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Camping Stoves

We would like to compile a list of top tips for keeping camping stoves running smoothly whilst touring. We have had a number of issues with our stoves and have only managed to find solutions to a few of the problems. So we hope the list will help us and others. Every stove will have its own pros and cons, we learn to live with the cons, usually because of some amazing advantage the stove gives us or we can’t afford anything else. We will compile a list of the 10 most used stoves by cycle tourers, (based on the response to this post) along with tips and reviews for each stove.

If you have some top tips and a review you wish to share, then please email hello@bikeabout.co.uk.

It would be great if you could include information like the type of fuel used, size of fuel bottle, how much you have used the stove (this is more accurate than how long you have owned it), ease of cleaning, manufacture repair experience, field maintenance etc.

These are the stoves we use and our experiences that prompted this article.


MSR Whisperlite

We have used this stove four times a week for about 5 months. It boils fast, it’s light and runs lots of different fuels. We use the 30 fl. oz / .887 ltr MSR fuel bottles. We have only used petrol with the stove. We find that the stove gets very dirty under the burner head, this is due to the priming process. When the stove is priming the flame is a dirty yellow coming from the priming cup below, as the stove heats up it the flame becomes blue. The blue flame will clean the top of the burner head but not the underneath, the result is you get black fingers when you pack the stove away. We have not found a solution to this problem whilst running petrol through the stove. Our plan is to run some white gas through the stove to see if this helps.

Downsides: Burns food and pans easily as no way to control flame; dirty/sooty to handle when using petrol
Good Points: Very quiet, more sociable stove; boils water very fast

MSR Dragonfly

We have had this stove for about 9 years and used it at least once a week, as well as a total of about 8 months on different trips of every day use. We use the 30 fl. oz / .887 ltr MSR fuel bottles. Have used petrol, Coleman camping fuel and paraffin. We have found that after prolonged use with just petrol the stove stops working as well when there is about1\3 fuel left in the bottle, despite the fuel bottle being pressurized. In that past 500ml of Coleman camping fuel (white gas) run through the stove and a good clean have enabled us to go back to using petrol. We do not know of a cheaper, more readily available alternative to Coleman fuel or a different cleaning process.

Downsides: Noisy stove, bit anti-social; when using only petrol for long periods pressure is reduced once fuel bottle is only a 1/3 full.
Good Points: Variable flame, allowing you to simmer; clean to handle after each use even with petrol.

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