The best camping stoves…and the worst

Campingaz Xcelerate

She looks to be having fun with the Campingaz Xcelerate. We didn’t.

We pride ourselves on our independent and honest reviews, but we don’t want to be harsh. After all, not everyone likes the same things. There’s very little innovation going on in the world of gas-powered camping stoves, so we were looking forward to testing the Campingaz Xcelerate range.

 

Sadly, we’re disappointed. While the stove’s burners promise faster and more efficient cooking, and a saving on fuel, the stoves themselves have some serious design glitches that mean we can’t recommend them. We tested the 400ST, which has two burners and a small central grill. It costs around £80. We also tested the 600SG, which has telescopic legs, two side-tables and hob-top grill attachments. It costs around £130.

The 600SG

Campingaz Xcelerate 600SGThis model apparently won a Camping Editor’s Choice Award when it came out. If it were just about the Xcelerate cooking technology, then we’d agree. However, the overall design lets it down. There are two powerful  Xcelerate burners and removable, non-stick griddle plates. The control knobs feel good and there’s Piezo ignition for easy lighting. The legs clip away under the cooker for carrying, and there are two side extensions, plus a fabric shelf. It’s quite a beast, weighing 10.7kg and packing down to 63x42x18cm.

  • The burner technology is great and we’d like to see this in a more refined model.
  • The side-tables take a bit of fixing into place with wing-nuts and we wouldn’t trust them with anything very heavy – certainly not a large saucepan of food.
  • The fabric shelf needs to be fitted as it adds stability to the legs. There’s still quite a bit of wobble, though.
  • The carrying handle and locking catch are a huge improvement on those of the 400ST (see below for more on that).
  • Our main gripe is with the windshield/lid, which is held in place by one very small catch that slips into a tiny groove. Why they didn’t put one on the other side  to make the lid less wobbly, we’ve no idea. It tends to give the cooker an unstable feel.

The 400ST

This is a smaller, lighter model without legs and side-tables, but with a small grill. Our test model let us down. The very flimsy plastic handle broke off when we first lifted the stove out of its packing box. This handle needs to be strong, not only for carrying what is a fairly weighty piece of camping kit, but also because you need to use the handle when folding the stove flat.

  • Campingaz XcelerateCampingaz XcelerateThe hinges that fold the stove lock into position, which makes for stable cooking. However, they’re a real nuisance to unlock, requiring a lot of fiddling and some near-misses for trapped fingers.
  • The catch which keeps the stove folded is positioned under the carrying handle in such a way that you can’t click it into place unless you start to move it as you lower the lid.
  • The unit sits on curved plastic feet. These are flimsy and we had no confidence that they’d stand up to even light use.

The Xcelerate technology is really something we’d like, especially its ability to cope with a breeze when cooking, but it’s let down by a poor product overall.

Xcelerate

The 600SV looks sturdier, but seems to be available only in Germany or very expensively on Amazon.

In the UK, it seems you can only buy this with a built-in stand. The German version – the 600SV – looks ideal because it’s smaller and simpler. It costs around £50, though.


Better choices

It’s an especial shame about the Xcelerates because our all-time favourite is the supremely nifty Campingaz Bivouac, which has slot-in legs and a single big burner, and fits into a neat bag. It takes gas cartridges. No windshield, of course, but you couldn’t get much more compact, stable and pleasingly designed.

calor-bivouac-camping-stove

The Bivouac stove

Outwell Appetizer stove

Outwell’s stainless steel Appetizer

It’s a bit on the limiting side for a long camping trip, so we’ve also used one of Outwell’s most basic models – the Gourmet. It has just two rings and windshields on three sides. There’s a with-grill version too, but no instant ignition. We got along fine with it, but there are a couple of niggly things that would probably mean we’d consider other models when this one dies – the plastic feet dropped off and disappeared within two days of using it, and the edges of the metal on the underside (where you pick it up) are rather sharp.

Outwell’s newer Appetizer stove has two rings and a grill and grants our wishes with an ignition. There’s a bonus in that it’s made from stainless steel too. Plus it costs less than £50.

Four rings and nothing to go wrong or annoy you!

If you’ve got a big family, friends to entertain or just love really love cooking, have a look at this four-burner stove that will work with lots of different gas sources. It couldn’t be lighter, simpler or sturdier.


Have a look at the Tegstove

If you want something that looks like a rocket, is fuelled by cheap and easy to find butane canisters and can charge your phone or tablet, then you might need the Tegstove.

This futuristic butane-fuelled stove was a successful competitor on Dragons’ Den – partly for its good looks and partly because it uses special technology to get around the not-so-great qualities of butane.

It’s very stable and the top pan holders hinge outwards to give you a larger, and more even, cooking surface. We found the mechanisms for the legs and top a little stiff, but they’ll no doubt ease up with use. It’s rather heavy, so won’t suit many backpackers.Costs around £130


Cadac Safari Chef

The fabulous Cadac Safari Chef with lots of cooking accessories

BUT…there’s a perfect answer

All our wishes have  been granted (apart from the running on air, that is) with the Cadac Safari Chef gas barbecue/stove. We’ve written a full review too.

And if Campingaz make any improvements to their Xcelerate, we’d be delighted!

Meanwhile, tell us what you’re cooking on, and why? We’ve also reviewed wood-burning alternatives here.

 


Bookmark the permalink.

6 Comments

  1. Christopher Boone

    I loved reading all the stove reviews but can’t help thinking that they’re “gimmicky” solutions to a simple issue. I am a truck driver and spend my time all over Europe and the simplest solution to my cooking needs is a camping gaz 907 bottle with a large burner on top. It’s stable simple and reliable though not I admit suitable for back packers. A windbreak can be made out of any large cardboard box and I have cooked some great meals over the years. It may be old technology but it’s simple and affective. Great on line magazine well done.
    EDITOR: Thanks, Christopher. I’m guessing this the sort of thing you’re using. Looks nice and simple. No regulator needed and good output too.gas burner

  2. I am using my third replacement exelerate 600 gaz stove total ripoff the plastic components are not fit for purpose,stove has been set up on a table after 2 months use plastic parts are just falling away the supplier will not replace this one I would never buy campingaz product again over priced rubbish

  3. Campingaz 400SG – great stove let down by cheap plastic catch and even cheaper legs. We’ve had the stove for 3 months and one of the legs has broken off with mild use.

  4. Hello, we are hoping to go camping for my husbands birthday (his first time, not mine) and he really wants a stove for his birthday. We have bought a wonderful large tent and other lovely items and don’t really want to scrimp for we feel we will eventually upgrade so might as well start as we mean to go on. I’m finding so many bad reviews on camping stoves that I’m finding struggling to choose and wondered if you could help me please?
    We are a family of 3 (daughter 6 years old) looking to camp for weekends and long stays in UK and France.
    Would you please help me find his birthday present and do you do subscriptions too?

  5. How fantastic to be camping for the first time as a family. You’re right…lots of very bad stoves out there. And if not bad, some uninspirational ones. Our personal favourite is the Cadac (you’ll see a review here)
    It’s very sturdy, very powerful and comes with lots of options for cooking in different ways. Of course, it’s only one cooking surface rather than the two hobs with grill that many standard camping stoves have, but it’s so much better and faster than those that it more than makes up for that.

    I’m assuming you mean a subscription for a printed magazine? We’re online only, and you can subscribe to Campfire Magazine for free. There’s a Join Us button at the top of the page or, better still, follow us on Facebook

    Have a fantastic time and pass on a HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the Campfire crew!!!

  6. Nicholas Collins

    We have just purchased the 600st and used it for 1 week camping – cooking a fry up for breakfast and boiling kettles for tea/coffee.

    Likes: compact all-in-one stove + stand and nice looking design
    Dislikes:
    1) flimsy (new design? Different to box photo) plastic locking catch broke, probably due to weight of heavy lid
    2) could not tell when burners were lit as totally silent and flame not visible in daylight – had to rely on heat rising off burner and unaware when burner flame blown out by wind
    3) metalwork surrounding piezo button gets very hot and burned fingers several times while grasping metalwork to squeeze button
    4) burners ok for large bottomed pans but large hole for burners do not support small pans or coffee pot(had to fall back on trusty old campingaz bivouac for caffeine fixes)
    5) middle control knob for grill was loose and therefore could not push in far enough to open gas valve on burner – therefore grill would not work.
    6) lid latching system unintuitive to close, invites you to think it is stuck/requiring more force to close which would result in a broken latch

    I managed to repair the broken catch with a tie-wrap + drilled hole but really this handle design is inadequate.

    I managed to fix the grill knob by opening up the split in metal spindle so that it gripped the control knob properly. How did such a fundamental quality problem slip through?

    Basically agree with the review – nice product let down by poor design in some areas and poor quality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *