Stoves beef up on size to feed larger groups

Camping stoves are aiming to rekindle a flame with consumers, and not simply by becoming smaller and lighter. With today’s values of economy, environmental integrity and do-it-all functionality, it’s not just about size any more.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

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Camping stoves are aiming to rekindle a flame with consumers, and not simply by becoming smaller and lighter. With today’s values of economy, environmental integrity and do-it-all functionality, it’s not just about size any more.

And sometimes bigger is better, especially as more families gravitate outdoors. It’s not only the size of the stove, but also its ability to handle the big job of feeding a group of campers.

Customers might feel they’ve brought their home grill to camp with the new Primus Firehole 300 (MSRP $295). The propane double burner is armed with an on-board light, cook timer, recessed control knobs, a magnetically attached utensil set, battery-operated Piezoelectric starter, side windscreens that can be used as prep surfaces and enough BTUs to boil a liter of water in about three minutes. The more portable Primus Power Cook (MSRP $55), on the other hand, is 14.5 lbs lighter, has fewer bells and whistles, but still metes out enough power and four-prong support to accommodate larger pots.

A backcountry stove’s weight is almost all in its canisters, so manufacturers are looking to alternative fuel sources to go bigger. Take the Biolite USB charging Camp Stove (MSRP $129, photo, right), which comes in at a hefty 33 ounces, goes old school by substituting kindling for fuel, then takes a modern turn by converting its heat into USB charging power. With no canisters necessary, or separate charging device, customers won’t mind bringing the grill attachment to cook four burgers at once.

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The Optimus Vega Stove (MSRP $95) is one of the most versatile remote canister stoves entering the market. The lightweight Vega not only burns upright or inverted, but also supports large pots and bake ovens. Then there’s the MSR Reactor 2.5L Stove System (MSRP $200, photo, left). In the past, customers had to buy a larger pot separately. Now, demand has made the interest in large-capacity cooking less of an afterthought. A similar story comes from Jetboil, which introduced its 1.8-liter Sumo Companion Cooking Cup at Winter Market to complement the standard burner base. This summer, the Cup comes with its own integrated system — no more buying two stoves. The Sumo Group Cooking System (MSRP $130) comes with a burner, gas canister, cooking ring for fry pans and that big cup to make enough coffee for four bleary-eyed campers.

--Jill Adler

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