Camping Cookers Buyers Guide
Whether you’re hiking or cycle touring, going to a festival or camping with your family, there is a camping cooker for you. The problem is that they come in a bewildering variety of designs, fuel types and prices so which one should you chose ?
This buyers guide will help you make informed decisions about the cooker that you need based on how you plan on using it. Once you know the type of camping cooker that you need, our library of reviews will make it easy to choose the right one for you. And when you’re ready to make your purchase we’ll even help by finding the cheapest price across a wide range of merchants.
When choosing a camping cooker there are three main decisions that you need to make:
- What type of camping will you be doing ?
- Which fuel (or fuels) you will be able to get hold of
- What form factor (single burner, multiple buriners, low and wide, tall and thin) you’d prefer
When choosing a camping cooker the main decision you’ll need to make is what kind of camping you’ll be doing. For example, if you’re going to be hiking or cycle touring space will be at a premium so you’ll want a stove that is small and lightweight.
Festival goers and car campers hopefully won’t be lugging their stoves over long distances so can go for something larger whilst families camping in one place for a week at a time can go down the luxury route and take a multi-ring camping cooker which even includes a grill!
Lightweight Camping Cookers for Hikers and Cycle Tourers
It goes without saying if you’re hiking or cycle touring then you’ll need a small stove as space will be at a premium. But where are you going to use it ? Not all compact stoves run on the same fuel and not all fuels are widely available throughout the world.
Most stoves run on gas, usually butane or propane or a mixture of both. However, because these fuels are stored in their containers as liquids, only turning to gas when the valve is opened, they don’t work well at sub-zero temperatures.
Not all lightweight stoves run on gas. Some have the ability to run on a variety of different fuels such as the Primus Multifuel. These so-called multi-fuel stoves can run on unleaded petrol, diesel, paraffin, White gas or kerosene. They tend to be more expensive, bulkier and heavier because of the need for the fuel to be stored in a pressurised bottle but they are a better choice if you’re going to be camping internationally where the availability of gas canisters may be an issue.
There are two basic designs of lightweight camping cooker. The first consists of a burner unit which screws directly on to the top of the gas canister such as the Campingaz Bleuet 206 whilst the second seperates the two by means of a rubber or metal hose like the Coleman Powerpack.
They both have their advantages and disadvantages. The screw on type take up less space and are lighter but generally are less stable and harder to use in windy conditions whilst the two part camping cookers weigh a little more, take a little more space but are much more stable and can be used in windier conditions.
An alternative option, if space really is at premium, is to consider a methylated spirit stove such as those made by Trangia such as the Trangia 25-1 UL. Although the power output is much lower and the ability to control the flame is almost non-existent, they do have the advantage of packing away into the pot and pans that come with the stove.
Click to read our reviews of lightweight camping cookers
Camping Cookers for Festival Goers
Choosing a camping cookers for use at festivals and car-based camping is much easier. Butane powered stoves dominate the options and many have built-in ignition systems so you don’t need matches to light them.
The most compact stoves have just a single ring (such as the Campingaz Bistro) which are really only recommended if you have very limited space as the design prevents you heating up more than one thing at a time unless you’re good at juggling.
They also don’t work too well in windy conditions and can use a lot of fuel, especially if you use the stove on a regular basis, which can become expensive as the canisters can be costly. That said, the canisters are generally widely available.
If you must have two rings then there are other options such as the Coleman Fold’N’Go or the Campingaz Duo Plus R but they are more costly but the added benefit of being able to cook on two rings at the same time is, in our experience, well worth it.
These dual ring camping cookers usually run on gas so the above comments about their poor operation at low temperatures still applies. That said, there aren’t too many festivals in the UK over the winter months !
Click to read our reviews of festival camping cookers
Camping Cookers for Family Camping
When camping with the family it’s often tempting to pack everything, even the kitchen sink, as space and weight is not so much of a concern. As a result, all camping cookers intended for family camping use have at least two rings, some have grills such as the Campingaz Camping Chef. The addition of a grill may seem extravagant but the ability to have hot toast in the middle of a field on a cold morning shouldn’t be sniffed at!
Without exception, all camping cookers intended for family catering run on bottled gas (so the comments above about low temperatures still apply) which needs to be located close to the stove. Some have long hoses which allow the gas canister to sit on the floor whilst others have short hoses which means that the gas canister needs to sit on the table next to the stove.
If you have a folding table that you take with you when camping it’s important to check that you’ll still have enough room to prepare food when you put the stove on it. If you don’t, or your folding table is too small anyway, then it may be worth either buying a bigger table or choosing a camping cooker which has legs. Camping cookers with legs also negate the need to bend down to cook.
Click to read our reviews of family camping cookers