How to choose and use a camp stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 1

By Krista Karlson

Sharpen your dinner duty skills with this easy guide.

When I first started camping and backpacking, I’d strategically avoid dinner duty. I’d offer to set up the tent or get water, but I never helped cook because I didn’t know how to use a stove. I felt embarrassed, like I wasn’t “outdoorsy” enough. I didn’t want to ask how to use a stove because it would reveal what I thought was a gaping incompetency, and I didn’t want to be mansplained about how to use one. So I’d peek over my friends’ shoulders, trying to figure out how it worked.

When I finally learned how to use my first camp stove, I felt relieved. Finally I could help make dinner. I went on to teach student trip leaders how to operate and clean stoves, always assuring them it was ok that they were still learning.

This guide will help you choose and operate various types of stoves so you can confidently approach dinner duty. It might take a while to get the hang of it, and that’s ok. Practice makes perfect.  So let’s dive into the specifics of how to choose and use a camp stove.

 

Two-burner propane stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 2 - photo by Brian Gautreau
Photo by Brian Gautreau

This stove is great for car camping. The double burner allows you to cook two things at once, and the built-in windscreen keeps the flame from going out. The downside is that it’s heavy (around 10 pounds).

Here’s how it works:

 

Liquid fuel stove

How to choose and use a camp stove 3 - photo by Kitty Terwolbeck
Photo by Kitty Terwolbeck

This stove is great for cold alpine trips because unlike gas, liquid fuel can be manually pressurized in cold or high altitude conditions. It usually weighs about 1 pound, and the refillable fuel bottle cuts down on waste.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Integrated canister stove

Photo by Michael Pereckas

This stove is great for backpacking. It’s lightweight (less than 1 pound) and packable, but can be hard to repair. If you’re prone to knocking things over, this is the stove for you: the whole thing fits together so your pot doesn’t slide off the burner.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Traditional canister stove

Photo by Omar Bárcena

This stove is also great for backpacking. It’s just about as light as it gets (3 ounces) and it packs down small. Similar to other gas-powered stoves, though, the fuel canisters can be a pain to recycle and aren’t great in cold temperatures.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Wood stove

Photo by Ryo Chijiiwa

This stove is neat because it uses scavenged wood instead of petroleum-based fuel. But while it might be more environmentally friendly, it’s hard to use if the wood is wet or you’re in an area without wood at all.

Here’s how it works:

 

 

Before you go camping, practice using your stove at home. This will help work out the kinks and get your system down. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s this: don’t forget a lighter.

 

Now you have discovered how to choose and use a camp stove, get yourself a copy of the 3-in-1 Camping Cuisine Cookbook to enjoy some delicious creations!

Guest Author at

Krista Karlson is a freelance writer and curiosity follower based in Connecticut. Her latest adventures involve learning to camp with a dog.  She has her own website and is also a contributor at Peak Explorations/Brown Gal Trekker. 

38 thoughts on “How to choose and use a camp stove

  • July 4, 2018 at 4:21 am
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    This is such a good post for people like me who likes to go camping but lack survival skills. I had no idea there are so many kinds of stoves. This post is very helpful when it comes to choosing a stove.

    Reply
  • June 25, 2018 at 5:17 am
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    Those are really great choices in stoves. I would want something that was lightweight maybe like the canister stove.

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  • June 16, 2018 at 5:35 am
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    The one thing I envy about campers abroad is the elaborate experience that you guys have. I would have enjoyed cooking in the wild and the stove here looks perfect for it. A bit of work but tips like yours, I am sure it will be a breeze.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 8:27 pm
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    Very useful information about choosing a camp stove and also there are lots of choose from. Traditional Canister stove looks compact and light weight to carry. But wood stove also looks feasible as food made on wood is more tastier than petroleum ones. I haven’t done cooking while camping but would love to do one.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 3:42 pm
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    This is so helpful! I’m heading to Eastern Europe this summer and we will be camping along the way. I was just looking for the right equipment when I stumbled on your blog post: stove sorted! Thank you so much! 🙂

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm
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    This was pretty reassuring to be honest. I’ve always been a bit wary of stoves ’cause I fear them exploding if not set properly. You’ve given directions about how to set them up properly, so I guess the next time I can use a stove for cooking when I go camping. I generally use a campfire.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 5:12 am
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    This is so helpful. The photos ans videos you shared here show a super detailed guide on how to use a camp stove. I’ve have zero experience in camping, to be honest. But this makes me want to try it now! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • June 13, 2018 at 9:30 am
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    These stoves are so cool. Looks easy, I am a bit of a cluts but it looks easier enough for me to handle. What a great camping accessory.

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 11:48 pm
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    Oh this is such an interesting topic to write about. Perhaps very much useful for travelers esp. the campers. Ive been telling my husband to get me one portable cooking stove that we can bring during out of town trips like swimming overnight. But he always refuses to because he said its not even safe! Or maybe he is just too selfish to give me one! Lol! I will definitely get one for myself soonest..

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 8:16 pm
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    A great guide for people who love to camp. I would never be able to do this though. Having said that, food cooked with wood fire has much better taste than that cooked using a stove.

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm
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    Such a useful article! I remember when I was in Iceland, I wanted to buy a camp stove but ended up not to because I didn’t know how to use one. I didn’t know that you can choose different types of camp stoves. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:11 pm
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      Hi Ha,

      I’m glad you found this information useful. Now you can buy a camp stove!

      Thanks for reading,

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm
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    I’ve never tried camping let alone cook using those. However, since it’s on my bucketlist and I might end up cooking, I find this pretty helpful. Knowing how to cook those is handy not only during camping but, in case, there is no electricity and we need to cook food. Thank you for this especially for including videos as well ?

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:13 pm
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      Hi Me-An,

      Thanks for your message. I’m glad you found the article helpful, and I hope you cross camping off your bucket list!

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 4:52 am
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    Wow thanks for sharing your guide. I suck in the kitchen and I guess (because of that) also in camping. Yet you make it seem so easy and so cool!

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 3:29 am
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    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. We are planning a camping trip and I have been researching on camp stoves to make our travel food easier!

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:14 pm
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      Hi Prerna,

      I’m so glad you found this information useful, and I hope you have a wonderful camping trip!

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 3:23 am
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    That’s interesting. I have absolutely no clue about camping stoves. The maximum I’ve been is only 2 day treks which had only 1 night in the woods and as you said, I strategically always avoided cooking! Haha… Integrated Canister Stove may be the thing for me…

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:16 pm
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      Hi Bhusha,

      It’s good to know I’m not the only one who avoided cooking! Haha. I hope you get out for a night of camping this summer.

      Thanks for reading,

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 11, 2018 at 7:49 pm
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    Wow. Never imagined that there was such a vast variety of stoves to choose from. Surely spoilt for choice. I’m not a regular camper but the information you have provided would give a person like me so much details. Must be a very helpful post to anyone keen to enjoy the outdoors. The details are great so are the visuals. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2018 at 3:37 pm
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    This is such a great honest post. I also often leave cooking on a camping stove to my husband, but it’s good to be able to do it if I need to. We always used those 2 hob stoves as children on family camping holidays but now we tend to stick to a jet boil as it’s so super quick and easy.

    Reply
  • June 11, 2018 at 3:25 pm
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    This looks so cool. I haven’t been camping yet but i definitely would like to try it and have the right equipment for it. This post really helps out on that front and should make the choice so much easier!

    Reply
  • June 11, 2018 at 2:35 pm
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    I have never been camping. But will do so soon as my LO is after me. Didn’t know anything about camping stoves. This post is really informative. Easy to make a decision on them now.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 8:07 pm
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    I haven’t been camping in years, but would like to try it someday with my brother. I would love to be able to cook things while camping in open forest, so the videos were helpful to me. Great, informative post!

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 5:08 pm
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    I have yet to use a fancy backpacking stove. I can use the old-school Coleman stoves or I throw sausages on a stick and put potatoes in foil and bake them in the fire and throw a grate over the fire in the morning to boil water. Part of the joy of camping for me has always been the low maintenance aspect of it. The simplification of life. When I have to buy all the fancy backpacking gear and learn how to use complicated gadgets it sort of ruins a bit of the joy of just getting out into nature. That said, if I did more backpacking I’d certainly have to up my game!

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 4:29 pm
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    I haven’t been camping since I was in girl scouts, but my husband and I were going to take our sons in the fall. It would have never crossed my mind I would need a stove, I just assumed smores would be for dinner. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:18 pm
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      Hi Victoria,

      I think your sons would appreciate s’mores for dinner! Enjoy your trip.

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 4:18 pm
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    I never knew that there are several types of camp stoves lurking in the world. I have never really gone to camping so this list will be very helpful to every aspiring camper out there. It gives enough information to show us what each type is and what it can do.

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 11:42 am
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    It’s been awhile since the last time I went camping. Even when I did the last time, I did everything manually with firewood and all that. But I figure a camp stove might be more practical, could’ve used the instruction for my next camp. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  • June 10, 2018 at 4:19 am
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    This guide is so helpful! I’m moving to NZ soon and my boyfriend and I are hoping to rent a van and explore the country. We’ve looked into getting a camping stove to keep food costs down but had no idea what to look for! I’ll have to show him this article before we go hunting down equipment again.

    Reply
    • June 13, 2018 at 6:20 pm
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      Hi Rhiannon,

      I’m glad you found this information useful, and I hope you have a great time exploring New Zealand! A camp stove is a great way to keep food costs low.

      Thanks for reading,

      Krista

      Reply
  • June 9, 2018 at 11:30 am
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    This was really helpful! I liked the small cute stove hehe. Would definitely come in handy when hiking since it’s not so heavy as the others.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 3:07 pm
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    Such a good resource for those who love camping! We’re lucky to have a camper with a stove inside!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 2:57 pm
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    This was super helpful! Who knew there were so many types of camping stoves. I wouldn’t have known where to start!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 2:00 pm
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    Your videos are so useful! I literally would not have known how to do any of this. I’m trying to go camping more this summer so definitely saving this post so I can contribute and not look completely useless when I go camping with friends!

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 11:23 am
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    Really good guide, I had no idea there were this many types, and it’s helpful to read the pros and cons before making a decision

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 5:23 am
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    I love the two burner propane stop, it is compact and does the job perfectly, making meals for 4 peoples in family quickly if there is no campfire on site.

    Reply
  • June 8, 2018 at 4:18 am
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    These are great! Didn’t know there were so many types to choose from ?

    Reply

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