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How To Buy Camping Stoves And Cookware

When buying camping stoves and cookware, consider how many people you will have to feed and how many meals you will have to prepare on a typical trip. Also, consider whether you prefer gourmet meals or are content with simply boiling water for dehydrated fare. Your answers will help narrow your choices.

Camp Stoves Basics

Think of your camping plans and destination prior to buying a stove.

Size and weight

  • While a double-burner stove may be great for car camping, it will be too cumbersome for wilderness backpacking or climbing
  • Stoves vary in weight from a few ounces to two pounds or more
  • The weight stated by the manufacturer usually includes only the burner, not the fuel cartridge or tank

Burners

  • Dual-burner stoves are somewhat heavy, but are great if you want to prepare two things at once, such as eggs and coffee
  • A small, single-burner stove will suffice if you just want to boil water or heat up a can of beans

Accessories

  • If the stove you want doesn't include a carrying case, buy a small padded bag to protect knobs and hoses
  • Many models have push-button ignitions
  • Some cartridges and propane tanks will accept a lantern head; a convenient feature for those who want a single fuel source for cooking and light
  • An adjustable flame feature allows you to control your cooking better
  • If you are travelling abroad, find out which fuels will be available and base your stove purchase accordingly

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Cartridge Stoves

  • Gernerally lighter and require less maintenance than their liquid gas counterparts
  • They are clean burning and tend to simmer better
    • Cartridge stoves use compressed gasses (such as butane, iso-butane and propane) that come in their own containers
    • In cold weather, these fuels become less efficient--butane is undependable at temperatures below 40 F and usually won't work below 32 F
    • Cartridge stoves are usually sold as a burner that attaches to the top of the cartridge, or is connected by tube to a canister. Canisters that attach directly to the burner tend to be lighter than those that use tubes or gas lines.
    • Most American-made canisters have re-sealing valves that close when not in use. These cartridges can then be stored and used later.
    • Cartridge stoves can be tricky to use in windy conditions
  • Fuel types for compressed gas cartridges include the following
    • Blended fuel, usually a combination of propane and butane
    • Isobutane is sometimes added to improve performance
    • Butane cartridges don't burn as hot as other cartridge fuels, and are not efficient in cold weather
    • Isobutane burns consistently, but not as hot as blended fuels. It also loses efficiency in cold weather.

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Liquid Gas Stoves

  • Liquid gas stoves have refillable fuel tanks, burn hotter, and work better in cold and windy weather than cartridge stoves
  • However, they can also be more difficult to use, and tend to be heavier and more expensive
    • Liquid gas stoves are designed to work with a variety of fuels, which can be an important consideration when travelling internationally
    • If bulkiness is an issue, look for a model with a removable fuel tank
    • You may want to invest in a second tank if you'd rather not have to attempt a refill on the trail
  • Liquid fuels for gas stoves include the following:
    • White gas is inexpensive and widely available in North America
    • Kerosene is available throughout most of the world, but it tends to smoke and clog fuel lines

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Cookware

Choosing the right cookware

  • The cookware you choose should be determined by the number of people you will be cooking for
  • Weight of pots and pans depends on if you are hiking in to a site or car/RV camping
  • The types of meals you will prepare is important
    • If multi-course meals are a necessity, two pots and a frying pan should suffice
    • If your meals tend toward the dehydrated or canned variety, two cooking vessels are probably all you'll need
    • If you're travelling alone or with one other person, two pots--1.5 and 2 liter--should suffice
    • For larger groups, choose a cookset with bigger (and more) pots
    • Cookware is available in stainless steel, aluminum alloy, cast iron, non-stick, and even titanium versions. Price and weight will help you narrow down your choices.
    • Unlike home cookware, most camping cookware doesn't have permanent handles, so be sure to bring a pot lifter and lid for each pot
    • Cooking utensils and tableware are a matter of personal preference
      • In general, a serving spoon, spatula and knife (or multi-tool) will get you started
      • In terms of tableware, inexpensive metal or plastic dishes and cutlery, and heat-resistant mugs are standard

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