Camp Stoves

If you think buying a good camp stove is as easy as boiling water… well, think again. You have to consider a number of things, all of which depend upon how you intend to use your future outdoor cooking companion.

 

BUYING

First and foremost, you have to take a look at what kind of fuel the stove burns. Camp stoves can be divided into two main types: those that run on liquid fuel, and those that use some sort of compressed gas.

As a general rule, liquid fuel stoves are more versatile, since they can be powered by various types of such fuel, including white gas (also called naphtha), methyl alcohol, kerosene, and others. This can be a great help when you're travelling in remote areas—or on the other side of the world—where it may be a struggle to find exactly the right kind of fuel for your model.

For their part, stoves that run on compressed gas (like butane, propane or isopropane) are easier to light and use, and require almost no maintenance. On the other hand, they cannot perform as effectively in cold temperatures or at high altitudes, in which cases a liquid fuel (ideally, naphtha-burning) stove will prove to be a better choice. 

Finally, in order to meet the expectations of ever more environmentally conscious outdoors enthusiasts, as well as survival needs, a new generation of stoves using dry, solid fuel has recently appeared on the market.

USE

If you plan to take your stove along on a trip abroad, be aware that many airlines prohibit compressed fuel cartridges and liquid fuel canisters from being carried on board. Moreover, Canadian domestic carriers also consider certain fuels as hazardous materials.

If your stove runs on gas cartridges, make sure they are certified for use with the model you have. An accident can happen in an instant, and the consequences might be tragic if you're out in the middle of nowhere.

Before heading out on a weekend getaway or major camping trip with your new stove, test it out in your backyard or some other outdoor space near your home. You will then be sure that it is working properly and you know how to use it, which will save time when cooking your first meal under the stars.

Always set up your stove on a flat, stable surface that is sheltered from the wind. Certain stove models now incorporate windscreens to improve their performance by protecting the flame from sudden gusts.

Most importantly, never use a camp stove within a closed space (such as a tent or hut). Doing so not only poses a real risk of fire, but also the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

When cooking, keep your pots and pans tightly covered in order to conserve heat. That way you'll go through less fuel, especially when melting snow, which takes twice as much time and energy as heating up food.

Unused compressed gas cartridges should always be stored in a warm, dry place without extreme variations in temperature. Stowing them under a coat or in the hollow of a sleeping bag during the night will be sure to do the trick.

Finally, carry any empty gas cartridges until you can dispose of them properly, so as not to pollute the environment. 


MAINTENANCE

If you will be travelling abroad, make sure you're equipped with a repair and maintenance kit for your stove, so that you won't find yourself in a bind if something breaks or malfunctions. 

Watch out for carbon deposits with liquid fuel stoves. These can block the flow of fuel after even just a few uses—especially in high-altitude locations, where such deposits form more quickly—so it's best to clean the burner and jet often so as not to reduce the strength of the flame. Furthermore, to avoid a loss of pressure, check that the sealing ring of the stove's burner valve is in good condition and, if it is dried out, coat it with oil.

Compressed fuel stoves burn much cleaner and require only a minimum of maintenance. In fact, an overall cleaning once a year will be more than sufficient to keep them in good working order.