Item: Vango folding gas stove with windshield and Piezo
Cost: £28.63 via Amazon
Criteria: small, self contained gas cartridge stove, efficient, safe
Due to limited space in our small van, neither of us felt comfortable with the idea of driving around with a large, refillable gas canister. We also wanted something that we could use to knock up a brew inside the van, so a smaller stove seemed sensible. This led us to looking at backpacking/portable stoves, which use butane/propane blend cartridges available from all outdoor equipment shops.
The stove is smaller than I’d expected. The plastic storage box it arrived in was barely bigger than the little Coleman C300 gas cartridge we bought to test it out with. The box fits pretty snugly around the coiled up stove, making it quite awkward to get it in and out. There’s definitely a knack to it, which I’m sure we will master with more regular use.
The stove itself seems remarkably sturdy considering its slim, lightweight construction. The folding design allows it to sit low to the ground on three retractable legs, rather than balancing precariously on top of the gas cartridge. This means folding stoves are great at supporting large pots; something we will be relying on for batch cooking meals on the road. Suitability for large pans was a deal-breaker for us when deciding between the folding stove and the more common gas cartridge “lunchbox stove” . Although very cheap and easy to use, there have been reports of these portable units overheating, even exploding, whilst being used with large pans, and stoves of this design have recently been banned in Australia. All in all, not worth the risk.
Fitting the screw-on gas cartridge was simple, and the Piezo ignition worked a treat, meaning there’s no worry about running out of matches! The adjustment of gas flow was very easy and surprisingly responsive, providing a good level of control over the intensity of the flame. We were also impressed with the integrated wind shield; it doesn’t look like much but it does make a difference. The low flame we had was steady and constant in the breeze that was blowing during the test. Not sure how well it would hold up in a stronger wind, but a larger external wind shield doesn’t cost much if you’d need it.
We boiled two mugs worth of water in ten minutes on the lowest flame possible in an effort to conserve gas. This a was a little slower than we’d expected but not enough to be impractical.
All in all, we are happy with the stove – it does the job! Whilst you can purchase similar folding stoves online for a cheaper price, the integrated windshield and self-ignition is worth the extra cash. Also the stove carries Vango’s brand warranty, and their high standards of design and build quality. We look forward to using it for cooking our meals, and are considering buying a second one so we have the option of two pots on the go.