Being in the great outdoors is good for your health. Just spending 20 minutes in the woods is scientifically proven to start lowering your blood pressure and improving your mood. Of course, your camping might not happen in the woods. You might prefer an open field by a river or even the beach, where you can sleep to the sounds of crashing waves or a babbling brook.
Regardless of where you go, unless you’re planning on eating nothing but MREs and self-heating rations or cold food, you have to cook your meals a few times a day. That’s not as easy as it as at home, where you have an oven, microwave, and stove top. In the field, you need a good camping stove.
If you’re in the market for a new stove for camping or looking for an upgrade, keep reading for nine important criteria to consider in your shopping:
1) Size: If you’re looking to go camping out of the back of your car, you might go for a larger stove to accommodate more cooking, but if you’re into backpacking, every square inch of your gear is critical.
2) Weight: This applies more for backpackers, as every ounce on their body means more work going up mountain ridges with great views. Having said, a slightly heavier stove often has better stability when actually being used.
3) Cooking time: Cooking times will vary by dish and elevation, so one good measuring stick is how long it will take to boil water safely. Depending on where you and how you camp, that might be what you use your stove for the most.
4) Safety: If you camp with kids, a stove might look like a toy, but it can also obviously be dangerous. Hazards can run from simple burns to starting a fire around you. The cool-down time also matters, as you don’t want to pack up a stove that’s still hot.
5) Ease of use: How easy the stove is to use will make or break your morning when you’ve slept on the ground all night and want some breakfast. Some just need a button pushed, but others might need more elaborate setup.
6) Fuel type: Fuels kinds can include wood, gas, proprietary possibilities, and sometimes even just electricity. Keep in mind that a stove relying on local fuels won’t work if there’s no wood where you camp.
7) Fuel costs: Something running on just wood or gas is cheap enough to keep fueled, but a stove using proprietary pellets or other matter provided only by the manufacturer can cost you a lot of money over time.
8) Legality: It’s unlikely that you’ll find a certain stove that’s illegal in your community or state, but you can easily find one that might not be allowed for use where you like to go camping a lot. Some parks, reservations, or natural preserves ban wood burning to prevent forest fires and to preserve the area. As such, a wood-burning stove is going to be out of the question.
9) New or used: New stoves cost more but have a full warranty and all of their life cycle ahead of them. A used stove might have suffered some wear and tear but is often cheaper. Quite a few people buy them and then never use them before cleaning out their storage, so they are out there.
Now that you know these 9 factors to consider when shopping for a camping stove, you can find the right one for your next outing into the wilderness.