Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), normally referred to as simply - gas - is used to power most stoves, heaters and non-electric lanterns for camping. LPG comes as a liquid held under pressure in a cylinder or cartridge and only becomes a gas when released from the container. Get free help and safety advice when you join the Club.
Sometimes the gas that is released from the cylinder has to be adjusted to a suitable pressure for the appliances to operate properly and this means using a regulator. When empty, the cylinder or cartridge is discarded or exchanged for a full one. Two different gases are used - propane or butane - and these have slightly different characteristics. This guide is intended to help you with your choice and safe use of gas equipment.
For simple cooking purposes many small camping stoves use disposable cartridges that screw or clip on to the equipment and power the device directly. When empty they are discarded (following disposal guidelines) and replaced. They come in two types - pierceable or with an integral valve - as well as a wide range of sizes, shapes and capacity.
When a pierceable cartridge is fitted to the appliance a hollow spike punctures the cartridge, which releases the gas to the appliance. Once fitted it cannot be removed without letting the gas escape. Pierceable cartridges of different makes are usually interchangeable, but they should comply with European Standard EN417 type 200.
More expensive, but generally safer and easier to use, are cartridges with an integral valve. They can be removed from the appliance when travelling, thus saving the gas inside as the valve reseals the cartridge. Most of these cartridges have screw fittings complying with EN417 type 200. Some appliance manufacturers provide unique cartridges and fittings that tie you in to that specific manufacturer for refills. If you choose one of these check the availability of refills in the area you are travelling.
Other appliances use refillable cylinders that are larger gas containers (often called bottles) and require a clip-on or screw-on regulator to regulate the gas pressure delivered to the appliance. Probably the most popular and widely available range of gas cartridges and cylinders is the Campingaz range (see table 1).
For longer trips, some tent campers like to use cylinders with more capacity than the Campingaz range supplies. Table 2 shows the various types of cylinders most commonly found in the UK and their weights and dimensions.
You also need to ensure you have the correct regulator to suit the type of gas and cylinder outlets. Butane regulators often have a simple clip-on regulator but large propane cylinders will normally need a spanner to fit them - and it will be a left-hand thread, so turning clockwise unscrews it. Normally butane camping appliances will require a 28mbar regulator and propane appliances a 30mbar or 37mbar regulator, but always check the appliance instructions.
While the larger sized cylinders may be cheaper per unit of gas, the smaller units are usually preferable on the basis of ease of transport, safety in travel and stability when standing on the campsite.