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Review of the Solo Stove wood-burning backpacking stove

Hello. My name is Sam and I'm here to do a review of the Solo Stove wood-burning backpacking stove. So, I'm out here on my patio, but I wanted to show you the kit that I put together for my Solo Stove. The first thing that I got here that you see is a pot cozy case, actually. I've got, basically, two pot cozies put together that houses my kit. So, I made it out of duct tape, you see, of course, here, in a reflective window shade. I had an old one so I cut it apart to make this, and you can find instructions for making pot cozies online.

So, I got a lid piece here, and inside the lid, I have the pot that I got for this. This is a Premise aluminum kettle. Actually, it doesn't have a frying pan on the top, which is one of the reasons why I got it. Then, I have a pot cozy here at the bottom. The reason why it's nice to put it in a pot cozy is, you'll see, when you use this pot with this stove, it gets quite black and, so, having something to put it inside of, makes it really nice to take care of your pack.

One, I've made the pot cozy. I made it with a slight slit in the side so that I could fit my stove in here with the handles and still have access, still keep the pot warm. So, pot cozies are useful for keeping the pot warm and, also, for putting plastic bags inside of, when you're cooking. If you want to use a durable Ziploc bag, pour some boiling water in with your food and set it on a pot cozy. You can let it cook in there while you either heat up more water or let the stove cool down. So, I took the lid off. I've got a camping towel wrapped around the stove itself. Then, I'm going to pull out the stove here, as it comes. So, this is the top ring of the Solo Stove that you use to set pots on top of.

You can see, by the way, that I've used my Solo Stove a lot, and I wanted to do that before I did a review, just so I'd be fairly qualified to talk about it. Right here, I've got a small tinder kit which has some Swedish fire steel and some cotton-ball/Vaseline tinder, which I'll show you how to use in a second and how to make, as well. Then, I've got the Solo Stove inside of here and then just a pack towel that you can use to wipe out the inside of your pot or whatever else. It also keeps it from rattling inside your pack, which is kind of nice.

So, here's the kit which I put together and, altogether, depending on how much tinder you have, it weighs about 19 or 20 ounces. You can buy a titanium pot but I opted for a much cheaper aluminum one. I think I got it for under $20 online somewhere, and I made sure to get one that actually fit the stove nicely. So, it all goes together as a nice kit.

So, I'm going to show you how I set this up to boil some water. I gathered some iam [SP] at home, but when I was out hiking I gathered some dry sticks to use, as well. So, I'm going to set up and show you how to, first, make some cotton-ball/Vaseline tinder. There are other videos online but it's really fast. So, I'll show you. Then I'm going to go ahead and start a fire. I'm going to boil 32 ounces of water which goes in here. Thirty-two ounces is kind of nice because it allows you to cook dinner for two people in one boil. I'm going on a backpack trip later this summer, and there's going to be four of us and so that'll make it just a little bit faster to cook dinner while still having a lightweight setup.

Next up, I'm going to show you how to make some cotton-ball/Vaseline tinder and to start a fire. So, making tinder is easy enough to do. It requires 100% cotton balls and not any synthetic, but these are pretty easy to find and they're pretty cheap. I think it was a couple of bucks for this bag of a ridiculous number of them and some regular old Vaseline. To make it, you see I've got some in my tinder bag here and, of course, I usually hike with more than that on a longer trip, but I'll show you how to make one. Grab a cotton ball. Open the Vaseline. And you want to pull the cotton ball aside a little bit. So, there are lots of instructions and people get very involved in how to do this, but I'll get my cotton ball and I wipe some Vaseline on the inside of it, and then I put it back together and just kind of work it around a little bit, like that. So, you make a bunch of these, throw it in a bag. They don't weigh very much. You can take a lot of tinder for not very much weight. So, this is something you want to make before you go. I wouldn't recommend hiking all the materials out that you need to make those.

Then, when it comes to making your fire, you want to set it on the inside of your stove here. Then, I'm going to go ahead and start the fire. You'll see the pile of sticks I've got in the background. I wanted to have plenty for my demonstration here but . . . Anyway, so you can put it right in your stove and I'm going to use my Swedish fire steel and go ahead and spark that into the cotton. Then, I can immediately add some sticks. The nice part about the cotton is that the Vaseline extends the burn time of your cotton tinder, which makes it a lot easier to start your fire.

So, I'm going to add some small sticks here on top of the cotton ball. Then, I'm not going to show you the whole burn video because there's others who have done a really great job of that, other reviews of the Solo Stove, but I wanted to give you some tips on how to do it, too. So, let me go ahead and get started and then I'll show you what I've learned about doing this.

So, I got 32 ounces of water in my pot. I have the lid on here. Center this on the top of the stove, there. You'll notice that I've got the opening pointed in the direction that I want to add the wood, as I go. I learned a little bit about feeding wood to the Solo Stove. We've probably got far too much wood here, but what I've learned is that you don't want to overfill it. If you do, you tend to block the type of stove. The nice healthy flame that you see inside there. I'll try to get a shot a little bit later to show you the inside, kind of what it looks like. Then, you just want to gradually add sticks to keep the flame at a good level.

You'll notice it sometimes burns down, and I probably let it burn down a little bit too far here. It's a fairly easy thing to add a few sticks, and then it'll flame up just shortly. It holds heat rather well. So it's rather easy to keep that going and to get the flame up again. So, you sort of need to give a little more attention than you typically do a gas stove just to keep it happy and flaming but in no time at all, we'll have some boiling water. So, I'll try to get a shot to show you the ideal flame that you're looking for inside of the pot that shows the secondary burn effect of the Solo Stove.

So, if you see inside, you'll see the fire coming, and it looks like it's coming out of the secondary vent holes in the top, not on the outside here, but on the inside of the chamber. That's the kind of flame that you're looking for. You want it to be coming out like that. It burns really hot. Even just placing your hands by the side, you can feel how much heat there is. You'll notice the soot, and it depends on the type of wood that you're burning, as well, but you will get a blackened pot. If you do smear some soap on the bottom of your pot, then you can usually just wash it right off. In this case, I'm dedicating the pot to the use of the stove. So, I'm not worried about it as much.

So, that's the type of flame that you're looking for. It's worth adding sticks before the flame completely dies simply because, otherwise, it will flame up and burn really fast and then your flame is gone. So, you want to periodically add sticks to it as you're burning. See, I probably left it a little bit too long there, and it's gone ahead and burned down. So, I'll add a few more sticks her. As far as burn time, before I burned, I practiced a couple of times and I burned 32 ounces of water in 16 minutes. I did 16 ounces of water in the same pot and it took a little bit over eight. So, I expect, with practice, I'll get a little bit faster, but the nice part about burn time is that you're not worried about fuel, in this case because you're picking up fuel as you go or at your camp site. So, it's less of an issue. If it's a little chilly, then you get a nice fire as well.

So, you want to break your sticks into pieces. This might be a little bit long but you want to break your sticks into smaller pieces so that you can fit them inside. Otherwise, it tends to stick up and out. When we have shorter sticks, then it's a little bit easier to keep those sticks on the inside of the burn chamber, inside of the stove there. So, anyway, we're going to go ahead and keep adding some wood and boil ourselves some water. Here, folks, we have a rolling boil of 32 ounces of water. So, I think the stove works really well as either an emergency preparedness stove or as a backpacking stove, a lightweight backpacking stove, which I will be using for the summer.

So, that's my review. I hope you find it informative, and I hope you try one out and have as good an experience as I have. Thanks.

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