When you're camping, sometimes you want something with a little more substance than the classic pork and beans. Thanks to portable camp ovens, you have more options today when you're out in the wilderness.
Not only are camp ovens great for camping, but they can be extremely useful for other outdoor activities, like tailgating, too. These ovens run on alternate sources of power, so you don't need to worry about finding an electrical outlet. Some even include burners on top for even more cooking options.
If you're ready to purchase a new portable camp oven, continue reading our buying guide to make the right choice for your camping needs. Our top pick, the Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven, is practically a full kitchen on the go.
Portable camp ovens come in a number of different weights. Which one you choose depends a lot on how you'll be using it. If you plan to carry your oven with you on a hike to a campsite, then obviously you'll want to get a lightweight model. If instead you plan to use your oven to cook food for all your friends at sporting tailgate parties, then something more substantial should be just fine.
In addition to weight, you need to consider the size of camp oven that you want. The external size is important for portability and space needs, but the interior size of the oven determines how much food you can cook at a time. If you plan to cook for a lot of people, then you need to be sure that the internal area of your oven can hold enough food. A good compromise between large and small camp ovens are those that can fold down to a smaller size when not in use.
There are three primary heat source options available for portable camp ovens:
Propane camp ovens use 16-ounce canisters or 20-pound cylinders of propane fuel. Propane cooks quickly and is a relatively clean form of energy. Although propane is inexpensive, it does need to be purchased ahead of time and carried to your location of use.
Solar-powered ovens are great for those who don't want to lug large amounts of fuel with them wherever they go. These ovens use only solar energy in order to cook your food. Most solar ovens work between 150ºF and 200ºF, but can't really heat the food much more than that. Disadvantages of these ovens include their need for direct sunlight and their slow cooking speed.
Fire camp ovens use the heat from a campfire to cook. These are primarily traditional Dutch-oven-style containers. Although they cook more slowly than propane ovens, they're faster than solar-powered models, making them a nice compromise between the two.
White gas ovens use alternative cooking fuel that's similar to propane but cleaner to burn, though it's more expensive.
Folding sides on a portable camp oven are a great way to minimize the size of your oven for transportation purposes. They also sometimes create a barrier, protecting your pilot light from strong winds.
Carrying bags allow your portable camping oven to be carried with relative ease. They also protect its exterior from the elements and damage during transportation. They're a convenient way to store your oven when not in use.
Some higher-end portable camp ovens include a built-in thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the oven or even the temperature of your food. Keep in mind that many portable camp ovens have issues with thermometer accuracy, so make sure to get baseline measurements using another thermometer before using them permanently.
If you plan to cook multiple items at the same time, then you'll probably want a camp oven that includes racks. Remember, though, if you're cooking more than one item at once, you'll probably need to allow extra cooking time.
Many of the more expensive portable camp ovens include range-style burners on top. This is extremely convenient if you're preparing a complete meal that requires both an oven and a stove. Keep in mind that using both the oven and range functions at the same time will use more fuel.
Most portable camp ovens cost between $50 and $150. Portable camp ovens for around $50 are often budget models that use propane or external heat. For $100, you can find a model that uses any of the three fuel styles. However, these will likely still be smaller than more expensive ovens. For $150, expect to find premium portable camp ovens that can hold at least a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and that have one or two range burners.
Q. Does a solar oven cook slowly?
A. That depends on the weather conditions of the day. Solar ovens do generally cook slower than propane, but how slow is dependent entirely on how much sun the oven has access to while you're trying to cook.
Q. What's the best thing to make in my portable camp oven?
A. There's no real right or wrong answer to this question. Perhaps the most popular item to make in a portable camp oven is pizza, which is a great starting point.
Our take: Cooks well, though the sun needs to be shining for it to work.
What we like: Lightweight, and folds down to an extremely small size. Includes collapsible silicone pot and carrying bag. No assembly.
What we dislike: Takes a long time to cook. Needs to be aimed at the sun at all times.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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