The Evolution of Gear – Camp Stoves

As a hiker and a backpacker I’m always looking to improve my gear, whether that means it is lighter or more durable or even that is multi-purpose and cuts down on the amount of gear I need. Over the years I’ve re-evaluated almost all of my gear. I’ve switched from a tent to a hammock, upgraded to folding carbon fiber trekking poles, I’ve made adjustments and tweaks to things I’ve already adjusted and tweaked. It seems never ending. Then there’s things I am so sure about, that I will never change… until I change.

My so called central gear that I never questioned was my camp stove. Sure, I’ve upgraded and downsized but never questioned the method. I have been a canister stove user from the very beginning. I have owned several dual burner Coleman camp stoves that I always took car camping with me. When I got in to kayaking I switched to the Coleman Peak system, basically a very hardy single burner canister mount stove. Just this past winter I downsized that once again to a no name burner I bought on Amazon that weighed less that half as much and took up much less space. I love canister stoves. Except when it gets cold.

Having noticed that my canister stoves are noticeably less efficient when the temps approach and dive below freezing, I started researching fixes. I don’t do a lot of camping in temperatures like that but I do still like to hike and snowshoe. Having the ability to have a hot meal or cup of hot chocolate while doing so makes the experience much more pleasant. I just don’t like the idea of burning through fuel at accelerated paces. I thought about inversion stoves and insulation and 4 season fuels, but all added gear, weight or cost. Then I came across wood burning gasifying stoves.

After a little research and watching a lot of YouTube videos on the subject I had narrowed my selection down to three different stoves. The BushBuddy was my first choice, but it according to their webpage the original builder of the stoves has retired. He had an apprentice who is now making the stoves but there was a bit of a wait and it costs $100. I also looked at the EmberLit Ultra, a modular titanium design that packs flat, that was about $70 and even though it packs flat it still is taking up extra space. Third I looked at the small Toaks Titanium Stove, it’s more like the BushBuddy and about $45. It’s light and packs down into a pot… but for me it’s assembled size seemed way to top heavy for something with a fire burning inside of it.

Last I looked at the Solo Stove Lite. Almost identical to the BushBuddy in design, cost $70 and had immediate availability. I decided to purchase a Solo Stove Lite and their 900ml pot (Called the Solo Stove 900 Pot) for an additional $45. The stove and pot only weigh about 3 ounces less than my current set-up with a full fuel canister, but also takes up a little less space in my backpack. There is going to be a bit of a learning curve to get the most efficient burn time, but it’s going to almost always take longer than a canister stove to boil water. The big bonus is, after the initial purchase…. that’s it. You might need to buy matches or a lighter every now and then but never fuel. Think about that… never buying fuel for backpacking again. I like that a lot.

So this past weekend I got out to give the new Solo Stove a test. I definitely need to work on the initial fire, and have gotten some good pointers from a viewer on YouTube, can’t wait to try it out again this weekend and see if I can do better. Here’s a look at this weekends field test.

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