Camping Gear Reviews, Gear Reviews

Budget Cook Systems for Camping and Backpacking

Having a warm meal before tucking into your sleeping bag at night and the option to have a hot breakfast in the morning is something that many campers and backpackers consider to be essential. As with any outdoor gear, there are a huge number of products to choose from and it can be difficult knowing what to pick when you’re starting out. We’re going to take a look into the different stove and cookset options available that cover a range of budget options.

The Stove

First things first. The instrument you will need to heat your food. It comes in many shapes and forms, each with their own pros and cons. The year round camper might gradually build up a small collection of stoves to suit the ever changing weather they will have to contend with, but to start off with, you probably just need the one.

The most common stove you’re likely to encounter is a canister stove. These are gas stoves that often use an Isobutane and Propane mix. They generally screw onto the top of the fuel canister and have fold out pot supports. Both the stoves and the fuel are readily available in any camp store and like any gear item, come in a variety of prices.


  • Very easy to use
  • Lightweight stove
  • A fuel canister lasts a long time


  • Needs a windshield for optimal fuel efficiency
  • The gas canister adds significant extra weight
  • Very loud

Extreme Budget

Campingaz Bleuet Micro

RRP: £14.99

Cheap and cheerful, this is not the lightest stove of it’s kind by any means, but if your budget is minimal then it’ll do the trick.

Best Weight for Price

Alpkit Kraku Ultra Compact

RRP: £27.99

Alpkit suggests that this might be the lightest camping stove in the world, coming in at 45g. Alpkit are a British company much loved by the hikers and campers of the UK.

The One that Everyone Owns

MSR Pocket Rocket

RRP: £34.99

There’s a good reason this little beastie is so common on the trails. 73g and a very well made, lightweight bit of kit that won’t dissapoint.

Honourable Mentions

Vango Compact Gas Stove: £17.00

OEX Etna Mini Stove: £26.00

The other fairly common type of stove you’re likely to come across is the alcohol burner. This type of stove needs a bit more figuring out than the canister gas stove, but overall provides a more compact set up. You can make homemade alcohol burners out of drinks cans and many people do make their own for the ultimate cost and weight saving. Several different designs are available on the market, but we’ll take a look at the most common one.

A more complicated option in a sense, but a versatile bit of kit to have in the arsenal. The fuel can be purchased cheaply as methylated spirits from hardware stores. The burners can get through fuel very quickly so only really ideal for one to two day trips.


  • Fuel is very cheap
  • Compact system
  • Lightweight
  • Robust and maintainence free
  • Quiet


  • Requires purchase of a pot support
  • Slower and more inefficient to heat
  • Easily affected by the wind
  • Most don’t have a flame adjuster
  • Requires some practice and experience to use effectively

The Budget

Yellowstone Copper Spirit Burner

RRP: £6.99 – £11.98

A solid little piece of kit for very little cost. Doesn’t come with a pot support but these can be picked up cheaply.

The Old Classic

Trangia Spirit Burner

RRP: £14.00

The burner that most burners are based off. A very sturdy piece of gear that will be sure to last decades.

The All in One

Alpkit Bruler

RRP: £29.99

This little set up is an all in one burner, windshield and pot support, so no need to worry about buying extra bits of kit once you’ve bought your burner.

For your wind shield and/or pot support, the simplest option would simply be to use a piece of folded kitchen foil as an inexpensive windshield, then pick up a simple pot support such as the one linked below to sit on top of your burner.

Be sure to practice lighting your spirit burner before taking it out on a camp. Matches are the easiest and most reliable method of lighting.

Pots and Pans

This part of the cook system is easier to get started with. There are lots of options available but if you’re on a very tight budget you can literally pick up a couple of mess tins from any generic outdoor shop for under £10. They aren’t the lightest ot the nicest piece of kit, but they’ll get the job done.

If you’ve got a bit more cash to spare then grabbing a one person cook set can be done for under £25.

Solid options

If you want a frying pay for a morning fry up then that can be added to the kit for little extra cost, such as the OEX Frysta linked below.

Thank you for reading! I hope this can be of some use to you on your journey to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Be sure to check out our other gear reviews and outdoor adventures!

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