Outdoor cookery doesn’t always have to involve squatting over a backpacking stove precariously balanced atop a rock perch. While preparing quality meals in the backcountry is certainly an art unto itself, when it comes to park-and-pitch excursions, base camp, or just day trips to the state park, there is no reason to deprive yourself of the trappings of a master chef. Take these factors into account when shopping for your ultimate outdoor kitchen.
Freestanding vs. Carry Case
If you want to conserve space, think about opting for a camp stove that folds into its own portable case, usually with two burners and collapsible windscreens. They are perfect for tailgating, park benches, or wherever you are likely to have a stable cooking surface. But if you have more room and don’t want to worry about how to support your stove at each new location, look into a camp stove with built-in legs. Just fold ’em out, light the burner, and start stirring your roux!
Camp stoves are rated like most other heat sources, in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The more BTUs, the faster you’ll bring those potatoes to a boil. Single-burner butane stoves kicking off about 7,000 BTUs are on the low end but perfect for quick dishes in confined spaces. On the high end, freestanding double burners fed with bottled propane will cook anything you want to whip up as fast as the gas range at home, which is ideal for a fish fry with a side of hush puppies.
For true outdoor culinarians, there are options for combination stoves with an oven or grill. The stove burners may be on the lower side of the BTU scale, but the ability to whip up a batch of scratch biscuits with your eggs and bacon or grill a salmon steak right alongside the pasta noodles make these units the most versatile type of camp cook stations.