Neil Smith

1 year ago · 4 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Family Camping Stoves.

 Family Camping Stoves.


The ability to turn out normal home style cooking whilst on a campsite has many benefits apart from the money saved on eating out or on takeaways. Kids are often way more enthused about helping with dinner when it is outdoors and there are only so many times you can hit the chipper in a single week. What we are going to look at here are small, packable units that replicate enough of the features of a domestic cooker to make meal preparation fairly normal and straightforward. All the stoves featured here run on gas of some kind. I am going to run through these according to the kind of gas they use as that is how I normally do it in the store and we will start with cheap and cheerful to get us going.


Small cartridge stoves.

These are manufactured in their millions in the far east and are a staple of many a student room in Asia. Small, single burner gas cookers which take a slot in cartridge, have a Piezo spark ignitor and pack away into a little plastic case. These are fine for starting off and for short trips where dinner is pasta, noodle soup or a different kind of pasta. I have seen some amazing things cooked on these but mostly they are made for simple ‘One pot wonder’ meals. Each gas cartridge lasts between thirty-five and fifty minutes but changing them is quick and easy. This is the only gas cartridge which is exclusively butane so they aren’t ideal for cold weather. Away from the campsite these make a great emergency stove to keep around the house in case of electricity failure.

Positives. Inexpensive. Compact. Simple.

Negatives. Low power. Poor in wind.

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High pressure cartridge stoves.

There are only a few of these around but they are getting more and more popular as they give great cooking performance and take up very little space in the car. Outwell produce the Olida and Annatto stoves which are both double burners with a large built-in windshield. The burners produce between three and three and a half kilowatts of power which means that they would rarely be turned up full and so are pretty easy going in terms of gas consumption. The cartridges, which are available worldwide from outdoor, camping and hardware stores are almost always a Butane/Propane mix and their performance is consistently good even on colder mornings. The Annatto is a little bigger, a bit more powerful and has a slightly more solid construction. Both feature a push button Piezo ignitor.

Positives. High performance, Compact. Easy to use.

Negatives. Limited choices available. No option with a grill.

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Low pressure stoves.

Easily the most common in the camping/caravanning universe. All of these need to be connected to a refillable ‘Calor’ type cylinder using a hose and a regulator of some kind. The basic style is of the fold out variety like the Outwell Appetizer trio which features two burners and a grill. These are produced by many companies; some are better quality than others but even the best can suffer from damage at the hinges if it is used a lot so if you are a regular camper then maybe look further up the food chain. The next level of stoves feature stronger body shells and better quality burners. Vango have one with two burners and an infra-red grill or another option with three burners and no grill. The South African company Cadac, better known here for their barbecues have a couple of really excellent higher end options also. New this year is the ‘Mighty Two’ which is a stainless-steel double burner. Looks lovely, performs really well. Another from Cadac is one of the hits of last year which is the Cook Pro 2 deluxe. A double burner that comes with removable frying pan and grill plates. A superb compact cooker for a couple or small family. At the rough and tumble end of things we also offer a small range of cast iron burners which are usually used by Scouts or groups. These are able to withstand a fair bit more abuse and negligence (although bear in mind that they are strong, not magic or unbreakable) which makes them a popular niche product for some users.

Positives. Lots of choice. Easy to use.

Negatives. Gas, hose and regulator add to initial expense. Gas is bulky to pack.

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Gas.

For the first two types of stove there are basically no choices to be made. The low performance cartridge stove comes with a low performance gas while the more powerful ones come with a high-performance gas. Both are absolutely appropriate for the relevant appliances.

For the low pressure stoves the choice of gas is between Propane or Butane. Both of these are LPG. At sea level, Propane has a boiling point below -40 degrees Celsius while that for Butane is just above zero Celsius. What this means in practical terms is that at lower, single digit temperatures, Butane won’t gassify easily and will tend to hide in the cylinder scared to come out. Around freezing it won’t gassify at all. This makes Propane a more useful gas on cold or frosty mornings even in the Irish Summer. Unless you plan on taking the family camping below minus forty, propane will always work better in the cold. These numbers change at higher altitudes so if you camp in the high Alps or Nepal then Butane improves somewhat but Propane would still be better.

Regulators are also a bit of a minefield. On the island of Ireland, we have about five common regulators for propane and another three for Butane so make sure that what you buy matches. It is also worth being aware of how easily available your choice of gas cylinder is around the country. Give us a call or ask in store. Other countries have a similar situation so anytime you travel you may end up buying local regulators and cylinders. If you spend a lot of time travelling around Europe and Scandinavia then you may wish to consider using the only universally available refillable cylinder which is produced by Camping Gaz. These are at least the same price as Calor and FloGas cylinders but are less than half the size so although convenient be aware that they are relatively expensive and are Butane only.

You can get more information and detail about specific stove units here on our website:

https://www.charlescamping.ie/store/index.php/accessories/cookers/portable.html

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If you have any outdoor related questions or suggestions for future articles then email neil@charlescamping.ie


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