Our backpacking feature continues: Whether you’re boiling water for a cuppa or cooking a meal, the opportunity to have hot food and drinks can transform a backpacking trip
1) Coleman F1 Power PZ £29.99, coleman.eu
This simple and strong stove screws directly to the top of a gas tank, and the arms lock out to create a more stable platform for a pan. This means you can cook or just boil water – although we failed to match the claimed 2:30 minutes time to boil a litre of water. There’s no wind protection for the flame, but there is an automatic lighter and it does burn fiercely. At just 153g, and with its own carrying pouch, it’s weight and its price make for a very effective way to enjoy hot food and drinks when camping.
Verdict: A great price for a reliable, effective stove.
2) Primus ETA Lite + £110, primus.se
The burner, foot support and even a 100g gas cartridge pack away neatly into the aluminium pot that comes with this stove, making it easy to pack and stow. It’s exceptionally efficient, burning like a furnace as the heat exchanger amplifies the effect of the flame, for a claimed boil time of 2:45 minutes for 0.5 litres (we managed it in 3 minutes).
As a tall, narrow unit, it’s better suited to boiling water for drinks and dehydrated food rather than cooking in the base of the pot, and its height means it needs to be level for safety. The see-through lid lets you keep an eye on cooking progress and the heat resistant sleeve adds insulation with a webbing handle, although pouring is still slightly awkward.
Verdict: Probably the quickest way to boil water we’ve ever used, but less suitable for cooking.
Optimus Polaris Optifuel £185, optimusstoves.com
The USP of this stove is its ability to burn LPG gas from a standard butane/propane canister or white gas, kerosene, diesel and jet fuel from a bottle without the fiddly task of changing the needle.
While butane/propane is more than adequate for UK use (you can switch from an economy mode to winter mode by turning the canister upside down and holding it on the integrated support legs), if you find yourself on more remote expeditions the opportunity to refuel with whatever is available could be hugely useful, and more than justify its hefty price.
The chunky stove doesn’t come with a liquid fuel bottle, but it does include a self cleaning needle and a self-purging pump for switching to bottled fuels. It’s very stable, burns with a roar, has a claimed boil time of 3:40 minutes for 1 litre of water, when burning on white gas, yet proved flexible enough to simmer our pasta dinner. There’s even an effective windshield for more efficient cooking.
Verdict: The option of multi-fuel use makes this ideal for remote adventures where replacement gas canisters are unavailable.