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 camping stoves would we wholeheartedly recommend and which (we’re looking at you Xcelerate) get a serious thumbs-down. Read on for our favourites.
It’s an especial shame about the Campingaz Xcelerates (see further down the article for details) because our all-time favourite is a Campingaz stove.
The supremely nifty Campingaz Bivouac (around £45) has slot-in legs and a single big burner, and fits into a neat bag. It takes two sizes of easily findable gas cartridges. You couldn’t get much more compact, stable and pleasingly designed.
We’ve found that if we use the larger of the two gas canisters, you can even use the stove without the legs.
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 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.
Just get yourself a cheap folding windshield for your Bivouac or other camping stove. Don’t let heat build up around the gas canister or plastic parts or you could end up with a melting stove or worse.
Outwell camping stoves
The Bivouac is a bit on the limiting side for a long camping trip, so we’ve tried the Appetizer stoves, which come with two rings or two rings and a grill.
Outwell also has a range of oddly named 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 £70-£110. The Annatto has the advantage of a nice wide base and simple two-burner cooking area. Around £85.
You’ll need EN417 gas cartridges for the Annatto and Jimbu. LPG gas cylinders for the Habanaro and Rukutu.
Without wanting to spoil the surprise, we love our Cadac Safari Chef best, but Cadac have also brought out a more traditional-looking camping stoves with two burners – the 2 Cook.
We haven’t tried them yet, but we’ll report back. The Pro Deluxe is the one to go for because it has piezo ignition, two burners that also take a flat fry plate and a ridged grill plate plus a carry bag for around £110.
These take refillable gas bottles.
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.
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.
Sturdy stainless steel stoves
They run on LPG, butane or propane and have piezo ignition. 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), an
d 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!
This is a camping stove that lots of readers like. To be honest, we’d choose the Cadac over this one, but it does have its fans!
There’s a Party Grill 200 and a 400, and this difference is the number of cooking accessories and the gas. The 200 (around £65) takes canisters and the 400 (around £90) takes the large, refillable bottles.
We don’t like the sticky-out control, but we do like how easy they are to keep clean. They’re also multifunctional in that you can use griddle plates and even a wok with them.
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 £90. We also tested the 600SG, which has telescopic legs, two side-tables and hob-top grill attachments. It costs around £110. 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.
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.
If you still like the idea of an Xcelerate
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.
Our advice would be to go for 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.
Let us know what camping stove works for you!