Delicious outdoor cuisine starts with the heat from a great camp stove. Companies like Coleman and Camp Chef make portable range tops, grills, ovens and even smokers, some of which cost more than $300. Don't expect to carry these cookers very far from the car, though -- some models weigh as much as 85 pounds (39 kilograms).
There are three main types of single-burner stoves for backpackers looking for a smaller alternative, most of which weigh 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) or fewer:
- Liquid fuel stoves: These use readily available fuels like white gas, kerosene, or alcohol, but they don't simmer well and require more maintenance than other stoves. Also, you'll need to factor in the weight of the fuel bottles, which will add 4 or 5 ounces to your pack. Models include the MSR WhisperLite, Primus OmniFuel and Soto Muka, which can cost anywhere from $80 to $160.
- Compressed gas stoves: These burn butane, isobutane or propane. While they don't work well at colder temperatures, they're easy to light and offer sensitive temperature control. They require little maintenance, and both the fuel and the stoves are very lightweight. Examples of this type include the MSR Pocket Rocket, Jetboil, Primus Yellowstone, and Soto OD-1R, which run between $30 and $150.
- Solid fuel stoves: These burn wood or flammable pellets. They're easy to start and require virtually no maintenance, but they have no temperature control and are too small for use with large groups. Models include the Esbit Pocket Stove and Sierra Stove, and cost between $30 and $130.
Before you set out -- don't forget the matches!