An Ideal Stove for Outdoor Cooking

Long time readers know I am always on the look-out for lightweight portable stoves to test out, having had less than stellar results in the past. Living in an apartment in the city, we cannot deny the possibility we may have to bug out if there were an extended emergency.  In addition, we enjoy camping and backpacking, and a lightweight stove is a must.

Sole Stove box

I was excited to try out the Solo Stove.  It is a small, portable stove that uses biomass (twigs, dried leaves, etc) for fuel.  Not needing to bring special fuel is a big advantage:  since you can easily find branches and twigs, you are not adding weight to your bug-out bag.


The stove is very easy to assemble:  just set the cooking ring on top of the stove so that the prongs are on top.  That is what your pot will rest on.

Starting the Fire

1.   First, collect your fuel:  in our case, Mr. Apt Prepper gathered up twigs, dried leaves and a few acorns out in the back of our building.  Place the twigs in the stove chamber.  The twigs or wood pieces should be roughly two to three inches in length.

Sizing Sticks for kindling for Solo Stove2.  Make sure the stove is on a level area, away from the wind.  We just set it on a  paving stone.  The Solo Stove’s instructions can be found here.

3.  Start the fire.   It would have been easier to use firestarter, but we wanted to see how it would perform by just lighting the fuel using matches.  The dried leaves caught fire instantly and in a couple of minutes, the rest of the twigs were burning nicely.

Burning leaves in Solo Stove  4.  We set a pan containing two cups of water on the stove.  We continued to add twigs to the fire.  The water started to boil in about 10 minutes, which is a lot faster than I’ve experienced with a regular campfire.

Pan on Solo StoveCleaning

Once the fire has died down and stove has cooled completely,  all you need to do is empty out the ash.  Since the fuel is all organic, you don’t need to worry about polluting the area.

Ash inside Solo StoveA bit of soot may cling to the stove but it is easily wiped off.

We put the stove through the paces and it performed well.  Mr Apt Prepper kept an objective eye over the test.  If we had to come up with an area of improvement it would be to provide more detailed instructions for the inexperienced portable stove user.  One thing that is not obvious to a new user is gauging the amount of fuel that is needed.  Using dried twigs, the stove did not give off much smoke at all, which is great for a bug-out stove, when you don’t want to attract a lot of attention with your cooking fire.   For those readers who are inclined to “do-it-yourself”  there are many plans found around the internet that provide instructions on how to make one.



For beginning preppers

Backpacking Stove Test

At my last post we discussed backup cooking methods when there is no electricity   We purchased the backpacking stove for two reasons:  we would like to go backpacking one of these days, and we also wanted a lightweight stove in case we have to evacuate in an emergency.

It was still in the box with the rest of the supplies so we needed to test it.  When you are in the midst of an emergency the last thing you’d want is to find out your equipment does not work.    The fuel canister appears in the photo but it is not included in the box.

It is a separate purchase.  The fuel that goes in it also is separate.

Kerosene would also work on this stove.

Following the step by step instructions, you pour the fuel into the canister and attach the hose and pump to the fuel canister.  You had to pump the canister 20-30 times depending on how full it is to create pressure before attaching it to the stove.  You also had to assemble the stove and lay it on top of an aluminum heat reflector.  Once you had it all connected, and properly adjusted, you light the wick of the stove and the flame comes up yellow.

After a few minutes the flame turns blue and it is ready to use.

I think I would keep these instructions close to the stove, as I don’t think I would remember everything.  During the test, I noticed the stove does give off a distinct fuel smell so we had to throw open all windows and turn on the fans.  These little stoves are definitely for outdoor use and I do not recommend using them indoors.

Solar Battery Charger Test that Failed

A couple of days ago I was all excited to test a new solar battery charger we had purchased.  Per instructions I loaded it with four rechargeable batteries I had in the battery drawer.

I left the solar charger in the window sill under direct sunlight for about five hours.  Then I plugged in a drained iPod to see if it would charge it.  Well… nothing happened.   Perhaps I didn’t leave the charger under direct sun long enough.  I move it to another sunny window left it out for another three hours.  Again, nothing happened.   Read the instructions further and found I followed them properly.  So I replaced the rechargeable solar batteries with regular Duracels and sure enough, the iPod started charging.   The solar batteries weren’t charging, but the charger was working fine.  So I looked for the battery package and checked if it had a date.   The date on the package said 12/1/2006!   Arggghhh – five year old solar batteries!  Of course they didn’t work, they were beyond expired.

The moral of the story is, check those expiration dates!  I went and picked up some fresh rechargeable batteries.  I will repeat the test on the new solar battery charger and will post the real review soon after.