Camping beginners are likely to be enticed by propane stoves with the promise of convenience and instant heat. Propane stoves have their flaws and sometimes it’s better to go for the alternative, liquid fuel stoves.
Pressure decreases as the cartridge of a camping propane stove empties making them less efficient when there is little fuel left. Temperature, wind and altitude has has an effect on efficiency. You may not be able to start a propane stove in sub-zero temperatures and high altitudes.
A hiking stove must be able to take rough handling and still work perfectly|Conditions inside you backpack and you body movement subject the stove to constant abuse. A simple stove has less chance of being broken than a more complicated stove. Puncture fit coupling was once popular with propane stoves but they’re not very easy to install and you might end up losing a lot of fuel.
Improvements in design makes the propane stove much more realiable. Some propane stoves can even be used in very cold weather. Design is the determining factor for reliability rather than the type of fuel used.
Propane stoves (used for backpacking) are lighter than liquid fuel camping stoves but the fuel is much more heavier. If you want to save weight on an extended backpacking trip, use a bigger cartridge if they’re available. The more cartridges, the more metal containers you need to carry and this translate to more weight.
Other than the weight problem there’s also the litter problem when you use propane stoves. You can’t reuse cartridge stoves and they need to be disposed when empty. If you’re hiking, you need to carry the empty cartridges with you until you an appropriate place to dispose them. An empty cartridge should never be thrown in the wild.
You can get heat almost instantly with a propane stove. It’s just so easy to use. It’s simple to use and it’s the main reason why people don’t want to convert to liquid fuel stoves.
When lighting up a propane stove, you would know that the flame is small because you turned the knob just a little bit. When starting up a liquid fuel stove, things can get a little bit unpredictable. So it’s safer to use the propane stove inside a tent. This should however be done with caution and with good ventilation only. It would be suicide to use a camp stove inside a tent without good air movement. You also risk getting your tent and other gear burst into flames. Due to the unpredictability nature of starting up liquid fuel stoves, never use them inside a tent.
When parts of the propane stove like the rubber tip is damaged, there’s a small chance of an explosion. It probably won’t be an explosion like a bomb but more of like a huge flare-up. A stove that is simple reduces the chance of it being broken.
The advantage of using liquid fuel stoves is that you use just about any available liquid fuel like gasoline or white gas. Propane cartridges may be hard to find in some places.
In general, backpacking propane stoves are cheaper than liquid fuel stoves but if you use propane stoves you’ll find that you spend a lot more money on fuel. You might end up paying 5 to 10 times more on fuel.