I love outdoor gear and gadgets. I love kit that makes my outdoor experience more enjoyable and life easier when I am in the bush. I especially like gear and gadgets that don’t take up much space yet perform like their larger counterparts. I recently tested two backpackers stoves to see how they perform. In the past, I usually brought a full burner size stove that operated from butane, but like all kayak campers, I am always looking for ways to save space on my boat without giving up performance.
There are a lot of great camping/ backpacker stoves on the market and if you want to, you can spend a lot of money on one, but do you really have too. If you spend a lot of time in the wilderness in extreme environments and your stove is going to get excessive use, purchasing a high end model may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you are like most people, you only camp once per month usually in ideal weather and environments, your stove is not going to get that much use so do you really need to make a huge investment in a camping stove? Are there cheaper alternatives that will do the job and not leave you wanting or disappointed?
I found two camping stoves, both at a price point of under $15.00 and tested them out to see how they would perform under the normal circumstances that I would use them.
Coleman Peak 1:
At only 6.7 Oz. the Coleman is light weight and compact. In the box it only measures 4.5 x 4 x 2.5 inches. It produces 10,000 BTU’s of heat and comes with a three year warranty. The cooking surface of the stove measures at just over 5 inches in diameter which compared to many stoves of this type, is large and will accommodate a fairly large pot. Coleman also claims it will boil 1 liter of water in 3.25 minutes. To test this claim, I filled a cooking pot with 1 quart of water and timed how long it would take for the water to come to a rolling boil. I admit, my testing method was not the most scientific because I used tap water, did this test indoors and timed it with a stop watch, but I think it was scientific enough. At max setting and using Coleman’s Butane/ Propane mix fuel
the Peak 1 brought water to a rolling boil in 4 minutes and 27 seconds at 8 feet above sea level. Not as good as what Coleman claims but then again Coleman’s claim my be based upon when the water reached 212 degrees F and I waited until it reached a rolling boil which is a higher temperature. So all in all, I think it performed OK.
The next test I gave it was in the field. I used it to cook jambalaya in a two quart cast iron dutch oven. Thanks to the 5 inch diameter cooking surface, the Dutch Oven fit perfectly and the stove handled the weight just fine. While cooking, there was a breeze according to weather.com of about 7-10 mph. The Coleman performed flawlessly. It did not seem to be affected by the wind and almost overheated the pot.
For occasional use, the Peak 1 is a simple stove that will perform as you need it to. For one to two people, it should get the job done. The larger cooking area is nice so you don’t feel like you have to keep your hand on the pot at all times. It would be better if it came with an ignition system. Long term durability as of yet has not been determined, but if it is like any of my other Coleman gear, it should be good.
Foxelli Camping Stove:
The first thing you will notice about the Foxelli is how small it is. It fits in a case that measures 3 x 2 x 1.5 inches.
It’s so small, it can fit in your pocket. At a weight of a miniscule 3.9 oz, this stove is light and does not take up much space. Foxelli does not give it a BTU rating. It’s cooking surface measures 3.5 inches in diameter and the entire stove collapses to fit into its small case. It has a Piezo ignition system that Foxelli claims will light under any condition and Foxelli claims it will boil water in only 3 minutes, but they omitted the volume of water so that claim is a little misleading. Foxelli also offers a 120 day no questions asked money back guarantee with a 3 year warranty for defects.
I tested the Foxelli under the same conditions as the Coleman with the same amount of water, same pot and same fuel source. The Foxelli brought 1 qt. of water to a rolling boil in 3 minutes 42 seconds. Not bad at all.
In the field, I initially tried to use the 2 Qt. Dutch Oven on this stove. Though it could handle the weight, the smaller cooking surface did not keep the pot supported that well. I felt like I had to keep my hand on the pot at all times to keep it from slipping off. On the other hand, it was the perfect size for my French Press coffee maker and though the wind did affect the flame a little, it performed very well. The ignition system was a nice plus because it eliminates the need for matches or a lighter. Like the Coleman, long term durability has not been determined but so far, the Foxelli has performed perfectly.
This is a great little stove for someone who is either a minimalist or just wants to save space. You are limited on pot size by the small cooking area but for one or two people, it is more than adequate. I like the ignition system and really like the fact that the stove collapses into that tiny case and is easy to store.
Both of these stoves are inexpensive and are designed for the recreational camper/ backpacker who wants to get out every now and then and not dump a ton of money into gear. This is a good thing. Would I take these two stoves on an overnight or 2-4 night trip? Absolutely. Would I take them on an extended multi week trip, right now I don’t know because their long term durability has not been demonstrated as of yet. Time will tell. If you are looking for an inexpensive camp stove for backpacking or paddle camping, I do recommend these as good choices for short trips because so far they have performed as I have needed them too. As I use them more and more, I will update this article and report on long term use.
Find your headwaters,