I’ve used a variety of backpacking stoves for camp-cruising, and for the past 15 years I’ve happily settled on portable gas stoves that use butane cartridges. When I discovered the much more compact GS-800P Mini Camp Stove from Gas One, which uses both butane and propane, I had to have one. I liked the idea of being able to use my favorite kind of stove with the propane cylinders I seem to accumulate for soldering torches. My son, who has taken to camp-cruising, also uses propane cylinders on his galley stove and grill for cooking meals onboard.
The Mini Camp Stove’s steel frame is coated with white enamel, which didn’t burn or blister when I held a lighter’s flame to it. The rest of the body is plated steel. Some retailers list the stove as having stainless-steel construction, but all of the body parts were strongly magnetic. Only the four pot supports and the burner parts proved non-ferrous.
The butane fuel canister fits into the compartment to the right of the Mini’s stovetop and is shielded from the heat by a hinged cover. A lever on the front engages the canister to allow the flow of fuel. A dial regulates the fuel and, turned fully counterclockwise, it clicks a piezo ignitor, creating a bright blue spark at the burner to ignite the gas. To use propane, first connect the Mini’s hose to the stove and then to the canister—the hose fittings don’t have a valve, so don’t connect the canister first.
The stove has a guard surrounding the burner head to prevent a gust wind from extinguishing the flame, but to get the best out of the stove, I bought a folding windscreen to surround the stove and the cookpot. The stove is supported by rubber and plastic feet that elevate the steel body ½”, and whatever I set the stove on got only warm to the touch.
I did trials to see how the Mini compared to my familiar stoves. With the air temperature at 46 degrees Fahrenheit and the water from the tap at 52 degrees, I used my 7″ camping saucepan, uncovered, to bring 2 cups water (500 ml) to a rolling boil. The Mini brought the water to a boil in 3:35 (minutes:seconds) when fueled by butane and 5:20 by propane. The packaging gives the stove’s output as 7,172 BTU/hour for both fuels, but it seems the butane provides more heat. My old portable butane stove, rated 9,500 BTUs, boiled water in 3:40, so the Mini is almost as effective. My son’s propane bottle-top stove, rated at 10,000 BTUs, brought the water to a boil in 3:10; even judging by the sound, it delivers fuel at a higher rate than the Mini. The 6″ burner on my 220-volt range in my home kitchen boiled the 2 cups in 3:45 from a cold start, and in 2:30 when started on a hot burner.
Butane canisters cool as they’re used, a function of expanding gas, and the pressure drops, so the Mini didn’t burn as hot with continuous use. Switching to a warmer canister brings the pressure back up. (Some of GasOne’s higher-end stoves have a thermal conductive plate to transfer heat from the burner to the canister to keep it warm and maintain pressure.)
The Mini will simmer and cook at low heats beautifully. The burner has an inner and an outer ring of ports to create the flame, so the heat, even on a thin pan, is evenly distributed to the food being cooked. Just keep an eye on the flame when you dial it down. The flame will begin to flutter with the dial at its midpoint and extinguish itself at the one-third point, and yet fuel will continue to flow.
Christopher Cunningham is the editor of Small Boats Magazine.
The GS-800P Mini Camp Stove from Gas One is manufactured by Gas One and sells for $38.99. The GS-800, without the propane adapter, sells for $26.99. The stoves are also available from outdoor and hardware stores and online retailers.
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