Modern camping stoves are as varied as tent designs. Car campers often use large, range-style portable stoves, while climbers, backpackers and mountaineers require ultralight, high-output designs that can withstand extremes of altitude and cold. Both types vary according to fuel, heat output, weight and intended use. Looking over the many varieties of camping stove will help you find one that meets your specific needs in the outdoors.
Car Camping Stoves
Casual camping stoves offer a transportable cooking option for outdoors lovers who prefer to stay in the front country. These stoves can have multiple burners and are generally fueled by white gas or propane. They offer reasonably high heat output and the convenience of a range-like cooking surface, but they are too large and heavy to carry on a hiking trip.
Coleman and Century both offer popular models in this design.
These stoves are designed to be small and light enough to carry into the backcountry, and they often appear to be nothing more than single burners on thin legs. A backpacking stove unit can be folded down and packed into a case or bag and often weighs less than 1 pound. Liquid or gas fuel is carried in separate, lightweight containers. Although this type of stove only has a single burner and a small cooking surface, its heat output is high enough to cook meals quickly.
Examples of this type include the popular MSR Whisperlite, Coleman Exponent and the Crux stove by Optimus.
Ultralight and Climbing Stoves
Ultralight stoves are favored by climbers and minimalist backpackers for their extremely light weight and small dimensions. Often powered by a butane-based fuel blend, these stoves are hassle-free to light, cook with and clean. The stove units and fuel containers weigh considerably less than their backpacking, liquid-fueled counterparts, and have for this reason gained popularity among traditional hikers, as well.
Look for the MSR Pocket Rocket and the Snow Peak Giga Power stove.
These stoves are built to withstand the harsh, demanding conditions of high-altitude mountaineering. Although heavier than many backpacking stoves, expedition designs are still compact and easily packable.
Many expedition stoves can be run on multiple types of fuel, making them good choices for international trips in regions where traditional fuels may be hard to come by.
Two popular expedition models are MSR's XGK stove and the Optimus Nova.