Most campers consider gas to be the most convenient fuel to use for cooking when camping but how many people just buy a stove, hose, regulator and gas without understanding or considering the factors that dictate choice, enhance convenience and safe use? Our brief guide may give you some food for thought.
Above: Camping demands a hearty breakfast – and gas is provides a convenient fuel for cooking (image: Charlie Gill)
Outwell gas stoves use top materials to ensure a long life working in the outdoor environment. Although not operating at the same high temperatures as your stove at home the burners are made from stainless steel to prevent damage and rust. Stable, easy to use and clean, the stoves make the ideal platforms from which to cook up a tasty meal. But are you making the best of them − or even think about maintenance or the fuel that you burn? Outdoor cooking goes beyond recipes – it pays to understand the tools that you use. Even a basic knowledge will help you get the best from your gear and improve the camping experience. Read on…
Campers have the choice of propane or butane without modifying our stoves. Propane (normally supplied in a red cylinder in the UK) operates at a higher pressure and requires a different regulator to suit. It has a low boiling point and can be used in temperatures down to -43°C – ideal for winter camping. Butane (normally supplied in a blue cylinder in the UK) begins to freeze at about 3°C so is less efficient in cold weather. However, it burns cleaner and you get slightly more for your bucks. You rent your cylinders and then just purchase the refill via a cylinder exchange when empty. Prices vary greatly between suppliers so check them out carefully – especially if travelling abroad.
Tip: Some cylinders have a gauge showing what’s left in a cylinder or you can take the empty (tare) weight from the cylinder and convert from pounds to kilograms by multiplying by 0.453592. Place on some bathroom scales to get its total weight and deduct the empty cylinder weight to give you how much gas you have left against the fill weight.
There is no universal regulator and you have to match your regulator with the gas type and gas supplier. Some regulators simply clip on to the cylinder. Others screw on. Calor Gas requires a gas spanner to connect its regulator – using a counter-clockwise twist to prevent you accidently undoing the connection.
Every country has its own gas suppliers and few are compatible with each other which means that you may have to rent a new cylinder and buy a suitable regulator to match if you run out of gas while camping abroad. Either take a spare cylinder or use Campingaz (CGI) that is readily available throughout most of Europe. Adaptors are available to convert regulators when abroad but check requirements before leaving home.
Use the correct hose – those manufactured in the UK are stamped with the British Standard 3212 (pictured here). For Europe check with your local gas supplier as each country have individual standards. Ensure you have ample hose to connect cylinder to stove without placing stress on joints or pulling the stove from the work surface. The hose is normally pushed onto the regulator and stove, being kept in place with jubilee clips. If you find it hard to push on heat the hose ends by immersing them in hot water to make them supple. Once connected smear the joints with washing-up liquid and turn on the gas – bubbles will show up any leaks if your sense of smell does not pick up the pungent smell of the chemical added for this purpose. Regularly inspect the hose for signs of wear and tear and replace at least every three years from the date of manufacture that you’ll find stamped on the hose. Hoses manufactured in Europe are stamped with the replacement date.
Synthetic tent fabrics are even more susceptible to damage than cotton and modern tent designs that feature sewn-in groundsheets cut down on ventilation. These factors make it highly suspect to use of any sort of fuel-burning stove in a tent. Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning are real risks… It is wise to cook outside using an extension, tarp or separate cook tent in inclement weather. A good, stable kitchen unit will keep the work surface at the correct height for comfort and safety.
Inspect hose and stove regularly for signs of wear, damage or loose connections. Clean your stove before storage and wipe down with light oil, like WD40, to keep rust at bay. Store your gas cylinder upright and dry in an out building, or under cover, away from any heat source. Use the supplied cap to keep the outlet valve clean and free from dirt.
Camping Equipment - Gas by Camping and Caravanning Club: http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/gettingstarted/campingequipment/gas/