March 16, 2021
By Cameron Tait
Nothing is more soothing and primal than the sight, sound and smell of an open fire.
A self-contained fire in a portable stove doesn’t have to be deep in the forest or on the banks of a meandering creek or river. It can be on the back of a tailgate, in an icehouse, on the backyard patio or even providing extra heat during a power outage.
For many, a simple fire creates anticipation of what comes next—freshly pan-fried walleye, a simmering tin of maple beans or a perfectly seared ribeye. But first things first.
During the summer, an open fire could be restricted due to dry and windy conditions, which is when portable stoves will shine. They have evolved tremendously over recent years, but why the transformation and the new demand?
Many manufactures are innovating stoves that burn environmentally friendly fuel sources, transitioning from propane, isobutane or alcohol. Hauling fuel to and from your destination can be messy when it comes local regulations, and potentially dangerous if spilled.
There are multiple attributes worth considering when shopping for a new portable stove, including: performance, durability, ease-of-use and clean-up are common requirements. But a prospective stove owner also needs to consider the primary use planned for it. Will it be used for heating hot chocolate, cooking a full meal or just for a source of heat? Perhaps portability is important, or being able to cook a full meal for four to six people?
From my experimentation with portable stoves over the years, there are numerous factors that can greatly affect performance—and your patience. In any fire, smoke occurs when there is incomplete combustion, or not enough oxygen to completely burn the fuel.
A high burn is the proper mix of fuel and oxygen, just like what is required to effectively utilize propane or butane as fuel. If the fire is starving for air, count on lots of smoke and your pot will be covered in dirty black soot. The kind of stove that allows for air-flow adjustment will make your life easier.
Here are four crucial design characteristics of a portable stove:
1. Flame and oxygen management
2. Ease of fuel loading into chamber
4. Able to handle harsh conditions
Be warned though, after using one … of these stoves, you might want to give up that propane stove!
1. The BioLite CampStove 2+ can burn biomass (wood + twigs) and generate a hot enough flame to cook your meals, heat your beverage PLUS charge your cell phone. The thermoelectric stove efficiently burns small fuel sources gathered around the campsite and utilizes an internal fan to generate a smokeless flame. With sturdy fold-out legs, this stove can hold both cast iron pans and small backpacking pans. Folding into the size of a 32-ounce water bottle - this stove is ideal for both backpacking or river trips. BioLite CampStove 2+
2. n’Camp Wood Burning Stove is a compact multi-fuel camping stove designed to burn wood or isobutane-propane which makes this product unique and versatile. At a sustained burn, temperatures can reach over 300-degrees Fahrenheit. With a retracting, telescoping fuel chamber it can be folded to a very compact 1.5 inches and weighs only 2 pounds. The stable footprint can hold a heavy cast iron pot up to 30 pounds, which is impressive. There is also a “Camp Coffee Kit” that brews a delicious espresso-style coffee. n’Camp Wood Burning Stove.
3. The Titan Solo Stove has a 360-degree airflow design that creates a very efficient burn using sticks, twigs and pinecones as fuel. The Titan’s double wall stainless steel construction has 16 lower vent holes creating an excellent burn with little or no smoke. Dimensions of 5.1 x 7.9 inches and weighing only 16.5 ounces is both lightweight and sturdy, a very safe design. The integrated potholder can be removed and flipped over for cooking while still being able to add more fuel through the cleverly designed gap in the stainless steel. Titan Solo Stove
4. Siege Flat Pack Stove is made is the USA and is ideal when space is limited. The Flat Pack Stove is made from a noticeably thicker “aerospace-grade” Titanium with a 7-inch diameter top and bottom supports. This portable stove has 11 vent holes on each of the four sides which allows the stove to burn hotter and cleaner than most stoves. The four top and bottom “cross-members” can be easily removed to use on almost any tin can for a secondary stove. The cross members have integrated “fang tips” for punching holes into the sides of the tin cans. Options include a large folding grill for easy cooking plus flat-pack “side toasters” for browning bread—sold separately. Siege Flat Pack Stove
The FirePit+ compares to nothing else out there on the market. It is a portable wood/charcoal cooking appliance and fire pit. It has the absolute best features for a stove and firepit. You can grill vegetables, steaks, burgers, stews or whatever your culinary heart desires. An even better perk, warm up to a crackling fire when there is a chill in the air, maybe roast some marshmallows at the same time. The dimensions are 27 x 13 x 15 inches and is 19.8 pounds. This unit is neither small nor light but trust me when I say the design of this firepit is ingenious. This inventive cooking appliance has 51 air jets that improve combustion through the integration of air flow. A USB rechargeable 12,800 MAH powerpack can run the fan for up to 30 hours on a single charge. It features folding legs, a large hibachi style cooking grate plus as integrated Bluetooth control to adjust the fan speed and intensity. Also, its easy to clean with a trap door at the bottom. The FirePit+
While these portable stoves are fun to use in almost every application or location, for safety they are not to be used inside or in enclosed areas. In my opinion, avoid the cheapest price when looking for a stove, you want it to last more than a few outings.
Lack of convenience, poor design and a hassle to assemble can quite possibly deter any future use of your future investment, chose wisely as to your needs and wants.
Whatever choice is made, just get outside, cook some food and enjoy nature in all of its beauty.