The best camping stoves…and the worst

Campingaz Xcelerate

She looks to be having fun with the Campingaz Xcelerate. We didn’t. Have a look at the much better camping stoves we DO recommend.

To be honest, most gas camping stoves make us sad. There ought to be a thing of beauty out there, but there’s little innovation and a lot of cheap nastiness. So, which would we wholeheartedly recommend and which (we’re looking at you Campingaz) get a serious thumbs-down. Read on for our favourites.

Better choices for camping stoves – and the very best!

calor-bivouac-camping-stove

The neat Bivouac

It's an especial shame about the Xcelerates because our all-time favourite is the supremely nifty Campingaz Bivouac (around £45), 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.

Just get yourself a cheap folding windshield for your Bivouac stove. Don't let heat build up around the gas canister or plastic parts,. though. Aim to keep the wind out but NOT the heat in or you could end up with a melting stove or worse.

Outwell stoves

The Bivouac is a bit on the limiting side for a long camping trip, so we’ve also used Appetizer stoves,. Outwell has a range of new stoves with different combinations of burner and grill. The knobs are a bit clunky, but they’re solid and have windshields at the side.

The Jimbu (Jimbo in some places?), the Habanaro and the Rukutu. They’re solid and have side windshields. Cost around £80-£100. The Annatto has the advantage of a nice wide base and simple two-burner cooking area. Around £80.

EN417 gas cartridges for the Annatto and Jimbu. LPG gas cylinders for the Habanaro and Rukutu.

The Jimbu stove has one ring and a side grill
The Rukutu has two rings and a central grill.
The Annatto is my favourite in the range as it's simple. I don't like the top grills as they get mucky.
The Habanaro has a bottom grill, but we've never found these very effective.

The Pro Deluxe is around £110.

Cadac 2 Cook

Without wanting to spoil the surprise, we love our Cadac Safari Chef best, but Cadac have also brought out three more traditional-looking camping stoves with two burners – the 2 Cook. We haven’t tried them yet and the lack of side windshields is a problem. There’s a basic/Pro model, and a Pro deluxe that has two griddle/grill plates.

Simply four rings

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 under-£60 four-burner stove that will work with lots of different gas sources. It couldn't be lighter, simpler or sturdier.

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. 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. Too heavy for backpackers, though. Costs around £120.

Cartridge stoves

The basic campstove for lots of people is one that takes a canister in the body of the stove. Campingaz make them and so do lots of other people and they're all more or less the same. Basic but reliable for casual cooking. You can get a toaster for the top and even a heater (extreme care needed!). These cartridge stoves cost between £12 and £25. Steer clear of the double-canister Popamazing stoves – a fault on the connection could make them dangerous.

Cast iron burners

As simple as it gets. Heavy, of course, but built to last. No problem about cooking up a giant pot of stew on these. Around £25-45.

Cadac Safari Chef The very best camping stove? Well, we love it.

Our firm favourite for camping stoves has to be the Cadac Safari Chef

 

You can read all about it in our full Cadac stove review. Suffice to say, it’s versatile, packs away into a smallish bag, can use big gas bottles (or there’s a canister variant), and you can use it on its legs or on a table. And costs less than £90.  There are lots of different cooking surfaces too. It’s simply great!

Von Shef induction hob

How about cooking on electric?

Have a look at the best camping hobs and cookers. A portable induction is controllable and safe. You need hook-up, of course. Tefal is great and the Von Shef is super too (both under £40).

Frontier stovecooking on wood-gas

Or how about a wood-burning camping stove?

We think you might be won over by the lovely Frontier or the teeny woodgas

Now…the problem with the Campingaz Xcelerate camping stoves

There’s very little innovation going on in the world of gas-powered camping stoves, so we were looking forward to testing the Xcelerate range. Oh dear, were we 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 £100. ST, by the way, means it has a toaster section; SG means there’s a hob-top grill thing.

Remember too, that some of these are branded Coleman. They’re the same stoves, though.

The Campingaz 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 Campingaz 400ST

This is a smaller, lighter model without legs and side-tables, but with a small grill. Our test model let us down badly. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. XcelerateThe 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.

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

So, leave the Xcelerate alone, choose one of our other suggestions for camping stoves… and let us know what works for you!

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10 Comments

  1. For lightweight camping and short trips in the summer where it’s a cup of tea or coffee a small hiking stove is fine. The MSR Whisperlite Universal is multi fuel (gas, paraffin, unleaded) and packs away in a nice small bag. It’s not the cheapest but it does the job well. I use this for a family of 5, boiling 1L of water in approx 4 mins and it copes fine with a few slices of bacon in the morning. Anything other than that the older Campingaz dual stoves are fine and sturdier than the new models. For larger/longer trips the basic ring burners are best, if not a little heavy.

    Tip – always think about the space you are cooking in. I’ve seen some people innocently cooking on unsteady camping tables next to tent/porch walls with dire consequences. You should always carry a small fire extinguisher or fire blanket if you are going to cook inside your tent.
    ED: Thanks for the tips, Liam. Just to add that cooking inside a tent or campervan can be dangerous because carbon monoxide fumes can build up. Make sure you’re well-ventilated./em>

  2. Be careful when adding a windshield to a canister stove like you advice in the Campingaz Bivouac evaluation. Doing this the wrong way may cause the small canister to heat up quite quickly, with nasty consequences. I once had the plastic regulator of my old burner melting (boiling actually!). Did some research and found out that every now and then, this goes very wrong… apparently canisters do explode! I learned my lesson. ED: Excellent advice, Ralph. Many thanks. If you are using a windshield, position it so that it’s shielding the flames rather than the whole device. You need to avoid heat building up.

  3. Stephen Tucker

    Outwell’s stainless steel Appetizer is exactly the same as camping gas camping chef folding compact apart from different knobs. I`ve just bought one, what a mistake, the grill is absolutely useless won`t even toast a slice of bread properly!!!
    ED: What a pain, Stephen. Next time, go for a good solid stove like the Cadac and use the griddle plate for gorgeous tasting toast with pretty char lines!

  4. I’ve owned a lot of different field stoves over the years, of different styles, sizes and fuels. Most have fallen by the wayside for various reasons, but two have stood the test of time:

    1: My Jetboil PCS – for day-long hikes either solo or as a couple. Good for hot drinks or a pasta & sauce, but fundamentally a one-trick pony. Good features: small pack size, reasonably light, piezo ignition, wind-resistant.

    2: My Trangias. Plural (a 25 with all the bells & whistles for family use, and a Mini/28 for solo). You do anything you want with the big beast; my wife has done a full English on one spirit burner. If you know what you’re doing you can even rig it as an oven – i’ve baked scones, which was rather well received. I did get the gas burner later for convenience, but don’t underrate the spirit burner. Best features: works in any conditions, far more versatile than you’d think, foolproof.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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.

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