Emergency Camping Stoves — Review of Mini Stoves
We want more!
After last month’s report on the value of having a portable camping stove for when the power is out, I heard from some readers about having a smaller stove in case you really have to carry it.
(Last month’s stoves were suitable for long-term camping or car camping.)
In fact, backpacking friends offered up some of their stories and even gave brand suggestions.
Naturally, this led me to do more research on the topic of stoves. Here is some of what I found out. You’ll find details and pictures in our Emergency Supplies Store.
Prices are all over the place – from $10 – $180!
Obviously, this means you really have to shop carefully!
Understand your needs, your family or team’s capabilities, and what you really want. (Some of the superior stoves, for example, just boil water! Is that what you’re looking for?)
Compare models side by side, note what’s included in the price (Fuel canister? Wind screen? Carrying case?) pay close attention to reviews, and check on warranties before you buy.
Wood-burning camping stoves
If you’ll be outdoors in at least a semi-wilderness setting, with organic fuel sources (twigs, leaves, moss) available, having a wood-burning camping stove makes lots of sense. No storing of fuels, no worrying about leaks, stripping of valves, etc.
The wood-burning camp stoves are very simple. Imagine a coffee can with some holes punched in it to let sticks and air in, and smoke out. (See the photo above. And I seem to recall I had one of those as a kid! I think it was advertised on the back of a Cheerios box.)
That being said, some of these small stoves are square (not round), which makes them foldable. BUT, they may be too simple to justify their price. Check carefully.
Mini camping stoves
The minis look a bit like a giant dragonfly (one model even is called “Dragonfly”) or maybe one of those puzzles you played with as a kid. You remember, you had to keep unfolding and twisting and turning until the thing came apart? Despite looking very flimsy, these stoves get consistently positive reviews!
Some of these stoves perch on top of their fuel source. Others sit beside the fuel canister, which lies on its side and is attached by a tube. Different stoves are designed to burn different fuels: diesel, kerosene, gasoline, and even jet fuel.
Because these stoves are so light, you’ll need to balance them carefully and you may want to create or carry some sort of wind screen.
Starting the fire
I’m sure that different weather conditions would make a big difference, but it seems clear that you need to PRACTICE BEFORE THE EMERGENCY!
- Some friends mentioned carrying using waterproof matches.
- Others had cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly (classic survivalist item).
- The mini-stoves require that you pump and prime, a process that may take a couple of minutes.
- In earlier posts we mention magnesium fire starters (less than $5) which seem to work even in the worst conditions. If you have practiced! (Get one at our store when you take a look at the stoves!)
Last reminder – these stoves all have ONE burner. You will be using ONE pot. Experts seem to be able to boil, fry and even bake – but still, all on one burner. If you have a larger group, you may need more than one stove or take another look at the classic Coleman two- or three-burner box that we talked about last time.
Here’s the link to the store, where you can compare the minis to the larger stoves. Stoves start on page 2.
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