How to Cook on a Camp Stove

How to Cook on a Camp StoveCooking over a crackling fire loses appeal when you have to pack soot-blackened pots and pans to go home. Most habitual campers and virtually all backpackers buy a camp stove and often a special nesting pot set. The meals prepared have all the appeal of campfire cooking, a more dependable outcome and less mess. Camp stove cooking begins at home by planning a menu, assembling its ingredients, and packing food in memorable places or labeled containers. Whether your camp stove is a stand-alone fancy model, a green Coleman two-burner or a three-ounce backpacker's stove, the principles of camp cooking are the same. In this article, the most rigorous situation is assumed (a one-burner stove), because those with more capacity can easily adjust.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Pots
  • Utensils
  • Matches
Step 1
Organize your meal. Decide whether you'll need boiling water --- perhaps for morning tea --- in addition to what the main dish requires, and whether you can cook in a single pan.
Step 2
Put everything you'll need in one place: food, pans, stove, fuel, matches, utensils.
Step 3
Start the food item that takes longest. Get the second pot ready to go. If you will use a single pot for the meal, gather and prepare what you'll cook after emptying the pot the first time.
Step 4
Switch pots to cook the second part of the meal. If using a single pot, serve what has finished cooking, refill the pot and set it on the burner.
Step 5
Add a final few inches of water to the soiled pot, some biodegradable soap, and heat wash water while you eat.

Tips & Warnings

If portions of a meal can be cooked intermittently, do so. For example, bring rice and water to a boil, then switch that pot back and forth with a pot in which you cook the rest of the meal.
Have plenty of fuel and matches on hand.
Rinse pans and utensils as soon as their jobs are finished. Don't let food dry on anything.
Use biodegradable soap for everything you wash in camp, including yourself. Air dry if possible, and you'll have no damp towels or bulky wet paper towels to carry.
Heat a final pan of water to dampen washcloths for campers' faces. What luxury.
Camp stoves depend upon pressurized fuel. Guard against explosion in transit and against sudden bursts of flame when igniting.
Cooking stoves and tents are not designed to be used together. Heat, such as that which rises from a camp stove, melts tent material. Fumes from burning stoves are poisonous. No matter how rainy, never use a stove in a tent.
Use a wind screen only if approved by the manufacturer of your stove. Improvised screens can trap too much heat and ruin the stove.
When traveling, check with your airline before you attempt to carry on or check camping gear. Fuel canisters, empty or full, often are prohibited, as are some stoves. If this is the case, ship your stove and empty fuel canister ahead, and buy pre-filled canisters at your destination.

Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

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