Recently our family got the chance to check out a camp stove. But not just any camp stove – the Solo Stove relies on innovative yet brilliantly simple design ideas to make an efficient, reliable wood-burning fire. Here’s how it works (as taken from their website, which does a more concise job explaining it than I would!)
“The air intake holes on the bottom of the stove channel air to the bottom of the fire while channeling warm air up between the walls of the stove. This burst of preheated oxygen feeding back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top of the stove causes a secondary combustion. This allows the fire to burn more complete which is why there is very little smoke during full burn. A more efficient burn also means you’ll use much less wood compared to an open camp fire.”
In other words, “The Solo Stove doesn’t just burn wood. It actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice!”
Our family doesn’t do much (really, any) camping in the wintertime, so we haven’t had a chance to adventure with it yet, but we did take it out in our backyard to roast some marshmallows. The results? In addition to some pretty amazing s’mores, we came up with a list of very impressive pros, and just a few cons.
-IT WORKS REALLY WELL! Using only twigs and a handful of lint from our dryer, this stove boiled water in less than a minute! (And if you are wondering, we did not use any boiled water for our s’mores…we just wanted to test it out…)
– PACKABLE – The Solo Stove pot nestles perfectly inside the stove itself in a nice, neat little package. Very easy to toss in a pack for an impromtu overnight, or even just bring along for a mid-trail hot chocolate fix on a day hike.
– LIGHTWEIGHT – The weight difference between this stove and our other backpacking stove + fuel (Jetboil) is quite substantial.
– AIRPORT FRIENDLY – On previous camping trips involving air travel, we’ve had to pack our stove sans fuel, then make a stop as soon as we arrived at our destination to pick up fuel…but the Solo Stove in it’s entirety is cleared for airport security. So long as you’ve got sticks at your destination (and matches in your checked bag), you can head straight to the woods upon arrival.
NO INSTRUCTIONS – The design is pretty basic, and if you are familiar at all with camp stoves, it’s not too hard to figure out how to use it, but we were surprised that the stove + pot came without any sort of instructions. (I have since discovered that there are detailed videos as well as downloadable PDF’s on the Solo Stove website.)
HARD TO CLEAN BOTTOM PIECE – The very bottom part of the stove was not the easiest to clean, and I feel like would start showing some “sooty” type buildup after heavy use, similar to the way a used firepit looks. Not a big deal for us, but perhaps a con for those who like to keep things squeaky clean and pristine.
STAYS HOT – This was probably the only real con that we saw, though certainly not a dealbreaker. Because of the way the stove works (and since all of it is stainless steel), ALL of it gets hot, and stays hot, for a long time after putting the fire out. So make sure you’ve got hot mitts handy (and most importantly, keep it away from the kiddos!)
If you are looking for a small but efficient camp stove to accompany you or your family on overnight adventures, this one is a good option. It will really shine on adventures requiring air travel as well as backpacking trips where lightweight gear is a must.
Anyone else have experience with this stove? I have a feeling it will earn a prime spot in our camping gear box this spring!