The overland traveler has a multitude of logistics to manage with the preparation of meals just one of them. Given that most of us travel where nature provides an abundance of sticks and other combustibles, a fire is often the preferred means of cooking heat. There are times however, when a campfire is not practical or convenient. For those occassions, many travelers rely on small stick burners. We have reviewed a few in the past, most of them little more than simple productions built to contain a small fire. The Solo Stove, one of the more popular stick burners on the market, is far more than just a fire can.
What makes the Solo Stove so unique is its sophisticated double-walled construction designed to optimize air pass-through for better flame efficiency. The manufacturer calls it a natural convection inverted downgas gasifier stove. Not that you don’t know what that means, allow me to explain.
The Solo Stove features a ring of holes located at the lower aspect of the outer layer which import cold air. That air is directed to a chamber below the fire pan, and at the same time up the inner sides of the stove. This burst of preheated oxygen reaches the top of the inner wall of the stove and is then fed to the flame for a second combustion. Once the stove is to temperature, that secondary combustion effectively burns any residual smoke the fire produces. The result is a clean ignition with maximum heat output. It’s a turbo-charged campfire.
The stove’s double-wall design also helps protect the flame from wind and provides a stable base on which to place the 2-liter cooking pot. In my first test, I was impressed by how quickly I was able to bring a small bunch of sticks to a steady burn. Unlike other stick burners I’ve tried, the Solo Stove is large enough to be easily fed a steady supply of finger-sized sticks and twigs. The pot support has a small cut-out which allows the user to feed the fire without having to remove the cooking vessel.
Once fueled and burning, I was able to boil a liter of water in about 11 minutes at an altitude of 5,000 feet with ambient air and water temperatures in the mid 50s. Although there was some sooty residue produced, it was minor and no more than expected. My wood-fired Kelly Kettle gets downright messy with every use so the clean burn of the Solo Stove was a pleasant surprise.
The smart design of the stove is executed with a high quality construction. The stainless steel is well shaped, the components joined tightly, and the overall build is impressive. The lid fits snuggly with the pot and the bail handle over the top and fold-out wire handles on the side offer a precise pour, even with gloved hands. There is a small recess at the base of the pot that mates with the supports on the stove to help keep the two components mated securely, although I wish that indentation in the pot was a tiny bit deeper.
Given its size and weight, the Solo Stove Titan with 1800 pot might be a bit too big for the soloist or traveler with ultra-light weight constraints, but it is ideal for small groups or for those with more latitude for weight and packed size. At just under two pounds for the stove and pot, I would still classify it as lightweight. Given how well it is made, I would certainly label it expedition-grade. To protect the stove and maximize the space efficiency, the stove fits perfectly within the 1800 pot.
For motorcycle or vehicle travel, the Solo Stove is a nearly perfect product. I keep my stove loaded with a handful of twigs and a box of Uco Titan stormproof matches. When I arrive at my campsite, I’m ready for a quick burn without the need to forage for a big pile of sticks. I find that one or two additional stokes of sticks is required to boil a liter of water, but not always. The fuel efficiency of the Solo Stove is excellent to say the least and the fuel within burns completely and is easy to clean.
Unless you’re traveling the frozen expanses of the Brooks Range, or the sands of Namibia, chances are you’ll have access to a few twigs and sticks. The Solo Stove will make good use of those free fuels, meaning you needn’t pack extra propane or other fossil fuels. The power of the stick. Let us never under estimate it again.
Solo Stove Titan MSRP $119. 1800 Pot MSRP $46.
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Solo Stove Titan Dimensions: