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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > 180 Tack 180 Stove > Test Report by Frances Penn

180 TACK 180 STOVE
TEST SERIES BY FRANCES PENN
LONG-TERM REPORT
February 13, 2013

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Frances Penn
EMAIL: fpenn AT sbcglobal DOT net
AGE: 56
LOCATION: Santa Ana, California
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 135 lb (61.20 kg)

I have been backpacking for five years mostly on long weekends in Southern California with one or two 5-day trips per year in the Sierras. My total daypack weight is usually 15 lb (7 kg) and my total backpack weight is usually 28-30 lb (13-14 kg). I am a tent camper and have experienced all night rain, heavy winds, camping in snow once, but mostly fair weather.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: 180 Tack, LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.180tack.com
MSRP: US $46.95 for Stove, $17.95 for Ash Pan
Listed Weight: Stove 10.4 oz (295 g), 2-Piece Ash Pan 5.8 oz (164 g)
Measured Weight: Stove 10.4 oz (295 g), 2-Piece Ash Pan 5.7 oz (190 g)
Materials: 24 ga, 304 Stainless Steel
Warranty: 2 years from date of purchase
Cooking Surface: 6 by 7 inches (15 by 17 cm)
Dimensions: Assembled 7 inches long x 6 inches wide x 3.25 inches high (17 x 15 x 8 cm)
Disassembled 7 inches long x 3.25 inches wide x 0.6 inches high (17 x 8 x 1.5 cm)

The 180 stove is a compact backpacking stove that fits together into a clean, compact self-forming case for packing. The ash pan fits around the stove to form its own case when packed. The stove is designed to use small amounts of natural fuels available such as twigs, sticks, grass and leaves thus eliminating the need to carry heavy fuel canisters that may leak. The idea is to work with nature in practical and sustainable ways to keep fuel canisters out of landfills.

IMAGE 1
disassembled
IMAGE 2
assembled


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The stove was packed in a small Ziplog bag. The ash pan was also packed in its own Ziplog bag. When the stove is disassembled and fitted into the ash pan, all of the parts fit into the larger Ziplog bag the stove was shipped in. There are two small hook-and-loop closure strips to keep the stove fitted together for packing.

The stove has 3 sides to screen the wind and focus the heat and an open end to allow ample room for feeding the natural fuels into the fire box during cooking. Since the side pieces are identical and interchangeable, they can be assembled on either side of the stove. The three grill cross pieces insert into slots on the outside of the side pieces to lock the stove together creating a large stable cooking surface. The end piece can be assembled in either direction so long as its tab and slot fit into the side pieces.

The stove sits in the assembled 2-piece ash pan for cooking. The 2-piece ash pan is also designed with the tab and slot interlocking connection. The ash pan fits around the self-forming stove case for packing. The side pieces have 180 stove stamped on the bottom for more air flow and the back piece has 6 holes for additional air flow.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Before cooking, scrape the first inch of surface materials from the soil in a small level area. To light the stove, place the fire starter material on the ash pan first, then make a teepee with twigs. Pack the material loose so enough air can get in between and allow the fire to get enough oxygen to stay lit. Pine needles turned brown on the tree make excellent fire starter. Once the flames have receded, spread the coals in the ash pan for even heat and then place the already assembled stove on top of the fire on the ash pan and begin cooking. As the fire dies, the open end of the stove is large enough to easily add more fuel for prolonged cooking. Charcoal or gel fuels can also be used, but paper should not be used as it can blow away and start fires in other locations. After cooking, drown any remaining coals and then replace the surface materials over the cooking area to prevent fire scars. The ash pan also helps to prevent fire scars and keep the fire contained.

Obviously, it is not a good idea to touch the stove when hot. After cooking, let the stove cool and then wipe with a clean cloth to remove dirt and smoke residue before disassembling the stove for packing. Be sure the ashes are cold and then bury them. The stove can be cleaned with standard dishwashing detergents and is dishwasher safe. Discoloration is normal with use.

All fire restrictions should be observed. The stove should only be used outdoors in well ventilated areas.


TRYING IT OUT

In trying to decide on the best fire starter that would imitate what would be available in the field, I decided to use dryer lint soaked in rubbing alcohol. I will experiment with different items for starting the fire to determine which works best in each situation.

I got the fire started and gave it a few minutes for the flame to settle down and then spread the coals for an even fire. After placing my assembled stove over the fire in the ash pan, my 20 oz. (o.6 L) of water was boiling within 4 minutes and I then added the food to the pot. Once the cold food was added to the pot, I needed to add more twigs to stoke the fire. Within a minute, my dinner was boiling again and continued to cook until finished. The stove opening is large enough to easily add fuel to the fire during cooking.

IMAGE 3
getting started on dinner


By the time dinner was finished, the fire was out and the pot was cool. I then started to disassemble the stove. My pot had soot on the bottom and sides from the flames coming up the side. I cleaned the pot, the ash pan and then my hands with hand sanitizer and paper towels. I plan to use these same paper towels as fire starter the next time in an effort to keep with the sustainable idea of the stove.

IMAGE 4
dinner is ready


SUMMARY

The stove provides a large stable cooking surface which I appreciate because I am often cooking for my friends with my bigger pot. The stove is fun to use but does take more effort to cook meals than other backpacking stoves I have used. The clean-up takes longer because of the ash disposal and cleaning the soot from the stove and then my hands. However, these inconveniences may be offset by not having to carry fuel which would allow my trips to be extended because of the lighter pack.

Things I like:
large stable cooking surface
not having to carry fuel
cooking time can be varied depending on the food
I can bring food I wouldn't normally carry because of longer cooking time
large opening to add twigs during cooking
compact size when packed

Things I don't like:
soot on the stove, ash pan and pot
clean-up takes longer
my hands get sooty during clean-up.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #1:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 3,000 ft (914 M)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: sandy desert terrain
Temperatures: 70 F (21 C)
Weather: very windy

I wasn't able to get the stove lit using the dirty paper towels with a little hand sanitizer added because of the extreme wind at night. The next morning, there was no wind and I added a tiny bit of dryer lint with some hand sanitizer soaked in, with the dirty paper towels as a bed and some small twigs and grass on top, the fire started quickly.

Trip #2:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 3,000 ft (914 m)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: sandy desert terrain
Temperatures: 50-70 F (10-21 C)
Weather: windy

I had a lot of trouble lighting the stove in the wind. It took 25 mins to get a good set of coals and subsequently get the water to boil for dinner and hot drinks.

Trip #3:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2134 M)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: off trail forest
Temperatures: 30-60 F (-1 -15C)
Weather: cold day hiking in the forest on about 3 inches of snow pack

After much difficulty, it took me 25 minutes to get a good set of coals burning. Once the stove was lit, the pre-cooked food was hot within 2 minutes. I found the dried leaves and pine needles were good fire starter. I took a dried portion of pine needles including the sap portion from a pine tree and used that with dryer lint soaked in rubbing alcohol to get the fire started. That combination burned long enough to add some dried grass and finally some small twigs and then small pieces of bark to get a fire that would stay lit.

Trip #4:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 3,000 ft (914 M)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: sandy desert terrain
Temperatures: 30-60 F (-1 -15C)

I tried lighting the stove with cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly and dryer lint soaked in rubbing alcohol on a bed of paper towels with dried grass and small twigs on top. The fire started quickly. I then added more small twigs and some little larger twigs. The fire went out but the coals were burning. I wasn't able to get the fire lit again. I then added another lump of dryer lint soaked in rubbing alcohol and the lighter assisted with getting the fire going again. Now that the coals were hot, the fire continued to burn the larger twigs and smaller sticks.

Trip #5:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2134 m)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: off trail forest
Temperature: 30 F (-1 C)
Weather: cold days hiking in the forest on about 6 inches of snow pack

In the snow, it took 70 mins to get the fire burning after many restarts, using denatured alcohol, leaves and twigs as fire starter. I may have not been patient enough to get the coals hot before placing the pot on the stove.

Trip #6:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2134 m)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: off trail forest
Temperature: 30 F (-1 C)
Weather: snowing lightly in the forest on about 8 inches of snow pack

It took 20 minutes to get the fire burning after a few restarts using fireplace fire starter, cotton balls with petroleum jelly, dried pine needles, dried leaves and small twigs. After the fire was burning, it took 3 minutes to get the water boiling. When cooking in snow, as the fire gets going, the snow under the stove melts from the heat and the stove leans to one side. It is important to get the surface as flat as possible and reinforce with rocks or bigger pieces of wood under the ash pan to keep the stove level during cooking.

Trip #7:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 3,000 ft (914 m)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: sandy desert terrain
Temperature: 30 F (-1 C)
Weather: cool and slightly breezy

Broken pieces from a fireplace starter burned long enough to get the dried leaves and small twigs to establish some good coals. I then added the larger twigs and bark. The water was hot in 3 minutes and dinner was ready.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I was disappointed in my fire starting capabilities. The fire starter that worked best for me was small pieces broken off from a fireplace starting block. I tried dryer lint soaked in rubbing alcohol, cotton balls with petroleum jelly, dried leaves, dried pine needles, and small candles. These items worked to get a quick flame but most of the time they were not able to sustain burning long enough to get the small twigs to catch fire to establish the coals.

The biggest challenge for me was to be patient enough to get a good bed of coals hot and then add the larger twigs and eventually smaller pieces of bark and then wood. The stove is very efficient. Once the coals are established, it doesn't take very long or much wood to get the water boiling. It is easy to add more wood to the fire with the large opening on the stove. The stove is large enough to accommodate a pot that will cook for more than one person. I usually had at least one other person with me on my trips and we were able to eat our meals from my one larger pot.

IMAGE 1
cooking dinner

IMAGE 2
enjoying dinner


SUMMARY

The stove is constructed out of sturdy materials. I had a little trouble getting the grate pieces to slide into their slots on the stove sides after a few cooking sessions. This resulted in getting soot on my hands before lighting the fire.

I am still not a fan of the soot that gets on my fingers when putting the stove together and taking it apart. The bottom of my cook pan that was silver is now completely black from the soot and after many scrubbings remains black. Each time the bottom of the pan was coated with soot, I wiped it with paper towels and a little leftover hot water. Each time a little less soot was removed in the cleaning process, resulting in a completely black pot bottom. The soot does not affect the performance of the pot, just the appearance. I wiped off as much soot as possible so it would not make contact with the rest of my pack contents.

Considering the weight of the stove and ash pan, I only saved weight by not having to carry fuel canisters. I had to carry small pieces of the fire starter block and extra paper towels for clean-up which then became the bed for my coals on the next cooking session. Using this stove made me look around a lot more at the end of a hiking day for good fire fuel which added an extra element of fun to my outdoor adventures.

Likes:
I always had readily available fuel
Once the fire is started, the stove is very efficient
Packs down to a small size for carrying

Dislikes:
Soot gets on my fingers during assembly and disassembly of the stove
Difficult to get the grate pieces into the stove sides, but easy to remove after cooking
I needed to carry fire starter to get the fire burning long enough to be able to add wood
Difficult to light in windy conditions


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Trip #8:
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California USA
Elevation: 3,000 ft (914 m)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: sandy desert terrain
Temperatures: 50-70 F (10-21 C)
Weather: windy

Trip #9:
Location: Big Bear area, California USA
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2134 M)
Trip duration: 2 days, 1 night
Conditions: off trail forest
Temperatures: 30-60 F (-1 -15 C)
Weather: cold days hiking in the forest on about 3 inches of snow pack

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My experience with the stove on these trips was similar to my earlier trips. Although my fire starting abilities have improved, I still need to be patient when starting the fire. Patience to get a good set of coals burning long enough to be able to add the small twigs and then the larger twigs to establish the fire. If I try to hurry the fire starting process, the fire goes out and produces smoke. Then I usually need to begin the fire starting process all over again. This is difficult at the end of a long cold day when I am hungry for hot food and drink and low on patience.

With each use, the grate pieces became more difficult to place into their slots on the sides of the stove. By the end of this test, the assembly required significantly more time and manipulation. Once assembled, the performance of the stove did not change.

I dislike that soot gets on my hands while handling the stove before and after cooking. I carried extra paper towels, hand sanitizer and trash bags for the clean-up.

CONTINUED USE

I expect to use this stove on longer trips where the weight savings would be significant by not carrying the fuel canisters. I may pair this stove with the stoves my hiking partners carry with the idea that when we are in a hurry, we will use their quick lighting stoves and when we have more time for a leisurely meal, we will use this stove. Having both types of stoves on an extended trip is a good idea as a back-up for the entire group.

SUMMARY

My impression remains the same. I like the idea of not having to carry the fuel canisters, but the fire starting items I carried appear to make the weight savings minimal. Always having readily available fuel in the forest is a positive. Knowing how to put it to good use was my fire starting challenge. I like that the stove can accommodate my larger cook pot which makes it easier to cook for a group, thus saving the group weight of more people carrying a stove and fuel. It is also helpful to employ the group effort to gather materials for the fire on the last part of the hike towards camp.

This test series is now concluded. Thank you to 180 Tack and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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