An old camp stove that keeps on cooking |

An old camp stove that keeps on cooking

Jeanne McGovern
Aspen Times Weekly

When our Coleman stove died an untimely death last summer, and a neighbor offered us his Coleman camp stove as a replacement, we jumped at the freebie. But when he brought down the stove, we wondered if we shouldn’t have just invested in a new one.

You see, the stove is old. Really old. I swear I remember a similar type of camp stove on a Girl Scout overnight back in the mid-1970s. And the graphics and language on the instruction manual are a dead giveaway to its era.

Not ones to judge a book by its cover, though, we decided to give it a try ” hey, free is free.

And when we fired up the stove, it worked perfectly. Just like our old stove, it has two burners and collapsible sides for wind protection. It also folds down into an easy-to-transport briefcase-type box.

But what distinguishes the two models ” and what leaves me thinking we might still pony up for a new stove ” is how they are fueled.

We used to own a propane stove. Our new (new to us, that is) stove uses white gas, as do several Coleman models currently on the market. There is a lot of controversy surrounding liquid-fueled camp stoves, the main point being that white gas, or what Coleman sells as “clean-burning Coleman Fuel,” is gas. And with that come the inherent problems such as flammability. Propane, on the other hand, comes in those nifty little sealed canisters, making it a seemingly safer choice.

Of course those green canisters take up space ” 4.5 cylinders of Coleman propane equals just 1 gallon of the company’s liquid fuel ” and at a ratio of one tank for one hour of high-heat use, we’ve found ourselves going through several canisters of propane in a camp trip. Plus, the spent propane tanks usually become throw-aways; the Pitkin County Landfill will recycle them, but you have to take them there, and many communities do not yet have programs in place to do the same. (With liquid fuel, you simply refill the tank as needed.)

Another argument in favor of liquid-fueled stoves: They give off greater, more reliable heat, especially in cold temperatures and inclement weather. Maybe not key while camping with the kids in Moab, but definitely worth considering in the Colorado high country.

Still, the jury’s out on which stove is the better choice. I fear flames and the easily spilled substances that cause them, so I’m not entirely comfortable with our new stove. My husband, on the other hand, has no problem with it. In fact, he likes the fact we’re not throwing away propane canisters by the dozen these days. I can’t argue with that. And the price was right.

So I guess we’ll just wait for this stove to stop working. But considering it’s already older than half of The Aspen Times’ newsroom staff and working just fine, I should probably learn to love it.