Camping Becomes Campervanning

One of the main parts of a campervan is the cooking equipment and how much more civilised it is than camping. I’ve managed with the hyper lightweight kit for the last 10 years and quite enjoyed the experience of folding all the little bits of aluminium up into a tiny container and storing them away in my hiking bag or motorbike panniers. These trips fell under the “make do” attitude to travel the only objective was to be out there doing it. Now, a little older, wiser and richer I’d graduated to a campervan and needed to upgrade my cooking equipment to follow. I’m not talking about a full gas range cooker and oven, but something that doesn’t take 20 minutes to assemble before being able to cook would be a nice change.

For me, this has come in the shape of the cheapest folding gas hob I could find. Cheapest is good, I like cheap, but it turned out it was the most practical too. The Campingaz Chef folding gas hob was £60 less than any of its rivals and seemed to have all the features I needed:

  • Dual burners
  • Grill
  • Built in ignitors
  • Folding design
  • Small / thin profile
  • Metal body for durability
  • Ease of access to gas pipe

It really is a well designed bit of kit and having used it on the countertop a few times I’m very happy with its overall performance. Maybe the grill could be better, but a friend was using a competitors vastly more expensive version, and his could only be described as “uselessly pants”, so I’m not too fussed. The only advantage that his hob has over mine is that it has a splash tray that protects the pipework getting covered in food. I imagine this makes it easier to clean but £60 easier? I think not.

Using it on the countertop was fine, and was good to make sure I liked it, but now it was time to make this addition permanent. My plan was to screw it to the folding table in the sliding doorway. It had to be a thin folding hob so that it didn’t prevent access through the door. The recent addition of a catch to stop this table swinging around now became very important. I unscrewed the little plastic feet from the stove and replaced them with thick rubber washers to stand it off the surface by a couple millimeters. I figured, being able to clean underneath it would be useful in the long run and I wouldn’t miss a few mil from the doorway.

This was a nerve-racking point, because up to now, the table was a smooth, unblemished surface. I had to screw directly into the top and ruin this forever so I spent a long time clamping it in place and testing positions of folding it and unfolding it. Making sure it cleared the sliding door and didn’t trap the gas pipe before finally committing to a position.

The gas was also something of a learning point for me. Camping Gaz made the stove and supplied a regulator that fitted their brand gas bottles. However, Camping Gaz is far more expensive than the more widely available Calor gas in the UK. On the continent however, Campingaz is the dominant brand so it made sense to be able to use both. At the advice of Vandog and a helpful shop assistant I purchased myself a 3.9kg red bottle of Propane and a suitable regulator. I also got myself a length of gas hose and ordered some quick connectors on Ebay so I could swap regulators easily if I needed to.

Last thing to do is secure the tank to the van. To do this I sacrificed an old fabric belt, it was the perfect thing to make an adjustable strap to hold the bottle in place. Coupled with a length of wood and some angled architrave, I made a nice seat for the bottle so that it wouldn’t roll around. This is located under the cabinet next to the folding table with gas hob. The gas pipe runs from here, around the back of the cabinet and pops out between the cabinet and the sliding door. There is plenty of space here to move freely up to the hob without getting trapped on anything.

This now means cooking is a lot more simple and quick affair. The cobbled together camping stoves and pots can be replaced by proper kitchen equipment. No more baked beans sticking to overheated bare aluminium pans, I’ve got myself a quality setup for cooking proper meals. I’m not ashamed to say I’m really excited by this advancement and can’t wait to get cooking!