Which Stove Should I Use?

When you go camping in Scotland or elsewhere, one of the most important things to bring is a stove. There are several types available on the market, and in this article you will find information about the advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Basically, there are four different types of camping stoves:

1.     Gas Camping Stoves

2.     Petrol Stoves

3.     Alcohol / Meths Camping Stoves

4.     Solid fuel stoves

Let’s have a look at each type in detail:


1. Gas Camping Stoves:

Primus stove

Portable Gas Stove

Gas Camping Stoves are among the most common cooking devices for camping. They are lightweight and neatly to pack. Also, gas heats water and food quickly, is easy to use and doesn’t blacken your pan. There are models where you simply screw a gas bottle on top, and there are stoves that have a hosepipe attachment. The latter permits for a more stable setup because the stove is closer to the ground. The only drawback is a slightly higher weight compared to screw on top stoves. Most models work with a self sealing screw bottle. There is a wide range of sizes available in outdoors and camping shops.


The disadvantages include the lack of recycling facilities for pressurized cans, and usually you are not allowed to bring them on a plane with you, which means you have to buy them there and then. Another point you have to take into account is that gas burns no that efficiently in very cold temperatures, and when there are high winds it will be hard to heat your food without a windshield.

Gas stove blue flames

Blue Flame of a Gas Stove


2. Petrol Stoves

Petrol stoves are very efficient and cheap to run. You can use a variety of different fuels like Coleman fuel, kerosene fuel, unleaded petrol or white fuel. Because they heat water in record time, they are very popular in winter conditions.

Since fuel is available nearly everywhere you usually don’t have to worry about where to get it. Just check with an attendant of the petrol station that there is no problem with your fuel bottle before filling it.

The disadvantages: They are heavier and require more maintenance in order to keep clean and running. You will need a proper fuel bottle. Also, the whole lighting process isn’t that easy, especially if you do it for the first time, so I recommend that you get some practice before using it in the middle of nowhere. Having said that, don’t get scared. It’s really not that difficult once you get used to the process.

Primus OF (jha)

Portable stove "Primus Omnifuel", running on universal gas (butane, propane) or fluid (petrol, diesel, gasoline)


3. Alcohol / Meths Camping Stoves

These stoves are quite handy: You get them as a package with pots and windshield. Alcohol or methylated spirits (meths) are used for the burner. They are not as efficient as gas or petrol stoves, so it will take longer to heat water or food. On the other hand, they are very cheap to run.

You get meths bottles at the chemist’s. It is recommended that you use a proper fuel bottle to transport the liquid, and again, you can’t bring them on a plane.

What is really strange about these burners is they heat your water faster when it’s windy. It has to do with their design, but don’t ask me any further…


Single Burner Alcohol Stove


4. Solid Fuel Stoves

Some stoves work with paraffin blocks. I wouldn’t really recommend that sort of fuel, unless you have to travel very light or you are broke. It is not an efficient way to heat food. You will need lots of tablets to generate sufficient temperature, and on top of that they will leave your pots black. You get the paraffin in outdoor stores.

Other stoves are fuelled with kindling and twigs. These are of a bigger size, maybe not the best kind of stove if you are backpacking. On the other hand, fuel is free! Then again, why not light a “real” campfire without a stove? Just be aware that in the Scottish Highlands wood is a rare resource at times…

Pocket-size collapsible cooker

Pocket-size Solid Fuel Stove



Petrol stoves perform best. Gas stoves are the easiest to handle. Meths stoves are comfortable. Solid fuel stoves are romantic. You have to find out what suits you best. Your decision will depend on the factors weight, ease of use, fuel availability and efficiency (cooking speed). I hope this article will help you to enjoy lots of successful and hot outdoor meals!

Which kind of stove do you recommend? Please tell me about your stove experiences and leave a comment!

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