Solo Stove test on the back porch

The solo stove, its high tech version of a “hobo” stove. Hobo stoves were usually constructed with tin cans and used about any natural fuel source to cook with. I have made more traditional “hobo” stoves in the past. They work, but usually oxidize quickly after the first use making an ugly mess. Back in those days they probably only gave high marks for usefulness rather than beauty. Today we can have form and functionality with the added benefit of an almost endless amount of fuel source. The only concern with fuel is, is it always dry? Having the knowledge to find the dry fuel I would say, yes you could always find dry fuel. Almost always. If you have the knowledge to start a fire in almost any situation your doing better than the vast majority. But that’s another subject all together.

I have run across review of the solo stove that were rather negative. Reviews are kind of funny. They can reflect the bias’s and preferences of the person giving the review of the product. Which will be another post. my personal bias is that using readily available fuel sources is a good thing. Having considered a hike-thru on the AT (appalachian trail), having a stove that didn’t require refueling with every stop would be good. It also allows for short burn times that would allow you to would allow for a controlled burn and easy clean up. At least over an open fire that would require extinguishing. That would require more water than one would wish to carry if water is scarce. Cooking close to a water source is always recommended, sleeping? not so much.

What is the advantage of a solo stove? That has a few answers. The biggest being it can have about an endless fuel source. (dead wood). Two, close to the first reason, an almost endless cooking time with “free fuel”. Three being, a small controlled fire to cook with. Four, ones desire to be somewhat self-sufficient as much as possible. There are probably an endless number of reasons to chose this stove based on what peoples desires and interests are. For me, being able to make extended stays in the woods without refueling based on my ability to acquire food is a good thing. Sustainability is the name of the game.

With the stove having the purpose of cooking brings a who new point to the issue. Having some knowledge about cooking makes all the difference. If you don’t know hot to cook, any stove will fail. Cooking with a fire complicates matters greatly. One, you have to manage the food, the other is being able to manage the fire. Having the ability to do both is a must with this stove. My basic philosophy is “I want to master my situation, not my situation master me.” Being able to manage a small fire in a solo stove or cook on an open fire, I want to master them both. It all boils down to a mentality. With a zen like mentality, you should have an empty cup. If your cup is full, nothing else can fit in. Always have an empty cup. Learn!!! Learn different ways to do any one task.

So for this test I used the extreme of the situations that one could expect. It was cold and getting colder. It was dark (ish) on the back porch. cooking something more complex than just bringing water to a boil. The cook time was somewhere around an hour to an hour and a half. The test meat was chicken on the bone. It was all doable in a situation where I could have easily gone in and ordered a pizza. The diner was cooked safely and no pizza was needed. I would call the whole process a success.

Please view the video. Cooking isn’t always exciting, which is why us guys tend to gravitate to the TV on thanksgiving and Christmas, but being able to prepare a good meal is actually rather rewarding. With the rule of 3’s in survival, 3 minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Eventually you gotta eat. Make it worth eating.

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