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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Solo Stove > Test Report by Michael Mosack

Solo Stove
Test Series by Mike Mosack
LONG-TERM REPORT
May 05, 2012

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Mosack
EMAIL: mosack@earthlink.net
AGE: 49
LOCATION: San Diego, California, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 240 lb (109.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, doing solo and group trips, with and without kids. I do day trips, weekenders and week-long or longer trips throughout the year. I backpack in all climates and seasons and in various locations within the USA, to include my favorites being Yosemite and Sierra Nevadas, California. I also have worked in Afghanistan for 4 years and rely on my backpacking equipment constantly. I go lighter whenever possible. Quality and reliability of items I carry are paramount to me over price and weight.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Solo Stove
IMAGE 1
Actual item tested

Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: www.solostove.com
MSRP: US $89.99
Listed Weight: 9 oz (255 g)
Measured Weight: 9 oz (255 g)

Size (nested): 4.25 inch (10.8 cm) diameter, 3.8 inches (9.7 cm) tall
Size (assembled): 4.25 inch (10.8 cm) diameter, 5.7 inches (14.5 cm) tall
Constructed using hardened 304 stainless steel and nichrome wire
Time to Boil (per manufacturer): 8-10 minutes to boil 34 fl oz (1 liter) water

The manufacturer offers a 30 day money back guarantee and one year warranty from date of purchase.
This stove can be purchased directly from the manufacturer's website.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

According to the website, "The Solo Stove is the ultimate backpacking stove - a lightweight, compact, efficient eco-friendly backpacking stove that will last you a lifetime."

IMAGE 2
stove assembled



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 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 doesn't just burn wood. It 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 which means it requires less fuel than regular wood stoves.

We're especially excited about how little of an impact the Solo Stove has on the environment. It's easy to use yet extremely functional. At only 9 oz, this stove is portable and light weight and because it uses bio-fuel (twigs, wood, seeds etc.), you no longer need to buy and carry around disposable canisters of gas fuel. With the Solo Stove, as long as you have wood you'll be all set to cook.

The Solo Stove was built for serious backpackers, survivalists, emergency disaster kits and campers alike and when used properly, your Solo Stove will last you a lifetime!

IMAGE 3
stove (nested) ready to store away


TRYING IT OUT

The manufacturer claims that the Solo Stove's efficiency is that it boils 34 fl oz (1 l) of water in 8 to 10 minutes. I will be testing the burn/boil rates and will share that information in my Field Report. I tried it out on my back porch and found it lights easily and works very well. I like how it packs up in its "nested" configuration. With only two parts, it is simple to use and when nested, it fits inside my titanium mug to save a lot of space in my pack. Not having to carry any fuel with me anymore, seems I'll wave weight and I always like that idea!
I am eager to get this out on the trail.

IMAGE 4
And it works too!

SUMMARY

I am surprised with this stove. The quality is above my initial expectations. The weight is less than what I envisioned when I first read about the stove. It has a simple design using only two parts and seems very efficient. It also happens to fit right inside my titanium mug perfectly to save space in my pack.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Location #1 - Pacific Crest Trail section in Laguna Mountain region of Southern California, USA
Conditions: Ungroomed foot trails and forest access dirt roads. Temperatures ranging from 55 to 90 F (13 to 32 C)
Duration: Two trips, 2 and 3 days (and nights) respectively.

Location #2 - Numerous areas in Occotia Wells and Anza-Borrega Springs, California, USA
Conditions: Typical desert including rocky, sandy, ungroomed, open, and dry terrain. Temperatures ranging from approximately 70 to over 90 F (21 to over 32 C).
Duration: Four days, three nights.

Location #3 - Numerous miscellaneous day hikes ranging from 2 - 5 miles (3 - 8 km) in the area of Eastern San Diego County, California, USA.
Conditions: Maintained trails, grassy areas, some concrete sidewalks and maintained roadway shoulders. Temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 F (21 to 27 C).
Duration: Day hikes only.

IMAGE 5
On the Pacific Crest Trail

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My style of backpacking is such that I prefer to take my time unless I am looking to beat weather or other factors that might require me to speed up. I enjoy the time in the field and watching nature in action or inaction for that matter. The Solo Stove fits into my style just right. I can cook efficiently without waiting long for water to boil.

Here is an example of what I have experienced.
Outside temperature = 75 F ( C)
Tinder / Fuel = dry grasses and leaves / broken sticks (finger diameter) to fit in stove and fed as needed to keep flame up.
16 fl oz (0.5 L) Water at approximately the same temperature
Time to rolling boil = under 5 minutes with steady aggressive flame, but it can take more than 10 minutes without steady flame (red embers) or when the wind is unshielded.

I never had any issues locating fuel, but then I also did not experience any rains either. My hikes continually were in dry conditions so all of my tinder and fuel were dry as well.

I found the stove very easy to set up and use. I learned quickly that the stove required a clear area, free of dead grasses or anything that could burn unintentionally. The stove does get hot to the touch and it can sometimes be a little difficult to quickly add fuel to it through the small opening. I have had to put out fire in the grass surrounding the stove where I had placed it directly on the ground. It only happened once and I ensured it wouldn't happen again. Common sense and an aptitude for safety play a role in using this stove like any other stove I own.

SUMMARY

I am enjoying using this stove quite a bit. I like not having to carry fuel and I like the simplicity of this stove. It packs well and fits inside my titanium mug. The entire kit is very light, much lighter than my other white gas stoves, even without the fuel added.

I would prefer to see a larger opening to feed the stove fuel. The small opening it has often makes it difficult to get twigs and sticks shoved inside. My preference to keep my fingers from getting burned overrides my ability to get the sticks in through the opening when flames are present.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Two trips, 2 and 3 days (and nights) to the Pacific Crest Trail section in Laguna Mountain region of Southern California, USA
Conditions: Ungroomed foot trails and forest access dirt roads. Temperatures ranging from 55 to 90 F (13 to 32 C)

A three day trip to the Sierra Nevadas in California and Nevada, USA. The dry terrain consisted of grassy fields, to rocky mountainous areas. The weather there consisted of sunny and clear to partly cloudy skies and temperatures from 68 F (20 C) to 80 F (27 C). Elevations I have traveled during this test period have ranged from approximately 4000 ft (1200 m) to over 6500 ft (1980 m).

Numerous miscellaneous day hikes ranging from 2 - 5 miles (3 - 8 km) in the area of Eastern San Diego County, California, USA.
Conditions: Maintained trails, grassy areas, some concrete sidewalks and maintained roadway shoulders. Temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 F (21 to 27 C).
Duration: Day hikes only. I took the stove with me and made lunch.

IMAGE 6
My Solo Stove


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Throughout this test period, I have been able to use my stove numerous times. It has been reliable, easy to start, and use. The stove continues to store easily in my pack and it has not shown any signs of dents or other damage. The stove / tinder lights easily, but it is sometimes difficult to add additional tinder to an existing fire as the "window" is a little small for my liking. I have found it is sometimes a challenge to get sticks into the stove without accidently touching the hot sides of the stove. I have gotten much better at this the more I have used the stove, but I would still be appreciative of a larger "window" opening in which to load the tinder.

SUMMARY

Every once in a while I come across an item that surprises me. I might get a pre-conceived idea of how I think something will perform and how I might like or not like it. Then very quickly I find that I was way off. This stove was a very pleasant surprise. I was a liquid fuel stove guy for years. I trust them and I have my favorite. The Solo Stove has successfully challenged everything I believed and I am now a convert.

I have thoroughly enjoyed testing this stove. I have found that it is smaller, lighter, and sturdier than I first thought it was going to be. It is simple to use and not having to carry liquid fuel has been a relief. Finding sticks and other tinder has not been as difficult as I initially feared and it has been very easy to cook with. There is black colored soot that is a little sticky that came from burning sticks from a pine tree. Although I now feel that I could have found a different tinder to keep that from happening, it has not been a real concern for me.

Pros:
Small size
Lightweight
Sturdy
Only two components and a no-brainer to operate
Works very well

Cons:
I would like a larger opening to feed additional tinder

I would like to thank Solo Stove and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to participate in this test.

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

Read more reviews of Solo Stove gear
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