Dec 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm #1283336
I found a great online review with pics of the Bushbuddy / Emberlit / Littlbug JR stoves:
I received a Vargo Ti Hexagon Wood stove for Xmas, tested it, and feel it does not put out enough heat for Winter Snow Melting / Boiling at cold temps…but for 3 season, it will def be my choice as it is the lightest option and works fine to boil a cup or two. Anyway, here are the questions I posted in the bushcraft forum and I'll relay they here in case anyone has an opinion or can shed some light on the topic:
"Hello Everyone… I'm a member over at Backpackinglight.com researching wood stoves and found these great reviews.
I am moving from car camping in the winter to snowshoeing over multi-day trips in the winter and I don't want to carry a white gas stove. A wood stove seems like a good alternative to save weight if I can find dry stuff to burn. I received a Vargo Hexagon Ti Wood Stove for Xmas (sorry nwmanitou, had to give it a shot first as it was lighter, I'm a gram weenie! ) and it would be great for 3-season as it is only 4oz, compacts small, and needs no wind screen, but it just doesn't put out enough heat to boil a lot of water in winter conditions (it was 18F last night and 30F during testing today in Albany, NY)
So….I want the Emberlit or the Littlbug Junior. Reason being? I think they put out more heat as they are bigger. Here are a few observations/theories, I'd like anyone's opinion on that has used either stove:
– Skypainter states the Littlbug Jr. takes a ton of wood… does it have a higher heat output all full bore or just less efficient with more flames running up the sides of a pot vs. the Emberlit? Please take into consideration my pot is 5 1/4" diameter, Littlbug JR. diameter is 5.5", Emberlit is 3.5" x 3.5" at the top.
– How do both stoves handle ash buildup over time? I see they both create ash from the pics in Skypainter's reviews…if you were boiling water for hours at night in camp, would one stove choke up on ash before another?
– If my pot is 5 1/4in in diameter, and the Littlbug is 5.5" in diameter, plus the pot stand for the Littlbug is raised…. how big a stick do you think I can feed in the top of the Littlbug Jr. w/out removing the pot? Pencil thick? Greater?
– I was leaning towards the Littlbug Jr. until I read Skypainter's review because it weighs slightly less than the Ti Emberlit, and when winter backpackping there may not be a nice table to setup up and I won't feel like sitting down on the snow… thus I'll be looking down on the stove on the ground most likely. The top-fed Littlbug Jr. seems like a winner in this regard because I can stand/crouch near the stove and feed/monitor the burn from the top (figure 5.5" stove, 5 1/4in pot with ~1in pot stand clearance?). On the other hand, the Emberlit supposedly requires less feeding/monitoring with just cramming big sticks in the feed hole…What do you think will be easier on my knees?
I appreciate the advice, my first trip this season is on the Long Trail is VT in the middle of January…gotta order soon!"
Thanks for any opinions…I know every BPLer has one! :pDec 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm #1815785
I'm wondering about how long it is going to take to get the desired amount of water, by all the stoking, trips to a wood source etc. White gas or kerosene stove, you can sit there, converse with fellow bpers and not have to worry about your wood fired stove running out of fuel. You'll have to plan ahead to have your fuel at hand. My thoughts.
DuaneDec 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm #1815792
I would prefer the side feed of the emberlit. It would be nice if it were lighter (ti) and less of a pain to assmeble, but the results speak for themselves. The less you have to prepare the wood, the easier it will be to keep the fire going. you might use a larger pot for snow melting.
I was seriously looking at the Vargo for the weight and ease of assembly, thanks for doing some testing.
DaveDec 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm #1815793
@jbmcsr1Locale: Rocky Mountains
I haven't used a Littlbug Jr. but I do use a Littlbug Sr. I have seen a Littlbug Jr. and I like the stove. You will have no problem putting thicker wood than pencil size through the top but you also won't need to use much to get water going or melting snow. The Sr. is very efficient. Maybe not as efficient as the Bushbuddy. I haven't had any problem with it choking up with ash using it all day–although who knows if it is sitting in snow.Dec 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm #1815796
The Littlbug Jr. is 5.1 oz
The Emberlit (in Titanium) is 5.45 oz
I am basically considering the two the same weight because of how the Littlbug Jr. packs up will require a larger storage envelope. So when u consider the real weight (stove plus the storage container), I think they are probably very, very close.Dec 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm #1815808
Definitely the white gas will be easier, but it will definitely weigh more… and as a SUL 3-season guy I definitely will go for a wood stove, but yes, the fiddle factor goes up for sure whenever you try and go lighter (for the most part).Dec 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm #1815810
I see where you are coming from, hike on.
DuaneDec 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm #1815811
The web-site ways that the titanium version is backordered until after Jan…When is your trip? My trip is the 12th-19th and one of our members is testing that stove.
DaveDec 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm #1815813
….sitting on a tree stump and hunched over a bit feeding the fire.
Either gentling pushing in longer sticks like the Emberlit Ti, or feeding from the top like the Littlbug Jr.
So having the bend down and push large sticks through the Emberlit won't be as bad as the smaller sticks with the Vargo, but perhaps the Littlbug Jr . will be better with top feed.
@jason, for the Jr., so I'm ok in thinking I'll have plenty of room to feed the fire with the pot on? How big a stick u think I can cram in there with a 5 1/4in pot and a 5.5in stove?
I like the concept of the Emberlit with feeding it long sticks and no fuss, but to be honest, when I was playing with the Vargo Hexagon stove these past two days, I first started with twigs as instructed and it just didn't do that well in the cold. So this morning I started to baton bigger pieces of wood with my Mora knife, and feed the Vargo stove with ~really~ dry pieces of wood, it went much better.
I think the pencil size sticks would be fine in the summer, but in the winter the outsides are ever so slightly damp and the bark is a real hindrance….it's protecting the dry wood inside like it's supposed to. :p
So I feel like, no matter what stove I pick, I'll be feeding it batoned pieces of very dry wood as opposed to a big stick. Granted the Emberlit may burn hotter than the Vargo (maybe?) and thus can power through cold bark better, but my instincts tell me I'll still be batoning wood and feeding it the innards of dry wood (I guess I could use BIG sticks of batoned wood with the Emberlit though). Thoughts?Dec 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm #1815814
Oh crap Dave, I think you just made my decision. haha.Dec 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1815815
Our group is lighter hiking group, but not SUL. Most use hobo's in the winter. All of them prefer a side feed, because of the simplicity of the wood preparation. once your fire is going (small sticks) and you have a bed of coals, then we just slowly feed 3 foot pieces in the stoking hole. This is especially nice in the morning, when you can remain in your sleeping bag while cooking breakfast – proped up by one elbow. We do use a lightweight spark sheild ( hardware cloth ) to protect the expensive outerwear and bags from errant sparks.
Let us know how your system pans out. I like new ideas.
DaveDec 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm #1815816
Using this image:
I measured the size on the screen vs. the actual size (5.5" diameter, 6" tall) to figure out how big the gap is the insert wood on the Littlbug Jr. with a pot on top….I figure the gap to feed sticks is near 2" which should be plenty to feed the Littlbug Jr.
Also I am hoping to shave some weight off the storage envelope of the Littlbug Jr. by using a tvek Fedex envelope if I can find one the right size. It may get shredded over time, but I can replace them. *shrugs*Dec 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm #1815818
I actually had one of these in my hand last week. I had lunch with a friend and we were going over gear for our trip. he pulled out this stove. You should have plenty of room to feed sticks. It is a little springy to put together until you get the hang of it. The rivets fit into holes and the entire stove is held together by the springy pot stand. A pretty cool design and very light. depending on how deep the snow is, you may have to build a stick platform for it to sit on – since it has no bottom.
So, I guess we will have an unofficial test of both stoves in about three weeks.
DaveDec 25, 2011 at 7:49 pm #1815828
I agree, having a couple stick/log base will be necessary with the Littlbug Jr. if I can't get down to barren ground, but I think that'll be ok.
Two more thoughts:
-I'm not as concerned about efficiency as much(so long as there is abundant fuel), but I want HEAT in the winter. My theory is the Littlbug JR. will put out more heat because it can consume more wood at once. Everyone know a tipi fire lights very well because the flames can travel vertically up the pieces of wood where as the Emberlit has the flames just chewing on one end of a (big) stick vs. a bunch of stick lengths all at once in the Littlbug Junior. This may be why the bushcraft review states the Littlbug Jr. "chews wood like a wood chipper."
– The Emberlit would be more protected in my pack in case I fell on my pack. This doesn't happen often (ok hasn't happened yet) and I am always gentle with setting down my packs, but a lot of reviews for the Littlbug Jr. talk about wrapping it around something solid like a Nalgene or big pot…well being a BPL member, there isn't anything like that in my kit generally, haha. So my thought is to put everything in my pack liner, then put it all in my pack, then put the Littlbig Jr. in a tyvek envelope and slide it down between my pack liner and the inside of my pack. We'll see.Dec 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm #1815835
Did you notice all reviews except one have the stove elevated off the ground? After watching the last video, man is that flame strong, but I really don't want to be down on the ground too much if I can help it.
(nice review, showing adding sticks to the fre with pot on top, but I think my pot is slightly wider)
(part 2 of his review on the Littlbug Jr.)Dec 25, 2011 at 10:28 pm #1815847Dec 26, 2011 at 6:59 am #1815881Dec 26, 2011 at 8:20 am #1815894
You guys keep this up and you're gonna hurt my wallet some more. I have 65 stoves now, don't get me started on collecting wood fired stoves too! Please!
DuaneDec 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm #1815981
Just to throw some more wood on this fire (ha), here are my initial thoughts on the Emberlit-UL along with a few pictures comparing it the the BushBuddy Ultra. Have only used it once, but like it enough that I sold my BBU the next day.
Keep in mind, I am a canoe camper. Not SUL or UL even on a good day (though we make small strides each year).
I have never used the Littlebug, but I know Grizz from HF has done a couple reviews:
andDec 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm #1815987
What nixed it for you about the vargo hex? Did the tapered shape take away from the ability of the fire to really get going? The other stoves are straight up and down. I like the ease of assemble of the vargo, but I dont get why it failed you.
DaveDec 26, 2011 at 5:57 pm #1816022
Thanks for the links Brian. I would tend to the agree… the Emberlit is a no fuss, sturdy, relatively lightweight stove that packs down to nothing.Dec 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm #1816025
….well a Winter in which you are at or below freezing temps AND need to melt a lot of snow and bring it to a boil to sterilize.
The Vargo worked fine. It packs up very small, weighs the least of any commercially available wood stove I know of at 4.1oz in Ti, and packs down to "nothing." I would definitely carry this stove over any other for 3 season use when I'm in warmer temps and need to boil a cup or two of water for dinner kind of thing.
Where it fails is in situations where you are dealing with A) very cold water, B) Very cold temps (I tested at 18F and 25F-30F), and C) melting lots of snow and/or boiling lots of water,. It's just too small to put out enough heat to overcome those two factors.
I was able to boil a cup or two of water no sweet even @ 18F, but when I filled my .9L pot to the top (replicating melting a lot of snow), it took FOREVER. Granted I'm a newb at bushcraft and wood stoves and there def was a learning curve (I'm sooo glad I practiced for 1/2 a day splitting wood and trying different strategies.), but in the end I was feeling pretty goof about myself. I was able to keep the that sucker burning for as long as I wanted, but still no boil with a full pot (the 25-30F tests were done with a fair bit of wind, but that helped somewhat).Dec 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm #1816036
This is the Vargo with my 22oz Heiny pot on top, my first burn with the stove. It ~just~ fits. Workable, but on the whole if you smack the stove, your pot may just fall over. Prob best not to use your Heiny with this, or use tent stakes across the gap for a pot stand:
Here I switched over to the 4oz, .9L Ti Vargo pot. Much more stable. Here you can see me using longer twigs and trying to feed them in there like the Emberlit to cut down on the chore of feed it little chunks of twigs every so often. It works, I probably had the "door" on the stove open 85% of the time. This is also most likely because it was 18F at this time and the fire was "hungry." I suspect in the summer I'd be able to feed the fire a bit, then close the door for awhile, either way, no biggy. The problem I had at this point was the cold (duh) and the fact that I had been feeding the stove just pencil sized twigs and always had trouble keeping it going:
The reason for this problem was the fuel source. The twigs were dry (not sure how to tell, but they snapped when you broke them in your fingers well enough), but the BARK was the problem. See at 18F the moisture from the day settled on the ground for a bit of frost. Well all the twigs were cold as heck at this point (as any branch would be big or small), and had this layer of frost somewhat. The BARK was doing way too good a job in these conditions of protecting the nice dry wood underneath it in the fire. You see in all the Youtube videos, these wood stoves just chowing down on twigs in warmer weather for the most part, but at these temps, the bark is a beotch. So I took out my Mora and started to shave the bark off….whamo, the fire worked better, not perfect, but better.
The next day (25F) I went into the woods to try splitting wood and try out my new Mora Classic. Once I noticed the bark being slightly damp underneath and a hindrance to the fire at those temps, I thought processed wood would be the answer…and it was.
In this pic you see the tools of the trade. Vasoline (I found the cotton pads wrapped around a glob of vaso to work really well as in it burned a long time and my fingers got less messy than massaging the vaso into a cottonball. BTW, in a previous thread I thought alcohol pads would be lighter and might work…don't bother. Yes lighter, but in these cold conditions they didn't last long enough to get the fire going. In 3-season I'll try them again, they prob will work then. You'll also see my cheap folding blade Browning knife that I put a different bevel on it. People always say never baton with a folder… well if I were doing logs, I would agree, but with these small/medium sized sticks, the folder works just fine. You not really hammering it anyway. The Mora of course worked awesomely as well. I really enjoyed batoning wood and splitting it up to get to the really dry stuff….amazing what the positive reenforcement of the fire growing will do. :p
Here you'll see the Hexagon chugging away. Notice how I've switched to mostly split/processed wood. The downside to getting a roaring fire here is that you lose some flame out the front, though mostly my fault for orientating the "door" away from the wind, when to turned the door to face into the wind, the stove became a blast furnace! This certainly could have contributed to the inability to boil a full pot in cold temps. Also notice how the sticks are laid in there in an overlapping "X" fashion. This worked well to utilize all of the space inside the little Vargo with the longer sticks as I fed them in. And notice how the stove is up on a two good sized sticks as a platform. During 3-season use this won't be a problem as you can boil a cup or two very quickly, but when you're going to use the stove for as long as I did (hours) at a time, you get ash buildup. The Vargo has cutouts on the bottom for air intake (the sides of the stove have no holes for air intake as the sides are a VERY good wind screen) and over time when burning so much wood for so long, ash buildup becomes an issue with choking the fire. The stove produced very little coals and seemed to produce a lot of ash with all that wood.
So this is why this stove won't work for me at <32F for winter camping while trying to melt snow. If I were winter camping and just boiling a cup or two and had a stream for a water source, no sweat. But in the conditions I expect, I wanted a bigger stove. I also didn't like the side feed of the stove (or the Emberlit, though the Emberlit may require less feeding with bigger sticks) as I had to sit on the ground. In the snow, this sucks as your butt gets wet and the ground is cold. NOTICE HOW ALL YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF THE EMBERLIT ARE OF THE STOVE PROPPED UP ON SOMETHING…..HRMMMMM. :P
(I will say the Emberlit certainly is low maintenance feeding fuel if you can prop it up on something, is pretty stout, and it has a relatively complete burn.)
I want something with a top feed as I sit on a stump (perhaps). I hope this helped anyone considering the Vargo…I think I'll still keep mine for 3-season as it's still the lightest stove I know of and it will work well in the 3-season conditions me thinks.Dec 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm #1816040
I admire your perseverance and hanging out in the cold for the day. From past experience, wood is driest that does not have any bark, stuff where the bark has fallen off on its own is driest. Your wood looked like it needed more seasoning as it looks like the bark is still firmly attached. Second, hardwood, whether it be cottonwood or oak, both fall into the same group, leaves a lot of ash, so be prepared. Learned this from using a woodstove as my main heating source in my home the last 30 years.
Thanks for the heads up on the Bush Buddy, I was thinking about trying to get one of those. I'll wait for the smoke to clear on all these new stoves. :)
DuaneDec 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm #1816043
A picture is worth … now that I see how small the vargo is as compared to a o.9L pot – I see how inefficient it is. Also if you look at the emberlit and the littlebug, the airflow is better. I think that the vargo has no airflow unless the barn door is open. A few well placed holes on two sides near the bottom , may remedy this. When I use a standard hobo, I drill holes at the bottom on one side, then you can pivot the stove into the wind to stoke the fire. You can really get it going that way. Of course the problem with size and weight of a traditional hobo is what I am trying to solve with a folding stove. I'm just glad that you started this timely thread.
Maybe the emberlit will be available soon – his site says shortly after the new year.
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