Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Solo Stove

A few years ago I stumbled upon wood burning camping and hiking stoves for the first time. The concept of a wood burning or wood gas combustions stove intrigued to the degree that I thought it
Making coffee on wet fuel.
was worth spending a 100€ on a Solos Stove.

I chose the Solo Stove over other designs and brands(eg. the Vargo Hexagon or the BioLite) because:

  1. it is made entirely of steel 
  2. no moving parts or electronics(compare: BioLite
  3. it was the cheapest and easiest to acquire in Europe(Yes, the Vargo is cheaper, but it doesn't burn the wood gas)

Here are som initial thoughts and findings. I have not taken it on a multi-day trip yet nor have I tested it in winter conditions. These observations are purely from summer and fall conditions. I have timed any boil times, since that is essentially irrelevant in my opinion because of the unending supply of fuel. I think there is no need to ration fuel and thus no need to establish boil times of fuel/litre boiled water.

I have found that the Solo Stove is very efficient, just as the manufacturer promises. It will burn with a very hot flame leaving only white remnants of wood. This compared to a camp fire that leaves unburnt wood and black wood coal. The white wood coal suggest that the stove is very efficient in utilising the energy  in wood. I recommend using some sort of windshield or rocks to break the wind. Also be cautious about where you set it down, it will heat at to some degree at the bottom and sides.

It will burn soaking wet wood efficiently when the stove is hot enough! By that I mean that it can be a bit of a challenge to start the fire in the stove solely on wet wood. I recommend bringing some paper or dry tinder with you from home. Of course shedding ultra thin pieces of a stick with a knife or a pencil sharpener works fine.

With the pot and the nylon pouches my stove weighs exactly 500g, which is about as much as my Jetboil Flash PCS with a gas container. I enjoy using the SoloStove a lot more than my Jetboil or Trangia.

There is simply something soothing and contemplative about gathering fire wood, prepping the fuel, lighting it and watch it burn. The SoloStove fits my hiking "philosophy" of slowness, simplicity and seizing the moment of being outdoors.

It isn't the lightest, fastest or easiest to use. It requires time and energy to gather the fuel, but that what makes it worthwhile for me!

Here are som pictures(AA battery and matches for scale):

Stove and pot packed

 Stove and pot unpacked

 The stove packed in pouch, pot at the back.

 The stove inside the pot.

 Stove and pot side by side

 Stove and pot side by side

 Stove and pot from above.


 Pot, stove and pouches weigh 500g.