Cooking with gas on the trail

There has been a lot of development in the field of lightweight stoves in recent years and they are becoming more powerful, compact and lighter to meet demands. Even classics, like the storm cooker, have been reinvented and products like the Robens Cookery King, take cooking technology to new heights.

The choice of fuel tends to be:

  • Block or gel
  • Alcohol
  • Paraffin
  • Petrol
  • Gas

We concentrate on gas as our fuel of choice for it is convenient and generally easy and safe to use, providing an easily controlled flame for accurate cooking.

Gas Canisters

Gas is stored in various styles of canister, the simplest being a cartridge that is pierced by the stove to release the gas. Once connected, you can no longer safely separate from the cartridge stove – a serious disadvantage. In addition, almost all cookers that use this system are low powered with high weight and pack size. However, this type of cartridge is the most widespread in Europe.

Campingaz stoves are designed primarily for general camping and outdoor cooking with little focus placed on weight and pack size. They use a unique canister that clamps into position and these feature a valve to allow their safe removal for transit. The canisters are widely used in southern Europe. These unthreaded cartridges are often confused with threaded cartridges.

Threaded cartridges are used by many stove manufacturers and found extensively in any outdoor store. These screw onto the compact stove and can be safely unscrewed for transit. Some self-standing stoves, like our Fire Beetle, use a short hose with a gas control valve that screws to the cartridge. Short legs provide a high degree of stability.

Burner size matters

Burner performance is often dictated by size. A burner with a small diameter creates a highly targeted flame well suited to heat something quickly in small pots. Larger burners bring a broader flame make sense if using larger pots to cater for groups or cooking something a little more complicated than water.

Packing and carrying are often factors that need to be considered and some stove systems comprise small, compact nesting pots with space for a cartridge and a kettle – ideal for backpacking. A good example of this is our Loner Cook Set that will also house our compact Firefly stove and matching cartridge. It will also nest into our larger Grouping Cook Set if yet more pots are required for more complicated meals.

To keep the cooking time as short as possible you should protect the boiler flame from the wind. Even a gentle breeze will adversely affect efficiency by pushing heat from the pot. You can build a windscreen around the stove using your backpack but why risk damage when you can easily use our compact, foldable windshield.

It is dangerous to cook in a tent porch but sometimes unavoidable. In such circumstances ensure the stove has a stable base upon which to sit, such as our Wilderness table, and ensure 1m clearance all the way around the burner in case the stove flares. Adequate ventilation is essential to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cookery King

More than 50 years ago a Swede developed the alcohol-burning storm cooker that combined burner, wind shield and cooking pots in a single unit. This has been adapted over the years to include dedicated gas and multifuel burners for extra cooking power.

To build on the versatility of this popular stove we have redesigned the storm cookers to create our Cookery King that will work with almost any freestanding gas or petrol stove, with clearance being provided by the height-adjustable grate.

Watch feature video of Cookery King below.

Food and drink

It makes little sense to pack a heavy canned meal in your backpack given the huge range of light and quick to prepare, nutritious trekking meals – even supermarkets carry compact, light meals, like Asian noodle soups. A freeze-dried meal only weighs 125g, carries all the nutrients and energy you need for outdoor adventures, and is quickly prepared by just adding hot water. Short cooking times save fuel and ensure a gas cartridge will last around five to seven days – perfect for when exploring sparsely populated areas when fuel may be hard to get.

Keeping hydrated is very important when enjoying outdoor adventures and a ready supply of boiled water is vital – especially if travelling in areas where water can be contaminated. When cold, it is advisable to have a hot drink and exercise a little before sleeping – it will get the circulation going and help you stay warm. Any excess water can be used to fill a hot water bottle, placing the warm water into a flask and wrapping in clothing, like a tee shirt, to avoid scalding. You can drink the boiled water next morning.

Here is the whole range of Robens stoves.

Have fun cooking!