Campground fire comes in three varieties, each with its own characteristics.

1. The gas stove is the best heat source for camp cooking. Two-burner models with wind shields provide a level surface and consistent, well-distributed heat; they run on a variety of cooking fuels. Make certain to bring enough fuel, and give your stove a quick test run before you pack it.

2. The well-built campfire is capricious and erratic, but offers a relatively hot flame good for grilling, frying, and boiling. Many campgrounds provide a rough grill, suitable to put pots or meat on. A campfire also supplies coals, perfect for burying pots of beans for slow cooking or foil packages of veggies for steaming.

3. The single-flame backpacking stove—nicknamed the "Bunsen burner"—is lightweight and provides a hot flame, but requires the cook to be more agile. You can prepare dishes one at a time, or you can stack pans to poach or steam some items and keep others warm. Temperatures in the pot can range from very hot to much cooler an inch or two away. Be alert to the likelihood of burning.

—C.B.