My Westfalia has a two burner stove as part of its minimalist little kitchen. I like it. I like being able to pop the top, open the stove top, and be cooking lunch or dinner in a few minutes. But I took the time to experiment with a couple of other stoves. In case you are not traveling with a built in kitchen, here are some options for cooking.
The Old Standby: Two Burner Coleman camp stove
Probably the best option for open air cooking. Two burners, room to work, folds up for packing, good flame control, easy fuel availability. There are versions that run on white gas, often known as “Coleman fuel” and propane. Both fuels are easy to find. The only disadvantage is size and weight.
These come in a dazzling variety. Over the years I’ve used many. Some run on liquid fuel, some allow for different fuels, even automobile gas, some use gas canisters, others use alcohol or even wood. The advantages are supreme light weight and minimal space. In fact, for this reason I recommend everyone keep one handy for emergencies, or as a backup. I keep two for this reason, and as an experiment. The disadvantages are that flame control is usually tricky, they can be noisy, they are exposed to the wind, and can be tippy. For some models, fuel can be difficult to find. Choose a model that you like, and stock up on some fuel.
Here are some varieties:
White gas: efficient, easy to find, can be messy
Gas canisters: easy to use, good flame control, fuel not as easy to find
Alcohol: available in any hardware store, lower burn temp means longer cooking times
Wood: fuel not available at all campsites, tricky flame control
I chose an alcohol stove o experiment with, since they very light, compact, and fuel is available anywhere. The problem is that the fuel container is messy, and the flame control is poor. I also used a canister style backpacking stove that burns very hot, sorta simmers, but its fuel I’ve only found in specialty camping stores.
Both stoves did an adequate job cooking simple one pot recipes, like my Ramen Deluxe. As a backup, they’re fine. Boiling water is really all they’re good at. If you have the space, a real stove, either camping variety or the version used by Asian chefs and cooking demonstrations will be much more fun to cook on.
And don’t bother with an open fire. That’s really only for burning dead animals, and we don’t do that here. There is the possibility of wrapped foil and dutch oven cooking, but those are difficult options. Open fires are a pain, destructive, and frequently not allowed. Plus, doing this during an emergency is even more dangerous.