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Home Bushcraft Kit / Reviews Review of Four Camping Stoves

Review of Four Camping Stoves

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A Review of Four Camping Stoves

This is a review of four different types of camping cookers that I have used. In this review we put these cookers to the test by boiling one large cup of water (450ml) fresh and icy-cold from a river on a winters'day, we boiled in a small billy can with the lid off. All these stove's will perform better if you use a lid when boiling water. So here is the cooking stoves that we tested:

  • hexi-stove-150pxGas Camping Stove (Common Butane/Propane one)
  • Pocket Cooker (Metal fold out)
  • Hexi Block Burner
  • Swedish Gel Cooker
  • Afterthoughts / Evaluation
  •  

    Click on a cooker above to skip to its review.


    Gas Camping Stove

    gas-stove-200pxWeight: 450g (both canister & burner)
    Size
    : Canister: 9cm tall, 10cm wide | Burner when packed: 7.5cm tall, 6cm across, 3.5cm thick

    Boil Test: Completed in 4mins 50seconds

    This is a relative compact setup as far as gas camping stoves go, the burner itself packs away to be very small and light. Of course you can choose to carry a big or small gas canister depending on how much you think you will need to cook when on a particular trip. This particular burner has a electric ignition making lighting easy, it also unscrews from the gas canister and folder away to become very small and has its own plastic case to protect it in your bag. To see the gas burner being folded away scroll down to watch the short video.

    pros

    - Quick, easy & fast to setup and get going.
    - No mess! Once finished just leave to cool and then its fast and easy to pack away (see short video below)
    - Fast ignition & able to provide a consistant heat with a easy control.
    - Clean burning, zero smoke and leaves no stains on cooking pots.

    cons
    - Burn-time limited to however much gas your carrying.
    - A bit tricky to tell how much fuel you've got left as you cant see it.
    - Can flaire up on ignition, which can be a danger for people who think they can use it in a tent! Dont use any of the cookers featured on this page in a tent.

    Video of this cooker being packed away:

    << Back to top of page or feel free to read on...

    Pocket Cooker

    pocket-stove-300px

    Weight: 578grams (with no fuel)

    Size: Packed away in pouch: 16cm tall, 10cm across & 2cm thick

    Boil Test: Completed in 8mins 34seconds

    Title'd the pocket cooker because it folds down nicely into a pouch, ok so you could probably fit this in your pocket but you wouldn't really carry it in your pocket often, its a little too heavy for that. But other than that it is a nice looking cooker that can handle all sorts of solid-fuel, you could use twigs, fungi or even just a couple of hexi-blocks (heximine). The stove has a side door which you can adjust to allow more air-flow and faster burn. Also it has air-holes around the base and underneath, this stove can burn the floor beneath.

    pros

    - Multi-fuel - You could burn any solid fuel in this, maya-sticks, cramp-balls, normal wood, hexi/meths blocks the list goes on!
    - Packs away fairly compact.
    - Great for summer, you can use any solid-fuel that you can find nearby.

    cons
    - Not the lightest cooker, fairly heavy, thick metal.
    - Can be smokey & you still have to watch carefully, treat as a normal fire regards damage to the floor and anything catching.
    - 90% of the time I use this with naturaly avaliable wood in my imediate enviroment and because of this the weather obviously effects its performance, if its a rainy, cold winters day this stove will take a great deal more effort to run as your fuel (different sized twigs) will be wet on the outside. Because of this I dont consider this my primary cooker when in the winter months.

    << Back to top of page or feel free to read on...


    Hexi Block Burner

    hexi-block-burner

    hexi-stove-150pxWeight: Burner: 90grams | Half-pack of fuel (4 blocks): 115grams
    Size: 12cm tall, 9cm across & 2.5cm thick.
    Boil Test: 4mins 12seconds

    Hexi-burners are traditionally used by the British military and SAS. They burn a Heximine tablet which has a high energy density, burns smokelessly, leaves no ashes and does not liquify. Burning hexi-blocks does give off an ordor however I wont list that as a pro or con as I know some don't like it and I know others like it, reminds them of camping in their childhood.

    They are cheap, easily obtainable through your local army-surplus store and considered disposable by some, although can be used again with no problem. These stoves often acompany army ration packs to cook boil in the bag meals.

    pros
    - Cheap
    - Fairly compact; fuel packs away inside and the burner folds up.
    - Fuel is easy to light by flame, break of grind fuelif ground posible to light by spark
    - Burner slightly versatile in that you could use different solid-fuels with it, essentially just using the hexi-frame to hold your pot on top.

    cons
    - You don't find hexi-blocks in the bush!
    - Flames can lick about a good bit, dont have near your tent!

    << Back to top of page or feel free to read on...


    Swedish Gel Cooker

    swedish-gel-cookerWeight:200grams full, 95grams empty.
    Size:8cm wide, 5cm high
    Boil Test: 14mins 8seconds *

    The latest edition to my kit, this gel cooker impressed me with its compact size and ease of use. It comes in two parts; one metal pot-stand which when packed away surrounds the gel-tin and when in use sits on top. Simply unscrew the small canister to expose the gel, sit the pot stand on top and light by either flame or spark.

    Its actually eaiser and more convienient to light this using a firesteel, as trying with a match or lighter is tricky with the pot stand in the way but all you have to do is shower it once with sparks and its lit, no waiting around for anything to prime, just whack your billy-can on and your away.

    * One thing that might be worth mentioning about the boil test, im not sure if it'll effect the performance or not but when starting the test the gel-cooker was less than half full with gel, it still appeared to burn well.

    pros

    - Very easy to light (presuming you can generate a spark or flame!) One well placed spark and your ready to cook!
    - Packs away nicely, very compact and light.

     

    cons
    - The pot-holder/stand ontop is not large and therefore you might struggle balancing large billycans on top, so stability isnt the best with this cooker.
    - If your out camping and the gel runs out your stuffed, its not like you can even source a alternative fuel source from the natural larder, it 

    ronnie-sunshines-great-outdoor-storeYou can purchase the Swedish Army Gel Cooker here:
    http://www.ronniesunshines.com/compact-mini-swedish-army-personel-cooker-p-1039.html 

     

    << Back to top of page or feel free to read on...

     


    Afterthoughts / Evaluation

    Boil Test Results:

    1. Hexi Block Burner (4mins 12sec)
    2. Gas Camping Stove (4mins 50secs)
    3. Pocket Cooker (8mins 34secs)
    4. Swedish Gel Cooker (14mins 8secs)

    So the Hexi block burner won on speed, an unexpected result for me personally, I thought the gas camping stove (on its highest setting) would have performed best at boiling water however 2 hexi-blocks and the good old army cooker won. Heximine blocks can be easily found at all army-surplus and outdoors shops.

    Its not always about speed, obviously the gear you pack reflects the way you want to travel and if its light and compact your looking for I would definatly consider the Swedish Gel Cooker, although it had the slowest boiling time on our test it didnt have a lot of fuel when we started and im not sure if this effected its performance. Anyway it surely is the smallest and lightest cooker I've owned along with being amazingly easy to light by spark, I really appreciate the compact-size, ease and speed to get started.

    The gas camping stove is the cleanest burning of the bunch, no smell (when lit), no smoke and dosen't leave soat or stains on cooking equipment. Gas / Butane is easily accessible in the UK & US and this type of stove performs well in British conditions.

    As for the pocket cooker, well I think its a nice summer cooker. In dry months when twigs and sticks are plentiful and relatively dry its easy and a pleasure to use. But if the weather conditions are wet and its been raining for a day solid you'll have a lot harder time running this cooker. Of course when we want a normal camp fire in wet conditions we work a little harder to get dry wood, if everything is soaked we find dead standing wood and split it to expose the dry inner wood which will catch well, however with the pocket cooker your fire is on a smaller scale with twigs and sticks you can't really split them quickly like you can with a few logs and an axe, so your left with the option of quickly skinning the twigs of their wet bark, although do'able it'll be tedious and hard to maintain for long periods in the really wet. Alternatively you could try and work with large wood and shave of large chunky shavings. Either way; great cooker in dry times, hard work in the really wet.

    Overall, the cooking stove you choose to take with you will be a personal preference and will no doubt be influenced by the type of trip you have in mind. Hopefully some of the pro's and con's listed above will have given you a better insight into these cooking solutions and will help you make the right decision for your needs.

    For reviews on more expensive Dual Fuel Stoves like the Coleman Dual Sportster II and the Mountain Safety Research XGK EX Visit here: http://www.naturalbushcraft.co.uk/dual-fuel-stoves

     

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    Comments (11)
    11 Tuesday, 29 November 2011 14:45
    Polish Air Cadet
    Hi,

    As a member of UK Air Cadets i had chance to use hexi burners lots of times. If I was going for expedition or something like that i would use hexi burner. Its fast to set up and very small.
    The only disadvantage is that if you want to boil water using hexamen do let any of the fumes get to the water as it will not be good to drink!

    I prefer haxi to gas burner as its ligher and more compact!
    If you want more info from me send email to: ukaircadethelp@gmail.com

    Hope it helps!
    10 Tuesday, 26 April 2011 10:39
    Swede
    Hi

    Great site you have here.

    About the ”Swedish Gel Cooker”. I don’t think it is Swedish at all. I’m in the Swedish army and I have never seen this before. The text on the side of the jar seems to be in German so that leads me to think that it might be a “Swiss army Gel Cooker”(?).
    9 Wednesday, 26 May 2010 11:06
    alan bowater
    im sorry when i said cut down the tuna can i meant to say cut it down so that it is slightly lower than the holes in the cat can
    8 Wednesday, 26 May 2010 09:55
    alan bowater
    for me the best stove is the cat can stove (lots of videos on you tube). they are easy to make very cheap, light and cant go wrong. the only drawback, as with alot of meths stoves is waiting for them to prime. the way i got round this was to cut down a tuna can so its slightly lower than the cat can. put the cat can into the tuna can, roughly central, and then inbetween the two i pushed in some fibreglass insulation, still below the holes. to use the stove put a little meths round the insualtion and then one fluid ounce into the cat can. this will boil one pint of water in about 4 and a half to five minutes using a simple foil windshield.
    7 Thursday, 22 April 2010 22:24
    Joe D
    may sound like an odd question but ive got a hexi stove and going away soon and intending to bring that and maybe the gel cooker(ive heard they burn for longer), but I was planning on saying bringing along with regular camping foods breads/sandwiches that i couldve toasted. i hear that doing this with hexi fuel is possibly dangerous/poisonous its only alright cooking stuff in mess tins/pans/

    thanks
    6 Tuesday, 09 February 2010 21:09
    dan
    this is a great review of theese stoves, is there a chance of you doing a trangia? they are my personal favorite
    5 Saturday, 16 January 2010 17:29
    Ashley Cawley
    Yeah, by breaking the Hexi block your increasing the surface size and area to burn, so you will get more flame, faster, however you will burn your fuel quicker.
    4 Wednesday, 13 January 2010 20:23
    KEITH
    Hexi block burner, i FOUND, that if you break the hexi in half, stend them on there unbrocken side, up right, 1" apart, then light them, it is even faster to bring to the boil, plus you only use one hexi block, and remembering to butthe lid on mess tin
    3 Wednesday, 30 December 2009 22:36
    Bernhard Hofmann
    I just made a Nimblewill Nomad stove from pretty thick steel (about 1.3mm) and it weighs in at just under 800 grams (1lb 12oz). I've yet to use it, but the fact that it packs completely flat (8mm x 115mm x 160mm) means it's ideal for packing if not for carrying. It might offer a better alternative to the Pocket Cooker.

    Here's a link to the plans if anyone else wants to give it a go: http://www.nimblewillnomad.com/stove.htm
    2 Friday, 11 September 2009 19:03
    i am very intrested in the pocket cooker mutifuel any idea who sell them in UK
    1 Thursday, 03 September 2009 15:03
    Please could you let me know where to purchase the pocket stove in the U.K. email: davllis@aol.com

    thanks

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