Camping Stoves: Which Fuel?

Choosing a camping/backpacking stove isn't an easy task as you have to consider not only the type of stove you wish to use, but the brand and fuel that the stove uses.

In the UK, there are 5 main types of fuels used in camping stoves:

  1. Liquefied Gas (Butane, Propane)
  2. Alcohol/Spirit
  3. Chemical Solid Fuels
  4. Wood
  5. Paraffin


Coleman Dual Fuel Campstove 424Liquefied gas stoves
 are the most people in the UK are referring to when they talk about camping stoves. The most well-known brand, omnipresent in most outdoors shops is Coleman. Coleman make larger base camp stoves and smaller canister stoves. Liquefied stoves are popular for a reason.

They can kick out a lot of heat and are accepted as the quickest at cooking when camping. You've also got a good level of control over the flame so it's easy to simmer. If you've got a base camp stove you'll be able to cook multiples things at once, at the cost of portability - you won't be taking one backpacking with you!

The downside to liquefied gas stoves though is that fuel is quite expensive and once you've run out of fuel, you're done.

Trangia 25 Cookset With Kettle & Spirit BurnerAlcohol stoves aren't as well-known as the omnipresent liquefied gas stoves, but they are growing in popularity. Alcohol stoves have been popular with lightweight backpackers for years, they are light, simple and very easy to use. Also if you don't want to spend money on the well-priced commercial stoves, such as the Trangia, you can always make your own for less than £5.

Not only are they versatile and easier to make, alcohol stove fuel is incredibly easy to get your hands on. There are a few types of alcohol fuels that you can use on your stove and you'll find a usable fuel in most shops. Alcohol stove fuel is a

Alcohol stoves are the most environmentally friendly option, a point which aides in it's growing popularity - the abundance of DIY tutorials online has also clearly helped.

Esbit Pocket StoveChemical solid fuels are often called hexy or hexamine blocks. Esbit stoves are the most well-known stoves designed to burn chemical solid fuels. The pocket stoves are lightweight, simple and low-cost.

Hexy blocks burn hot and quick, but can leave a lot of soot and residue behind, making them not so great for the environment.

Wood StoveWood stoves are possibly the most useful as the fuel is available in abundance, if you run out, you simply have to pick up a few more twigs and sticks from the ground. They do however give off a lot of soot and smoke and can adversely affect the taste of some foods. They also leave behind ash and can be a bit of a pain to clean.

Paraffin StoveParaffin stoves are quite uncommon and you're more likely to see paraffin fuelled lanterns than stoves. Paraffin stoves were once as common as liquefied gas stoves are today, but their use has waned dramatically.

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