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Take command of your adventure
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By:    On: 2011-08-31

 Different campers like to cook their meals in different ways.  Some folks like to bring small charcoal grills while others swear nothing beats the taste of food cooked over an open campfire.  I don’t have a problem with either of these methods, but there are a lot of campsites that no longer allow open flames, except for fire rings, and many of those sites don’t allow grill grates to be placed on those rings.

My personal preference is – and probably always will be – my Coleman 2-burner propane stove.  I can cook anything on it that I can cook at home, and since I rarely plan meals that are just hot dogs and potato chips, having a stove is imperative.

This photo shows three examples of several stoves (I have one much like that Coleman in the back right).  Maybe you’ve seen some of these; maybe you haven’t.  Let’s explore these stoves, shall we?

The Coleman in the back left of the photo has a grill on one side and a burner on the other.  This is good for campers who don’t cook a lot, who use smaller pots/pans, or who are perhaps just one or two people.  Although I like the grill part, this stove would never be enough for my family’s volume.

The stove in the right corner is the 2-burner Coleman, typical of what my family uses. Both of the Coleman stoves use small propane canisters which are easily found at Wal Mart or any camp stores.  (Coleman has also made a coffee machine which fits on this stove…that’s another post though.)

The three small stoves in the center are examples of lightweight, backpacking stoves. Two of these stoves use white gas and one uses propane.  These are best when cooking for one; they’re lightweight and compact.

In the next photos you see a larger camp chef-style stove and a stove with an attached camp oven. Being the foodie I am, I get very excited every time I see the stove/oven combo.  (Alas, not in the budget…for now.) Both of these stoves would be ideal for a large family or group, especially on trips lasting 1 to 2 weeks.  But they don’t really make much sense for a weekend trip.

Now, if we’re going to talk about stoves, we might as well discuss fuel types for the stoves. Each kind of fuel has pros and cons, and even if you never use anything other than propane, it’s good to have a working knowledge of the options…just in case.

Propane is probably the most well-known gas and it’s really easy to use.  All you have to do is screw the can onto the stove, push the igniting button and you have a flame.  The can is pressurized, so be careful.  Don’t do anything with it that you wouldn’t do with a can of lighter fluid. Propane is perfect for new and old campers, it travels well and it’s a clean-burning fuel. Unfortunately, it’s not good for cold-weather camping.  Propane canisters are recyclable.  Contact your local steel recycling plant for more information.

White gas (also known as Coleman fuel) is a little more labor-intensive, but it’s not difficult to use either.  You have to pump up the container, heat a bit of the fuel, and then ignite.  Do not expect the automatic fire you’ll get with a can of propane. White gas travels well too, and it’s great for cold-weather camping because it has a very low freeze point. White gas doesn’t leave a footprint; just refill the container when you need to.

Whether you use a stove, a grill, or (as I saw recently in a Goofy movie) a car cigarette lighter to cook your food, it still has to be cooked.  I hope I’ve been able to show you one or two things new today.

What do you like to use?  Tell me about your adventures!

Happy Camping,


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