Steel, aluminium, heat exchanger…even titanium – we’ve boiled and we’ve poured to find the best camping kettles. Here’s our round-up of fast, light (and occasionally pretty) kettles for camping cuppas.
We’ve divided these up by type of metal because some people would prefer not to use aluminium (see this fact-checking Snopes article on whether aluminium is really a health risk or not). For backpackers and wild campers, weight is an issue, so more expensive titanium options fit the bill. For most campers carrying their kit in a car, a stainless steel kettle is probably enough.
Whenever we look at camping gear, we often find the same product under different brands. Generally, this is because a couple of companies are having their kit made by the same (often Chinese) manufacturers. We’ve highlighted lookalikes here so that you can choose by price.
Lightweight, anodised for strength and very cheap.
Stainless steel camping kettles
Strong and basic, heavier than aluminium or titanium.
Extremely strong and lightweight and no metallic taste in your water. Expensive, though.
Everyone loves their Kelly Kettle. They’re an institution in backpacking and bushcraft and a fantastic piece of kit.
Basically, it’s an easily packable and carryable wood-fired kettle that needs just a handful of fuel (sticks, pine cones, birch bark, dry grass) to boil water in just three to five minutes. There’s a range of aluminium or steel, a choice of sizes and lots of accessories to turn the kettle base into a mini cooker.
We loved the simplicity and the fun of using the kettle, but weren’t so bowled over by the cooking kits. That’s perhaps because these are really aimed at adventurers and wilderness campers rather than anyone wanting to cook a full meal.
Brothers Patrick and Seamus Kelly, the current directors of the West of Ireland company are the fourth generation of the family to be associated with their famous kettle and camping gear. A great pedigree!
We haven’t yet found a folding/collapsible kettle that we like. The best of the bunch is the Sea to Summit if you’re after space-saving…and why would you want a collapsing kettle otherwise! The water doesn’t take good out of most of these as they’re generally a mix of silicone, aluminium and sometimes other plastics. People seem to like the induction-ready yellow one below. It has a stainless steel base, which is an advantage.
The ultimate kettle
Get yourself a Frontier woodburning stove and then add the brilliant water heater (aka BIG kettle with tap) that fits around the chimney. It heats up while you warm your toes and cook your dinner. Not for backpackers and not if you’re on a budget, but rather wonderful.
We’ve noticed a heater that looks just like this one for sale at Go Outdoors, but it’s a different make, so we can’t be sure it will do the job as well as the original Anevay one.
You can read all about the Frontier in our article on woodburning stoves.