When you’re out camping, you have two choices when it comes to your meal: cook over the open flame, or power up your camping stove. Choose wisely.
Campfires are a staple when it comes to camping. They provide light when the night rolls in and s’mores when you need to satiate your sweet tooth. More importantly, if it’s cold, campfires keep your campsite warm before you retire to your tent.
So why not ditch the camping stove and cook hotdogs over the campfire? While that’s feasible in some places during certain times a year, it’s not always the best idea.
Camping Stoves or Campfires?
We get the desire of cooking over an open fire–your food is perfectly charred and has that earthy taste. It’s easy if you already have a fire going, and it’s fun to do with other people gathered around campfire. However, fire isn’t always welcome or safe in the woods, which is why your best bet is to always pack a camping stove.
The Down Sides of Cooking Over a Campfire
Depending on the time of year and climate, many national, state-run, and local parks and forests have strict campfire restrictions. When the air is dry and the ground is brittle, there can be a high risk for wildfire ignition with a negligible campfire spark. That damage can ruin a whole wilderness area, risk lives, and cost millions of dollars in restoration.
Additionally, campfires aren’t always the most reliable source for heat. If your tinder is wet or it begins to rain, lighting a campfire might not be an option for you. So if you didn’t bring a camping stove, chances are you will go hungry into the night. That situation is both uncomfortable and could be dangerous–depending on how far away you are from the trailhead.
When you set out into the backcountry, you should abide by Leave No Trace’s ethos, and leave the outdoors better than you found it. It is almost impossible to leave no trace when you light a campfire. The fire often damages the ground soil, and even if you try to cover it up, you can still see the remnants of the campfire.
The Benefits of a Camping Stove
Camping stoves are convenient for any type of overnight stay in the woods. There are a variety of backpacking stoves that are lightweight and durable if you are worried about space in your pack. With camping stoves for car camping, there are lots of two-burner stoves that are easy to use and can cook a lot of food for a big group.
Camping stoves are allowed where campfires might not be since the risk of a fire spreading is much lower. Camp stoves also have very little impact on the environment and enable you to leave no trace as you explore the backcountry.
We get it, campfires are warm, fun, and inviting–they’re one of the best parts of camping. Just be sure to bring your camping stove in the event you can’t have a campfire or as a backup mechanism to get dinner on the camp table.