For all my friends who are campers, hikers, backpackers, and even those who just might want an alternative means to cook in an emergency, I highly recommend this stove. I bought this a couple months ago after reading a couple dozen rave reviews on the product. Even then, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought the reviews were cultish or clickish–the product of the urban yuppie outdoorsmen you see so much of nowadays. But a couple months of testing this out in the field proved to me its worth.
I have to say, I’ve never before been a fan of camp stoves. I find them–no matter how expensive–deeply flawed. They have moving parts that inevitably break at the worst time (usually when you’re a long way from anywhere). They are heavy, delicate and require you to pack in a considerable amount of weight in fuel. They are extraordinarily wasteful with their disposable fuel canisters, or messy if they hold re-usable canisters. Bottom line: I’ve always hated them and opted cook with a good old fashioned campfire and tripod set up, or since Nova Scotia has lots of flat stone by building a fire beneath a stone heating surface, or simply by flaming rocks and throwing them in a pot to set things to boil.
But this little camp stove is quite simply remarkable! It weighs only a few ounces, and there are no moving parts–as in, NONE! It’s made of a single solid piece of stainless steel. It has built into it a clever back ventilation system that sucks the smoke back down and super-heats it, causing a secondary combustion that burns both wood and smoke, so it is amazingly efficient. The back ventilation system is so effective if you hold a lit match over the stove, the suction will promptly blow it out. It heats a kettle of water in just a few minutes. I’ve cooked simple fare over it, boiled tea, made fancy camp meals and roasted marshmallows.
Best of all, the fuel is all natural and you don’t have to pack it. If there is anything at all burnable nearby, that will do just fine! A couple handfuls of twigs the size of your little finger are adequate to power it for half an hour, but you can use wood chips, tightly bunched dry grass, bits of wood scrap, bits of dried vine and cane, or any other source of dry cellulose.
The only down side is your cooking pots and pans will stain. But there is no avoiding that if you cook on a wood fire. Any char accumulation, however, is easy to wipe away. I just keep a rag in my kit, and if I am near a brook or lake where I have access to fine sand, I can use that to scour the pots and pans nicely. Anyway, the purpose of the gear is not to stay new looking and cool! It is to be used while you’re having fun outdoors.
To use it, start the fire outside the stove. Just light some dried mushroom, moss or papery old wood or other tinder to get an initial flame. Throw a little fine kindling on just like you would with a campfire in miniature. Scoop the whole pile into the stove and add your bits of fuel.
There are several powerful advantages to using such a stove. It greatly reduces firewood use. A couple handfuls of twigs the size and length of your finger will cook any meal. It allows you to cook on ground that would not be safe for a fire, such as on forest duff or pine needles. It allows you to cook easily in places where firewood is not accessible, such as the treeless north or desert country. And it is, as noted, much lighter and more eco-friendly than the alternatives.
This is hands down one of the most useful outdoors tools I’ve ever acquired and I unreservedly recommend it.