Not only are there different types of camper who run the gamut from minimalist to high maintenance, there are vastly different types of camping chefs. Those like myself who roll in with a lightweight backpacking stove that fits in my pocket and three packets of ramen noodles to last the weekend, and those who I aspire to be more like. You know, the ones who spend more time packing the cooler and planning the menu than they do actually camping.
Whatever type of camping chef you are, you need to eat and you need the right stove for your cooking style. The best camping stoves come in all shapes and sizes these days to accommodate small and large quantities of food, those who like to cook fast and campers who prefer to feast. Read on to find the best type of stove for every type of camping chef and make sure you have the right equipment for your camping capers this summer.
The bare bones backpacking chef: SOTO Windmaster
We hesitate to call you a chef, because cooking at camp for you is all about getting some field in your body and you’re happy to exist on freeze-dried camping meals or quick-and-easy packets of rice and pasta. Quick and easy is the name of the game, and for you, the lightweight and tiny SOTO Windmaster gets the job done when you arrive into camp after a long day on the trail and just need calories, quickly.
As a classic screw-in type stove, the SOTO Windmaster has all the traditional advantages of a conventional canister-top design, namely, quick and easy set-up plus minimal weight and pack size. This makes it a good choice for extended backpacking trips or fast and light missions. However, as its name suggests, the Windmaster also offers superior performance in breezy and gusty conditions compared to most of its screw-in rivals.
The family provider: Vango Combi IR Grill Compact
Are you cooking for the whole family at camp? Your top priority is keeping the kids from melting down, which means you need to be able to whip up large quantities of kid-friendly food, fast. Whether it’s hot dogs and macaroni cheese for dinner or eggs and pancakes for breakfast, you need to be able to have at least two pans on the go without much fuss or cleanup and the Vango Combi IR Grill Compact fits that bill perfectly.
With two burners over a surface area of nearly 19in x 11in, you can cook with two large pots or skillets as well as the infrared grill underneath. All three are powered by one ignition switch and anti-slip feet help keep things stable when there are rambunctious kids in the campground. It cools quickly and is really easy to clean, making it a clear choice for grabby little hands and busy parents. When it’s time to head home, just close the lid and fasten the latches to carry it under one arm back to the car.
The hunter gatherer: Solo Stove Lite
Camping for you is all about becoming self-sufficient, using the natural materials available to you and re-learning how to live off the land. You’re not in any great rush to get dinner on and love the whole process of chopping firewood and building a natural shelter. That said, you understand the drawbacks of cooking directly over the campfire, such as potential food poising or not being able to have a fire due to rain or a fire ban. So, the next best thing is definitely a wood burning stove like the Solo Stove Lite which relies on twigs for fuel rather than a canister.
Children will love foraging around for dry tinder to burn, and there’s something deeply satisfying about being self-sufficient, rather than relying on gas. The Solo Stove has a double combustion process – oxygen drawn in through the bottom vents feeds the main combustion, while heated air rising through the double wall is fed through the top vents for an extra oxygen boost, enhancing the stove’s efficiency. Cooking pots and kettles then perch on top. This stove is slightly heavier than others, but you save weight by not having to carry fuel.
The gourmet chef: Camp Chef VersaTop Grill
Camping for you is all about what’s on the menu. Bacon and eggs? Steak and potatoes? Pancakes? No problem. While everyone else is hiking and kayaking, you’re happily back at the camp kitchen chopping and prepping the next meal, and nothing makes you happier than seeing your campmates’ faces light up when you hand them a plate of delicious, fresh grub. To add more variety to your camping menu, consider a camping grill such as the Camp Chef VersaTop Grill.
Use the VersaTop’s matchless ignition to fire up two 16,000 BTU burners and you will be cooking on the seasoned, non-stick flat top griddle quickly, meaning your campmates can emerge from their tents to the aromas of fresh coffee and sizzling bacon.
A single control knob delivers the precise amount of heat when you need it, and in addition to the two burners, Camp Chef offers an accessory pizza oven and BBQ box for even more mouth-watering meal variety.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.