Being able to cook while you are out in the wilderness, whether for fun or for survival, is absolutely essential. Having access to warm meals will not only be more enjoyable, but it will also help you replenish your energy and make sure you can recover from physical activity and are properly nourished to do more.
One of the best ways to be able to cook while out camping is to take a camp stove with you. This way you know that wherever you decide to make camp for the evening you will have a hot meal at night and if you want, fresh coffee when you wake up.
Stoves come in all different types and each one has its own purpose and its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this review, we are going to be looking at one in particular, the Solo Camp Stove, and we will go into depth about what makes it a good option and what its limitations are.
Important Features of Camping Stoves
Before going further with our analysis, we wanted to take a moment to look at some of the important things to consider when deciding to buy a camping stove. Not all products out there are capable of doing the same thing or are suitable for what it is you might be looking to use it for.
There are some questions you should ask yourself before you make a purchase because your response could have a big impact on which product is best for you.
Camping stoves range significantly in how big they are and this should play a big role in your decision as to which one to buy. Some come with multiple burners and attach themselves to large gas containers. These are great if you are going to be traveling by car and do not have to worry about moving it.
However, they are obviously terrible for any type of backpacking trip where you are planning on carrying the stove with you. The reverse is also true. Small stoves are great for stuffing in your bag to be able to cook on the go, but their size usually limits how much you can do with them and will, therefore, limits their functionality.
It is very important that you consider how you are going to use your stove so you can get an idea of what size stove you would like to buy.
Related to its size is how big of an area you will be able to cook on. Could you use full-size pots and pans like you would use at home? If this is something that is important to you, there are stoves designed with this in mind and would great options for you.
However, some of you may only be interested in boiling water for coffee or making quick meals while you are on-the-go. Try to imagine what you will be cooking on your stove and then go for something that meets your requirements.
One other thing to think about is the type of cooking you are going to be doing on your stove. If you are just simply looking to boil water to make some pasta or instant soup, then you will want to find something that boils quickly and you might not be too worried about precisely controlling the temperature.
On the other hand, if your plan is to cook different types of meals and you can see yourself simmering a stew or lightly sautéing some vegetables, you might want to look for something that gives you a little more power over how hot the cooking surface gets. We will look in the next section how you can get an idea of what you will be able to do with your stove.
This could easily be considered the most important aspect of the stove you are going to be purchasing.
In order to be able to cook you obviously need to produce heat and there are a variety of different ways to do this. In general, there are three main fuel sources used in portable camping stoves so we are going to look at them and discuss some of their differences.
- Stoves using this type of fuel will almost always be designed so that you need to screw something on top of a self-sealing fuel canister. The fuel that is used is going to be either isobutane or propane.
These stoves are nice because you can easily control the temperature so you can cook on them much like you would on your stove at home. One downside, though, is that you must carry your fuel with you and the longer you plan to be out in the wilderness, the more fuel you will need and the heavier your bag will be.
- These stoves work by connecting to a refillable fuel bottle that is usually filled with white gas. The nice thing is that many of these stoves do not need to be used with white gas and if you are traveling internationally or do not have access to it you could look for other options.
Liquid stoves also give you the chance to control the temperature and allow for simmering. One main disadvantage of them is that they tend to be heavy and are therefore not overwhelmingly practical for backpacking trips.
- Stoves that rely on wood as a fuel source are nice because this usually means you do not have to worry about carrying your fuel. When you are out in the wilderness you will almost always be able to find wood to be able to get your stove going.
The main downside to wood stoves is that it is difficult, although not impossible, to control temperature. You need to be constantly adding just enough wood so that you maintain the desired heat level but do not allow the fire to get too hot.
This could make simmering somewhat complicated and for this reason, wood stoves are usually thought of as being best for boiling. Another thing to think of is that wood stoves often generate lots of smoke. If you will be working close to the stove this could be a problem for your eyes, but it could also affect the flavor of the food you are cooking.
There are some other fuel options that are used in camping stoves, but gas, liquid, and wood are far and away the most used and your needs will play a big role in which type you ultimately decide to buy.
Some Questions to Consider
As you get closer and closer to making a decision about which camping stove you would like to purchase, there are a few questions we think are important to ask yourself to help you get a better idea of exactly what it is you are looking for.
How many people will you be cooking for?
This question will help you get an idea of the cooking area and overall size of the stove you might need.
Obviously, if you are going to be traveling in a big group you will need to be able to cook more at once than if you are traveling by yourself or with just one or two other people.
How many days will you be away?
Are you going and coming back in one day or will you be gone a week? This question will mainly help you get an idea of what type of fuel you will need. The longer you are gone the more fuel you will need to carry and this might be an incentive to look for a wood stove. If you are just going on an overnight trip this might not be a serious concern and you can look at other options.
What will I be cooking?
We have touched on this already and the answer to this question will help you decide on what size stove you need and which type of fuel you need.
Solo Stove & Pot 900 Combo: Ultralight Wood Burning Backpacking Cook System
Now that you have a solid understanding of what the different features of camping stoves are and you have asked all the right questions to help determine what is best for you.
- Gear Of The Year Winner – Recommended By Backpacker Magazine.
- Patented Design – Less Smoke.
- Fuel Is Free. No more spending money on white gas or expensive liquid canister fuel.
- Lightweight & Fast Boil Time. Boils water in 8-10 mins (34 fl oz water). 4.25″ Diameter, 3.8″/5.7” tall (packed/assembled).
- Compact Space Saving Design. The compact Solo Stove design nests inside the companion Solo Stove Pot 900 (included) leaving you with more room in your backpack.
Let’s take a look at one particular option on the market and discuss its different aspects so you can get an idea if it is the right one for you.
What is a Solo Stove & Pot 900 combo?
This particular stove is a lightweight, wood-fueled stove that is great for backpacking or survival situations as well as camping. The stove comes in two parts. On the top, you have the cooking pot and on the bottom you have the actual stove where the fuel, in this case wood, burns.
The Solo Stove comes with a patented design that allows airflow to come from both the top and the bottom which helps to create more heat while limiting smoke. The pot comes as part of the stove so you do not need to worry about carrying anything to cook with. The entire mechanism breaks down and can easily be carried in the stuff stack that comes with it.
How to use the Solo Stove & Pot 900 combo?
We are going to go over how to use Solo Stove, but it is important to remember that the first three steps are actually applicable to any stove and can be seen more as general safety guidelines rather than specific instructions for this stove. Keeping that in mind, let’s go over exactly how it works:
- Find flat ground. You don’t want your stove to tip over while you are using it. This is a major safety issue but it also prevents you from losing your dinner.
- Clear surrounding area. You want to make sure there are no leaves, brush or dry grass in the immediate area so that you do not need to worry about the fire getting out of control.
- Look up. One common oversight is that people forget to look up when they are making a fire or using a stove. Make sure there aren’t any low-lying branches or any other impediments that could be dangerous.
- Remove cooking grill and pot. In order to use the Solo stove, you need to first take the pot off and set it to the side.
- Gather twigs and brush. You can use any light tinder. Grass, pine cones, leaves, etc. Anything that will burn quickly.
- Place the twigs and brush in the bottom of the stove and ignite. This step is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure everything you put into the stove fits in nicely and isn’t hanging over the edges.
- Put cooking grill and pot back. Once you are sure the fire is going nicely put the top of the stove back on. You will want to wait a bit so that the flame is not raging, but you can basically put the pot back on soon after getting the fire going.
- Get cooking. That’s all that it takes. Now that the fire is going nicely and everything is getting hot, it’s time to start cooking.
Size: 4.25 x 5.7 inches
Weight: 9 oz.
Cooking area: 4.25 inches
Boiling Time: 8-10 minutes
Fuel Type: Wood
Special Features: Carrying case, patented double-burn technology for hotter, cleaner fire and nested pot
Best Use: Short camping trips, backpacking trips, survival.
Advantages of Solo Stove & Pot 900 combo
- Small and lightweight. At just 9 ounces and with dimensions of only 4.25 x 5.7 inches, it is very reasonable to think that this stove could be stored nicely in your backpack to be brought with you from campsite to campsite. You will be giving yourself easy access to hot water and cooked meals without having to add too much to your load.
- No need to carry fuel. Adding a little to the benefits of its size is the fact that you do not need to carry fuel with you. You simply look for twigs, branches, pinecones, etc. once you are in camp and this eliminates the need to carry heavy canisters or to worry about running out of fuel.
- Very little smoke. The special design of this particular option means that you won’t be fighting smoke while you are cooking. This is nice because if you have ever cooked over a wood stove you know that smoke in your eyes can be a serious problem and it can also have a dramatic effect on the taste of your food. The way this stove deals with this problem is a major benefit of it.
- Quick boiling time. You can expect to have boiling water in less than ten minutes. If you want to make coffee or are just simply very hungry after a long day in the wilderness, this will be very much appreciated. Once the fire is going you do not need to do anything except wait a few minutes and you will be all set to go.
- The pot is included in the design of the stove so you do not need to carry anything extra. Also, the stuff sack helps to make the stove easier to carry both inside and outside of your bag. It is clear this product was made to be moved around and taken with you and its features help it achieve this goal.
Disadvantages of Solo Stove & Pot 900 combo
- No temperature control. Because this stove uses wood as its fuel source it is difficult to control the temperature and this means it will be hard to do any simmering. Also, by using small pieces of wood such as twigs and branches, it means the stove will get very hot quickly, but it will be tough to get the kind of sustained fire going that you would need in order to be able to effectively raise and lower the temperature.
- Small cooking area. The space where you will actually be cooking is only 4 inches in diameter and is therefore quite small. One thing you could do to help make it bigger is to try and balance a pan on top, but this means more things to carry in your bag and it isn’t going to give you much more room to work with.
- Not good for groups. Because of the small cooking area and the use of wood, this stove is really designed to be used by one or two people. You get the fire going, cook your food and then let it go. It is hard to imagine constantly feeding the fire in this stove to try and cook repetitively for many different people.
The Moral of The Story
Deciding which camping stove to buy is going to have a big impact on your overall experience. It is important to think about the factors discussed in this article to get an idea of what you might want so that you can be sure you are getting something that fits your needs.
Did we miss anything? Have you ever used this stove before? We are always interested to hear our readers’ experiences with the products we discuss and review. If you have anything to add to or comment on please let us know.
But until then, we hope this has been helpful for you to better understand Solo Stove. Bon appétit!