Choosing a Camping Stove

by PennPaddler

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There are several considerations when purchasing your camping stove.

  • The kinds of trips you will take.
  • The kinds of meals you want to enjoy.
  • The amount of people you’ll be cooking for.
  • The complexity of your meals.

Selecting the Right Size
Camping stoves come in a variety of sizes but generally, just stick with the lightest, most compact model that you can get by with. Remember that you are canoe camping so you need to pack smart.

Consider stoves that rate high in the following:

  • Can be easily unhooked from external fuel bottles for easier packing in the canoe.
  • Can be easily collapsed or folded for easy packing.
  • Have at least two burners – unless you are a solo canoeist or kayaker and are really not interested in cooking anything more than a very simple meal.

The type of fuel you burn is a consideration in your purchase.

Propane Fuel
Positives – convenient, clean-burning and easy to light. Burn hot immediately and do not require priming. Can be adjusted easily for simmering. Can’t spill. Great for paddlers who no hassle cooking and don’t mind packing extra fuel tanks.

Negatives – more expensive than other fuel types. You must carry and dispose of the empty fuel tanks.

White Gas
Positives – inexpensive, easy to find throughout the United States. Clean, easy to light, spilled fuel evaporates quickly. A great overall performer, perfect for travel throughout North America in just about any weather conditions. Reliable, inexpensive and efficient.

Negatives – volatile (spilled fuel can ignite quickly), priming is required (fuel from the stove can be used). Can be hard to find outside of the United States.

Unleaded Gas
Positives – very inexpensive, easy to find throughout the world.

Negatives – burns dirty and clogs easily. Extremely volatile. Not highly recommended.

Which stove works best for your type of canoe camping?

  • How easy is the stove to set up and disassemble? Does it require assembly every time it’s used? If so, is the assembly easy or complex?
  • Does the stove easily and efficiently pack into the canoe?
  • Is the stove sturdy on uneven surfaces? Does it have adequate surface area?
  • If a fuel tank is used, is it easy to attach and remove? Can it be detached before it’s completely empty?
  • How easy is the stove to light? Does it require priming?
  • How easy is the stove to control? Can the heat output be adjusted easily? Is the heat output steady and efficient and will the stove simmer?
  • How easy is the stove to maintain in the field? Can I handle basic maintenance myself?

Hints for improving your stove’s performance:

  • Use a lid when cooking.
  • Use a windscreen to block wind.
  • Learn how to clean and maintain your stove properly.
  • Clean the stove after every trip and burn stove before every trip.
  • Be sure to use clean filtered fuel and replace fuel every year.

Be sure to check out our camping stove reviews.

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