The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Camping Stoves

Buying a stove will seem to many customers quite a daunting prospect, especially to those with little camping or trekking experience, so you will need to know the basics to put them at their ease. Reminding your customers about the factors they need to consider such as  pack size, portability, number of people, weight and of course budget, are crucial´╗┐ to ensuring they get the right product.

Camping stoves can be broadly split into three categories. These are: 

Family stoves 

Being as a greater proportion of family camping is set in place with the camp area acting as the focal point or base, family stoves tend to be larger in size and generally draw on larger fuel sources. They have a capacity for larger pans as the camp cooking tends to be on a similar level to that of home. The stoves will often have a double hob and some may have the addition of a grill for convenience. Key features to consider when looking at family stoves may be ease of set-up, cleaning and safety features such as flame failure devices

Backpacking stoves 

As the name suggests these stoves tend to be much more portable with the focus being on weight and pack size. Other key features to look out for are fuel type, ease of set up and simplicity of operation. Often these stoves will be used at the end of a long day or activity and thus ease of use and efficiency of cooking may be key as the user will want to eat/drink quickly and with the minimal of fuel use. Fuel types may vary but LP gas is the main fuel source and is available in a range from straight butane/propane mixtures to more comprehensive mixtures including isobutane giving better performance at lower temperatures.

Mountain stoves 

These stoves are not dissimilar to backpacking stoves although tend be more rugged in their build quality as they need to remain functional in harsher conditions and can often be a vital lifeline for those using them. They are designed for use at higher altitudes (lower atmospheric pressure) and colder conditions. With this in mind they tend to run on liquid fuels which function better in these environments although quality brands will also still be able to run on gas if conditions allow. The pack size and weight is still a consideration although compromises need to be made to allow for more durable materials. These stoves will often require more user interaction like priming and servicing but these can be understood relatively quickly and easily with proper advice and training. 

Fuel Types

There are two primary categories of fuel used in the stove categories above.

Canister Gas

For family camping these may vary from single disposable canisters or cylinders to re-fillable ones depending on the stove being used. For the smaller stoves the predominance is for the disposable variety. On the plus side gas is very quick, clean and easy to use and covers a majority of the camp cooking done in the UK. On the down side you will need to transport the gas containers back with you for refilling or proper disposal.

Liquid fuel

Liquid fuel generally refers to a range of fuels including white gas (naphtha), diesel, paraffin (or kerosene) and unleaded fuel but can also include aviation fuel. The main disadvantages of liquid fuel is that the stoves will require priming and servicing due to the impurities in the fuel. The advantages being that as a category they are more widely available as a fuel source, working better at colder temperatures, can be transported in bulk more easily and generally cost less.


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