Gear Review: Solo Stove for Backpacking
A few months ago I connected with Jeff at Solo Stove. He asked us to review their wood burning backpacking stove so we had him send us a few units to put through the paces. Wilderness Dave offered a solid review of the Solo Stove on his blog in November. Dave addresses a lot more of the technical aspects of the stove and its secondary combustion process.
It’s taken me a bit longer to get my review completed. I wanted to test the Solo Stove based on my three types of outdoor adventure: day hiking, camping, and backpacking. The Solo Stove is suited to all three.
The Solo Stove works for day hikers
I often get strange looks from friends at the trailhead when they see a stove in my day pack for a 4-5 hour hike. But there is always a point when we stop for a break that lasts more than a few minutes.
In the past, I would bust out my Snow Peak stove and fuel canister to brew a late morning cup of coffee or boil water for a cup of ramen. Now, I unleash the Solo Stove, snap a few twigs to start the fire, and then build a small pile of feeder sticks.
The Solo Stove is easy to use in general. It only has two pieces and starting a fire is dead simple. I place a few thick twigs on the grate in the bottom of the stove and build a pile of thinner kindling on top which I light to start the fire building process. Those ignite and burn to the point of collapse dropping the fire down onto my larger pieces. Then the downward convection takes over and within a few moments the fire becomes a rager. Well, as much of a rager as this little stove produces.
For day hikes, I like to stop at the mid point for the traditional summit beer. In colder weather though I like coffee or ramen. It’s great fuel for the return and warms from the inside out. The Solo Stove makes that easy.
The best part for day hikers is that the Solo Stove is relatively lightweight coming in at about 9 oz and can be easily justified for a half or full day on the trail.
Campers will love the Solo Stove too
For years, I would pack all my camping gear, everything I owned, for each weekend trip only to realize when I returned that much of it was unnecessary. So I wondered as I made the drive to Sedona how I would justify another addition to my camping kit.
I was pleasantly surprised. There is something about a wood burning stove that appeals more to me than the fuel burning counterparts. I’m not about to abandon my Snow Peak but it will most certainly share time with the Solo Stove moving forward.
If you’re like me, camping is anything but restful. I am constantly stoking the fire, fussing with gear, moving around camp. Building and maintaining a fire in the Solo Stove is easy but it does require some attention. I enjoy the process.
As Dave and I jumped from one topic to another, I scoured the campsite for small twigs to maintain my wood pile.
Throughout the weekend in Sedona, I used the Solo Stove daily for a variety of preparations.
- I prepared coffee every morning
- I boiled water for my daily ramen
- We made hot apple cider as the base for Dave’s new creation: a hot cider bourbon with a orange twist. You need to try that!
The Solo Stove has a place in my camp right next to my Coleman stove. Plus, it works great as a second stove for trips when the campsite is really basecamp for day hikes. The Solo Stove easily drops into my day pack for use on the trail.
Solo Stove was built for backpackers
I’m not really interested in the weight debate that many backpackers question. Ultralight or ultracomfort. Whatever. I select gear that I love and that does the job I need it to do.
The Solo Stove does that. And it does that well.
- It allows me to travel without carrying fuel but I gather good fire starters as I hike anyway
- It weighs approximately 9 oz which for me is negligible
- It’s compact in size and actually fits in a side pocket of my pack
- It brings me closer to my meals by requiring a bit more of my attention
I have come to truly appreciate the process of starting the fire and maintaining it while I cook. I’m not opposed to fuel canisters but there’s something more rewarding that comes from using the Solo Stove. It took me about 10 minutes to boil water on average and during that time I was part of the process. Fuel canisters deliver more of a set it and forget type of experience.
The Bottom Line
It doesn't matter what your adventure is, the Solo Stove is a viable piece of gear for your kit. It's lightweight, compact, and easy to use.
The only downside I've found is that the residual soot can transfer to other things in your pack. Of course, the bag that comes with the Solo Stove seems to easily solve that issue along with the occasional cleaning.
The bonus is that it provides a much more hands on experience for those that appreciate that type of control and experience.
Plus, at just $70 it's a steal.
Disclosure: Solo Stove provided the author with a stove for review at no cost but this in no way impacted the findings of the review. The statements and opinions in this review are the author’s only and were not guided or influenced in any way.