Camping allows you to experience rugged landscapes and places of natural beauty. This contrasts significantly with the environment of conventional camping sites. The latter often provide camping places on extensive lawns adjacent to caravans and mobile homes. These traditional campsites cater very little for people who want to enjoy the wild landscape. As the world becomes more urbanised with the increased stress of life, it is not surprising many seek such wild escapism. Wild camping stoves allow the wild camper to move further from civilisation than ever before.
Camping in a wild environment is becoming ever more popular! Many new campsites are emerging in woodland settings; some even allow campfires. Many prefer to hike into secluded locations finding great places to stealth camp and practice bushcraft. Wild camping enables you to practice wilderness survival, wild cooking and bushcraft.
The ultimate wilderness camping experience
Such activities include living in the wild, trekking to exciting places, and cooking and preparing food. Meal time is always a special event when in the wilderness. Wilderness cooking usually requires campfires or appropriate wild camping stoves.
These can vary greatly depending on the type of wild camping you will do. You may be more interested in bushcraft activities, meaning you will utilise ways to cook with fire. Most wild camping expeditions rely on portable, lightweight, packable types of stoves. These can include various fuel types, and materials, with varying shapes and sizes. Generally, wild camping involves camping in two main wild camping locations types woodland or exposed mountainous areas.
Wild camping in the Mountains
Mountainous areas can create great opportunities to enjoy fantastic views and escape modern infrastructure. As perfect places for hiking and mountaineering expeditions, these are exceptional locations to enjoy wild camping. Mountainous areas and extensive moors can be unsettled and windy. This usually means wild camping stoves have to be able to provide enough heat in such conditions. This usually means stoves that burn compressed gas are helpful for these environments.
Wild camping in woodlands
Wild camping in forested environments provides a truly primaeval, fantastic experience. Before man cleared the great forests, most landscapes, even in lowland areas, would have been forested. Woodlands are rich in timber, catering to bushcraft activities and wild camping fires. Their rich array of plant and fungi life makes them perfect for foraging wild foods.
Numerous wildlife, including birds, reptiles and mammals, means there are good opportunities for wildlife watching. Woodlands are abundant in woody materials, perfect for small sticks and wood-burning wild camping stoves.
Wild camping stoves
Camping stoves come in various sizes, shapes and fuel sources. Which wild camping stove is best for you will depend on what kind of environment you are camping in. It will also depend on how heavy you wish your kit to be if you cover large distances or climb mountains.
Wild camping stove solutions are so varied that we have broken down the types below. We have also included other equipment to enhance the potential of campfires for cooking and boiling water.
Types of camping stove
Butane & Propane
These are a mixture of petroleum gasses which are used extensively in many types of camping stoves. These are highly desirable for camping as they are lightweight and easily portable. These gases are usually compressed and come in metal cartridges with a valve on the top. A widespread example of these types of stoves is the Canister top stove. These are simply foldable hob that plugs straight into the top of the canister.
These may be lightweight and easy to use, but they are usually unstable and problematic on uneven terrain. These have the advantage of being compressed, which is powerful enough to cook in windy weather. Due to their vertical nature, a metal cylinder can be around the stove to protect it from windy conditions.
Both stoves are suitable for cold conditions, but propane is better if it is below zero. This results in these stoves being best for exposed, mountainous environments. We have listed some good examples of these wild camping stoves below.
Jetboil Gas Camping Stove
Multi-use liquid stoves.
These can be used with various fuels, including Paraffin, Kerosene, Petrol, Gasoline and Diesel. This gives you a much wider variety of which fuels to take on your wild camping adventure. This can diversify what temperatures and conditions you can use them in and adjust your fuel to what is most effective. These stoves are certainly more versatile in the fuel you can use.
This means that they can burn fuels more effectively in sub-zero temperatures. These stoves are usually bulkier and heavier but studier than the gas canister wild camping stoves. This means you can cook with larger food and water vessels than with gas stoves. We have left some good examples of these stoves below.
Primus Multi Fuel Camping Stove
MSR Multifuel Expedition
Hexi stoves are small, lightweight military-grade camping stoves which are extremely quick and easy to use. These stoves contain a metal shell that folds open, allowing you to rest mess tins or kettles on top. An elevated underside lets you burn the fuel in tablet form.
Hexi stove tablets burn slowly and hot, allowing you to quickly boil water. The primary letdown with these stoves is they are less effective in windy conditions. However, they are an excellent option for a lightweight and small packing way of cooking rations.
Folding Hexi Stove
Esbit Hexi Stove
These are handy and lightweight, and these wild camping stoves that can pack down to virtually nothing. Burning small sticks is effective as thinner, woody materials burn much brighter and hotter than bulkier woody materials. The resourcefulness of these stoves means you can find a burnable fuel source pretty much anywhere.
This assumes trees and shrubs can be sparse in certain regions such as bogland, mountainous areas, or just even finding dry fuel. It is also essential to remember that these stoves take poorly to very windy conditions. Strong winds force the flames out of the sides, burning your fuel away too quickly before it can focus on any heat.
Another disadvantage with these is if the conditions are wet. Small sticks absorb water quickly and become too wet to burn in some environments. Sometimes it is best to use resinous pine sticks and cones with flammable natural resins to combat wet conditions.
Lixada Stick Burning Stove
Lixada Circular Stick Burning Stove
Wood burning stoves
Wood-burning and rocket stoves are the following levels up from their stick-burning cousins. These can burn more material and generate more heat. These stoves can charge your mobile phone using a heat energy USB port. These larger wood-burning stoves can become a problem when wild camping due to their size and weight. If trekking for miles off the beaten track, these are not as effective as conventional fantastic camping stoves.
Some of these wood-burning stoves are becoming popular for use within larger canvas tents due to having a chimney system. These more sedentary wood burners can be used for more stationary ‘base camp-type wild camping. They come with a packable frame and slotting chimney system, which can poke out of a sealed outlet at the top of the camp. This can create a hot camping environment! This is ideal for boating to wild shorelines or driving closer to fantastic camping locations.
Winnerwell Nomad wood-burning stove
Biolite USB charging wood stove
Biolite Basecamp stove
Starting a fire is usually a simple process. Most prefer to simply take a lighter to get the job done. When wild camping, however, it is always advisable to have some other options to hand. Many wild campers are interested in survival and like learning alternative ways to catch a flame. In very wet conditions, your matches and lighters do not work, causing a bit of a dilemma. For this reason, using fire steel is at least a good idea.
These are sticks of material which can easily cause a cascade of sparks when struck against metal material. You will have to collect fluffy, natural material such as wild clematis seeds or seeds of Typha reed. These take a spark very well; once you have a flame, you can quickly pile on small sticks to create a fire. Pine resin and scraped birch bark can be frayed to catch a spark with fire steel in wet conditions.
Alternatively, if you are a real bushcraft expert, you can learn how to make fire with a bow drill. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors have made the fire this way for thousands of years. This is a challenging skill to develop, but it could save your life in a survival situation. You can now buy pre-made bow drills with notched timber to practice this ancient skill. These can be found on Amazon here.
Waterproof camping lighter
Nobody can deny a campfire can make a wild camping trip a real treat for the senses. Our ancestors have peered into the dancing flames of campfires at night for thousands of years. Fire enabled us to move into colder climates and repelled wild animals from trying to hunt us. Campfires can make any freezing night comfortable and warm for whoever camps nearby. As great as campfires are, staying within your local laws is essential if you plan on having a campfire.
During the summer, there is a real risk of causing a wildfire. These can damage property and a loss of life and should be taken very seriously. Beware that some ground types, such as peat, can catch fire. Campfires in pine forests can also spread underground as roots and soft debris can be flammable in these locations. Always know what you are doing when having a fire, and if you need to have one, follow some simple rules.
Try to use a metal fire pit where possible. This will prevent a fire from spreading and stop the fire from touching the ground. If you have a fire on the floor, dig out a deep bowl in the ground and pile up loose earth around the outside. This will allow you to smother the fire when you’re finished. Always clear loose, combustible material from the surrounding ground to a minimum distance of 2 metres.
Avoid pitching a tent within two metres of a campsite, and never pitch a tent downwind of the fire. Given that you have permission and not camping in a very hot, dry location, you are safe to proceed. Follow these rules, and you should always be OK with your campfire.
Campfire grills can go over the top of a campfire to make a barbecue or mimic the function of a wild camping stove. These can be constructed of barbecue grills suspended over the fire pit, or you can buy a fold-out camping grill. I use a lightweight, small camping grill I will link to on Amazon here. This packs down easily and is excellent for steaks straight over the fire.
This folding campfire grill is the perfect size for the average small campfire. Sometimes I take two of these to a camping location with pre-skewered Greek-style kebabs. I set up a grill at each end and rest the skewers across them. This can be a very effective way to utilise a campfire for cooking. These grills also allow you to boil water over the fire and heat rations in a saucepan.
Lightweight Campfire grill
Campfire tripods are a rather exciting and medieval-themed idea for the campfire. These are far from the conventional wild camping stove concept but just as effective. Many of these come with hanging hooks of varying attachments that can be lowered and raised.
The most common are a cast iron saucepan or Cauldron and the hanging grill. The hanging grills of these tripods are usually thicker than barbecues, making them much easier to clean. At the end of cooking meats, fresh sticks can be added to the coals. This allows flames to burn off any remaining fat making it easy to clean for the next time you use them.
The hanging cauldrons are an extremely theatrical way to cook while by the campfire. Ingredients can be pre-packed with sauce mixes and added to the pan allowing it to stew for a couple of hours. Stews and curries are great for these and are an inspiring way to cook during wild camping trips. There are an increasing number of these available online. I will link to my favourite on Amazon here.
Fire Tripod with grill pan
Campfire tripod with Cauldron
Thank you for reading our article on wild camping stoves. Did it help you with your search? If so, why not share it with others you think will be helpful? If you want more information about general wild camping equipment, check out our article here.