Few things provoke warmer memories to those who love camping than sitting around a roaring campfire. After all, few things define humanity quite like the ability to start a nice fire (just ask King Louis from The Jungle Book), and that’s especially true of those who love camping. Whether you like roasting marshmallows, preparing tea, or searing up a freshly caught fish, campfires burn bright in the mind of camping enthusiasts everywhere.
But what if you want the heat that comes from a campfire without the fire itself? It may seem like heresy to some but for others, the idea of ditching a campfire for a portable stove may be quite welcome. Fire starters can be finicky and difficult to use, and even if you do get a fire going, you still have to be careful to maintain it and put it out all the way. All it takes is one cinder left smouldering to start a forest fire and nobody wants that.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that camping stoves have heated up in popularity in recent years. They give you all the heat and ease of use of a hot plate without any of the messier details of campfire maintenance.
- What to Look For
- Top Seven Camping Stoves
- 1) Campingaz Camp Bistro 2 Camping Stove
- 2) Campingaz Chef Folding Double Burner Stove and Grill
- 3) Bright Spark 1-Piece Powder Coated Steel Caravan
- 4) Shayson Camping Stove
- 5) Outry 3500W Foldable Camping Gas Stove with Piezo Ignition
- 6) Boundless Voyage High Power Portable Lightweight Gas Stove
- 7) Dongchen Camping Gas Stove Portable
- In Conclusion
So which camping stove options spark joy, what makes a good camp stove, and which options really fire you up? Let’s take a closer look.
What to Look For
There are several factors and features to consider before opting for a portable gas stove.
To begin with, you’ll need to distinguish right off the bat if you are doing some light backpacking or heavy camping. This may seem like a trivial distinction but it can actually have a huge impact on the kind of portable gas stove you pick, in no small part because no backpacker wants to lug around 20 or 30 pounds of an overly large camping stove. If you’re just doing a bit of backpacking, slimmed-down models are the way to go, whereas if you are heading out into the woods with an RV or something similar, large models that boast more BTU power are ideal.
Speaking of which, BTU (which stands for British Thermal Unit) is another key statistic to check. This will tell you how much heat energy your stove releases. Your typical gas stove burner emits between 7000 to 12,000 BTUs, and camping stoves can emit up to 20,000 BTUs, with some getting up to 60,000 BTUs. Truth be told, you probably won’t need more than that. 8500 BTUs or something similar should be more than sufficient unless you’re going on a massive group camping trip, in which case those 60,000 BTU options may come in handy. That said, it should come as no surprise that the more powerful the unit, the higher the cost, so don’t overpay hundreds of dollars for thousands of BTUs you’ll never need.
In addition to BTUs, you’ll also want to pay attention to wattage. While 750 to 1500 watts is the usual range for portable gas stove options, the options on this list offer even more than that. Then there is the question of build. That previous mention of a hot plate actually wasn’t too far off, as many of the top camp stove models are basically just that, albeit sturdier and built for portable use.
What’s more, while you always want to make sure that your stove can handle the heat, for a camp stove you also need to make sure that it can handle the wind as well. Remember, you won’t have the shelter you do in the kitchen, which means that if you aren’t careful, your freshly seared fish can go flying. Some stoves can have wind fins to protect the burners, though if you are going for a smaller backpacking stove, you might want to consider bringing your own windshield instead. Better still, you’ll want to look into the amount of wind resistance it has and how well it can stand up to the elements.
Then there is the question of gas types. A gas camping hot plate is one of the staples of camp life, but what kind of gas is right for the job? Propane is one of the most popular choices for a gas camping hot plate, of course, but it isn’t the only one. Butane can also power your gas camping stove. Importantly, you’ll want to look for hot stoves that can easily switch out fuel canisters. That being said, canisters can be heavy, which leaves you with a choice: finding gas camping stove options that are on the lighter side to compensate or search for alternatives, and there you can actually have some luck with white gas. This gas is highly refined and units that use it typically feature refillable canisters. While it is comparable to kerosene in terms of how well it burns, it is actually longer-lasting and less volatile, a win-win.
It’s always nice to see what accessories come with your portable gas stove as well. Extra canisters, cylinders, caps, cooking accoutrements — when you’re roughing it in the woods, every little convenience can help. You also need to consider how many burners you need. While most models have two, single-burner options can be cheaper and more portable while three-burner models can be excellent for those looking to cook for larger parties. Then there are models that eschew the hot plate design in favour of a controlled open flame. These can be good for those looking for something a bit more like “the ol’ campfire” feel without, well, the hassle of an actual campfire.
One final thing to consider is simmer control. It should come as no surprise that a portable hot plate can get hot in a hurry; if you aren’t careful, that can cause things to overheat. You don’t want things to become “too hot to handle,” which is why you’ll want to see if you can find a model with simmer control or something similar to keep heat in check.
Top Seven Camping Stoves
Taking those factors into consideration, let’s take a closer look at seven of the best gas camping hot plate options available today.
1) Campingaz Camp Bistro 2 Camping Stove
There’s a lot to like about this model, starting with the fact that it offers a surprising amount of wattage for a single-burner unit at 2200W. Even with that power, this model is an ideal backpack option, measuring just 33 x 28 x 9cm and weighing only 1.43kg.
It is also distinguished by its Piezo ignition system. In addition, this model locks cartridges into place so as to ensure extra safety. You can adjust the flame’s size with ease and the model is likewise easy to clean. It also comes with a durable carrying case, which makes it that much more portable. Some users have questioned the long-term durability of the casing, though overall, this model is a tough little customer.
2) Campingaz Chef Folding Double Burner Stove and Grill
Here we have another model from Campingaz, this one boasting two burners, each of which can produce 1,500W of power. That’s great news if you want to cook multiple dishes at a time. Of course, with that extra power comes a bit more heft, though this model’s size (60 x 40 x 35cm and 4kg) isn’t bad for a two-burner stove for camping.
This is also another model that makes use of Piezo ignition. It is easy to turn on and can fold up just as easily, with the lid made from solid steel. Even better, the lid comes with a windshield to keep your food protected while it sizzles.
3) Bright Spark 1-Piece Powder Coated Steel Caravan
You might know John Keats’s “Bright Star” (and if you don’t, you should) but for camping enthusiasts, the Bright Spark is poetry in action. It measures 34.5 x 28 x 9cm, and weighs in at a relatively lightweight 2.2kg. As indicated by the title, this model features powder-coated steel, which is extra tough and easily makes this one of the most durable options on this list.
It also comes with an automatic shutoff for simmer control, which is a huge plus in terms of safety. This is also yet another model with Piezo ignition but can also be safely used both inside and outside, which is rare among options on this list. Different burners appeal to different tastes and so far, German reception to the model has been iffy, but it has had a much warmer reception among UK users.
4) Shayson Camping Stove
This is a perfect example of what the charm of an open flame-style gas stove can be like. It’s powerful, produces a steady flame, and even comes with a pan ready for frying up eggs and biscuits. What more do you need?
Well, whether you need it or not, you get quite a bit more, starting with a case made of anodized aluminium. For an open flame-style stove, this model is surprisingly easy to carry, helped in no small part by this model coming with a mesh bag. The unit can occasionally become blocked, but that’s a common complaint for different camping stoves and this model can be easily cleaned.
5) Outry 3500W Foldable Camping Gas Stove with Piezo Ignition
As the title indicates, this model is packing some serious meat-searing oomph with 3500W of power and is another model with Piezo ignition. It measures 16.1 x 11.3 x 7.6cm and only weighs about 280g due to its ultralight aluminium alloy construction, making it a pretty solid lightweight option. That portability is enhanced by the fact that it is easy to fold and comes with a convenient carrying case.
While it may be lightweight, it’s far from flimsy, with corrosion-resistant stainless steel that’s built to withstand high temperatures. When it comes to models that can “stand the heat,” this is it. In addition, this model boasts a bracket horizontal tooth design that offers increased friction between the stove and your cookware, which makes it easier to keep things in place while you cook.
6) Boundless Voyage High Power Portable Lightweight Gas Stove
This is another truly lightweight option, weighing only 365g. That said, it’s also another case of small units packing big-time heat with this model boasting 3,500W. It has a durable stainless steel body and a large preheating duct that helps the unit burn more efficiently.
In terms of convenience, this model also comes with a carrying bag made of Oxford fabric and rubber strips to stop it from skidding. That latter feature can prove especially useful if you plan to use this stove on smooth or slick surfaces.
7) Dongchen Camping Gas Stove Portable
This is yet another small model, measuring only 12.7 x 10.92 x 4.57cm and weighing only 240g. That may prove too small for some but if you’re fine with a tinier gas camping stove, there’s a lot to like. The model is a sturdy blend of stainless steel and copper, has a good ventilation system, and is corrosion-resistant, durable, and easy to use.
All of these gas camping stove options have their own pros and cons. Some are extremely lightweight, others quite powerful, and some offer a strong blend of the two. The variety of single- and double-burner models as well as open-flame options give you plenty of ways to cook your food, with the Dongchen, Campingaz, and Shayson models in particular standing out.
Whatever model you choose, these portable camping hot plates can help you enjoy campfire goodness on the go wherever you choose to go next.
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