I’m sure you’re familiar (or at least have seen) the Solo Stove over the years, I know I have. For some reason I never bothered to buy one… what a mistake! Fortunately, I was sent one to review along with the accompanying pot 900.
I should point out that I’m NOT a huge backpacker so this stove is really more for bug out and occasional fun camping trips but if I were a backpacker this stove would probably be my first choice in nearly any situation unless, of course, I’m somewhere where it’s impossible to find anything to burn… in which case I wouldn’t be there. 😉
Let’s start from the beginning…
Fuel Costs Nothing
The Solo Stove is meant to burn biomass, that is, renewable fuel such as twigs which just happen to cost you nothing to gather. In fact, I merely had to gather a few small twigs (I’d actually gathered far too many twigs at first) to light a fire good enough to boil water with:
I like the idea of free fuel very much and have always shied away from backpacking stoves that used liquid fuel sources preferring to simply use a folding stove under which I could light a small fire.
While that works, it’s not efficient and I didn’t fully realize how inefficient it was until my experience with the Solo Stove, which brings me to…
The stove is designed as a double-walled stove which funnels air through the holes on the outside bottom of the stove up between the two walls and, because of the design, preheats the air which then mixes with the fire inside the inner chamber via more holes on the inside top to create a more efficient burn. In the photo below, you’ll also notice the cooking ring upon which the pot 900 sits which also aids with adding the right amount of oxygen to the fire.
Personally, I could tell right away how much more efficient this fire was than a typical fire I would light underneath a folding stove. Here’s a shot of the stove working after only a few minutes of having lit it:
Compact and Lightweight
After un-boxing, I could quickly tell how lightweight the stove was as it’s made from stainless steel. The stove weighs all of 9 ounces while the accompanying pot weighs even less. Put together I barely noticed.
Size was actually a bit larger than I’d assumed seeing as though this is a backpacking stove where every last square inch counts but if you’re backpacking for two this stove would be perfect. Here’s a comparison of the stove and pot next to a can of green beans:
The pot can hold 30 ounces (with room to spare) if that helps you gauge size, enough to heat two cans of soup, or quickly heat a 15-ounce can of hearty chili as I did here:
The stove and pot both come with protective sleeves (shown below) and the best part is that the stove fits snugly inside the pot 900 to save space. In fact, the stove even fits inside the pot with the protective sleeve but just barely:
Cleanup Was Relatively Easy
If you’re impatient like I am you may not want to wait long enough for the fire to settle down properly and you’ll wind up with a less efficient burn and wind up making a sooty mess like this:
…and that was after only ONE use! Fortunately, cleanup is easy with a wet sponge and a little elbow grease but out in the field you’re probably going to have to live with it and just clean it when you get home.
As for the stove, let cool completely and dump out the ashes:
A few more things of note…
The cooking ring fits nicely inside the stove for packing:
And, like I mentioned above, the stove fits snugly inside the pot. Toss in some matches and tinder and you’ve got yourself a ready-to-go cooking solution for bug out or any emergency. 🙂
Last, but not least, though I don’t have photos, the stove includes two fold-away handles (you can sort of see one on the right in the photo above) as well as a rubber-lined handle for the pot lid. I can say that the pot does get warm to the touch and so do the handles but not enough to burn me.
Overall, I cooked three items in the stove: oatmeal, chili, and boiled water for hot chocolate for my kids (they sort of smiled here):
I can say that the Solo Stove is everything I would want in a backpacking or bug out stove: it’s lightweight, compact, uses free fuel, it’s durable and super efficient… they really though this stove design through, in my humble opinion.
Each time I used it I had a fire going in minutes and cooking my food or heating water to a boil took only a few extra minutes beyond that.
It really is fast and easy. If you’re in the market for a quality backpacking or bug out stove, choose this one, you’ll be glad you did.