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How to buy the best camping stove for you

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

What size do I need?

Stoves vary in size from tiny ultra-light burners that take up barely any space in a rucksack to big multi-hob numbers complete with grills which allow you to cook pretty much anything you do at home. If you’re camping alone or with a partner over a weekend then small, simple camping stove will usually be more than adequate, but if you’re wild camping or heading on a longer expedition a lightweight backpacking stove designed to work even in terrible weather is worth the extra dosh. And if you’re heading off for a week-long family camping trip in the car we’d recommend investing in the biggest camping stove you can – picking one with multiple hobs will allow you to whizz up a veritable feast in any field. Horses for courses, but to help we’ve marked our favourites with the group size and camping conditions they’re best suited for.

What burn time should I look out for?

When shopping around you’ll see that many stoves list their burn time (how long it takes to burn a given amount of fuel) and boil time (a quick boil time aids fuel efficiency), which are both worth keeping in mind, especially if you’re camping far from civilisation. Another factor to consider is weight – again less important for campsites but key for backpackers. A stove that packs up neatly into a carry case or into its own pots is useful for storage and transportation, too.

What fuel do I need?

Most stoves on the market either use canisters of gas (propane or butane or a mix of the two) or liquid fuel (such as kerosene or paraffin). Gas canisters usually clip or screw on to the stove. They are small, lightweight and don’t leak.  Often stoves are only compatible with one kind of fuel or brand, so always ensure you buy the right fuel canister for your particular stove. Propane is easy to get hold of and burns well but liquid fuel performs better at low temperatures. Liquid fuel canisters are usually connected via a hose to the stove, and are refillable. We like stoves that feature a Piezo-igniter, a push-button starter that’s useful if you forget to bring matches along. Once lit, some stoves burn with a blue light whilst others make a roaring noise.

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