Outdoor cooking

Outdoor cooking is part of outdoor life, such as camping, hiking or cruising on small craft.


For outdoor cooking open fire and many types of portable stoves can be used. The main issues for travellers, beside ease of cooking, are weight and availability of the right type of fuel.

At high altitudes and in cold climates, there is the additional issue about the fuel behaviour in such circumstances: it might not vaporise as expected and thus (or otherwise) not give enough heat.

Cooking with a Trangia camping stove, which can use gas or alcohol as fuel.

Fuel types

There are many types of fuel such as:

Multifuel stoves can use several different fuels, often by changing some parts. They may be confined to an assortment provided by the vendor, check the specifications.

The fuel types typically used differ from region to region, and similar products available for other uses may be less suitable for portable stoves because of additives. This is especially a problem for the liquid petrochemical fuels. Also alcohol for this purpose is hard to get in some regions. Fuels provided by the stove vendor are mostly unavailable unless the stove is common at the destination.

For gas, the worst problem is often getting the right container. As there must not be any leaks, you should use matching connectors or good adapters.

Wood or fuels derived from only mechanically processed wood (i.e. cut or pressed together) is available almost globally, but rather bulky and not a good way to store fuel if space and/or weight are critical and you can't re-stock for a long time (e.g. when on a boat or in remote, barren areas such as a desert)


The same fuel may have different names in different countries. Not only does American and British English differ, but trademarks or other secondary names are often used.

Get in

As most fuels are flammable, taking them on planes, boats, trains and buses is often restricted. Thus being able to use a locally available fuel is a huge benefit. If this is not possible or you need to carry a moderate amount (e.g. to get to a destination without good shopping possibilities), you should check the relevant regulations. Also if travelling with firewood in your vehicle, check regional laws as transporting it over borders is often illegal. Carrying "suspicious" amounts of some flammable materials (however the authorities in charge choose to define that) may also get you selected for intensive questioning or worse in some countries or when travelling in some sensitive areas.


Depending on country and fuel type, fuel may be available e.g. at car fuelling stations, marinas, outdoor shops or countryside grocery stores.

The locally preferred fuel (especially in countries with scruffy or no rural electrification) may often be available even in very out of the way places, at sometimes steeply discounted or very cheap (on a global scale at least) prices. Some research as to whether gas, wood or some other type is usually used and what the common "packaging" is, can go a long way in lowering your spending and raising your chance of finding fuel everywhere you go.

Larger gas cylinders are often with a deposit charge: first purchase is more expensive, but after that you usually swap an empty cylinder for a full one, only paying for the content.


The light portable stoves are best suited for soups and stews. You have no oven (although you can construct substitutes) and the frying pan is not as good as at home.

Wilderness guidebooks often provide a rich selection of delicacies to cook by open fire, including special techniques for baking bread and broiling fish. Some food is regularly prepared at an open fire even by casual campers.

Stay safe

The fuels are flammable (duh) and some very toxic.

If using open fire you should always be very careful, both not to cause burning particles to fly away and to extinguish the fire reliably. Have enough water in reach. Also note that most modern outdoor clothes are vulnerable to sparks and fire.

An old scout tradition after extinguishing an open (wood) fire is to leave two small green branches on the site of the fire to prove any fire that might break out in that area wasn't caused by you. Waiting an hour or two after you put out the fire to make sure no smoldering ember remains is a good idea in any case.

In dry or windy conditions the stoves can also cause wildfires.

Keep food safe from pests, such as insects. Preferrably, each foodstuff should be packaged individually. Food can also attract dangerous animals such as bears.


See also

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.