CAMP KITCHEN

Solo Stove Review: The Best Wood Burning Stove For Backpackers

cooking on solo stove
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Stove fuel does not get any more traditional or inexpensive than wood. Once it gets going, it burns nice and hot providing you with more than enough energy to cook a tasty meal. This Solo stove review will reveal to you just how effective the Solo stove lite is as far as outdoor cooking is concerned. Weight-conscious hikers will appreciate not having to pack fuel, which is definitely added weight.

The Solo stove is gear of the year winner, which is not only endorsed by Backpacker Magazine, but also by renowned survivalists, such as Matt Graham (Discovery Channel). It was the undisputed winner from fifty campfires and section hiker in 2014 of the Gear of the Year award. It is without a doubt that its reputation is attributed to its patented design, specs, and features.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own choice, but those going for canister and alcohol stoves are really missing out on a very resourceful and versatile wood burning stove. At first glance, you will be amazed by the suitable metrics of this fancy steel can. You will certainly agree that a Solo stove is a better choice than burning wood in an open fire.

Product specifications:

  • The Solo Stove is the #1 wood-burning backpacking stove recommended by serious survivalists.
  • The patented design features a unique double wall that creates ultra-clean gasification and a secondary combustion.
  • Solo Stoves use twigs, leaves, pinecones and wood as fuel.
  • Boils water in 8-10 mins (34 fl oz water). 4.25″ Diameter, 3.8″/5.7” tall (packed/assembled). Solo Stove weighs only 9 oz.

Check the price of Solo Stove on Amazon

Check out this video to see more:

Review

The Solo stove lite relieves you of the weight of fuel, a plus on long trips. It is not gear of the year by chance, but by design. Backpacker Magazine has praised this product for its unique performance. Unlike most wood burning stoves, this particular model has a patented design that produces less smoke and more energy.

PACKAGING

The stove is packed in a compact 3.8 by 3.8 by 4.2 inches box that weighs 12.8 ounces. The compact box is easy to backpack. Out of the box, the stove weighs only 9 ounces. It measures 5.7 inches high when assembled and 3.8 inches high when packed, and has a diameter of 4.25 inches.

Solo Stove Lite Packaging

Although you can remove the stove out of the box and pack it in the provided nylon stuff sack. The sack is certainly the best carry Solo stove manufacturers have ever made. This simply means that they pay attention to detail. The stove’s solid structure fits conveniently inside the Solo stove pot 900; although the pot is sold separately. All these metrics combined makes it the ideal backpacking wood burning stove.

DESIGN AND DURABILITY

The Solo stove is engineered from 304 stainless steel material, which is highly resourceful and versatile. The material has the following unique features: hardness, strength, ductility, toughness, corrosion and wear resistance. These metrics are essential for gasification as well as secondary combustion. The stainless steel used is also highly resistant to atmospheric exposure. Cleaning is even easier, you will not take too much time restoring its sleekness.

One of the well-known aspects of the Solo stove is the patented design, which comprises of a double wall; a necessary design feature that promotes gasification and clean secondary combustion. Gasification is simply the process of converting wood into combustible gasses, producing clean energy. The secondary combustion ensures that most of the smoke and gasses are burnt to guarantee the production of efficient energy.

Solo Stove Lite working scheme

A unique design feature that will indeed amaze you when you fully understand the Solo stove is the presence of the vent holes. The vent holes situated at the bottom drive air just beneath the fire and channels hot air up in between the walls. A secondary combustion is created when the preheated air is fed back into the stove through the upper vent holes. The two processes ensure that there is less smoke and more efficient energy.

You will get the Solo stove lite right out of the box, but the pot and windscreen are available separately and you can purchase them to complete the setup. There is a mesh found inside the stove that you can place the firewood on. The mesh positions the wood just above the vent holes, ensuring that the air required for gasification is available continuously.

As we mentioned earlier, it is a winning backpacking stove that has catch the eyes of Backpacker Magazine and Discovery Channel’s Matt Graham. Therefore, its durability has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt. It has been put to test in the worst of conditions, and the Solo stove prevailed. It has been used on wet ground and it still produced the expected energy.

FREE FUEL

You do not need to spend a lot of money on pricey liquid canister and white gas fuel, anymore. Solo stove lite is designed to burn wood, which is freely given by nature. You need to arm yourself with reliable firewood fetching skills, which does not involve much. You just have to know how to pick dry twigs.

The best wood is one that is dry, which will burn efficiently. There is no need of carrying firewood in your backpack. Just choose a dry campsite that you can forage dry pieces of timber. You will also need dry grass, which are really helpful for starting the fire.

THE BEST POT/ STOVE PAIR

Even though they are sold separately, the Solo stove was designed to precisely work with the Solo stove pot 900. You do not have to waste your backpack’s space by storing the pot and the stove independently. Just store the Solo stove inside the pot and place them as a unit in the nylon stuff sack for easy backpacking.

Solo Stove with pot

When all factors considered, this is a powerful backpacking pair. When packing this perfect pair after cooking, you should carefully wrap the entire pot/stove combination in the sack. You can scrap the stove with sand before repacking so as to prevent the soot from dirtying the stuff sack.

EASY TO ASSEMBLE AND USE

The patented design is simple to use. You just have to lift up the cooking ring, place some firewood and dry grass on top of the mesh, use a fire starter, lighter, or a matchstick to start a fire inside the stove, and replace the cooking ring in an inverted position. Inverting the cooking ring exposes the pot stand. It is a hassle free stove that even a novice backpacker can use.

There is an opening when the cooking ring assumes a pot stand position. It is through this opening that you can add more firewood. As mentioned earlier, the vent holes initiate a gasification process and a secondary combustion process. The two processes ensure that most of the smoke and gases are burnt, thus minimizing soot production.

VALUE FOR MONEY & GUARANTEE

Solo stove lite is indeed a gear of the year winner. It is Solo stove’s best seller, available at approx. $60 on Amazon and approx. $70 on Solo stove website. The available price on both Amazon and Solo stove site is the total amount after a discount of approx. $30.

However, the other parts of the Solo stove setup are sold separately. The companion Solo stove pot is available on Amazon at approx. $35, which is the amount achieved after a 26% discount. On the other hand, the Solo aluminum windscreen is available on Amazon at a discounted price of approx. $20.

Solo Stove Lite Guarantee

MAIN SOLO STOVE LITE COMPETITORS

CASCADIA ONE DOOR COOK STOVE

It is the ideal choice for preppers and campers. Apart from being the best rocket stove; it is a recommended emergency cook stove. You can use it in a campsite to cook meals, especially dinner. When an emergency strikes, this is the stove you can pull out anywhere out there, add some firewood, and cook yourself a meal. Every individual has his or her own reasons for buying this stove, but the most important one is the hot energy it produces with little firewood.

The heat is sufficient for boiling maple sap or stew among other dishes in your mind. With a few chunks of wood, you will be able to melt and boil around 6 quarts of ice cold maple sap in the stove’s companion pot. It is a pretty little but very resourceful cooking gear. It definitely takes time to get used to its operation. Once the fire starts, all you have to do is direct the stove’s door into the wind to feed the burning wood with air. It is also easy to get the fire started if you place small brushwood down the top.

However, the stove’s effectiveness is hindered by the coals that collect at the bottom when used for more than half hour. The accumulating coals at the bottom of the stove block fresh air, which is needed for the burning process. You also need to make some adjustments on the wire mesh. In actual fact, you have to cut a piece of heavy wire and add to reinforce the existing wire. The Solo stove lite and the Cascadia one door cook stove differ significantly.

Cascadia One Door Cook Stove

At first glance, you will observe that they have two separate designs. While the Solo stove has a patented double wall structure with vent holes and a removable cooking ring, the Cascadia stove has a solid structure with a more permanent pot stand and one door for feeding firewood. Solo stove is not fitted with side handles, but the Cascadia stove has side handles for carrying the stove from one position to another. The Cascadia also has an extended door stand for holding firewood into position.

As much as there are many design differences between the two stoves, the Solo stove is still the ideal choice for a backpacker. Weighing in at 0.56 pounds as to the 17.4 pounds Cascadia Cook stove, Solo stove is the ideal choice for backpackers, especially ultra-light and long distance backpackers. With Solo stove, there is continued supply of air for gasification and secondary combustion, but the coals accumulating at the bottom of the Cascadia stove prevent air flow after 30 minutes of use.

STOVETEC BIG FOOT TWO-DOOR WOOD/CHARCOAL STOVE

As far as wood burning stoves are concerned, the Stovetec is a massive cooking gear. It is designed for outdoors as well as emergency situations. The two-door system is a preferred design among campers and emergency preparedness devotees. It produces very efficient energy for cooking delicious meal irrespective of the fuel you are using.

There is no doubt that the Stovetec two-door deluxe stove is well-built for outdoors and emergencies. Regardless of the rigid and solid built; the stove is convenient for normal backpacking but not for ultra-light or portable backpacking. Basically, it is an ideal choice for car campers and RVers.

Stovetec Big Foot Two-Door Stove

The stove’s parts are well-made. The upper door is installed with a fine steel concealment over the ceramic insert. Then again, the windscreen is solid with a sizeable adjustment. You will love the packaging, which ensures the stove is well-protected during transport. You can put the package in your RV or SUV.

The designs of the Solo stove and Stovetec two-door stove are definitely different. To begin with, the Stovetec is bigger and has many parts, including two doors, side handles, and pot stand. The Solo stove is much smaller with fewer parts. The size and weight disqualify the Stovetec as a backpacking stove; however, it is a good choice for car camping and RVing. The Solo stove is unquestionably the best backpacking stove between the two.

Check out the video review:

OHUHU PORTABLE WOOD STOVE

If you are a hunter or a camper, the Ohuhu stove is the ideal backpacking stove. You can actually use it for any outdoor cooking, including picnic and outdoor parties. It is designed to withstand the weight and high temperature. It is a stable cooking gear that distributes heat effectively and evenly.

You can enjoy different meals cooked on this unique wood burning stove. The design will impress you; especially the pot stand and the airflow vents (allow air flow for efficient combustion). You can stuff a number of small gears into the empty space when packing, such as a small set of camping utensils, a pouch of dry kindling, or a fire starter.

Ohuhu Portable Stainless Steel Wood Burning Camping Stove

Like the Solo stove, it is engineered from heavy duty stainless steel material that cannot only stand high temperatures, but is also corrosion and wear resistant. It uses wood, which you can easily fetch from the bushes. You will not need too much wood to get the both stoves burning hot flames for cooking.

Unlike other wood burning stoves in the market, the Ohuhu Portable Wood Stove presents close resemblance with the Solo stove. They both have airflow systems made of airflow vents for reliable combustion. Even though the Ohuhu is compact and lightweight, it is a bit heavier than the Solo stove. Therefore, the Solo stove lite is a better option for backpacking than the Ohuhu stove.

OVERVIEW

If you take into consideration the requirements for backpacking, the Solo stove is the ideal choice among all the above-mentioned products. It is undisputedly lightweight for light backpacking. The other models’ designs are great in every aspect, but the Solo design is not only great but convenient. It speaks well for itself being gear of the year winner.

Solo Stove Lite

The airflow system is a unique part of the patented design. It does not only ensure there is continued airflow for gasification and secondary combustion, but it ensures that most of the smoke and gasses are burnt so as to produce more efficient heat and less smoke. A well-organized burning process simply means that you will use less fuel as to an open fire that requires logs to sustain.

PROS

  • The patented design is loved by many, which includes an airflow system and double wall construction. This system does not only burn wood to produce efficient energy, it also burns smoke and gasses to produce less smoke. In addition, the cooking ring is equipped with an opening for feeding firewood.
  • It is a master of fuel efficiency, which is part and parcel of its great field performance. You need a small mass of brushwood, including twigs and sticks to start as well as sustain a fire that can last for more than half an hour. All you have to do is continue feeding wood into the stove.
  • Maintains fairly good performance in windy conditions. You will essentially prefer to use a windscreen in order to maintain a stable frame. The good news is that the stove has been tested in extreme breezy conditions, and it still performed even though at a longer duration.

CONS

  • Notwithstanding the patented design, the Solo stove is not soot-proof. You should not be surprised to see you cook pot turning black on its bottom; it is just a default outcome of the stove.

You can view the Solo stove from different points, and you will still conclude that it is wood burning, durable, lightweight, eco-friendly, and fast & efficient. Therefore, it is unbiased to say that it is the most efficient wood burning stove irrespective of the soot.

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Did you buy and use this product? If so, we’d appreciate if you shared your experience (how easy was it to start a fire, how much wood did you use, and how long it took you to boil or cook something) with us in comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Robert Wolfe

    I had never researched or considered a wood burning backpacking stove before reading this article. I think my main concerns are whether this stove’s fire would count as a campfire or a contained fire, would the regular operation of this stove would into the Leave No Trace guidelines, and whether you could use it where you’re at. I know that some National Forests in the US allow you to pick up firewood, but most only allow fires in existing rings. As a camping tool, this may lead to some headaches, but as a survival tool, this stove seems awesome.

    • Dennis Owens

      It is definitely an awesome stove. However, you did raise really good points on how to use this one. My suggestion is to double check the parks you’re headed to if they allow this type of stove in the park’s premises.

  • Ryan Young

    I know for me, I hike on private land a lot, so making fuel out of dead fall would be very efficient. We usually just make a campfire, but this stove seems to make that easier to do and burns the wood more efficiently. It would be great for morning coffee when you don’t want to stoke the fire just to boil some water.

    • Dennis Owens

      Private land and lot are great hiking grounds and relatively safer since it is familiar terrain. These type of stoves are indeed perfect since they burn efficiently. Check out the ones listed in the article and see which ones are great for your trips.

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