Skip to content

From Mountain Top To Shoreline - We're Here To Get Your Gear

Portable Camping Stoves in various sizes and power ranges
Portable Camping Stoves in various sizes and power ranges

Cooking in the great outdoors is a skill that adds a delicious layer to any adventure. To elevate your outdoor culinary experience, the right portable stove can make all the difference as the joy of cooking outdoors can never be underestimated. In this guide, we'll explore the world of portable stoves, breaking down essential features, sharing expert tips, and providing top-notch recommendations. Whether you're a backpacker, camper, or just someone who loves a good picnic, choosing the perfect portable stove is the key to turning your outdoor meals into a culinary masterpiece.

It's time to fire up your outdoor cooking!

The impressive MSR PocketRocket 2 with foldable support arms
The impressive MSR PocketRocket 2 with foldable support arms

Understanding Your Outdoor Cooking Needs:

Before delving into the nitty-gritty details of portable stoves, take a moment to consider your outdoor cooking needs. Are you a minimalist backpacker needing an ultra-light option? If so, opting for a compact and lightweight stove like the MSR PocketRocket 2 could be the perfect fit ensuring you have a reliable cooker without weighing down your pack. Or are you a family camper looking for a more robust stove to feed a group? Then you might be better with the Campingaz 2 CV Stove with 2 rings for added versatility.

Understanding your specific requirements will guide you toward the most suitable portable stove for your adventures and what equipment you will require. Ask yourself the following to help narrow down your search:

  1. Usage Frequency: How often do you plan to use the stove? Is it for occasional weekend trips or extended backpacking excursions?
  2. Group Size: Will you be cooking for yourself or a group? The number of people you plan to feed influences the size, power and even the number of stoves!
  3. Cuisine Complexity: Are you a minimalist camper sticking to simple recipes, or do you enjoy preparing elaborate meals that require precise temperature control?

Once you have a clear idea of what your basic requirements are, you can then choose from the various types of portable stoves that match your needs.

Cooking a quick snack whilst setting up camp
Cooking a quick snack whilst setting up camp

Types of Portable Stoves:

There are various types of portable stoves on the market, each designed for different purposes and situations. Let's explore the most common types:

Canister Stoves:

    • Pros: Lightweight, compact, easy to use.
    • Cons: Can be affected by cold temperatures and high altitudes.
    • Example: The Jetboil Flash Cooking System is an all-in-one canister stove solution, perfect for boiling water quickly on the trail.

Liquid Fuel Stoves:

    • Pros: Reliable in cold temperatures, versatile fuel options.
    • Cons: Bulkier, requires priming.
    • Example: The MSR WhisperLite Universal is a liquid fuel stove that can run on various fuels, offering flexibility for different environments.

Wood-Burning Stoves:

    • Pros: Environmentally friendly, no need to carry fuel.
    • Cons: Requires a steady supply of dry wood.
    • Example: The Biolite CampStove 2 generates electricity from the heat produced while cooking, allowing you to charge your devices while preparing meals.

Solid Fuel Stoves:

      • Pros: Lightweight, compact, no liquid fuel spills.
      • Cons: Limited heat control, longer cooking times.
      • Example: The Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove is a compact solid fuel option perfect for minimalist backpackers.

Consider the Size and Weight:

For backpackers and hikers, size and weight are critical factors. Car campers may have more flexibility, but it's still essential to balance portability with cooking capacity. Here's a general guideline:

OEX ETNA single burner stove- ultralight and easy to transport so perfect for backpacking
OEX Etna Single Burner Stove - ultralight and easy to transport so perfect for backpacking
  • Ultralight Backpacking (Less than 1 lb): Ideal for minimalist backpackers focused on weight savings.
  • Backpacking (1-2 lbs): Balances weight and features for regular backpacking trips.
  • Car Camping (2 lbs and above): Prioritises features and cooking power for car-based adventures. With car camping you have the luxury of space and weight so you can opt for larger or double ring burners such as the Camp Chef Ranger II Table Top Stove.

Fuel Efficiency and Compatibility:

Different stoves utilise various fuel sources, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Fuel efficiency is crucial, especially for longer trips where resupplying fuel may be challenging. Look for stoves that provide a good balance between cooking power and fuel consumption as this will reduce the weight you need to carry in your pack.

  • Canister Stoves: Use compressed gas canisters, usually propane or isobutane.
Gas cartridge used in single ring burners
Gas cartridge used in single ring burners
  • Liquid Fuel Stoves: Compatible with white gas, kerosene, or even unleaded gasoline.
  • Wood-Burning Stoves: Utilise sticks, twigs, or other biomass.

Cooking Power and Boil Time:

The power of the stove determines how quickly it can bring water to a boil and is measures in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and as a general rule of thumb, the higher the BTU ratings, the quicker the boil time giving more efficient cooking. So if you're an avid coffee drinker who can't start the day without a hot cup, choosing a high-powered stove like the MSR WindBurner, with it's rapid boil time, will reduce your waiting time and give you more time to enjoy your morning brew. The factors below give an indication of heat output.

The MSR PocketRocket 2 boils water quickly and efficiently in sheltered conditions
The MSR PocketRocket 2 boils water quickly and efficiently in sheltered conditions

Wind Resistance:

Cooking outdoors often means dealing with unpredictable weather. A stove with good wind resistance ensures your flame stays steady, especially in open and exposed environments.

Boiling some tea in the Trangia Kettle using a windshield
Boiling some tea in the Trangia kettle using a windshield
  • Windshields: Some stoves come with built-in or detachable windshields. There are plenty of portable windscreens that vary in size and height depending on your requirements.
  • Sturdy Design: Stoves with a low centre of gravity and stable legs perform better in windy conditions.

Ease of Use and Maintenance:

User-friendliness is paramount when choosing a portable stove, especially if you're not a seasoned outdoor chef. Consider features such as ignition systems, stability, and ease of cleaning.

The Trespass Gastro comes with a Piezo Ignition
The Trespass Gastro comes with a Piezo Ignition
  • Piezo Ignition: The Trespass Gastro Single Ring Stove comes with a piezo ignition, which means you can start cooking with the press of a button.
  • Foldable Design: Stoves with a foldable design are easy to pack and transport. The MSR PocketRocket 2 folds up and fits back into a box which can easily be stowed inside a pot for efficiency. The Coleman Fyre Lite comes in a handy portable pouch.
Small carry pouch for the Coleman FyreLite Stove
Small carry pouch for the Coleman FyreLite Stove

Durability and Construction:

Your portable stove should be able to withstand the rigours of outdoor use. Consider the following durability factors:

  • Material: Look for stoves made from robust materials like stainless steel or aluminium.
  • Build Quality: Look for a stove that will give you durability and longevity. If you plan to use your portable stove regularly, then it's better to invest in a stove that offers good shelf-life.

Accessories and Compatibility:

Consider the availability of accessories and whether the stove is compatible with cookware you already own or plan to purchase.

Various pots and pans that can be used on portable stoves
Various pots and pans that can be used on portable stoves
  1. Cookware Compatibility: Ensure your stove is compatible with your existing cookware. Is your frying pan too large or your pot too heavy to work in tandem with your stove? Overloading single burner stoves with pots that are too large for the pot arms to support can result in serious injury. Opt for camp stoves that offer a large cooking surface which can accommodate a range of pot sizes.
  2. Carry Case: A dedicated carry case makes transportation and storage more convenient. The single ring burner stoves such as the Trespass Gastro and the Campingaz Bistro come with a carry case as standard which makes transporting from your car to your camp much easier.
The Campingaz Bistro in it's handy carry case
The Campingaz Bistro in its handy carry case

Budget Considerations:

Portable stoves come in a range of prices, so it's crucial to find one that fits your budget without compromising essential features. Also consider how frequently you plan to use the stove as it can be worth investing in a higher-priced stove if you plan to use this on a regular basis.

  • Budget-Friendly Option: The Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove provides reliable cooking performance at an affordable price.
  • Mid-Range Choice: The MSR PocketRocket 2 offers a balance of quality and affordability, making it a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts.

Test Before You Invest:

Whenever possible, test the stove in controlled conditions before embarking on a major trip. Familiarise yourself with its setup, ignition, and cooking performance to avoid surprises in the field.

Choosing the perfect portable stove is a personal journey that involves aligning your outdoor cooking needs with the features of the stove. By considering factors like size, weight, power, and ease of use, you're well on your way to selecting a stove that will suit your needs perfectly. Invest wisely, cook passionately, and let your portable stove be the secret ingredient to memorable outdoor meals under the open sky. Happy cooking!

Remember to visit our website for more information and to explore other camping gear recommendations: Cooking Equipment

We independently purchase and test the products displayed. When you purchase through our links, we may earn a small commission.