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EDIT: FR - Solo Stove - Brian Hartman

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  • the_fish_guy
    Brian, Sorry for the delay . . . I got slammed at work when I returned from my week-long backpacking/climbing trip. Great report! No edits. Hope things cool
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 31, 2012
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      Brian,

      Sorry for the delay . . . I got slammed at work when I returned from my week-long backpacking/climbing trip.

      Great report! No edits. Hope things cool down for you soon!

      Mike

      --- In backpackgeartesters@yahoogroups.com, Brian Hartman <bhart1426@...> wrote:
      >
      >  
      > Mike,
      > Below is my Initial Report for the Solo Stove. The link to my HTML report is: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/FR%20-%20Solo%20Stove%20-%20Brian%20Hartman/
      >
      > http://snurl.com/24pgidi
      >  
      > Thanks,
      > Brian
      >
      > FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
      >  
      > During Field Testing, I used the Solo Stove on a three-day backpacking trip to Franklin County, Indiana and on a weekend trip to Oldenburg, IN.  Unfortunately, for the past month, a Stage 1 Burn Ban has been in effect throughout Indiana and this has limited my further use of the stove.  According to Indiana law the ban applies to all fires, charcoal grills and wood stoves except when used at designated recreation sites with fire rings.  Not wanting to take any risks, I simply decided to eat my meals cold.
      >
      > Weather conditions for the past three months have been hot and extremely dry with daytime highs approaching 100 F (38 C) and drought warnings in many counties throughout Indiana.   Nighttime lows haven't offered much relief with temperatures staying around 80 F (26 C).
      >
      > 1. Franklin County:  During this three-day outing I hiked mostly on wooded trails and covered 12.4 miles (20 km) across moderately hilly terrain.  Temperatures topped 95 F (35 C) by mid afternoon on two of the three days.  At night I pitched my tent in low areas near water hoping cooler air would settle there and give me temporary relief from the heat.  Elevations ranged from 570 ft (174 m) to 710 ft (216 m).
      >
      > 2. My second trip was near the town of Oldenburg in Southeastern Indiana.  During this two day outing I mainly hiked off-trail through woods and farmland several miles outside of town.  I covered 9.1 miles (15 km) across moderately hilly terrain while temperatures approached 100 F (38 C).
      >  
      > PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
      >  
      > <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 1">> I have really enjoyed using the Solo Stove so far.  It has forced me to take time for breakfast and lunch and not be in such a hurry to get back on the trail as is sometimes the case on my backpacking trips.  The process of gathering sticks and building a fire has been more time consuming than simply lighting my white gas stove, but it has brought me back to the essence of backpacking which is being in touch with nature.
      >
      > Finding Fuel - Given the hot, dry weather this year it has been very easy for me to find fuel for the stove.  So far, I have been able to find plenty of kindling and small sticks in the areas where I have set up camp without having to search too far away.  It usually takes me 10 minutes or so to gather enough twigs and small sticks to build my fire.  This amounts to several large handfuls which is more than enough fuel to boil water or cook a small meal most of the time.  The determining factor for how long my fires last and how hot they get is based on the type of wood I'm burning and whether it was lying on the ground or pulled from a dead tree.  A side benefit to using this stove is that I have become more observant of the different types of trees and ground cover in the areas where I am backpacking.   The more mature forests that I have been gravitating to in the hot weather, because of their excellent shade, do not have as many small sticks
      > and twigs as younger forests.
      >
      > Stove placement - Because the stove has a flat bottom with no feet to keep it from tipping on uneven ground, I have found it best to position it on a nearby trail or close to a creek.  If there's a fallen tree or someplace convenient for me to sit next to it that's even better.  The photo above shows one of my favorite spots to set up the stove and that is on trail steps.  This works particularly well in that I can sit a step or two below the stove and easily tend to the fire.  Another ideal spot I have found is on any large rock as it gets the stove up higher so that plenty of air passes through the intake holes near the bottom of the stove.
      >
      > Lighting the stove - Lighting the stove is straightforward.  So far I have simply used a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline as my fire starter.  Once the cotton ball is lit I place twigs and other kindling in the stove as if I were lighting a campfire.  After a few minutes I add small sticks into the firebox to build the flames and create a hot ash bed.  I have experimented with a number of types of wood as well as pine cones, pine needles, grass etc and found the following to be true for me:
      >
      > <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 2">> Pine cones and pine needles work well for kindling and pine, spruce and fir are good for starting a fire because they are resinous.  However they do not work as well once the fire is started as they burn faster and with less heat output.  They also tend to be sooty and smoky.  In addition, I have found that cedar and spruce tend to pop a lot and throw sparks.  Therefore, once the fire is going, I prefer to use hardwoods as they are denser and tend to burn slower and hotter with lower flames.  I like to use oak, hickory and maple as they are readily available and produce lots of heat and long lasting embers.  The forests in central and southern Indiana consist mainly of oak, poplar, beach, maple, walnut, hickory, cedar and ash so this is what I have to pick from.  I have not had the opportunity so far to cook with this stove in wet weather.  If given the chance (hint for more rain) I plan to experiment
      > with different woods to see which ones burn best.  Ash is one wood I've read about that sounds promising when wet.  I found that small finger-sized pieces of wood worked well once the fire was going and were readily available on the trail. Thicker pieces would have burned longer, but were too hard to break with my hands.
      >
      > Cooking on the stove - While backpacking in Franklin County, I used the Solo Stove to boil water for breakfast and dinner each day.  In the mornings I made oatmeal and in the evenings I made freeze dried soup.  I have also experimented at home with eggs, hamburgers and sausage but I don't like to take anything on the trail that must be kept cold or frozen.  In that regard, it may be a while before I cook gourmet dinners on the trail with this stove, but for now I'm quite happy boiling water for simple meals.  Winter may be the best time to try these other items.
      >
      > Cleaning up - Regarding clean up, I let the stove cool down on its own before dumping the ashes and wiping things down.  Typically it takes 10-15 minutes for the stove to be cool to the touch once the fire has died out.  It would be a lot quicker to douse the stove in a stream or dump water on it but I'm usually not in that big of a hurry.  Getting the soot cleaned up is a pain as it gets over everything but that's the nature of the beast when cooking this way.  I recently read that coating the bottom of my bowl with detergent or soap would make cleanup easier.  I will give that a try on my next campout.
      >
      > I found the stove easy to pack.  It is not fragile and consequently it had no problems in my backpack.  It is lightweight and compact so I typically pack it on top of my other items where it's easy to access.  When not in use, I kept the stove in its cloth storage pouch and my pot in a plastic bag to prevent soot from getting on my clothes or the backpack. <<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "IMAGE 3">>
      >  
      > SUMMARY
      >  
      > I have really enjoyed using the Solo Stove in the field.  In a world of gas cooktops and microwave ovens, the thought of gathering wood, building a fire and waiting for it to heat up seems primitive, but I found that once I adjusted my mindset it became a very gratifying experience.  I really like the simplicity of the stove.  It is built very ruggedly and there are no moving parts to break.   I like that my fuel source is readily available and I don't have to carry it with me.  I don't like the sooty mess that comes from burning wood, but that is an issue for all wood-burning stoves.  My impressions of the stove at this time are very similar to my initial thoughts a few months ago.
      >
      > Strengths:
      > 1. Simple
      > 2. Durable
      > 3. Lightweight and Compact
      >
      > Weaknesses:
      > 1. Soot on stove and cook pot makes for messy cleanup
      > 2. Relatively long boil times
      >
      > Jury still out:
      > 1. I am getting better at regulating the stove's temperature but it is still somewhat tricky
      > 2. The past few months have been so hot and dry that I have not been able to test how easy or difficult it is to cook with wet fuel
      >
      > This concludes my Field Report for the Solo Stove.  I will post my Long Term Report in approximately two months so please check back then for further information.  Thank you to Solo Stove and BackpackGeartest.org for the opportunity to test this item.
      >  
      >  
      >  
      > This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
      > Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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