The best way to boil water while camping

by | Apr 5, 2023 | Food

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You’ve just woken up inside you’re tent, and the first thing that comes to mind is:

Coffee (or maybe tea).

But gosh darn it, it takes forever to boil water while camping!

A pot of boiling water on a camp stove.

Some of the biggest challenges involved with boiling water include:

  • Weather conditions that can impact the efficiency of boiling
  • Limited access to fuel or wood
  • Limited time to cook and eat/drink
  • Limited space in your pack to bring heavy and bulky cooking gear

Boiling water at camp doesn’t have to take forever

The best way to boil water while camping is to use highly efficient heating technology, such as the kind used in a radiant burner camp stove.

Unlike traditional camping stoves, which use a flame to heat a pot or pan, a radiant burner stove generates heat with a porous heating element.

The result is both both convective and radiant heat. 

Roasting marshmallows over a radiant burner camp stove.

When the stove is lit, gas makes its way from the canister through a pressure regulator to two jets that feed the fuel into an area beneath the porous burner.

This is where the fuel comes into contact with air and begins flowing through the pores.

The burner ignites and the flame spreads right across the burner for even and consistent heating.

Why radiant burner camp stoves are the best

One of the main benefits of a radiant burner camp stove is that it provides a more consistent and even heat source compared to other types of stoves.

A pot of water boiling over a radiant burner camp stove.

This ultimately means that you can boil water in as little as a few minutes—even in cold weather and windy conditions.

And because they’re more efficient at heating, you’ll use less fuel to boil your water.

Radiant burner stoves are also generally safer to use than other types of camping stoves, since they don’t rely on an open flame to produce heat.

What’s the best radiant burner camp stove?

Believe it or not, the only camp stoves on the market that currently use radiant burner technology are the ones you can get from MSR (Mountain Safety Research).

The outdoor retailer offers many different models, but the most popular is arguably the MSR WindBurner personal stove system.

The stove’s radiant burner and heat exchanger heat up water faster and more efficiently than other stoves, while the 100% primary air combustion and enclosed design make it impervious to windy and other harsh conditions.

An Outdoor Gear Lab review of the stove claimed that it brought water to a boil in 5 minutes and 17 seconds, and it looks like it was done in cold weather.

Keep in mind that it will vary depending on weather and how much water you’re boiling.

Plus, with its modular design, you can customize the system to work with optional cookware accessories like hanging kits or coffee presses to create the ultimate outdoor cooking setup.

This compact stove and cookware set features a secure-locking one-litre pot/mug with a cozy, making it easy to fuel up wherever you are.

We don’t personally own the WindBurner, but my brother-in-law does, and we’ve used it with him on camping trips.

He swears by it, and we have to agree it’s pretty darn awesome.

It’s pricey though, at around $200 to $260 depending on whether you’re in Canada or the U.S.

Other highly efficient camp stoves for boiling water

If you’re not looking to spend that much and want other alternatives, here are some additional camp stoves to consider that pride themselves on efficiency.

Keep in mind that their claimed boiling times don’t necessarily reflect cold and windy conditions and may take longer to boil depending on the weather you’re camping in.

Jetboil Sumo camping and backpacking stove

This camp stove claims to be able to bring one litre of water to a boil in just 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

Its proprietary regulator technology allows you to adjust the heat from light simmer to full boil, making it perfect for sautéing veggies, simmering sauces, and more.

Fire-Maple Fixed Star X2 backpacking and camping stove system

This camp stove can apparently bring one litre of water to a boil in just 3 and a half minutes.

it uses heat exchange technology that’s designed to minimize wind impact and reduce boiling times by up to 30% compared to traditional camp stoves.

Jetboil Genesis backpacking and camping stove cooking system with camping cookware

This camp stove is best suited for frontcountry camping and comes with two powerful burner.

In addition to a 10-inch frying pan, it comes with a five-litre pot and uses its 10, 000 BTU heating system to boil water in just over 3 minutes.

Tips for boiling water while camping

No matter what method you choose for boiling water, remember that it’s going to be different than at home.

Choose a safe and reliable method that works for you

Boiling a pot of water with the Bushbox XL titanium stove.

The highly efficient camp stove options mentioned above are great, but they may not be for everyone.

If you want a fuel-less or more eco-friendly option, we encourage you to check out our review on the Bushbox XL titanium stove, which works with all kids of fuel types—including sticks, twigs, and other natural materials.

Consider the weather conditions when making your choice

Waves on a lake in high winds.

If you’re camping in cold and windy conditions, you ideally don’t want to use a camp stove that has an open flame.

Any camp stove that produces an open flame in cold and windy conditions will impact boiling efficiency, cause you to use more fuel than necessary, and put you at risk of burning yourself and/or things in your surrounding area.

Whatever you choose, make sure you read and follow all safety instructions before use, and never leave your camp stove unattended.

Prepare the area before boiling water

A pot on a camp stove in the fall.

Clear the area of any flammable materials and debris, including things like leaves and dead twigs.

Make sure to set your camp stove or fire up in a safe spot that’s at least 15 feet away from tents and other structures, and always keep it clear of any combustible materials.

When setting up your stove, make to do so on a flat surface and make sure it’s stable.

Don’t use too big of a pot for your stove.

Ideally, you should use the pot that came with it.

Use the right fuel for your stove

A person adding fuel to a Trangia camp stove.

Make sure you’re using the recommended fuel for your stove, as this will help ensure it works properly and efficiently.

The most common types of fuel used by camp stoves include butane, propane, and white gas.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, consider wood-burning or alcohol stoves.

Also, be sure to use enough but not too much—use the manufacturer’s instructions as a guide.

Finally, make sure you store unused fuel in a safe place away from any open flames or potential hazards.

Boil only as much water as you need

A person making stove in a pot over a camp stove.

You don’t necessarily need to fill your pot all the way to the top with water.

Ideally, you should boil only as much water as you need for cooking food and drinking beverages.

This will help save on fuel and time, while also reducing your environmental impact.

Let the water boil for at least one minute to kill any bacteria or viruses

A pot of boiling water on a camp stove.

If you’re planning on using the water for cooking or drinking, you need to boil it for at least one minute.

Longer is better—up to 15 minutes, but one minute is the bare minimum.

This will ensure that any bacteria or viruses present in the water are killed.

Use a pot cozy to keep your boiled water hot

A pot cozy on the grass.

A pot cozy is a reusable insulating sleeve that helps keep your boiled water hot for longer.

This will keep your water hot for up to an hour without having to use additional fuel or energy.

You can make your own in just a few minutes with Reflectix material and tape.

Check out our tutorial on how to make your very own pot cozy.

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About Us

Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

Read more about our story.