If you have the luxury of being able to drive to your swim (like to most of the Wingham Carp Lake ones) then you’re not so restricted by size and weight. This means that you can take a bigger stove, which makes cooking both quicker and easier. They’re also a hell of a lot cheaper to run than smaller stoves.
In these times of healthy eating many of us have swapped the frying pan for the grill. However the downside of grills is that they need more working space. Sure, you can use a griddle pan, but then you’ve got even more to take. The solution is a stove with a built-in griddle rather than a grill.
A griddle is a lot more compact than a grill as it doesn’t need extra space to allow the grill pan to go in and out, so is particularly well-suited to life on the bank. A griddle is also so much easier to cook with as you can always see how the food is doing, plus it’s quieter too as there’s less banging around.
Allowing for the hose, the closed dimensions of the SunnGas Single Burner and Griddle are approx. 50cms x 32cms x 11cms. Mine fits nicely on top of my Fox Session bivvy table and the gas bottle then goes underneath. When open it’s approx 39cms high above the bivvy table, although all cookers of course need more upward clearance in particular in case of fire.
The lid and the built-in side windshields give some protection from the wind, more especially to the griddle that I’ve yet to have blow out.
I used to cook 4 chipolatas and 2 thick rashers of bacon on the griddle. These take approximately the same time to cook and they taste delicious – rather like from a BBQ. At the same time I used to use the ring to heat up beans or tomatoes, and then to boil a kettle whilst I ate my breakfast.
The fat then drips down to a removable tray on the base making it nice and easy to clean, especially compared to a grill.
These days I eat even more healthily and use a saucepan on the ring to poach some eggs in poaching pockets, whilst the griddle is used for tomatoes and toast – yes, toast! I also use the ring for my evening meals of re-heated home-made stew etc. Or you could use the griddle for a nice steak & onions and the ring for the veg!
Most people would use the push-button ignition to light up, but this makes a loud click that I prefer to avoid. Instead I use a lighter with a long stick (available from camping shops). To use this to light the griddle it’s easier to do so via the ring. You don’t even need to turn on the gas on the ring, just on the griddle.
At night you have the option of closing the lid to completely keep out unwanted visitors such as rats, although this isn’t a problem at Wingham.
Finally, although it’s not mentioned in the blurb there’s a hand slot on the side of the cooker to make it easy to carry.
Unlike some other cookers there’s no simmer setting so it’s easy to turn the gas off accidentally until you’ve got used to it.
The instructions state you shouldn’t use the griddle for anything else, I’m guessing because the non-stick coating comes off. I haven’t, but the coating does wear after a while anyway.
I’d also prefer a locking facility on the side windshields as occasionally they fall down (although this is a common problem on camping cookers in general).
Conclusion and Cost
Overall it’s the best camping stove I’ve used.
It’s available from any SunnGas stockist and also from Amazon. The 2016 price is £54.95 post free. You’ll also need a hose, plus a regulator to fit your choice of gas bottle. These are available from the same Amazon supplier at £6.96.
You can use either Butane or Propane bottles. Butane is slightly more efficient and you get more in a given size cylinder. However Butane doesn’t work well when it’s very cold, taking ages to heat anything up, and then you’d definitely be better off with Propane. I don’t camp out in the Winter so am happy with the better value Butane.
Once you’ve bought your first gas bottle (mine was cheap from a car boot fair), running costs are very low indeed as you simply swap your used bottle for a fresh one. Most caravan and larger camping shops stock these, as does my local chandlery store.
The 2 UK suppliers of bottled gas are Calor and Campingaz. Calor do only large bottles and these work out cheaper to run.
However the smallest size from Calor is 34cm high with a diameter of 24cm and so may or may not fit under your bivvy table and otherwise takes up a fair amount of space. They are though available with both Butane (4.5kg) and Propane (3.9kg), but note you can’t get refills on the continent.
I use the largest size 25cm high by 20.3cm diameter Campingaz R907 cylinder and these are available over much of Europe. However they’re available only with Butane (2.72kg).
Copyright Steve Burke 2016 onwards