5 Considerations before you buy a camp stove

All of us here at Outdoor Revival like to spend summer nights in the woods and wilds. And while Clif bars and beef jerky are delicious, or at least nutritious, there’s nothing like a hot meal in the backcountry. For that, you need a camp stove. The best camp stoves are all well made, with quality materials, in ways that promote longevity and durability. However, there are so many good models on the market these days, that you need more than that.

You need to find the best camp stove for your type of adventurous spirit. Do you find yourself in desert canyons or the high mountains? Do you camp out of your car or do you tend to find yourself days deep in the wild? If you’re planning on picking up a camp stove, here’s five things you should think about first.

Canister camp stoves vs liquid fuel camp stoves

Canister camping stove
Canister camping stove

Although canister stoves have become the new norm in backpacking in many ways, liquid fuel still holds several advantages over its new counterpart. For one, canister stoves stop working at really cold temperatures and can be rendered useless in high altitude environments.

Liquid fuel stoves are also far better for the environment primarily due to the reusable fuel bottle. Although fuel canisters are recyclable as mixed metal, reuse is inevitably more sustainable. However, canister stoves are almost always lighter and smaller. That’s not to mention that they are often cheaper and require next to no maintenance for years and years of life.

Cooking surface

Are you dreaming of bacon and eggs in the morning along with a hot cup of backcountry coffee? Or are you just looking to melt snow and boil water so you can go fast and light to the top and back? Think about whether you want one or two burners? Not only that, but how big do you need those burners to be? It’s pretty tricky to boil a big pot of water on a teeny, ultra lightweight backpacking burner.


Camping stove
Camping stove

Speaking of lightweight backpacking burners, the way you plan to travel and where you intend to camp can tell you a lot about how heavy you want your stove to be.

If you’re looking for a kitchen you can carry in your car, you might start looking at two burner stoves from companies like Coleman or Camp. However, the further you find yourself from the road, the lighter and more compact you’re going to want your burner to be.


Camping stove with few cooking options
Camping stove with few cooking options

The truth about camp stoves is that there are more types on the market than most people could imagine. You can use wood, tablets, gas, liquid fuel. There are windshields, flame controls, attachments, stands and more to modify each stove for certain uses. So consider how many types of adventures you might find yourself on in the coming years? Are you going to be close to home in familiar territory every time? Or are you likely to find yourself in far off and variable environments?

Either way, the most versatile stoves depend on the most available fuel. In the States, canister stoves are great. However, if you’re going to be abroad, you’ll usually have more luck finding fuel for a Coleman. If you’re deep in the woods for weeks or even months at a time, you might actually consider using… well, wood?


Camping stove
Camping stove

Lastly, have a look at the price tags. Once you’ve really thought about what type of stove will best meet your criteria, then compare their prices. Remember that a good camp stove will last you for well over five years if properly cared for, so it might be worth the extra thirty bucks to get the better model.

Your perfect price point will depend mostly on the level of performance you desire. If you are a professional camp chef and need to simmer and sizzle with some finesse, then you’re going to have to splurge for a better stove. If you’re average Joe when it comes to the camp kitchen, then no-problem, keep it cheap.

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ian-carroll is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival