How Camping Cookware Works

Using Camping Cookware

Camp cooking devices vary depending on your activity and campsite. A multi-burner camp stove is preferable for base camp, where groups share meals. Rugged terrain adventurists need something lightweight and portable. Several adventure sport equipment manufacturers offer palm-sized stoves. Weighing around 3 ounces (85 grams), they consist of three moveable pot supports attached to a small burner that screws into a miniature fuel canister.

Camping stoves use different types of fuel, each with advantages and drawbacks:

  • Naphtha, or white gas, is the most volatile stove fuel, but it provides excellent heat and is the best choice for winter or high-altitude camping.
  • Kerosene is cheap, readily available and safer to use, but it's smoky and smelly.
  • Methanol or wood alcohol is the least volatile cooking fuel, but it's a poor choice for cold temperatures because it only provides half the heat of white gas [source: Logue].
  • Propane or butane is good for summer, but it doesn't work well in winter [source: Mason, Logue].

You can't take cooking fuel on an airplane, so if the first leg of your outdoor adventure includes a flight, call ahead to make sure the fuel you need is available.

When you're ready to cook, think in terms of heat and fuel conservation and low environmental impact. Prepare only as much food as you can eat, and fill your pot before you light the burner. If your stove comes equipped with a temperature or flame control mechanism, use it. Whenever possible, keep your cooking pot covered. The lid traps heat and redirects it to your food. To keep dehydrated or freeze-dried food hot while it soaks, put it into a covered, insulated travel mug, or cover the pot with a cozy after you take it off of the heat source.

At the end of every meal, dirty dishes tend to linger. Learn how to clean and store your camping cookware on the next page.