electric camping stove to propane instead. This is perfectly fine and can even be an advantage in a couple of ways:

  • You can heat up sauces or other foods more slowly so that they run less risk of burning
  • The electric stove heaters won’t go out on a windy day

However, the main disadvantage to using this type of stove is that you have to have electricity. This is often hard to come by in a camp setting. If you are out in the wilderness then your only option for electricity is probably going to be a gas-powered generator. There are batteries that can power electric camp stoves, but they are fairly expensive and don’t last for very long.

Electric Camping Stove on White Background

Of course, if you are already at a campground or the site that you are using has electricity running to it, then an electric camp stove can be very advantageous. The nice thing about making sure that you have electricity available is that you are able to power all of your other devices like your coffee pot, your laptop and even charge your phones and tablets.

But be aware that using too much power or certain types of electrical devices can cause you to trip the breaker for the electricity which may put your campsite electric out of order – and even affect other campsites around you.

Above & Beyond The Portable Camping Stove

Of course, there are options out there beyond the small camp stove. These portable stoves are usually sufficient for a small to medium-sized family but if you have a large group camping with you, it might be difficult to find enough cooking space to feed everyone quickly – using a small camp stove to cook for twenty people could take hours.

Heating Food on Gas Camp Stove

There are options out there for those who plan on cooking in large groups. You can find large camp stoves that have multiple burners and an entire griddle area for you to fry on. The drawbacks are that they are pretty expensive and they are really difficult to haul around. You are probably going to need a trailer or a pickup truck just to transport one to your campsite.

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