We just recently started carrying a new camping stove in our online store called The Solo Stove. If you are into backpacking or you have a “Bug Out Bag” you keep well equipped and ready to go at any time, food preparation should be a major part of your basic supplies. There are many options for cooking on the trail from using a GI metal canteen cup on an open campfire to sophisticated lightweight liquid powered stoves.
A saying I heard years ago when deciding what to pack for a back packing trip has always stuck with me, ounces add up to pounds and pounds add up to pain so I am always on the look out for lighter weight and reliable gear. It’s natural to want to have everything you could possibly need packed in your bag, but not so easy keeping the weight reasonable.
I ran across a new option, it is called the Solo Stove, a one piece stainless steel stove that uses biomass like sticks, twigs & pine cones to cook with. By switching over to the Solo stove I’ve been able to eliminated my MSR firefly and it’s associated fuel bottle from my backpack saving me both weight and space. Not having things to maintain or possibly break like pumps, o-rings, seals, hoses, folding legs or arms because there are no moving parts simplifies things too. Admittedly there are going to be times when a liquid fuel or propane stove is preferable, and I’ll hang on to the MSR for those occasions, but for most of the backpack camping I do in this area I’ll be packing the Solo.
The Solo Stove is a well-built piece of equipment and is made of heavy gauge stainless steel with no visible welds or seams. Again, there are no parts to break or ports or vents to clog.
According to the companies website The Solo Stove is a natural convection inverted down gas gasifer stove. It incorporates secondary combustion for a more efficient and cleaner burn. The bottom vents allow air to enter and flow up the bottom of the grate to feed the primary combustion, for a top down burn. As air enters from the bottom vents, it heats up within the inner wall and rises up and out the top firebox vents causing a secondary combustion at the top of the stove so there is very little smoke once you get it warmed up. According to the website, it heats the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke twice, making the stove considerably more efficient and needing less fuel. When I first started the fire, it took about a minute for it to heat up and I could see there was less smoke than when it started.
Using the Solo stove is relatively simple, you gather up some small sticks and kindling, pile it into the stove, add a Vaseline soaked cotton ball or some other fire starter like wet fire and lighter her up. The opening in the pot support ring is perfect to add additional sticks as needed to keep a good flame going. It only takes a few minutes to get the water boiling. Although I did not run a side by side test with my MSR Firefly, it might have boiled the water quicker but this was fast enough, especially since the fuel, dried sticks, were free.
One issue to be aware of is as with any biomass fire, even though the Solo Stove is very efficient, there is still going to be a black soot build up on the pot you cook in. Solo Stove also offers a nice stainless steel pot that the stove will nest in for storage and it comes with a drawstring storage bag that will help keep the rest of your gear from getting soiled from soot transfer.
Here are the Solo Stove specifications from their website:
Boiling = 8-10 minutes to boil 34 fl oz of water.
Fuel = It will burn sticks, pinecones and other dry biomass.
Size When Packed = 3.8 inches high & 4.25 inches wide.
Size When Assembled = 5.7 inches tall & 4.25 inches wide.
Weight = 9 oz.
Materials = It’s made out hardened 304 stainless steel with a nichrome wire grid
Here is a link to a short video on the stove from the company.
Feel free to comment on your experiences using the Solo Stove if you already have one