Here are a few campstoves we recommend for bicycle touring:
1. Whisperlite Internationale
The MSR Whisperlite Internationale is a bike touring classic. It’s also the stove with which we are most experienced. We’ve fired it up well over 1,000 times and carried it for our entire 3-year world bicycle tour. You can run it on almost any fuel (from white gas to unleaded petrol) and it’s easy to fix in the field using the MSR tool kit.
If you need to replenish your tool kit, you’ll find that many of the parts can be picked up at plumbing or hardware shops around the world. We’ve also found MSR customer service to be fantastic.
On the downside, the burner does get black with soot (only the burner – not the pots you use to cook with) and – despite its name – this stove is reasonably loud. It also needs to be primed. If you release too much fuel during the priming process (or if there’s a lot of wind), it’s possible to get an impressive flare from the Whisperlite.
2. Primus Omnifuel
The Primus Omnifuel has accompanied many touring cyclists on their journeys. We tested it during a 2-week tour of Denmark and found 3 main advantages over the MSR Whisperlite: it burns canisters as well as liquid fuel, it’s very clean (the burner doesn’t get nearly as sooty) and it’s relatively quiet. It does, however, cost much more than the MSR Whisperlite so you have to be a keen cook to really get your money’s worth out of it.
*Note: MSR is releasing a competitor to the Primus Omnifuel in 2012: the MSR Whisperlite Universal. It will also burn canister fuel. Watch for it in your local camping shop!
3. Jetboil Group Cooking System
A super easy stove to operate. Like all canister stoves, this Jetboil stove doesn’t need to be primed. It’s ready to cook at the flick of a lighter; perfect for a quick cup of coffee by the side of the road. On the downside, you’ll have to be touring somewhere fairly mainstream for this stove to be an option because you won’t necessarily find the fuel canisters everywhere in the world and you can’t take them on a plane. Also, this stove isn’t easy to fix in the middle of a field. If you have problems you may well need to send it back to the dealer for repair.
4. Trangia Stove
Trangia stoves are adored by many cyclists. They’re extremely quiet, easy to maintain, very robust and simmer beautifully.
They burn methylated spirits by default – a fuel which is broadly available worldwide but can be tricky to find. Research the local name for this fuel before you fly off to an exotic destination (there are many lists of translations into multiple languages online). You can buy converter kits that allow the Trangia to use gas cartridges and unleaded fuel but these kits add a lot to the price of the stove.
The performance of the Trangia can also suffer in cold weather, so it may not be the best bet if you’re planning on a lot of winter camping.