The activity of camping can mean a heightened appetite, making cooking an important part of the camping experience. Although gourmet cooking is probably not an option, the versatility of camping cookers means it can be simple to whip up a satisfying meal in a few minutes.
There is a large range of camping cookers available on eBay, with their varieties making it difficult to choose the perfect one for your camping trip. This guide will serve to explain some of the aspects of cooking at camp, including how to replace the heat adapter for the camping cooker, which is an important aspect of camping.
What Are Camping Cookers?
A camping cooker is a specially designed, lightweight, small, portable cooker for use during camping, picnicking, backpacking, long hiking trips and outdoor food preparation. It is synonymous with ‘camping stove’ and both can be used to find camping cookers on eBay, with some sellers preferring ‘stove’ to ‘cooker’.
There are two primary types of camping cookers available, categorised by the types of fuel they burn: the traditional liquid or solid fuel cooker which is unpressurised and uses solid or liquid fuel placed in the burner before ignition, and the canister cooker which uses pre-filled bottled gas in a canister.
Traditional fuel cookers use fuels such as white gas (Coleman fuel), alcohol gel, ‘hex’ blocks, methanol and unleaded gas, whilst canister cookers usually use Coleman fuel, unleaded petrol, paraffin, propane or butane gas, or a mixture of the two which works better at lower temperatures than pure propane gas.
Traditional Fuel Cooker
Solid fuel cookers are cheap to run, very safe and easy to use, with little maintenance needed, and no chance of the fuel spilling or leaking during transport. However, it tends to be inefficient, burns quite slowly, the user cannot control the heat output, and it is not widely available. Although it is cheap, it should be ideally be used occasionally.
Liquid fuel cookers require very little maintenance, are relatively safe, and are easy and convenient to use, as the stove and the pan are already combined. However, it tends to be slow, inefficient, can be difficult to buy in some places, and the fuel can leak easily.
Pressurised liquid fuels are fast, efficient and cheap to run, with the fuel relatively widely available. However, the stove requires priming (warming up the liquid fuel so it vaporises and ignites) and regular cleaning, whilst the fuel can be dirty, smelly and can leak and flare up while cooking. It is a powerful stove and is cheaper to run than gas cookers and is good for longer trips and expeditions.
Pressurised gas fuels are very efficient and convenient and easy to use and clean, and are fairly lightweight, but they are relatively expensive, with the fuel canisters only available in developed countries. Therefore it is better for shorter trips.
Pressurised burner cookers known as ‘multi-fuel cookers’ are also available, and can burn multiple fuels or volatile liquids with little or no modification. In addition, only the ‘jets’ need to be changed, according to the type of fuel being used. Fuels include alcohol, gasoline or other motor fuel, kerosene, jet propellant, propane and others. There is a wide variety of designs and models of camping cookers available on eBay, with each type of cooker being more suited for certain types of camping, and the budgets and size preferences of the user than others.
Types of Camping Cookers
Having already discussed some of the main differences between stoves, below is more detailed information about the types of camping cookers available on eBay:
- Canister Cookers: Canister cookers are easier to use and quicker to assemble than traditional fuel cookers. Once the fuel canister has been expended, it cannot be refilled and has to be disposed of responsibly. A fuel canister gives limited cooking time, perhaps 10 cooking cycles from a 4 ounce bottle. It is good for the occasional camping trip, as it will work well for a night or two.
- Liquid Fuel Cookers: significantly more cooking time than canister cookers, with MSR models allowing for a variety of sizes of fuel bottles to be attached using an adaptor. Liquid fuel cookers: need to be ‘primed’ by pumping a small handle in order to pressurise the stove, which can take a few minutes and be difficult to master. They are easily maintained, the fuel bottles once empty can be filled with Coleman fuel and unleaded gas, which is widely available, reducing the cost of ownership significantly compared to canister stoves.
- Family Camping Cookers:Family camping cookers use butane or propane gas, and can vary in size, from small folding cookers that operate from a small gas cartridge with one single ring to double ring and grill units which use larger refillable gas canisters. They can come with a versatile range of different pans, plates and attachments, but are not very portable, with the gas bottle being the largest component.
Propane and butane are easy to source and reasonably priced, with butane burning slightly hotter than propane during the summer, and being quicker to boil water, whilst propane works better at lower temperatures. Dual Coleman Fuel/Petroleum can be used in extreme conditions, is safer and cleaner, and is more widely available than butane or propane, even in less developed countries.
- Small Gas Burner Cookers: Small gas burner cookersare quite lightweight and portable. They use gas cylinders, which decreases in efficiency as the gas is used up. It is easy to use with minimal maintenance, is cheap and economical, but needs a wind shield for windy conditions. Lanterns and heaters can be used with the same cartridges.
- Lightweight Cookers: If portability after arrival at the camp is not an issue, a large gas ring cooker operating from self-sealing cartridges is a good choice, as they are easy to use with a large stable ring top, and there are attachments available to convert the cooking surface into a grill top or heater. Lightweight cookers are versatile, economical, small and lightweight.
Lighter weight and more space-saving traditional cartridge cookers have a burner that sits atop the cartridge, which is either a screw-on or a piercing cartridge, and is compact. It needs a stable flat surface to rest on, but is easy to use, requires minimal maintenance and can last for years. Best used with specific camping pans that are lightweight and compact.
- Methylated Spirit Cookers: Methylated spirit cookers are slightly lightweight, portable and compact, it uses a pot that is carried within a nested pan set. The spirit is poured into the burner and lit and is less explosive than gas or petroleum and burns at a lower temperature, which can slow cooking time. It is a safe fuel to use and handle.
- Petroleum Cookers: Whilst the fuel is available worldwide, use of Coleman fuel is recommended for Petroleum cookers, as it provides cleaner burning, evaporates quickly if spilt, provides a strong heat, is cheaper to use due to its rapid heating, and performs well in most weather conditions, including cold, windy or in a high-altitude. Unleaded petrol can be used if Coleman fuel is unavailable, as it does not burn as cleanly and spills fuel easily. Cooker and fuel lines must be cleaned regularly as unused petrol can gum up the fuel lines.
What Is a Heat Adapter?
The heat adapter on a camping cooker is used to connect the stove to the gas canisters that are used for fuel. In general terms, it is simply a device that connects pieces of equipment that cannot be connected directly.
There are a variety of heat adapters available on eBay with both ‘adapter’ and ‘adaptor’ used by sellers to mean the same thing. They tend to work best with oil-based fuels like kerosene, but can be used with all fuel cylinders. Adapters come in a range of styles, some of which will be listed below:
- Some adapters, when connected to a camping cylinder, create two appliance connections that are individually controlled by valves, allowing for both a camping stove and a camping lantern to be powered using the same fuel cylinder for better efficiency and cost.
- Adapters also allow the user to use cheaper fuel canisters to run a stove that usually uses a more expensive type of fuel. It can save up to 50% on fuel costs, and is fairly easy to put on and take off, allowing the rapid switching between fuels.
- Some adapters can be used on a burner cooker to attach a tripod to it, making the burner sit more stably on the ground. Some are also capable of holding a windshield, which can be important for some types of burners. Most adapters can be used with a wide range of screw-on and puncture-style cartridges.
- Some adapters are used to convert POL cylinder valves to camping stove-compatible valves. POL stands for Prest-o-lite, and is the most common type of cylinder valve, using compressed gas. It is usually used to refill smaller cylinders.
- Some adapters have an extension allowing for other appliances, such as a lantern to be used with the fuel cylinder for better efficiency.
With the wide range of camping cookers available on eBay, and the knowledge of the kinds of camping cookers that are better for your personal and camping preferences, buying camping cookers on eBay can be an easier task than you may have first thought.
Armed with a great camping cooker, and the knowledge of how it works, and how to replace its heat adapter, cooking while camping can become an activity that is increasingly more looked forward to than the eating itself.