The best camp stoves are not always the biggest. Depending on your needs, the most useful ones are often the smallest and most lightweight. Inexpensive, compact alcohol-fueled stoves are excellent for the avid backpacker. Those on a fishing trip may appreciate the fact that they can pack in and out without leaving a trace of even week-long cooking at the river. Another excellent camp stove is the adaptable all-fuel stove that makes use of whatever fuel you can lay your hands on.
Inexpensive: Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove
If you are watching the bottom line of your budget as well as the weight of the stove, then one of the best camp stoves is the Vargo Titanium Triad alcohol-burning cooker. It weighs 1.5 ounces, and you can adjust it to fit any size vessel, even down to a mug. Because of its small size, it takes about six minutes to boil two cups of water. Although this stove might not be as efficient in higher elevations, it is nevertheless the least expensive solution for the avid backpacker or hiker.
2009 price: $32
Responsible: NRS Firepan Stove
At 28 pounds, you won't want to take the steel NRS Firepan stove backpacking; but if you are car camping and are serious about leaving no trace when you are ready to head home, this is one of the best camping stoves on the market. At the heart of this stove is a 15-inch-by-24-inch firebox that lets you burn firewood or charcoal. Place the grill over the fire pan, and you can place pots and pans over the fire for cooking. This versatility makes it perfect for boiling water in the morning, preparing a full lunch and grilling your catch of the day in the evening. Bring along a fireproof ash container to truly leave no trace behind.
2009 price: $200
Lightweight: Brunton Vapor All Fuel Expedition Stove
You can boil a liter of water in a little over three minutes with this 16-ounce camp stove. What makes this versatile cooking instrument such a winner is the fact that it operates with butane, diesel fuel, gasoline and a host of other fuel sources. Its small size makes it perfect for backpackers and backcountry hikers.
2009 price: $220
Article Written By Sylvia Cochran
Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.