This past year I started digging into all my old camping gear trying to decide what needed to get replaced and what was still usable. Well, most everything I own is still usable, but modern products have gotten smaller and weigh less. I wanted to upgrade my older gear into lighter gear, and one of those items I scrutinized was my bushcraft wood burning stove.
Previously I had been using a box stove on some camping trips which worked well enough and got the job done. However along with the folded box stove I still had to carry a pot for boiling water. Both items packed easy enough, but took up a little more space than some of the round twig stoves I was seeing being used in various YouTube camping videos; such as the Bushbuddy and Solo Stove.
I liked how the Bushbuddy and Solo Stoves could be packed inside a small sized cooking pot – saving space!
So over this past spring, summer, and into fall, I bought several portable stainless steel stoves in an effort to find the best twig stove. Luckily these types of stoves are not that expensive. I started out purchasing some ‘cheaper’ priced twig stoves and was never really satisfied after testing them out. Eventually I bought a Solo Stove Lite and it’s accompanying pot… and love it.
For the record here is a list of the backpacking twig stoves I purchased from Amazon and tested out:
- Luxida (open slot model)
- Solo Stove Lite
The only one of the above products made in the United States is the Solo Stove. Ohuhu and the iRegro were ‘okay’ products, but had a wider circumference than what I wanted requiring them to be packed in 14cm Zebra pots (which is a bigger pot than I need to do solo or 2 person camping), and they had flimsier construction.
The Solo Stove is reviewed below, and a link is provided on the cheapest place I found to buy it. If you do solo or 1-3 person camping, the Solo Stove Lite is a great way to go.
Solo Stove Lite Review
- Name: Solo Stove Lite
- Price: Varies, $69 – $90
- Cheapest Place To Buy: Amazon
- Guarantees: Lifetime guarantee to be free of defects in material and workmanship
- My Rating: 5/5
Solo Stove also makes a pot, called the Solo Pot 900, that the Solo Stove easily stores inside making it a very convenient set to pack and carry around. I actually bought the combo stove and pot, which retails for around $105. Both items have fantastic online reviews. Here is a link to where I bought the combo set: Solo Twig Stove & Pot Set.
Solo Stove Lite: The Fine Details
- Packed Size: Height 3.8″ x width 4.25″
- Assembled Size: Height 5.7″ x width 4.25″
- Weight: 9oz
- Material: 304 Stainless Steel
- Fuel: Twigs, wood chips, leaves, pine cones, etc…
- Boil Time: 32 oz of water in 8-10 minutes
The Solo Stove Lite was awarded the “Gear of the Year Award” from Backpacker Magazine, and was rated the #1 backpacking stove.
It is designed to fit inside the Solo Pot 900 for easy storage taking up less space in your pack. It will fit on other pots, such as the Zebra 12cm as well. I have both a 12cm zebra pot as well as the Solo Pot 900. Both work great, but I personally prefer the 900.
The Solo Stove Lite has two pieces to it when it’s not assembled; the base and the cooking ring. The cooking ring when turned upside down sets inside the base. The packed size is 3.8″ x 4.25″. When the cook ring is turned right side up it sets onto the base for easy cooking. The assembled size is 5.7″ x 4.25″. It takes just several seconds to unpack the stove and have it ready to cook on.
Best Twig Stove – What I Like
The Solo Pot 900 is only 4.5″ x 4.7″, and the stove fits inside it. I really like that I can carry both the Solo Stove Lite as well as the Solo Pot 900 together in one easy to carry unit. Saving space on a camping trip is huge in my opinion. It also fits inside my 12cm Zebra Pot!
All you need is a some easy to find twigs and smaller pieces of kindling to get a fire going that is super easy and convenient to cook over. No need to carry fuel canisters – your fuel is all around you and easy to find, and it doesn’t take much to get a good burn going.
There is an open slot in the cooking ring that allows you to insert more twigs for fueling the fire. I like this design feature as you don’t need to remove your pan or pot from the fire in order to add more fuel to the fire. Some of the other stoves I listed above don’t have this feature.
- I don’t need to carry fuel canisters, I can use twigs and kindling from the woods to cook, provide heat, boil water, etc…
- It’s highly portable. The compact size and light weight makes it easy to pack for any camping, hunting, hiking, or remote fishing trips
- It sets up fast and is producing a flame and stable cooking surface within a minute.
- I like the smell and crackle of burning wood over the howl and hiss of a propane style burner.
- Buy the Solo Pot 900 and the stove slides into it for easy transport of a cooking pot and the stove.
- Cut out area on the cooking ring makes it easy to feed fuel into the burn area without taking your pot or pan off the heat.
- You can also buy an insert device that allows you burn alcohol – this requires you bring alcohol to burn. I didn’t buy this extra piece of kit, but it’s nice to to know it is available.
I can always find wood fuel to burn in my Solo Stove. Even if I am in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and it has been raining for days, I can still produce a fire in my twig stove with a little work and effort to get the wet wood lit. Tiny twigs and leaves light up pretty quick, even when wet, with enough heat applied to them.
(Fire starting hack: As a backup, I always carry a half dozen cotton balls that I infuse with Vaseline in a zip-lock bag in my camp gear. Just one little ball will light up fast from a swipe of your ferro-rod and burn for about two minutes – plenty of time to get some wet twigs and leaves to combust inside your twig stove.)
This Is Why The Solo Stove Works So Well
Most of the other twig stoves I bought and tested out are of the same overall design as the solo stove. They have a double wall that allows for excellent airflow properties which result in an efficient burn.
There are air intake holes at the bottom of the Solo Stove channel air to the bottom feeding the fire. At the same time the open space between the walls heats up, and the heated oxygen rises and feeds back into the firebox through the smaller holes at the top causing a secondary combustion.
That design and process allows the fire to burn complete from top and bottom, creating a lot of heat to your pot or pan for boiling water, cooking, or creating quick heat for warmth.
Minor Drawbacks Of Twig Stoves
Any twig stove you use and cook over with a pot or pan is going to produce soot. This results in your pot turning black over multiple uses. Not a big deal, it just happens. It in no way hurts your pot or pan, it will still be usable on the inside, the outside will just turn black.
I cant’ really call this a drawback – any experienced camper has this happen to their cook gear when cooking over an open fire. If this blackening of the outside of your cook gear would bother you, there are a few things you can do to minimize it.
- Coat the outside of your pot or pan with soap. You can take a bar of soap before you use it and rub it all over the outside of the cooking pot. After you cook with it, the soot residue will rub right off without too much effort.
- Use hard wood like oak and maple for your twig kindling. Hard woods will create less soot than soft woods like pine, birch, and cedar.
The Solo Stove and the Solo Pot both come with their own carry bag you can slide them into for storing and transporting. No need to worry about soot rubbing off on any of your gear. I usually carry a rag with me in my kit and wipe the down on the outside before storing them away.
Another thing to consider is that a burner type stove that runs of a fuel canister is going to heat up your pan or cooking pot faster than a wood fire. It is really just a matter of a few minutes though, and not really a detriment in the grand scheme of things. My portable burner stove heats up two cups of water in about three minutes, my Solo Stove Lite takes about four or five minutes.
Solo Stove Review – Conclusion
With a twig stove like the Solo Stove Lite, you don’t have to worry about hauling along any fuel for your cooking needs. Twigs and other natural sources of fuel will always be close at hand. Imagine how much space and weight you are saving in your gear not having to haul around fuel canisters? It might not be a big deal over as short weekend trip, but on a long multi day hike or canoe trip it sure would.
If you are looking for a new compact stove that you can cook over, boil water, or provide some quick warmth, then you should seriously consider looking into a twig stove. I would recommend the Solo Stove Lite. It’s perfect for the solo backpacker or a backpacking couple. Solo Stove makes larger twig stoves that are suitable for larger groups of people as well.
Another great add on purchase I would recommend is getting the Solo Pot 900. The Solo Stove Lite nestles perfectly inside the Solo Pot 900, which holds 30oz. Combined you have a super compact cooking system ideal for boiling water to re-hydrate food, or cooking 1-2 person sized meals in.
My Solo Stove Lite and Solo Pot 900 are a permanent piece of kit in my Medium Alice Pack.
If you are looking to buy one of these amazing little twig stoves, you can follow this link to Amazon here.
Check back to this post in a week or two, as I hope to add a YouTube video of this product.
Thanks for reading my Solo Stove Review. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.