Camping sells itself on the joy of daytime fun: swimming, hiking and indulging in the outdoors. But when it’s time to eat, every camper should consider adding a portable stove to their pack.
1. Compact stoves
- For a large part of the year, particularly in Canada, there are severe restrictions on the use of camp fires, with the result that stoves have become indispensable pack items.
- For car camping, a traditional two or three burner gas stove is safe and convenient. Buy more compact, basic stoves for backpacking trips.
- Cleverly packed stoves unfold to become an effective camping cooktop. Most of these lightweight units run on a mixture of butane and propane, with the gas canister forming part of the base of the stove. These models are straightforward to operate and work well at very low temperatures.
- The spent canisters cannot be refilled.
2. Liquid-fuelled stoves
- Most campers prefer to use a liquid-fuel stove. Models that burn methylated spirits are good because they do not need to be primed or pressurized. The best come complete with cook sets with a burner and two-part windshield into which different-sized cooking containers nestle.
3. White spirit and kerosene fuel stoves
- White spirit and kerosene are other common stove fuels. Both generate good heat output for a given volume of fuel, but need to be primed.
- White spirit stoves are the most efficient, but the fuel is extremely volatile and not always readily available.
- Kerosene is safer, though if not properly primed it will give off smoky fumes.
- Many modern stoves can burn either kerosene or white spirit.
4. Safety first
- Every stove has idiosyncrasies with which the user must become familiar — how to prime it, adjust the flame to simmer, judge boiling times and the like.
- Safety is paramount, particularly if using spillable liquid fuels. Avoid refuelling if the stove is hot, watch for spilt fuel, position the apparatus well clear of flammable items and ensure sufficient ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide build-up.