There are a few different sizes of Solo Stove available. This is the ‘LITE’ which, according to the box, is suitable for 1-2 people. The ‘Campfire’ is the big daddy and if it weight-size ratio is similar to this will be very much a good accessory for the glampers of today. It’s very compact and light. It weighs about the same as my belt knife without its sheath so it’s definitely not going to weigh a day sack down. Its stainless steel to help increase its life and its small enough to fit in a utility pouch so you won’t need to sacrifice other gear. If portable light cooking is what you are after then this is definitely designed for you. Don’t get me wrong, you still need a pot or pan which will add some extra bulk (unless you buy the Pot 900 accessory) but out of all of the portable cooking devices I have seen this is one of the best for short, regular trips into the more scenic areas on your doorstep.
It comes in a basic nylon sack to keep your pack clean after its been used. As with other bags from many other cooking devices I have used, this is not the material I would choose. You have to let the stove cool down before you can pack it away but a little bit of water over it makes quick work of that. Realistically though, by the time you have finished a cup of tea its cool enough to pack away so I cant knock marks off for that but I do wish these companies would use a heat resistant material for their stove bags.
I would question its two man cooking capability if you were cooking a large meal but, a couple of boil in the bag rations in a mess tin is certainly doable and it will definitely put out enough heat for a medium sized frying pan. Personally, I prefer the mess tin though. I made my partner and I a brew then piled bacon in for a few sandwiches and I think it took about 15-20 mins to do it all, so it’s not bad. Depending on your fuel it will definitely burn hotter and, as far as amount required to cook and brew, we collected enough sticks to fill the can 3/4 times and it was just about right. It only took a couple of minutes to gather this so I think 20 minutes from stopping to sandwich and tea is pretty good. Very little difference in time compared to a gas system but so much lighter and more fun.
It has a small fire pot compared to its overall size which is due to it’s airflow design. Its double walled design helps the air cycle and it does work quite well. It both protects the fire from wind while allowing it to feed in without issue. It has an opening around just below the wire shelf which allows air to get to the bottom of your fuel source and holes around the top to feed the flames directly. I did struggle to use this while I had water boiling as its not a big hole nor is it a big fire pot. I had maybe 6 inch bits of wood and they would stick up a quarter inch or so from the top. The design means that the wire shelf in the fire bowl keeps your fuel about and inch from the floor which prevents ground scorching. I actually can pick it up and hold it while its burning fuel so it definitely works. I have used similar cooking devices and this one certainly seems to cause less collateral although if you aren’t careful you can easily knock it over if it isn’t on a firm level surface. Only problem with the design is that, as the walls are fully built up you, are limited to lighting it from the top. Not exactly ideal although, you can always make some embers in a nest and place it inside before adding your fuel and firelighters are also an option.
I did have one issue with this stove which can be tackled but certainly caused me issue on the first testing. It is a small device and with a flat base it means it can be rather difficult to find a perfect spot to place it upon. I did my best and thought I had something very capable and yet I lost the first lot of water for our brew in a second. It needs a solid and level spot. Between the small size of the base and it’s small fuel hole it was a little tricky initially although, when a bit more experience came into play (as in, after I lost half of our water and fuel), it was manageable.
You can also purchase an alcohol burner as a secondary fuel system which is very handy on exposed mountains with little or no natural fuel to burn.
Now for the big issue. Price. I certainly wouldn’t pay full price (currently £90 RRP) although it does come with a lifetime warranty which is certainly not something you will get when buying a cheaper substitute. I have no experience with their extras (yet) but the Pot 900 is the prefect size to fit the Solo Stove inside of it and they are currently on offer together for around £95. If I’m honest I feel the pot should come as part of the stove not an accessory. For the price and the fact they are designed to work and fit together it should just be a complete kit.
Overall, the Solo stove is really good and will probably come out with me on most of my excursions this summer. It can hold its own but, it does lack some features other devices in this price range have as standard. The Pot 900 would change that a bit so I hope Solo Stove make it a full kit as standard in the future and not an extra. If you regularly hike for short periods and just want something portable and light to make a fresh cuppa then its worth considering.