The Ins and Outs of Camping Stoves - The ins and outs of cooking stoves - explore the various types of camping stoves and how personal need or desire is changing the market. This is not a detailed study, because that would take volumes and could get boring. We look at a few choices and how the market is changing. The result is a quick view of the camping stove market.
The choice of a camping stove is first dependent on its use
and second depending on each individualís desire. These two terms are
If I buy a camp stove
for a hiking event, certainly the lighter the better, but some people like to
eat, and they need more cooking capability. You can cook at a tailgate party
with a single burner ( 10,000 BTU) stove or you might want a three burner
(30,000 BTU per burner per hour) stove which will allow all kinds of cooking and
So first let us break down choice.
Under hiking, you will find ultra light, single burner,
tablet and other light weight fuels such as alcohol or propane and butane gas
stoves. There are some ultra light two burner stoves, but they do weigh more.
You might be better with two, single burner stoves. Some of the very light
weight stoves come in a kit form with a pan, lid and sauce pan, and pans that have
graduated markings for more exotic cooking.
Some even allow the stove to be
folded up and it fits into or under a pan which then fits inside two other
pans, thus giving you a very light compact system. If the pans are made of
titanium or aluminum alloy it can be very lightweight. Some are even designed
to hold heat and transfer it to the food quicker, and are even Teflon coated to
allow cooking without a lot of washing.
One of the alcohol systems has even added a
burner that fits inside the alcohol burner ring and converts the system to butane.
This very small burner might be a great tool for the tablet, alcohol and other
small stoves that are not gas. It is a handy gadget.
Several companies have a stove that fits on the top of a gas
canister. Thus you can easily carry a canister for your cooking and for a camp light.
These are small low weight and easy to assemble. The pot and pans are usually
separate. I have a very light two burner stove that uses butane or propane but
it does take up pack space. This stove allows for more cooking. Thus weight and
space are important when we carry a pack, and additional weight and more pans
are a choice. We tell our scouts to not carry more than one quarter of their
weight. The military adds a lot more.
When we think of camping stoves we look at the old camp site
fire, that old grizzled chief
biscuits and gravy, or beans and other trail fair. With the advance to a safer
environment, we have sought to build a cooking machine that was both safe and
functional. First the Japanese and Chinese had wood and charcoal stoves and then
in the 1850s to 1882 came alcohol stoves, and then pressure stoves about 1900.
WWII brought about stoves that used white or un-leaded gas.
In 1882 Primus stoves
were adapted from the blow torch. Primus is still an important stove builder,
today. Many others have followed and many different variations have been
provided. Now we have the choice of many fuels, and systems. Some will burn
almost anything. Some call themselves multi-fuel while truly being very
limited. But most camp stoves will have one to two burners. Some have two
burner heads, but both work off the same fuel source. One I know has a separate
canister of gas for each burner, thus you really have two stoves in one. But in
a nut shell you have more cooking capability. They will boil water rapidly,
have wind shields, some have variable burner controls to allow simmer or max
Some have a built-in-grill and others have a detached grill that
can be added. Another thing you will find is larger burner heads and cooking space,
and the handle for both stove and pots will be made so that they do not absorb
heat, thus you can pick it up without burning your hand. Many of these stoves
were hard to clean and maintain in the old days (Last Year), but times are
changing and the systems are improved almost daily. Like cars, a new model
comes out almost every year. Some of the stainless models are very easy to
clean. Some use aluminum alloy or titanium which is very light and easy to
Thus the two burner stove has become a standard for the old
camp fire. The one burner stoves are made more for individual use or for couples.
The range of one burner stoves has so
many stoves and so many fuels that it is very hard to keep up with changes and
with the different fuels. Even new wood stoves are appearing which will not
scorch the earth or leave a trace. The single burner also brings out the purest
who seeks the best of cooking, with the lightest load and the smallest space
and weight. There are websites where you will find Zin Stoves and data for each
along with fuels. If you are seeking the lightest and the best cookers, be sure
and look for these sites. They are not traps that will force you to a new
religion, but really provide some good and detailed information about camp
stoves, their use and the best for any given situation..
When we talk about cookers we are looking at stoves that can
cook for lots of people. There are high BTU single burner stoves that can quick
cook a turkey or 100 pounds of catfish. Camp
Chief has built a 3 burner stove
with each burner producing 30,000 BTUís. This would cook a lot of food quickly,
while allowing the cook to vary how much fuel he was using on each burner, and
how much heat he needs. Here we equal the restaurants as far as cooking
capability. Also we see the stove in an outdoors environment which allows some
variety in the foods prepared and the types of spices used.
Chili, comes to
mind along with Catfish and some exotic brisket, hotdogs, hamburgers and many
other fair that have come about because of outdoor stoves and charcoal cookers
that have been developed. Again need has required a larger stove, not as
portable, but not fixed in the house. Years ago, Army National Guard Cooks in Louisiana
were taking the old Korea
war vintage water carriers, called water buffaloes, and were converting them
into charcoal cookers that could be hauled to anywhere, and unbelievable meals
cooked. It was also a contained system. This was in the 1970ís. I have even
seen some cooking while on the road, while moving to a new site. This sounds
more like today and the modern charcoal grills on wheels.
The Party stove ranges from the 3 burner above to some
charcoal and gas with up to six burners and which also include infrared systems
and fire starters. Of course do not forget the rotisserie and maybe even a sink
and a refrigerator. This has come about in the last 10 years. These are truly
chef stoves for the outdoors. They range in price from the hundreds to the many
thousands of dollars. Some allow the cooking of anything and even have an ovens.
To say this is all there is about stoves, is un-realistic.
We need to talk about desire. Every where you look there is something
different. This is caused by someoneís desire. Some people want this and others
want that, One guy will want a open burner and a grill on the same stove. Thus
a company will soon be producing the same. If sales are good, then we see this
type of stove everywhere in the market. Someone will like a brand and see a
feature on another brand at or stove. He will ask and soon it will be
Choice and desire have a big effect on this market. We have a market
that grows every year, and gets more competitive. I like the choice part. I
like to be able to go to several stores and find camping stoves in several
varieties. I enjoy a market that produces new things with emphasis on safety
and on portability. That might be because of my age and the lighter weights,
helping me. People might think this is innovation from the Far East,
but most of the ideas are from backyard America
and extreme campers. Some one will ask, and a company figures a way to build a
One more comment on ends and outs. If placed in a book, it
would be a very big book, and most probably very detailed. Even the breakout
into 4 categories, is not sufficient. You can easily break these areas down
farther and add a few, like high altitude stoves, stoves that start in very wet
climates or several different variants. Some of the pellet stoves will burn
almost under water after they start, and some of them are very toxic, so be
careful. Alcohol is light but does not get real hot. Thus the number variations
of both choice and purpose continue to grow each day. People have designed
stoves for Mt. Everest
where altitude and pressure are critical as is weight. These all might then be
broken into fuel types and by weights, Thus making many more categories and
We need stoves that work in the desert, at the lake, in
storms or emergency. We need stoves that are ready for times like hurricanes
when we find whole systems like water, gas and electricity are not available
for days. Camping stoves will do the job desired, if you have the right stove.
Maybe this is not perfect, because we are looking to take care of too many situations.
We also need to consider times when fuel will be limited, Could we need more
than one type of stove, to conserve fuel. On and on goes need and choice in
determining the right camping stove. We may come to the time when gas is gone
and only wood and solar systems are available. The market includes some truly
wonderful solar ovens and wood stoves that channel the heat to conserve wood.
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