It's an especial shame about the Xcelerates because our all-time favourite is the supremely nifty Campingaz Bivouac (around £35), 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.
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 £90.
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 around £20. NJ also make a double stove (with two cartridges) for £50.
These stainless steel stoves weigh a LOT (upwards of 6kg), but they're very strong. In fact, they're really intended for big pot and wok cooking. There are one- and two-burner options. They run on LPG, butane or propane and have piezo ignition. Some also come with a cover. For safety, there's an auto cut-off for the gas if the flame goes out.
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. Great!
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.
This 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.
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.
- The 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.
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 (around £75) on Amazon.