Lightweight Wood-Burning Camp Stoves – State of the Market Report 2011

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Lightweight Wood-Burning Camp Stoves – State of the Market Report 2011

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 38 total)
  • Author
  • #1275760
    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana
    Gustav Bostrom
    BPL Member


    Locale: Scandinavia

    Great article. For once it doesn't give me à "must have" problem since I already own a bushbuddy.

    One thing I miss a bit from the report is an estimation on fuel consumption. I use my stove a lot above treeline and there fuel isn't so abundant and you don't want to take masses either. The double wall construction of the bushbuddy should make it quite efficient. Most of the time I only need about three handfuls of small sticks to do my cooking. See these posts for some hints on what fuels to use above tree line:

    I see here that a lot of people use fire starters. Normally I don't need that since birch bark can be found in such abundance here. Just be careful not take it from living trees so that it leaves a scar. In areas where fat pine can be found a knife and some shavings also work fine. I get lazy as well sometimes though and mostly use the vaseline cotton balls. The weight is negligible.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Stamford, CT

    A thought about wood stove users…

    I use a razor blade for my "cutting" needs. Do you think most wood burning stoves users carry a full knife and added weight? Or can you get my with a small razor?

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    I understand there's no way to review each and every product on the market, but I was sad to see that the Antig Outdoors Woodlore Woodgas Stove wasn't reviewed. It appears similar to the Bushbuddy but the price is around $26.

    I bought one to try after talking with Jeff at Antig Outdoors. What's beautiful about it is that it fits inside the Evernew 1-Liter Pasta Pot while it's in its stuffsack. I will admit to buying a new pot specifically to use with my woodburner (because of the soot), but I now have a self-contained system that's no larger than the pot itself.

    The Woodlore Woodgas Stove weighs 6.74 ounces in the stuffsack and that includes the base. I've used it on a couple of trips now and it works well – boiling 28 ounces of water in around 10 minutes.

    As mentioned in the article, your sticks and twigs need to be very dry for it to work properly, but I had success on a rainy night using an Esbit tablet in the bottom of the stove to get the wet sticks going. It took longer with damp wood, but I was able to boil my water. With more effort I could have found either dry wood or gone to the center of larger sticks for dry wood but I wanted to see what I could do with damp wood. One of my hiking buddies had a JetBoil along so I knew that I would have a hot meal even if I couldn't get the stove to behave with wet wood.

    To start the fire I simply crumple a small piece of paper and put it in the stove before filling it with very small sticks and twigs (broken to about 2" long). I then light the paper from the bottom and then place the stove on its base. It seems that I always have a little paper lying around (a piece of the trail guide or map for the section I've already covered or some other trash) so I don't view this as extra weight that I'm carrying to support my wood stove.

    For a short trip I know my Caldera Cone setup is lighter but the Woodlore is more fun. It does take a lot of twigs to boil a liter of water – and you have to feed the beast constantly, but isn't that part of the charm of a wood-burning stove?

    Thomas Trebisky


    Locale: Southern Arizona

    Great Article.

    I'm just chiming in about LNT – I would rate this as much more important than was done by the writer of the article. I hate seeing fire-scarred spots and that is once of the great virtues of the Bushbuddy, (which I have and greatly enjoy). I would give it a weight of 5 or even higher.
    Maybe even, as some have said, "stoves" that leave burned spots ought not to be even called stoves and should be disqualified. I like the ability to place the bushbuddy on a rock and to be away from combustibles and not leave any trace.

    The article does well in emphasizing that these sorts of stoves are not the answer for everyone and every sort of trip, but for some of us and many trips they are ideal.

    With the proper mood, they are their own source of entertainment and fascination.

    Greg F
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    Wood vs Canister for LNT.

    I think the big thing with fire scared ground is that it is altering a pristine lanscape that has had minimum impact as compared to a Canister ending up in an already disgusting landfill and the tiny amount of extra propane that is required to be extrated from the ground.

    In non-designated camping areas a fire scar is worse than litter. At least with litter it can be picked up and packed out.

    So in terms of marginal impact. The impact of 1 piece of fire scared ground (especially above the treeline) is far greater than the incremental impact of the production, use and disposal of one Canister.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Well said Craig.

    I've never used a knife to prep fuel for the bushbuddy. I just break sticks with my hands or perhaps a rock. With good tinder gathering I hardly ever use more than a lighter, either. Esbit is a nice backup, and will get the stove going under almost any conditions (save crazy wind).

    Michael Lyons


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    It's nice to see an article like this.

    I've also got several of the stoves tested, and must say I much prefer a chimney stove like the Backcountry Boiler. When used correctly, they use less fuel (with the possible exception of the Bushbuddy), and boil water faster.
    An important advantage of any chimney stove not usually mentioned is the weight advantage. Note that if you just boil water, the stove IS the pot. You don't need to carry anything else. No pot, no fuel…just the stove.

    As far as tinder goes, living in the Rocky Mountains, I've never had the need to carry any tinder. Dried grasses, red pine needles, inner bark from dead trees…these things are everywhere if you learn where to look. The closest thing to tinder I carry is a small 6inch stick of 'fat-wood' that I can scrap off quarter size balls of firestarting fuzz that even lights when wet. (I've carried the same stick for years.)

    I spend a lot of time in the mountain wilderness. One thing that always dismays me when backpacking is the general lack of knowledge about the outdoors most backpackers possess. They can talk about the latest ti-gear or ultralight breakthrough, but know next to nothing about the wilderness they profess to love. It's like watching aliens from another planet walking around with their self-contained space suits and gear claiming to 'experience' nature. May I gently suggest that you can't experience what you don't know.

    Oh, and one last comment about boil times. If I truck camp, I'll use a chimney kettle called a Thermette (from New Zealand) to boil water. It regularly takes about 4 or 5 minutes to bring more than a full liter to a rolling boil.

    Thanks for the article!


    "How does cooking on a woodfire and leaving a small pile of ash (which is likely buried), or small fire scar if you will, compare to landfills full of empty steel canisters, Japanese titanium factories, chemical factories, propane production…"


    The only impact peculiar to wood fires is depriving the surrounding soil of organic matter that results from the wood decomposing. It is definitely an issue, but in the greater scheme of things I suspect it pales in comparison to the list you have compiled, Craig. Bottom line: there is no such thing as LNT, only LLT.

    Tom Clark
    BPL Member


    Locale: East Coast

    "How does cooking on a woodfire and leaving a small pile of ash (which is likely buried), or small fire scar if you will, compare to landfills full of empty steel canisters, Japanese titanium factories, chemical factories, propane production…"

    Excellent point, Craig! What LNT scar does a wood stove leave on snow or river rock? We should not ignore status quo.

    peter vacco


    Locale: no. california

    peter has as much experience as any living being using the titanium zip stoves, which to be fair, you sort of have to mcgiver thru their lifespans as much as anything other overdelicate-not-particularly-sound design. of the pot supports of which there are three .. you need to make it five. the battery needs to go underneath like it was meant to years ago and that will go a long long way towards eliminating the burned wires. you toss the supplied battery holder of whatever it is and get one (radio shack) that uses the same format as your gps battery. the totally over-the-eff'n-edge zip stove user will rape an overweight markel woodstove (of many years ago) and install it's circuit board to give electrically lossless speed control. all that said, there is no need to "prove" the motors wear out rather soon. they do. its caused by rather shoddy balance of the fan impeller, or, the magnets fall off internally and they rattle around inside reducing fan speed. the motor could be better. the markel motor was a thing of swiss beauty, but i could never source them. zip stove usage may involve arrying the occasional small load of twigs when you find sweet ones, but on the flip side, you can bank it to make mega smoke and drive off a few bugs during lunch, and it will boil water, pot after pot of it on a single battery, and it will INCINERATE a spam can to a diminutive relic of it's former glory and for my wilderness usage, that is LNT enough. like a bush buddy, one can cook just on ziplock bags if needs be, but the soot is terrible , gets rid of the bags though …

    to be also fair, spam is now avail in 3oz foil wrappers the a bushbuddy can deal with in a modest manner (sometimes takes two cook'ns

    the bushbuddy has the highest build quality of any stove i've seen yet. they are gorgeously designed and built. also they are not crude or primative as somebody eluded to. they are a garlington gassifier design where aux air is injected above the fuel mass and this reduces both soot and smoke, while increasing efficiency. this is not an unsophisticated design, as are the updraft units.

    my experience tells me the zip is about twice as fast as a BB, and lo and behold ! the graph tells us this is "true".

    the BB goes inside a titi pot along with all it's cooking related details and takes up no other space in the pack. i use a 1400 pot because it also gives me an effective frying pan for fish amd the substantal lid keeps the whole shebang from crushing.

    chris, nice work on the tests. even if i am kinda giggling over the graphs and perhaps excessive "white mans way" format of trying to quantify something so substantially subjective.

    peter v.

    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    "titi zipper"

    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    Build a fire, boil water, eat your food.


    Jason McSpadden
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    I have used the littlbug senior for three years now and I really like it. I use it for my group backpacking trips. Yes, it weighs 19 ozs but I find it extremely efficient even when cooking for large groups of 15+ people. I can use twigs and duff from the ground minimizing impact. It cooks quickly. And like any fire it is entertaining and keeps you warm. I don't know how weigh all of the safety factors when I have young children in the group but I feel safer with a fire than with a stove and a tank full of white gas.

    Christopher Forsberg


    "Build a fire, boil water, eat your food.



    Carry less on your back by carrying more in your head!

    al b
    BPL Member


    Surely the Back Country Boiler should have been included in the test.

    Neil Williams


    Is the $95 stove in your review the same one that you have on the website for $144 (members $141? If so, can you recommend a supplier who sells it for $95 please (preferably in Sydney Aust?

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    It seems that, aside from inherent issues of wood fueled stoves, all these stoves are lacking in the key requirements of safety/user friendliness: pot stability, ease of lighting and ease of feeding.
    It should be possible to deign a stove that does better in these departments and then we can make an fair choice between wood and other fuel stoves based on the pros and cons mentioned at the start.

    j lan


    Locale: MN

    I was wondering if anyone here uses their ash as a cleaning agent (lye) for their pots or uses the ash to cover cathole fillings? Seems like an excellent use for something that people are considering to be waste? It also helps enrich the soil.

    Joseph Reeves


    Locale: Southeast Alaska

    As someone who loves objects, especially gear, I understand the excitement and interest in wood-burning camp stoves. I even bought a couple over the years and they held my interest for a few days of cooking/boiling. What I found though was that putting my pot on the fire was easier, faster and lighter. It's probably cleaner too.

    Granted, I live in the Tongass and there is a lot of wood. I've also become adept at making fire in all weather conditions, including the end of a week of winter rain. We make a fire for breakfast and dinner, and will have a small one for lunch if there is salami to roast or tea to drink

    Most look like this
    Lynn Sister Dinner

    But some…
    Morning tea and a nice fire

    Donald Kevilus


    Locale: Woodlands

    I think this article is a good start, but lacking in many aspects as bought out in other post.
    The currant user has a wide selection of some very well designed portable fire rings and crafted wood stoves to choose from today. Some have been time tested and proven in the field.
    The Zipp stove is time proven for over 30 years. The "Bushbuddy" is second to none.
    It would be hard to improve on it's qualitys offerd to the user. It's been proven under hard use through out the world.

    A person must remember the best made stove will suffer operator failure.
    It's not the fault of the mfg when the stove is used improperly.
    The use of a wood burning stove in your house or on the trail requires the user to
    develop skills that only come from a lot of doing.
    A person must remember the best made stove will suffer from operater faliure.
    You must learn good fire,harvesting and mechanical skills. They are all tied in to the success or failure of the user.
    If you are unwilling or unable to do that wood burning may not be for you.

    Chris Townsend
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cairngorms National Park

    "all these stoves are lacking in the key requirements of safety/user friendliness: pot stability, ease of lighting and ease of feeding."

    I didn't find any problems with any of these with the Caldera Ti-Tri with wide Evernew 0.9 litre pot, which I used on a thru'hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail last summer. I found the unit easy to use and stable. I had the alcohol burner as well (which is one reason I chose this stove) but preferred to use wood as it was faster boiling, easier to control for simmering and all round more fun.

    Erik Geidl
    BPL Member


    I love articles like this – they really add value to this site.

    I carry the Caldera titanium cone and ti stakes, leaving home all the other extras that come with their system, because the plastic carrying cozy dominates the weight of the overall packaged. As suggested by someone else in MYOG, I made a tyvek sleeve out of a used USPS letter. This sleeve keeps my gear clean from soot, and also allows the cone to be spread out around the full circumference of my pack adding a small amount of rigidity, and consuming almost no space, with very little weight.

    My personal analysis (possibly faulty, as in all things) was that this is a super-light solution compared to all the other excellent alternatives such as the Bush Buddy.

    My cooking experience is right in line with the author here – it takes a little longer, and the fuel I use is tiny little sticks, most smaller diameter than my finger. The resultant ash fine and dusty, possibly because the reflective nature of the cone causes the burn temp to be high.

    I'm a wood burning convert :-).

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "it takes a little longer, and the fuel I use is tiny little sticks, most smaller diameter than my finger."

    I find the optimal diameter for sticks to be like my little finger, at the largest, and like a pencil, at the smallest.


    Marco A. Sánchez


    Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees

    The $95 stove is the regular version, while the BPL stove is the Bushbuddy Ultra.

    You can order the Ultra from the manufacturer ( for $115.00 CAD.


Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 38 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools