How to choose the right portable cooker?

A portable cooker is an inseparable element of every outdoor trip. It allows us to enjoy a hot meal anywhere we are. But what to follow when choosing the right model?

There are following types of cookers: 

  • gas cookers fueled with readily filled disposable gas tanks of the following types:

 C 206 („French” standard valve-free tank that gets punctured by the cooker’s spike when installed, the tank can’t be unplugged from the cooker until it runs out of gas);
 C 270/470 („French” standard valve tank, the cooker is fastened to the neck – when screwing it in, the tank’s valve gets punctured by the spike, can be unplugged);
 E417 („English” standard valve tank, the cooker is screwed directly onto the threaded valve casing, the spike punctures the valve, can be unplugged);

  • gas cookers fueled with gas out of of different types of tanks (shared between C270/470 and E417), there are also special adapters available on the market that allow to fuel „English” cookers with gas out of C 206 tanks
  • liquid fuel cookers (some cookers have replaceable fuel tanks, whereas some have integrated tanks): gasoline, kerosene, diesel – the cooker car run on a selected fuel type i.e. gasoline, which will make it a gasoline cooker, or several different types of fuel, which will make it a multi-fuel cooker
  • multi-fuel cookers running on liquid fuels or tank gas
  • cookers running on different types of fuel (spirit, gels)

When faced with choosing the right cooker, we have to start by deciding on what type of fuel we are going to use. If we tend to visit one specific region (i.e. Siberia, France) the type of fuel available will determine our choice.

The cookers available on the market are:

  • gas cookers: cookers that run on gas are lightweight, easy to use, don’t stain (soot) dishes, but their efficiency drops (sometimes drastically) as the absolute height rises (drop in the atmospheric pressure) and the temperature drops. Another flaw they have are the problems with gas tanks: their availability and transporting them (gas tanks can’t be brought on a passenger plane);
  • liquid fuel cookers: pressure and temperature drops have a little impact on the drop in their efficiency, the fuel is easily available, but those cookers are heavy, more difficult to use: starting them, the necessity to clean them regularly (removing the clogs in the fuel cord or the nozzle), they stain dishes;
  • gas cookers with different types of tanks: see the gas ones + smaller problem with emergency tank purchases;
  • multi-fuel cookers with the option of plugging a gas tank: these are liquid fuel cookers adapted to using gas, their characteristics depend on the type of the fuel used, but it will always be a heavy cooker.

Then we have to define the conditions the cooker will be used in:

  • recreational tourism during the warmer season at the altitudes of up 3 000 meters above sea-level
  • advanced tourism during the warmer season at the altitudes of up to 6 000 meters above sea-level
  • advanced tourism during the winter season, tourists don’t usually tend to go above 4 000 meters above sea-level during winter
  • expeditions – any: part of the world, altitude above sea-level, temperature

Now all that is left for us to define is the volume of the cooking water at a single time:

  • up to 1 liter
  • up to 2 liters
  • up to 5 liters

Look at more on propane camping stoves.

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