feature: Matchless ignition

Go Systems Venture

Go Systems Venture

Go Systems Venture

PRO’s: Lightweight & powerful, excellent flame control

CON’s: None that we can think of!

VERDICT: Superb lightweight, budget stove. Buy it!

OUR RATING ★★★★½ 

The Go Systems Venture is Go Systems take on the classic lightweight cartridge stove.  Weighing in at just 200 grammes it’s small but does it pack a punch ?

Oh yes!  Size isn’t everything and this little stove is up there with the best of them.  Sporting a 2500 Watt burner it’ll boil a litre of water in 3 minutes and will run for just under two hours on a mixed Butane/Propane Go Systems Powersource 125 gas cartridge.  Like many other Go Systems stoves this will accept the larger Go Systems Butane/Propane gas canister such as the mid-sized Go Systems Powersource 220 gas cartridge and the larger Go Systems Powersource 445 gas cartridge.

Now power is one thing but it’s nothing without control and, thankfully, the Go Systems Venture has loads of control.  The fold out flame adjuster is easy to grip and allows precise adjustment of the flame from a low simmer to a full on boil and anywhere in between.

The stove simply screws onto the cartridge and is lit by pressing the ignition button.  Yep, that’s right, this little stove even includes piezo electric ignition.

One limitation of many lighweight stoves is that they can’t take large pots but the Go Systems Venture, thanks to its fold-out pot supports can.  For small pots keep them folded in, for large pots just fold them out.  The supports are serrated to prevent pot slippage too.

Like many canister mounted stoves, this one is prone to wind and will need to be sheltered behind a rucksack or similar although you could also use a small folding windshield.

Considering its price, what you get for your money (lightweight, folding pot supports, built-in ignition, excellent controllability of the flame) this is a no-brainer.  Buy this stove if you’re after a lightweight stove and you’re on a budget.  Oh, and it even includes a storage bag too.

Highly recommended !

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MSR Reactor

MSR Reactor

MSR Reactor

PRO’s: Extremely powerful, excellent fuel consumption

CON’s: Heavier than you think, can’t simmer

VERDICT: Excellent stove for small expedition groups who are simply rehydrating dried meals

OUR RATING ★★★★½ 

For many years Jetboil have had the single pot camping stove market all to themselves with stoves such as the Jetboil Zip and Sol but recently MSR have joined the fray with the MSR Reactor.  But which is better ?

Although the name ‘Reactor’ sounds cheesy it’s actually an extremely good description of this stove.  It’s one of the fastest, most powerful camping stoves ever and is able to boil one litre of water in under three minutes.  Yet it’s also one of the most fuel efficient stoves as well.

It’s basically a Jetboil stove on steroids.  But, and this is the thing, that’s not necessarily a good thing.  Let us explain . . .

The MSR Reactor consists of a radiant burner which is enclosed by a unique heat exchanger and it’s this which helps to contribute to the fuel efficiency.  Because the flame is completely enclosed (and lit by a built-in ignition system) it’s virtually immune to wind which could, at best, disperse some of the heat from the flame and, at worst, blow the flame out.  This is one stove that you can use in a serious storm !

But there is a downside: the MSR Reactor has a much higher Carbon Monoxide output than any other comparable stove, a fact which is pointed out by several stickers on it.  This means that it can’t be used in a tent and we’d be reluctant to use it even in the porch of a tent so it’s a good job that it’s storm resistant !

Working in tandem with the  enclosed burner is a pressure regulator which provides optimal heat output over the life of a fuel canister.  The power output of a stove drops as the pressure inside the gas canister drops as it empties but MSR’s regulator keeps it constant almost until the canister is empty.  The downside is that you get relatively little warning that the canister is near empty so you’ll need to carry a spare – no big deal, they are small and pretty lightweight.

When not in use the stove and fuel canister stow inside of the supplied 1.7-litre pot.  This is where the Jetboil stoves and the MSR Reactor differ.  At nearly double the size of the Jetboil pots which means that the MSR Reactor can cope with cooking meals of up to three people rather than the one or two people that a Jetboil stove can manage.

So what’s it’s like in use ?

Blindingly quick are the only words that we can find to describe how this thing works.  However, like a fast car, having lots of power in tap comes at a cost.  And in the case of the MSR Reactor the price that you pay is that it’s impossible to simmer anything on this stove.

Now that’s fine if you’re just planning on heating water so that you can rehydrate instant meals but if you’re cooking anything that needs to simmer, like tinned soup or rice pudding, forget it.  It’ll just burn on the bottom of the pot unless you stir like a demented person !

But is that a deal breaker ?  No . . .

For single person use, we’d have to say go with one of the Jetboil stoves.  If you’re on a budget get the Jetboil Zip, if you’re looking higher end then go for the Jetboil Sol stoves.  This is because the MSR Reactor is too big, bulky and heavy for single person use.

However, if you’re going to mostly rehydrating instant meals for two or more people then this is a good stove to get as it’s ideal for this.

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Jetboil Sol Aluminium Personal Cooking System

Jetboil Sol Aluminium Personal Cooking System

Jetboil Sol Aluminium Personal Cooking System

PRO’s: Amazingly light, compact and powerful

CON’s: Pointless neoprene strap and temperature indicator

VERDICT: A superb camping stove for all those space obsessed weight weenies on a budget

OUR RATING ★★★★½ 

We’ve previously looked at the budget Jetboil Zip stove and loved it but what do you get if you chose a higher end Jetboil stove? Is it worth the extra money ? Read on to find out.

Any Jetboil stove is a well thought out, functional but supremely well engineered bit of kit and the Jetboil Sol Aluminium is no exception. Jetboil clearly have a thing about not wasting space – this is stove aimed squarely at the weight weenie, minimalist, super-lightweight camper – as everything you need packs into the pot. And that includes the gas canister !

So what do you get in the package ?

The Jetboil Sol consists of an 800 ml pot into which fit Jetboils’ universal pot stand, a 100 gram gas canister, the burner and set of legs for the canister all held in place by a lid. But this is no ordinary lid: thanks to it’s clever design, you can press coffee using the Jetboil coffee press, drink your morning cuppa through a drinking slot or drain water from your pasta without losing your pasta.

A nice touch is the included Jetboil Universal Pot stand allows you to use any pot, pan or kettle on your Jetboil Sol stove. This means that you’re not just limited to using the supplied pot which opens up a much wider range of meals that can be prepared since you’re not just limited to one pot meals.

Any standard threaded butane-propane gas canister will work but Jetboil (not surprisingly) recommend that you use their own branded ones. The stove and pot is quite tall and relatively narrow and can be quite liable to tip so using the included feet is highly recommended. These will actually fit other manufacturers gas canisters too which is another nice touch.

The cooking pot attaches to burner by aligning a slot and small dimple. A quick twist clockwise and it’s securely attached. A quick twist in the other direction and it comes off.

On the inside are markings to help you to accurately measure out portions. Around the pot is an insulating neoprene cozy which helps to keep the contents hot. This has a strap attached which we didn’t find that useful as the neoprene cover is a little thin which means that it’s not possible to hold the pot for long when it’s hot. There’s a temperature sensitive strip which turns orange when it gets to 76C. Both features we could live without.

A key difference between this and the cheaper Jetboil Zip is the inclusion of Jetboils Thermo-Regulate technology. This is a pressure regulator system which helps to keep the burner output more constant as the fuel pressure drops in the canister as the fuel gets used up.

So how does it work in the great outdoors ?

Amazingly well ! With the exception of the MSR Reactor and the Jetboil Sol Ti there’s nothing quicker to heat water. Located between the burner and the cooking pot is a heat exchanger which is the secret to the power of the Jetboil stoves. Sitting low in the flame, this is evenly heated and then radiates its heat into the pot. But the position of the heat exhanger has another benefit: because of its location it protects the flame from wind which makes the Jetboil stoves hard to beat in windy conditions. And thanks to the built-in piezo electric ignition it’s easy to light in windy conditions too.

Jetboils do have a reputation for being too powerful and not being able to simmer but the newly revised burner seems to have taken care of that. We could get ours to simmer with a little bit of care so the Jetboil is more than just a fast boiler of water. That said, although you could cook a gourmet meal on it, we’re not sure that we could be bothered ! Carting a load of extra pots and pans on to the hills with you kind of defeats the purpose of having a superlight, ultra-compact cooking system!

So, would we buy one? For very occasional use, no – we’d go for the cheaper Jetboil Zip. If money was no object, no – we’d go for the top of the range Jetboil Sol Ti Premium Cooking System with it’s ligher Titanium pot but for serious lightweight camping or cycle touring we’d definately add one of these to our kit.

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Campingaz Bistro 300 Stove

Campingaz Bistro 300

Campingaz Bistro 300

PRO’s: Updated version of Campingaz Camp Bistro but better looking

CON’s: None that we can think of

VERDICT: Cute design, fast boil time, good adjustability. What’s not to like?

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

Campingaz stoves have always looked a bit plain but their latest offerings are far more stylish. The Campingaz Bistro 300 is no exception but how does it stack up against its predecessor (the Campingaz Camp Bistro) as well as the competition ?

For 2012 Campingaz have been busy redesigning some of their most successful models. We’ve already looked at the Campingaz Camping Chef Vario which replaces the Campingaz Camping Chef Stove and Grill but in this review we turn our attentions to the Campingaz Bistro 300 which replaces the older Campingaz Camp Bistro which spawned many budget copies such as the Go Systems Dynasty Compact Stove.

Like its predecessor the Campingaz Bistro 300 is a table-top, single burner unit but, unlike its predecessor, it’s a good looking bit of kit. The single burner is located to one side whilst a small raised tower holds the gas canister. Sitting between them, but located well away from the burner, is the flame adjustment knob. No matches are required for this camping stove as it’s got built-in piezo electric ignition.

The Campingaz Bistro 300 takes the Campingaz CV300 Plus butane gas canisters and uses the Easy Clic system so that a canister can be removed safely even when only part used. Although the CV300 Plus is a new canister and thanks to Campingaz‘s share of the market they are already widely available.

However, for the moment at least, you’ll need to stick with the manufacturers own canisters as there are no third party copies yet. That said, they are pretty inexpensive although the runtime isn’t great. We managed to get around 1 1/4 hours out of ours which is slightly less than the Campingaz Camp Bistro but this is due to the slightly higher output (2600 W compared to 2300 W)  and correspondingly faster boil time. We got a litre of water to boil in just over three minutes compared to the five minutes of the old model.

Overall we like the Campingaz Bistro 300: it’s well designed, extremely easy to use and stows away in its own hard storage case when not in use. It’s ideally suited for festival use or just cooking side dishes at a BBQ. We’d even consider keeping on in the house to use during power cuts.

As you would expect, it’s more expensive than the model that it replaces whilst suppliers still have stock of the old model but we compared to the budget clones of the Campingaz Camp Bistro made by other manufacturers we’d definitely go with this model.

Recommended !

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Campingaz Camping Chef Vario Stove and Grill

Campingaz Camping Chef Vario Stove and Grill

Campingaz Camping Chef Vario Stove and Grill

PRO’s: Updated version of Campingaz Camp Chef but better looking

CON’s: Grill is still very puny

VERDICT: If you need a dual burner stove you can put on legs buy this one but there are better options

OUR RATING ★★★½☆ 

New for 2012 is the Campingaz Camping Chef Vario which looks destined to replace the trusty Campingaz Camping Chef.  Is the new model worth it or should you buy the older one ?  Read on to find out.

Just like the Campingaz Camping Chef the idea behind the Campingaz Chef Vario is that you shouldn’t compromise on what you can cook just because you’re away on holiday so to help rustle those culinary delights you get two burners and a small grill situated below.

Whilst you may think that one burner will be sufficient, if you’re away for more than a few days and you can fit in the extra bulk then a two burner unit like this one makes a lot of sense.  After all, with two burners you can stumble out of your tent and get your morning cuppa AND your fried breaskfast underway at the same time !

Just like the original Camping Chef you get piezo-electric ignition on both burners and the grill so there’s no need to take matches with you.  All the burners are independently adjustable and feature child-proof switches which should prevent inquisitive little ones from playing with the cooker.

And just like the original it too uses the timelss blue Campingaz gas cylinders, the high capacity R907 refillable gas cylinder for which you’ll also need a hose and regulator.

Like its predecessor, the Campingaz Chef Vario sports a grill and, like it’s predecessor, it’s undersized.  Publicity shots for the old model showed two slices of toast under the grill which was just daft – you could barely fit one under it and it was so far away from the elements that it barely toasted.

We’re pleased to say that on the 2012 version Campingaz have reduced the distance  between the grill and toast but only by a small amount.  However, it does mean that your toast will actually toast, albeit slowly.  At least it won’t burn !

The stove packs up into a compact, easily transported suitcase style case complete with carrying handle.  The case is robust (try as we might we couldn’t twist it) and has fold down flaps at the sides of the hob which act as wind breaks.

In theory these should help to direct heat from the burners into the pots rather than allowing it to be blown away by the wind but, in practice, we found that they made little difference.  This is borne out by the time taken to boil a litre of water – just under 7 minutes – which is about the same as the Campingaz Camping Chef Stove and Grill that it replaces.

The styling of the old version was very agricultural but we still liked it.  The styling of the new version is much improved and reminds us of the Go Systems Dynasty Trio.  That’s no bad thing – we think that it’s a brilliant stove.

So would we buy one ?

Maybe.  It’s good at what it does but it currently costs more than the older model (the Campingaz Camping Chef) that it replaces.  At the moment, we’d still go with the older model simply because it’s being reduced as retailers clear out remaining stocks and the £20 price difference between the two can be put towards a regulator and bottle of Butane gas.

However, once stocks of the old model are gone then it becomes a toss up between this and the Go Systems Dynasty Trio.  If you want the option to add legs and a storage tray beneath your Campingaz Vario then go for that one.  You can buy the Deluxe version or buy the legs and tray seperately.  Otherwise we’d still be inclined to go for the Go Sytems Dynastry Trio which is rebadged and sold by Mountain Warehouse as the MountainLife Double Burner with Grill via their online store.

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Coleman Fold n Go Two Burner Stove

Coleman Fold'n'Go two Burner Stove

Coleman Fold’n’Go two Burner Stove

VERDICT: if you’re limited on space & need something that folds this is the stove for you

PRO’s: relatively lightweight, two burners, easy to use

CON’s: needs a windshield to get the best out of it, canisters still not that easy to find

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

Coleman have been at the forefront of camping cooker design for years and have brought out a range of innovative products lately. The most recent addition is the Coleman Fold’n’Go camping stove which features two extra large rings separated by a hinge so that you can cook, fold and go.

Able to take two 12 inch (30 cm) diameter pans at the same time, the Coleman Fold’n’Go is robust and compact. It’s also rugged with a hinge that looks like it could take some serious abuse. Two built-in carrying handles mean that it’s easy to lug around and it’s relatively lightweight means that you can carry it some distance.

As it uses the same Coleman Propane canisters as its cousins the Coleman Perfect Flow 2 Burner Stove and the Coleman Perfectflow Stove and Grill, the same comments about them apply to this stove as well. Namely, that these relatively new canisters aren’t that easy to find in shops so it’s best to stock up with spares before you leave home. That said, we are seeing more of these canisters in camping shops now than we did 12 months ago.

Each propane canister will run for around 1 hr 10 minutes with both rings on so should easily last for between three and four days under normal cooking conditions where you’ll mainly use one ring at a time and occasionally two together.

The time to boil a litre of water is not great mainly because this stove lacks any real wind protection. A simple aluminium folding windbreak will reduce the boil time from 6 minutes down to around 5 minutes and will also help to conserve fuel.

Each of the burners can be individually adjusted although, to be honest, the difference between minimum and maximum isn’t all that great !

So who is the Coleman Fold’n’Go aimed at ?

We’d have to say that we can see it appealing to the festival go-er and perhaps the occasional car camper. The relatively short life of the canisters means that a week long family camping trip might be more expensive with this stove then say the Campingaz Chef Stove and Grill.

Overall, if space is at a premium and you need something that folds this is a good buy but if you don’t then we’d recommend its cousin the Coleman Perfectflow 2 Burner Stove.

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Campingaz Twister Plus Stove

Campingaz Twister Plus

Campingaz Twister Plus

VERDICT: Campingaz have successfully designed a small lightweight yet well engineered stove which you can take almost anywhere

PRO’s: Lightweight & powerful, canister can be removed even when part used. Includes rigid case

CON’s: No built-in lighter

OUR RATING ★★★½☆ 

TODAYS BEST PRICE: £22.50 from Go Outdoors

The Campingaz Twister Plus stove from Campingaz is aimed squarely at lightweight backpackers on a budget or those who simply want to brew up a cuppa on top of a hill. It comes complete with a rigid protection case barely bigger than the stove which will protect it from knocks whilst at the bottom of your rucksack. To further save space, the stove uses Campingaz’s widely available Easy Clic Butane/Propane cartridges which can be disconnected from the stove at any time even when not completely empty.

But does such a small package skimp on features ?

The answer, inevitably, is yes. If you don’t want to carry matches with you then you’ll need to buy the Campingaz Twister Plus PZ which has a piezo-electric ignition system built in. What you do get though is a large control knob which offers very fine flame adjustments from a gentle simmer to a boil. With a stove so small your finger tips will be rather close to the flame when making adjustments so we were relieved to see that there’s a built in heat screen to protect the control knob (and your fingers) from the heat.

Above the burner are three foldable pan supports which offer a degree of wind protection. However, as is the case with all camping cookers, a fair amount of heat will be wasted if used in a strong wind so some form of heatshield would be advisable.

If properly protected from the wind then this a surprisingly powerful stove taking just 3 min 45 seconds to boil a litre of water although this time does lengthen as the cartridges empty and the pressure within them drops. As mentioned above, the Campingaz Twister Plus takes Campingaz Easy Clic Plus cartridges which come in three different sizes. The smallest Campingaz CV270 Plus offers a 1 hour runtime whilst the Campingaz CV300 Plus gives just over 1 hour 10 mins and the largest Campingaz CV470 Plus gives 2 hours.

Note that the widely available and inexpensive cartridges are not included in the price of the stove but then this does mean that you can buy the cartridge that best suits your intended usage.

We really like this stove. Push-button ignition would be nice but then for the price it’s not a deal breaker. And anyway, it’s available on the slightly more expensive Campingaz Twister Plus PZ.

In an ideal world we’d like the gas cylinders to be a little wider so that the stove was more stable on rough ground but then this would make them slightly bulkier but then we are being very picky.

Campingaz have successfully designed a small, lightweight yet well engineered stove which you can take almost anywhere. Highly recommended.

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Go Systems Dynasty Compact Stove

Go Systems Dynasty Compact Stove

Go Systems Dynasty Compact Stove

VERDICT: Compact & self-contained.  A good alternative to the Campingaz version although, being more widely available, the Campingaz version is cheaper.

PRO’s: Compact, self-contained unit. Includes carry case.  Three year warranty

CON’s: Short runtime, need to carry a spare cylinder. Pricier than the Campingaz equivalent

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

The Go Systems Dynasty Compact stove is Go Systems take on the single burner ‘suitcase’ format camping stove made popular by the Campingaz Camp Bistro.  And if it looks familiar then that’s because it is – the chassis is exactly the same as the Gelert Portable Gas Cooker and the Hi Gear Portable Gas Cooker as well as other non-branded versions so if your budget can’t stretch to the (slightly) more expensive Campingaz version then this could be a good alternative.

So what do you get for your money ?

The stove consists of a steel body which houses a click-in bayonet fitting gas cylinder containing a mix of mostly butane with a small amount of propane as well.  Each Go Systems 220 bayonet gas cartridge contains 220 grammes which is enough fuel for a constant run time of around 1.5 hours – enough for a weekends camping but not much more so ensure that you have a spare cylinder with you.

In use, the stove is simple to light thanks to it’s built-in piezeo-electric ignition system with a powerful flame that’s easy to control from a gentle simmer to a full boil.  The pan supports are serrated for grip and are of a good size.

Like the Campingaz version, this one also comes with a protective carry case but offers a three-year warranty whilst the Campingaz Camp Bistro only offers one year.

In our opinion there’s very little to choose between the two stoves but if you really had to push us, we’d say that despite the extra warranty the Campingaz Camp Bistro is still the better choice.  But if you can’t find one, this is a worthy alternative and offers the advantage of a longer warranty.

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Coleman Perfectflow 2 Burner Stove

Coleman Perfectflow 2 Burner Stove

Coleman Perfectflow 2 Burner Stove

VERDICT: The Coleman Perfectflow 2 Burner stove is a well designed, compact stove suitable for festival goers and families

PRO’s: Two burners, clever windshield design. Quick boil time

CON’s: Gas cylinders still hard to find. Take a spare

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

The Coleman Perfectflow 2 burner stove is a sturdy little unit with two independently adjustable burners which means that your sausages and beans can cook to perfection !  It’s ingenious built-in windshield (similar to that found on it’s cousin the Coleman Perfectflow Stove and Grill) ensures that as much heat as possible is directed into your pots.  Neat design touches such as this ensures that the boil time for a litre of water is a very respectable 5 minutes.  And it’s built-in piezo electric ignition system ensures that you won’t need to carry matches either.

Although it folds down quite small this stove still feels quite sturdy and feels like it could take some abuse.  On the face of it then, this camping cooker looks like the perfect solution for families, festival goers and even solo travellers who don’t want to compromise on luxury.

So what’s not to like ?

A minor criticism is that both burners are the same size.  In our experience of camping it’s extremely rare that you have two pans on the stove at the same time which are the same size.  More often than not you’ll have a frying pan and saucepan, or two different sized saucepans.

In an ideal world it would make sense to have one larger and one smaller burner so that the ring (and the heat output) could be tailored to suit the size of the pot because this would help to reduce the stoves fuel consumption.

And talking of fuel, we move on to the aspect of this stove that we like the least although it’s by no means a deal breaker.

This stove uses Colemans own high-pressure propane gas canisters which only last for around one hour.  Annoyingly, because these canisters contain propane at high pressure the stove cannot be used with larger, low pressure propane cylinders.

At the time of writing these cylinders are still relatively new and not that easy to find so it’s worth buying a few spares when you buy the stove.  Many retailers realise this and will offer you a discount which is well worth taking advantage of.  Without it, this stove could be expensive to run.

Overall this is a well designed stove, with some neat features but spoiled by the relative poor supply of fuel canisters.  In time this situation will improve so we still have no hesitation in recommending this stove, just make sure that you buy (and carry with you) some spare gas canisters.

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Campingaz Camp Bistro Stove

Campingaz Bistro Camping Cooker

Campingaz Bistro Camping Cooker

VERDICT: The Campingaz Camp Bistro Camping stove is a superb budget stove for the price concious camper suitable for use at a festival or a weekend getaway.

PRO’s: Compact, has own carry case

CON’s: Can be expensive to run, suited only to occasional use

OUR RATING ★★★★☆ 

If you’re working to a real budget you’ll really can’t go wrong with the Campingaz Camp Bistro from Campingaz.  For the price of four disposable BBQ’s you get a sturdy enamelled gas cooker complete with its own sturdy plastic carry case which, unlike some other designs of camping cooker, makes it easy to store when not in use.

These so-called suitcase stoves are becoming extremely popular with many clones on the market.  The Campingaz Camp Bistro falls at the top end in terms of build quality, as you would expect carrying the name Campingaz, with most parts made of metal.

Ease of use is good too with Piezo ignition means there’s no need for matches, a high output (2300 Watts) and a flame adjuster which actually does vary the size of the flame (unlike some of the clone stoves).  Our only criticism of the Campingaz Camp Bistro is that we’d like the flame on the lowest setting to go just that little bit lower.

With such a high output it’s no surprise that it boils a litre of water just over five minutes and will run around an hour and a half on a single butane gas cartidge.

Talking of cartridges the Campingaz Camp Bistro uses Campingaz’s CP250 gas cartridges which simply clip into place.  Other non-branded cartridges will work although don’t be fooled by the lower price of some of these.  They don’t always contain the same amount of gas – for reference, the CP250 contains 250 grammes of Butane.

The stove doesn’t usually come with a gas canister but many merchants offer discounted bundles when bought with the cooker.  Our advice is to take a look at the merchants below and see what offers they may have.

Overall an excellent little stove which is perfect for the occasional camper.

Todays Latest Prices for Campingaz Bistro

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