When I’m getting ready to go away camping, one of my main concerns is cooking food, more specifically how much gas will I need to cook my food? The topic is really broad but this article will help you figure out how long your gas should last and how much gas to take on your next camping trip.
On average, camping gas burns at a rate of 2g of gas every minute. This means a standard 220g aerosol gas canister should last approximately 2 hours, and a standard 450g gas cartridge should last approximately 3.5 hours under optimal conditions.
Measuring how long a gas canister or cartridge lasts is not an exact science, however, and many factors will affect how long your camping gas lasts. Such factors as the altitude you will be camping at, the temperature both of the environment and your gas, the stove you use, and how efficient you are with your camping gas usage.
How much gas do I need for my trip?
When buying camping gas, you’ll see that there are three main options to choose from: aerosol gas, camping gas cartridges, and the bigger butane patio-style gas. The patio-style gas is most often used by caravans, and in a home environment only due to their size and weight.
Most campers, backpackers, and hikers will need to use aerosol gas canisters or camping gas cartridges in their gas stoves.
In the table below you’ll see some of the most popular sizes and types of camping gas and how long, approximately, you can expect them to last under optimal conditions.
|Stove Type||Brand||Gas Weight||Burn Time|
|Aerosol||Campingaz Aerosol Cartridge||220g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Coleman C500||440g||3.5 hours|
|Cartridge||MSR IsoPro||113g||1 hour|
|Cartridge||Campingaz CV 470 Plus||450g||3.5 hours|
|Aerosol||GoGas Winter Butane Propane Mix||227g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Campingaz C206||190g||1.5 hours|
|Cartridge||Coleman c100 Xtreme Gas||100g||45 minutes|
|Cartridge||Coleman c500 Performance Gas||240g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Coleman Propane Gas cylinder||465g||3 hours 45 minutes|
|Cartridge||Coleman Xtreme Gas C300||230g||2 hours|
Coleman C300 Performance Gas
|Aerosol||Quechua Butane Gas Cartridge||220g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V1 450||450g||3.5 hours|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V1 100g||100g||45 minutes|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V2 230g||230g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V1 230g||230g||2 hours|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V3 100g||100g||45 minutes|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Screw-On V2 100g||100g||45 minutes|
|Cartridge||Forclaz Cold Weather Screw-On V1||230g||2 hours|
Camping Gas Real-World Usage
Sometimes it’s easier to work out how much cooking you will be doing with your camping stove as opposed to how long the gas will last in pure hours and minutes terms.
For argument’s sake, we’re going to assume that boiling water takes the same amount of time as it does to heat up soup or a tinned dinner. In reality, it will depend on the density of the food you’ll be cooking or warming up as to whether your cooking experience takes a shorter or longer amount of time.
Boiling water usually takes around 5 minutes per 500ml, with an average tea or coffee mug being around 250ml per person.
Trip details: 14-day camping trip for two people in average UK summer temperatures (around 21C), standard stove.
Food details: 2-3 tea or coffee brews per day, porridge or cooked breakfast most mornings, cold lunch or pub lunch, evening dinner of soup, tinned food, or dehydrated meals
Cooking time: Roughly 14 hrs cooking time (1hr per day)
Weight of gas needed: Approximating 1,680g (14 hrs = 840 minutes, gas burns on average 2g per minute, 2×840 = 1,680g).
Trip details: 7 days, 1 person, average UK autumn temperature (around 14C), standard stove.
Food details: boiling only 500ml of water 2x per day
Cooking time: Roughly 1hr 10 minutes (10 mins per day)
Weight of gas needed: 154g (1hr 10 mins = 70 mins @2g p/m = 140g +10% to cover colder weather)
Trip details: 2 days, 2 people, average UK summer (21C), fuel-efficient stove.
Food details: morning porridge and coffee, lunchtime soup and tea, evening dinners, and hot chocolate.
Cooking time: Roughly 2 hours (1hr per day/night)
Weight of gas needed: 240g (2hrs = 120 minutes @2g p/m = 240g)
No special dispensation is made here for the fuel-efficient stove, but you may find you need a lot less gas than a regular stove.
What variables can affect how long my camping gas lasts?
Both the temperature of your gas and how you cook will affect how long your camping gas lasts.
If the weather is colder, camping gas will not perform as well as it would in warmer conditions, but equally, if the weather is too hot, you may find it hard to store your gas safely.
Regardless of the weather, implementing better cooking practices for fuel efficiency will help you to ensure your gas lasts for longer.
Things you can do to make your cooking more fuel-efficient include:
- Protecting your flames from the wind with either a sleeve or a wind-shield
- Keeping pot lids on for as long as possible
- Only boiling as much water as you need
- Reduce the flame as soon as possible
- Sticking to ‘one pot’ meals
- Use the smallest pot/pan/kettle for your needs
- Cook as much as possible at once, if you’re having cold chicken for lunch, cook it up with or after breakfast
- Boil veg and potatoes together, or steam them on top of the water (also goes for rice and pasta)
- Turn the flame off or down just before your food finishes cooking
- Cold water takes longer to boil, why not keep a bottle in your sleeping bag for your morning brew?
Stove Choice Vs Gas Usage Rate
In our article, Which Camping Stove Is Right For Me, we looked at two styles of gas stove: The portable gas stove and the lightweight stove.
Portable gas stoves take aerosol gas cans, these have been known to last less time than their cartridge counterparts and don’t reach particularly high temperatures. Portable gas stoves like this are more akin to domestic gas hobs and perfect for family car camping. They are cheap, easy to use, and reliable.
Lightweight stoves come in many different forms and can be much more expensive. The benefits of a lightweight stove over a portable stove are that they are more portable and usually burn much hotter meaning they cook faster and are more fuel-efficient.
Lightweight stoves are more dangerous though and have issues with stability, we wouldn’t recommend a child be allowed to use this style of stove.
The JetBoil Fuel Efficient Stove
One really good style of lightweight stove is the JetBoil. The JetBoil comes with a proprietary stove burner and pot that is incredibly efficient, protecting the flame and insulating the pot as you cook.
This double protection means you’ll use less gas every time you need to cook.
Can I use any camping gas with any camping stove?
You can’t use any gas with any stove, no. Portable stoves need aerosol canister gas and other lightweight camping stoves need cartridge-style gas or liquid fuel systems.
Cartridge gas comes in either ‘Easy-Clic’, screw top, or pierce fittings, you’ll need to match your stove to the fitting, get a duel-fuel stove, or get an adaptor.
Do I need specific winter gas, will it last longer?
You don’t usually need special winter gas, especially in the UK’s milder climate, but winter gas is rated for much colder weather than standard gas. Winter gas will give you the same cooking time as regular camping gas.
How do I work out how much gas I’ve used?
Before you go camping, weigh your canister. While you’re away, take note of exactly how long you cooked for and in what conditions (windy, cold, etc). Weigh your canister again when you come home and work out the difference. You’ll then know exactly how much you used during your trip.
Is camping gas the same in every country?
Camping gas is usually pressured the same in every country, but the fittings are likely to be different if you’re using cartridges. Ensure your stove can take both ‘Easy-Clic’ and screw top (duel fuel stoves) or that you have adaptors with you. You cannot (usually) fly with gas cartridges or canisters unless they are empty.