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Camping Stove Buying Guide

A camping stove is an outdoor cooking essential. It can take you from a warming brew to a backpacking dinner to a campsite feast for the family. On a multi-day trip, the ability to make a hot meal is crucial for your mind and body alike.

With a wide variety of stoves on the market, it can be tricky to know what type to choose. Before you decide, there are some key factors to think about. These include your intended activity, when and where you are heading, what you want to cook, and for how many. Finding a model that best matches your needs will make all the difference when you head outdoors.

Types of backpacking stovesTypes of backpacking stoves

Backpacking stoves tend to be the lightest and most compact models on the market. This makes them easier to pack while keeping weight down for better carrying comfort.

However, their smaller dimensions do not mean a drop in performance. Powerful and efficient, these models achieve the cooking capabilities needed for multi-day trips.

To help break down the range, we split the backpacking models into three main types: canister stoves, stove systems, and liquid fuel stoves.

Canister Stoves

When size, weight and convenience are paramount, canister stoves are the number one choice. They work with screw thread canisters that contain pressurised gasses. Their versatility and small pack size make them ideal for backpacking trips.

Most canister stoves screw onto the top of the gas canister. Others sit low to the ground, connecting to the fuel source via a fuel line. These designs offer better stability – ideal when cooking in difficult conditions or on uneven terrain.

Some canister stoves have auto-igniters making them quick and easy to light. Other models need a match, lighter, or fire steel to get them started. Once lit, you can use the simmer control function to adjust the flame as needed. Another feature to look out for is a pressure regulator. This allows them to maintain fast boil times in cold weather and with low fuel levels.


  • Compact, lightweight, and easy to carry
  • Quick and convenient to use with fast set-up
  • Good value for money

Stove Systems

A type of canister stove, these systems feature an all-in-one design. The burner screws onto the top of a gas canister, and the cooking pot screws onto the burner. Once done, the nesting design helps keep pack size to a minimum.

Stove systems are all about efficiency; they are best used for boiling water fast. So, if you are looking to heat water for hot drinks and dehydrated food for one, they’re a top pick. The model-specific pots tend to have high sides and a narrow base. This can make frying ingredients or simmering sauces tricky.


  • Combined stove and pot for all-in-one convenience
  • Compact, space-saving designs
  • Fast and very fuel-efficient

Liquid Fuel Stoves

The workhorse of the stove world, liquid fuel stoves will perform in all conditions. This makes them ideal for longer backpacking trips, expeditions, and mountaineering.

Instead of a pressurised gas canister, they connect to a fuel bottle. It gives you the flexibility to switch fuel types to match availability. White gas, paraffin/kerosene, and unleaded petrol are common choices.

While liquid fuel stoves need priming before use and more maintenance, they will give superior economy over long-term use. To improve the efficiency of a liquid fuel stove, you can use a windshield. It helps to shelter the flame and increase heat retention.


  • Perform reliably in any condition, temperature, or altitude
  • Will work with a range of liquid fuels
  • Cheap and widely available fuel

Campsite Stoves

Campsite StovesCampsite Stoves

Campsite stoves are more suited to adventures that don't take you too far from the car. Think long weekends away with friends or family holidays during the summer.

They are generally much bigger and sturdier, with a wider base and lower centre of gravity. This allows you to use heavier pots and pans, create elaborate meals, and cook for more people. Although portable, we wouldn't recommend carrying them over long distances.

Like most things in life, campsite stoves come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. They can have a single burner, two burners, two burners and a grill and so on. Some models include accessories like a griddle pan to increase your cooking options.

Campsite stoves tend to have larger burner diameters for a more even heat spread. It avoids small hotspots forming in the middle of the pan, which can run the risk of burning your food.

Good features to look out for on a campsite stove include:

  • Wind protection panels for better fuel efficiency
  • Simmer control to adjust heat levels
  • Fold-out legs for increased stability


BBQ GrillBBQ Grill

Portable, reusable BBQ/grills are ideal for those who enjoy trips away when the weather is good. As well as being useful for short getaways, they can be the perfect option for day trips to the beach or the park. While they don't always pack down small, you can usually carry them short distances. This makes it easy to find the perfect picnic spot to sizzle some sausages.

When using a BBQ or grill, it's important to remember that you should leave no trace. Due to fire risk, do not leave it unattended. Upon leaving, make sure there are no embers and responsibly dispose of any ash.


Another thing to bear in mind when buying a stove is what fuel it needs and how available that type is.

Gas Fuel

Most backpacking stoves use a gas cartridge that attaches via screw thread. Available from different brands, screw thread gas canisters usually share the same type of thread to ensure stove compatibility.

Smaller campsite stoves tend to be compatible with the classic gas cartridges. Larger family camping stoves will likely have a hose and regulator which attaches to a big gas bottle. This is a more efficient way of cooking outside for extended periods.

Gas canisters are clean, convenient, and easy to use. The downside? They don’t perform as well in cold temperatures. That’s where liquid fuel stoves excel.

Liquid Fuel

The alternative to a canister stove is a liquid fuel stove. These are also known as multi-fuel stoves; due to the fact they can run on different fuels. Examples include white gas, paraffin/kerosene, and unleaded petrol. These fuels are often easier to access, especially when travelling abroad.

They also work well at higher altitudes and in cold weather conditions. Serviceable in the field, they are the first choice for remote expeditions where reliability is crucial.

Stove Accessories

stove being lit by flint and steelstove being lit by flint and steel

Stove accessories can go a long way in improving the efficiency of your stove. They can also make it easier to light or improve stability on rough ground.

Reflective Windshield

A windshield will help protect a stove burner in windy conditions. They are usually made with reflective materials such as aluminium. This helps reflect any escaping heat back towards the pot to maximise efficiency.

Never use a windshield with a stove that screws directly on to the top of the canister. There is a risk that the cartridge could get too hot and explode.

Flint & Steel

Some stoves come with a piezo igniter (that you click) to light the burner, but these can be unreliable. Matches can get wet, and lighters can break. The answer? Adding a flint and steel to your stove kit. Durable and reliable, they will operate in any weather, at any altitude. Lightweight and compact, the flint and steel duo are ideal for weight-conscious trips.

Cartridge Stabiliser

If a cartridge stabiliser is not included in your stove set, it is worth investing in one. They add vital stability to your stove setup, particularly when camping in windy conditions or on uneven terrain. Featuring notched grooves, they usually work with more than one cartridge size.

Camping Cookware

If you want to up your outdoor cooking skills, invest in some camping cookware. From ultralight pots to two-litre plus saucepans, there is plenty to choose from. By having a couple of different options, you can tailor your camping meals to each trip. Wild camping for one night with a compact canister stove? Take a small pot and a dehydrated meal. Making breakfast for a group of six? Add a frying pan and kettle to a two-burner campsite stove - you can make an omelette on one and make coffee with the other.

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