We all know that preppers have a passion for gear.
And in no other instance do you see this passion come out more often then when they purchase and talk about the contents of their bug-out bags.
However, while I think it’s fantastic that people are building and getting excited about BOBs, it becomes too excessive when they try to pack them with every imaginable piece of “required” gear they find. They soon end up with a pack they can hardly get on their backs let alone lug it for a few miles.
Well, I’m not one to talk. I fell into the same trap and ended up with a BOB that was over 60 lbs.
Believe me, if you ever had to carry a 65 pound backpack more than 2 miles you’d probably agree with me – it’s not fun.
And since my legs and conditioning ain’t what it used to be, lately I’ve been on a mission to reduce the bulk and weight of my own bug out bag. One of the areas where I’ve been able to strip-down a fair amount of weight is with my backpack stove.
The Heavy “Lightweight” Stove
For the longest time I used to carry around an MSR “lightweight” gas stove along with four 8 ounce bottles of fuel. Sure the stove was only a measly 3oz, but the fuel and stove were far from lightweight, weighing a total of 35 oz (over two lbs!).
As a side note: I carried four with me since MSR recommends 4 oz. (114 ml) of liquid fuel per person per day for cooking or 8 oz. (237 ml) of liquid fuel per person per day for melting snow and cooking.
Since I was lugging my family’s and my fuel supply (which would only last around 2 days according to MSR’s recommendations) I felt I had to at least carry 4 bottles. So despite the “lightweight” designation of these cooking stoves, it ended up being too much.
Enter the Solo Stove…
The Solo Stove
Well, over the last few months, I’ve been testing out an excellent little backpacking stove by the name of the Solo Stove.
This stove runs completely on wood and other biomass so not only is the fuel renewable but best of all, you don’t have to carry it with you since it’s all around you.
Since every pound counts when you’re carrying a backpack, I have been able to save over 2 pounds of weight just because of using the stove.
In this video, you can see my review of the Solo Stove and how it works:
How it Works
Here’s the explanation of how the Solo Stove works from the manufacturer:
The Solo Stove is a natural convection inverted downgas gasifer stove that incorporates a secondary combustion for a more efficient and cleaner burn.
The bottom vents allow air to enter and flow up the bottom of the grate to feed the primary combustion, a top down smolder.
In addition, air entering in from the bottom vents heats up within the inner wall and rises up and out the top firebox vents causing a secondary combustion at the top of the stove.
The Solo Stove actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice! This technique makes for a cleaner burn which means less smoke and also allows the stove to burn more efficiently.
And here’s a visual of that process:
Having used it frequently for the last few months it’s definitely been proven to be a very efficient little stove requiring little wood to cook and boil water.
Solo Stove Specs
Packed size: Height 3.8 inches, Width 4.25 inches
Assembled size: Height 5.7 inches, Width 4.25 inches
Weight: 9 oz
Materials: 304 stainless steel, nichrome wire
Fuel: sticks, twigs, pine cones and other biomass
Boil time: 8-10 mins (32 fl oz of water)
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Solo Stove
The biggest advantage as I have mentioned is that you don’t have to carry around fuel with you. The fuel is all around you in the form of a small sticks twigs park matter and other biomass fuels.
And once you get a decent flame going, you can pretty much put any dry biomass into the hot stove and it will burn it efficiently.
The other advantage is that because of the gasification process, these little stoves are very efficient — it really doesn’t take that much fuel to cook your food or boil your water.
The biggest disadvantage should be obvious: This stove doesn’t work well if all your fuel you find is wet.
However, with a little practice you can learn how to find dry fuel in wet conditions.
For example, even in rain you can still get dry, dead twigs and branches that are attached to standing dead or live trees (such as with most conifer trees like pines, spruces and hemlocks).
And even if these sticks you gather from the trees are a little wet on the outside, you can shave off the outer portion to get access to the dry inner core and use that for fuel.
Obviously, this isn’t the best option, but keep in mind you can also burn Sterno fuel cans or hexamine tablets inside of the Solo Stove — giving you a backup option for those days where it might be too wet or you don’t have time to go through the process of creating dry fuel.
All in all I think the Solo Stove is a fantastic addition to anyone’s bug out bag. Especially if you are familiar with making fires and making fires in inclement weather this is a definite must-have add-on to your bug out bag or even a replacement of your existing cooking stove option.
If you’re interested in purchasing one of these, Amazon always has the best prices: Get your Solo Stove here.