How to Choose a Stove

Not all camping stoves are made the same, and choosing the right stove for you can sometimes be overwhelming. The Scout Outdoor Centre offers a wide range of stoves suitable for hiking, but which one is right for you?

Types of Hiking Stoves

There are three main types of camp stoves sold by the Scout Outdoor Centre; petroleum fuel stoves such as the MSR Whisperlite and Dragonfly, gas (isobutane/propane) fuel stoves like the Jet Boil, MSR Pocket Rocket and Soto stoves and alcohol fuel stoves such as the Trangia range. Each of these stoves has different characteristics which make them suitable for different situations.

Petroleum fuel stoves can burn almost any petroleum based fuel such as petrol, diesel, white spirits, kerosene and shellite. This makes sourcing fuel internationally simple and easy. Due to their design MSR stoves work incredibly well in sub-freezing temperatures and high altitude allowing you to cook hot and fast or melt snow for drinking within minutes. MSR stoves are also great for cooking large meals because of their high heat. These stoves however, are quite loud, require some maintenance and the fuel is bulky.

Gas stoves are compact, light and clean burning. These stoves offer the most similar experience to cooking on a gas stove at home and are just as simple to light. Some stoves, such as the Jet Boil stoves, come with included containers for cooking. Fuel for these stoves is a little more expensive, but quite compact. Fuel is usually available internationally but is not readily available in some locations. Gas stoves are not suitable for sub-freezing temperatures and high altitude.

Alcohol fuel stoves such as the Trangia are an all-in-one solution that contains the stove, pots and a lid/fry-pan. These stoves are bulky and heavy compared to other stove types; a reasonable trade-off considering the included accessories. Alcohol fuels, such as methylated spirits, are readily available internationally making this stove great for travellers, however the fuel is bulky. One drawback of alcohol based stoves is how difficult it is to change the cooking temperature on-the-fly. Alcohol also burns cold compared to other fuels, so it can be unsuitable for large meals and melting snow. Alcohol stoves are not desirable in sub-freezing temperatures.

Choosing the Right Stove

When purchasing a stove you need to identify the duration of your trip, the destination, the climate, your budget and frequency of use. This information will help you make an educated decision on the right stove for you.

Alpine/Sub-freezing: In this climate your best choice is a petroleum fuel stove such as an MSR Whisperlite. These work great in sub-freezing temperatures as well as alpine regions and burn hot and fast. Gas stoves are suitable for cold, low altitude regions but do not perform well in sub-freezing climates. Alcohol stoves are not suitable for sub-freezing climates because they burn too cold.

Weight: If you require a light and compact stove for hiking a gas stove would be the most suitable. Gas stoves, such as Jet Boil, Soto and MSR Pocket Rocket, are the most compact and lightest hiking stoves. Although the stoves themselves are compact carrying enough fuel for a lengthy trip or long cooking periods could be bulky. Petroleum fuel stoves are more efficient which could decrease overall weight on long trips.

International Travel: If you intend on travelling internationally and to remote places you need to be able to find fuel for you stove easily. Petroleum fuels stoves are the easiest to find fuel for, followed by alcohol fuel stoves. Gas stoves can be difficult to find fuel for in some locations.

Peace and Quiet: If you are after a stove that won’t disturb the serenity on your next trip an alcohol fuel stove or gas fuel stove is an excellent choice. These stoves burn almost silent. Petroleum fuel stoves, on the other hand, can be quite loud and would not be suitable for those who are worried about noise.

Clean and Tidy: If you like you pots to be free of soot after cooking your best choice is a gas stove or alcohol. Gas stoves burn clean, leaving very little soot. Alcohol fuel stoves leave some soot, which is easily washed away. When using shellite, a petroleum fuel stove burns relatively clean leaving little soot, however when running on kerosene or diesel they burn very dirty.

Large Meals: If you are going to be cooking for a group of people you need a stove that burns hot and fast. A petroleum fuel stove is best for cooking large meals and boiling large amounts of water quickly. Alcohol fuel stoves burn colder and take much longer to cook large meals.

Cost: Gas stoves are the least expensive and highest selling stoves in the world. This makes them a great entry-level stove for the casual hiker. Jet Boil gas stoves, Trangia alcohol stoves and MSR petroleum stoves are more expensive and suited more to an enthusiast.

The Scout Outdoor Centre stocks MSR petroleum fuel and gas stoves, Trangia alcohol fuel stoves, Jet Boil gas stoves and Soto gas stoves.