The Solo Stove is a wood-burning backpacking stove. Technically, it’s a “natural convection inverted downgas gasifier stove,” according to the manufacturer. Frankly, I don’t care much about the science behind the stove right now — but I can tell you, it works really well.
There are some things about this type of stoves that I’ve always been curious about, such as its fuel efficiency and small size. I’ve looked at another well-known stove similar to this one. However the premium price of that stove always kept me from clicking the “buy now” button. So I went the route of trying to build my own version out of a couple of paint cans. I was never able to get the home-brew stove to work the way it was supposed to.
I found the Solo Stove website by chance one day. I thought to myself, this stove looks just like a Bushbuddy, but it was only half the price. Click. “Buy now.” I love the small size of the Solo Stove. It does weigh 8.6 oz, and that’s a little more than I would like, but this stove is built like a tank. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about it being crushed in my pack, even though it will ride safely in a 1.1 liter bush pot from Four Dog Stoves.
The stove lit easily using a Vaseline-soaked cotton ball. When the fuel was fully ignited, I added the cooking ring. The conditions were fairly windy. I didn’t provide any additional wind screen. It wasn’t needed. I poured a full bottle of water from a Guyot designs 38 oz water bottle into a 1.1 liter bush pot (hard anodized) from Four Dog Stoves. Three contact points from the cooking ring to the pot were as steady as could be. There’s nothing worse than dumping your hot water on the ground thanks to a tipsy pot.
I kept feeding the stove a few twigs at a time as the fuel level went down. It was relaxing to sit there by this little Elfin fire waiting for the water to boil. It took almost 10 minutes for the water to come to a rolling boil. Not too shabby considering the wind.
Windy Conditions and a 9-10 Minute Boil Time
When I am using the alcohol stove, I’m more concerned about short boil times. I’m not as concerned with a 9-10 minute boil time with the Solo Stove. That’s pretty good and natural fuel is usually plentiful. Besides, the fuel efficiency of the Solo Stove is magical. I like that it uses every last bit of the wood and burns it completely to ash. I know it’s science, but it works like magic.
Maybe you’ve wondered, as I had, about the claims of the Solo Stove to be cool enough to be used on a picnic table and not scorch the surface. Well, I’m a bit skeptical, so I just had to see that for myself. After the water had boiled, I removed the pot and placed a piece of white paper under the stove.
I was able to lift the stove with a bandana. I added some more fuel to the firebox and waited 10 minutes until it burned down again. Then I removed the stove to check the paper. Guess what? No scorching or even browning of the paper.
1.) Solo Stove provides a lightweight stuff sack for the stove.
2.) I removed the cooking ring from the Solo Stove and used it as a stand and partial wind screen for a basic soda can alcohol stove. Very cool.
The first Solo Stove burn was easy and pleasant. It exceeded my expectations.