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Despite our best efforts to get in touch with our wild side, there are some amenities to outdoor living that you might be able to do without, but it’s presence makes life that much more enjoyable.  A camping stove is certainly one such amenity.  There is nothing like a warm goulash under the stars, or the lips’ touch to  a steaming coffee at dawn to give you a nice little slice of civilization, wherever on this planet you might be.


In some conditions a stove is essential – In snowy conditions it can be the life link between a dense snowpack and drinkable water..  Boiling your water can also be a necessity for it to be drinkable, especially in warmer climates.  Thus it is safe to say that a stove will drastically improve not only your quality of outdoor life, but also your chances of survivall.


The following topics will help you determine the best stove for you and your camping party’s needs.


Types:  Camp stoves differ mainly between what type of fuel you are using.  Aside from the fuel type, you will want to ask yourself if you will be using the stove for primarily for boiling water/melting snow, or for simmering vegetables and/or meats with more control over the heat settings.  After that you will want to decide how much extra volume and weight you are willing to carry, if you want less of either you should expect to pay a bit more.


Burner Types:

Single Burner Alcohol stove – These are ultra-light and compact, and great for taking on long expeditions where time is not of the essence.  The alcohol burns within the burner until extinguished or exhausted.  This is a great option for emergency kits and as a backup, but if you have the pack space another option is much more efficient.

Canister Stoves:  Canister stoves are refillable, lightweight, and easy to pack.  There are two main types of canister stoves: Upright, and low-profile.  Upright stoves are where the burner screws directly onto the fuel canister, which is generally a fatter, cylindrical shape. This is the ideal option for backpacking expeditions where weight and size are of importance.  You usually have to pay for the lack of weight and space at the cash register, so you will have to gauge how much you plan on using the stove vs. if you are willing to pay more.


Liquid gas stoves:  These are usually a cheaper option to get started.  If you are car camping, these can be the best option.  The gas for these are usually found as propane or butane, and can be found at nearly every sporting goods or hardware store.  Often times you can buy these stoves with 2+ burners attached, so this option is great for families and large parties, especially with a large vehicle that has extra carrying space.


Weight:  This is obviously an important factor depending on how you plan to transport your camping gear.  If you are living out of your backpack for weeks or even months, you will want to factor in weight.  Alternatively, if the stove won’t go further than your truck’s tailgate, then weight is probably not as important of a factor.

Average boil time: Depending on what you are cooking, the average boil time can be a very important factor.  Larger groups will want as quick of a boil time as possible, which these days can be as quickly as 2-5 minutes.   If you are simmering precooked food, you might not need to worry about this so much.   Average boil time is especially important if you plan on using your burner in the mountains, as boil time increases both with elevation and at cooler temperatures.


Efficiency:  Efficiency is basically how long your stove can run on full blast until it is out of fuel.  A decent burn rate is 10 minutes for 1 ounce of fuel.  If you are burning gas faster than this rate, you might want to look for a more efficient stove.

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