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6/30/2014 1:42 PM
 

 Conducted an initial test with this small stove today.  All I can say is.....Dang!  This is a very efficient little bio-fuel stove!  I used some bits of junk wood, sticks, twigs, etc. for fuel and used a few small shavings from a SOLKOA Fastfire to get it going.  The gasifier effect the stove employs really does the trick, and uses smoke from the main fire as a secondary burn through the small holes near the inner top like jets to create a really efficient burn.  So effiicient that all of the wood I fed it was burnt down to a small pile of ash....and I fed in quite a bit as it was heating and boiling the water.  I'm really impressed with this thing!  It's like a little tiny version of the HPG Shepherd Stove in its efficiency!

I brought a cup of water (~ 20 oz) to a rolling boil in about 8 minutes.  I haven't tried it yet, but I intend to test it out with an alcohol stove perched inside, as well.  According to a video I watched where a guy used his alcohol stove inside the Solo Stove, the alcohol stove had a real jet effect going.  If wood or other bio-fuel is unavailable or wet, having an alcohol stove nested in the Solo Stove is a great back-up.

The Solo Stove is plenty light enough to carry in a backpack, too.  They make a larger one...the Titan....that would be pretty good for car camping or as part of a vehicle-based Bug-out kit.

I've got the Solo Pot 900 inbound for it (30 Oz / 900 ml) and the Solo Stove will nest right inside of it.  

This stove and pot is set to become my main go-to for small shelter camping when not using my SO-6 and Shepherd.  Might be worth a look if anybody out there is looking for a pretty inexpensive and efficient wood / alcohol cook kit.

EDIT: One thing I forgot to add about this stove is that it works from a top-down approach.  Build the fuel (sticks and such) up from the bottom all the way to the holes on the sides, but don't cover them up as that this will hinder the stove's performance.  Place a tinder of your choice on top of that and let it burn down through the fuel like a candle.  Add extra fuel as needed.  It seems counter-intuitive to build the fire this way, but it works great.  A full load of small sticks, pine cones, etc. will yield about 10-15 minutes of good heat....add more as you go for longer burn times.


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6/30/2014 8:01 PM
 

Looks like a copy of the Bushbuddy. 

 
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6/30/2014 8:16 PM
 

Take-a-knee wrote

Looks like a copy of the Bushbuddy. 

Whether it is or not really makes no difference to me.  I just looked at a comparison of the two and the Solo Stove is clearly a rip off of the Bushbuddy's design, so that is true.  I did notice that the Bushbuddy has a seam along its edge, so the Solo appears to have a bit more of a finished design.  The Bushbuddy is lighter than the Solo by a few ounces, but apparently, the Bushbuddy is quite a bit more expensive, too.  All that said, the Solo Stove does what I need it to do and and is light enough to carry in a backpack, so what matters at this point is that it works well.  

I will however add this...the Solo Stove is a US design that is manufactured in China..."responsibly"....according to the box it came in, whatever that means.  As I understand it, the Bushbuddy is made in Canada and the designer of it does not have a patent on his design...so technically anyone could build one that looks exactly like the Bushbuddy, sell it, and not be in violation of any laws.  Any double-wall gasifier stove that is even remotely similar to the OG Bushbuddy is basically a copy of that design, which is also of course a copy of even earlier gasifier systems.  

I guess at the end of the day, I went with the Solo Stove because it caught my eye, had great reviews from others, and performs efficiently for a decent price.  Besides, $128 US for a Bushbuddy seems pretty steep for a stove of this type.  The Solo is nearly half the price and is just as good at burning sticks and the like.


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7/2/2014 8:41 PM
 

I expect that two things go into the price of the Bushbuddy over the Solo - automation and labor cost. I'm guessing the Bushbuddy is pretty much hand made and not factory made. Yeah, the guy doesn't have a patent, but a little respect is probably due.

Question - can you bring a meal sized portion of water to a simmer with one load of fuel, or do you have to remove your pot and re-stoke the fire halfway through?


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7/2/2014 9:57 PM
 

 No doubt that the Bushbuddy inventor should get the credit for the design...but I just couldn't see paying that price for his model.  $128 is solidly in the high-end liquid fuel and canister stove range.  But yes...the Solo stove is clearly a copy...they're just better at marketing their model than the guy in Canada is.  Heck, I even read something where the Germans were using a similar gasifier sysytem to power vehicles back in the 30's...so the concept has been around for quite a while.  I did rankle a little when I saw that the Solo is in fact made in China using "responsible" methods, but is of a US company...kind of a double standard, but there ya go.  Even so, it truly does what I want it to do and I think it's plenty strong enough to last for a long time.  

As you know, I almost always try to support smaller quality outdoor gear companies over big brands, but there are those times when the additional cost attached to something just to have the original "cottage business" version just doesn't pass the common sense test for me, especially when the less expensive one has very little discernable difference in performance than the more expensive one.  When there are real design differences and one is clearly better than the other...then I'll go with quality every time, hands-down.  

A good example in my mind where I chose quality over less cost is with a 3-5 day pack.  I could have saved a bunch of money and bought some Blackhawk! 3 day extended assault pack, or something like a Snugpak Rocket pack, and would have had something that would have been somewhere close to the size range of a Ute or Umlindi...but definitely went with the Ute and Umlindi because there are clear improvements in quality, comfort, durability, etc.  So then cost is out of the equation, because the other packs just can't even compete.  However, between the Bushbuddy and the Solo...I could not see much difference, except for a few ounces of weight saved, and one a lot more expensive than the other.  There might even be a few other similar versions of this stove over in Europe, and maybe those are better than either of these...who knows?  Anyway, I hope that explains my line of thinking on why I like the Solo.  Didn't want there to be any real controversy over it.

As far as performance....yes, you can definitely bring a meal sized portion of water to a simmer.  Here's how I'd explain that process:

Start with enough twigs, small wood, pine cones, etc. to fill it up to the level of the inner holes, but don't cover them.  

Get a sustainable fire going using the fire starting method of your choice.

Set the pot on top and start heating water.

Feed as needed to keep a good fire going until the water is heated to an acceptable level.  Feeding can be done easily by sliding more fuel in below the pot through a slot on the side of the pot stand.  No need to take the pot off to re-stoke.

I suspect that the quality of the fuel used has a direct relationship to whether one single load will do it, and how often it might need to be re-stoked to get the water hot enough to suit.  Rotten wood might not yield enough heat for long enough and require more re-stoke, whereas some small chunks of heartwood might sustain enough heat for a longer period of time and not need re-stoking at all.


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7/2/2014 11:36 PM
 

 i've been using an Emberlit for the last year and a half or so (when i'm able to have fires) and i've been enjoying that.  The fact that it packs completely flat helps because it takes up no space.

Does the solo stove come apart at all, or do you have to pack it like that?

 

 
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7/3/2014 6:21 AM
 

chorpie wrote

Does the solo stove come apart at all, or do you have to pack it like that?

Nope....the only thing that assembles is the pot stand.  Otherwise, it is one single unit.  That said, I don't find it very bulky at all.  Instead of folding flat, it takes advantage of the nesting concept.  The pot stand flips upside down and nests inside the stove body.  If you're carrying an alcohol stove, it nests right inside the stove body, too.  All of that fits in a form-fitting stuff sack that comes with it.  Then, the whole stove (stuff sack and all) nests inside the Solo 900 pot, which has its own stuff sack.  Kind of like some stove and pot version of a Russian doll.  I like that they have their own stuff sacks because then you don't get soot all over your other items inside your pack.  There's even room to store some tinders, etc. inside the stove.


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7/3/2014 11:20 AM
 

 Conducted another test burn using an alcohol burner nested inside and the Solo Pot 900 on top with a full 30 oz of water.  The alcohol burner was filled about half way with 96% rubbing alcohol.  Once the alcohol burner got cranking well, the jet holes at the inner top of the Solo Stove began engaging and created additional flame and heat directed up against the pot.  The 30 oz of water was hot enough to the touch by ~ 8 minutes to the point where I'd call it good for rehydrating and heating a meal or hot cup of coffee.  I had a solid boil going by ~ 10 minutes.  After another minute or two, it became closer to a rolling boil.  The jet holes at the inner top of the stove are pretty impressive with how they engage to improve the efficiency of whatever fuel one might use for heating.

I don't know if the OG Bushbuddy is any faster or slower, but I think that's unlikely since both are so similar in design and construction.   Also not sure if there are ones that folks in Europe or the UK use with things like Billy Pots that are any better or worse.


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7/3/2014 11:51 AM
 

My Bushbuddy gives me rolling boil with a pint in 8min or so.  Sounds about the same as yours.  I've only used it on one trip, as I just prefer the simplicity of alcohol, as most of my trips are, unfortunately, much too short, and alcohol makes more sense.  Having said that, I will never part with my Bushbuddy, it is just too cool of a piece of kit to ever part with.

 

With some tinder, I prefer little chunks sawdust/wax, and tiny conifer twigs, getting it fired up only takes a couple of minutes.  Start feeding pencil sized stuff, gradually larger up to finger-sized.  I would quickly gather dead standing conifer limbs and tuck them under my daughter's pack lid as we hiked.  I would always gather more than I would burn, even when I boiled some water to purify instead of treating.

 
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7/5/2014 12:24 AM
 

I have a Bushbuddy and an Emberlit mini  (and have a fireant on the way)

Both are good.  I see them as different uses because of the bulk.  The Emberlit packs flat and I like to use it for general backpacking when I don't need more than the small titanium cup and lid that nests around one of my Nalgene / Kleen Kanteen bottles.  So the setup takes very little room in the pack. 

The Bushbuddy on the other hand, there's a titanium pot that's about a quart  (probably the 30 ounce pot that someone mentioned above)  that the Bushbuddy nests inside perfectly  (it's designed to nest in it to protect the stove)  -  if I'm going to carry the bigger pot than the little cup I take backpacking, I'll take the Bushbuddy.  Probably would be better for winter when you need to melt snow or for trips with 2 people to cook for.  Because you need the bigger pot, might as well take the stove that fits in the pot. 

Otherwise both are good stoves.  I DO like the fact that you can feed the emberlit from the side with a bigger stick you keep pushing in.  And the fact the fireant that's coming fits an alcohol stove.  Though I usualy take a few esbit tablets to use in really bad weather  (never needed them yet)

 
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7/5/2014 12:57 PM
 



The Bushbuddy on the other hand, there's a titanium pot that's about a quart  (probably the 30 ounce pot that someone mentioned above)  that the Bushbuddy nests inside perfectly  (it's designed to nest in it to protect the stove)  -  if I'm going to carry the bigger pot than the little cup I take backpacking, I'll take the Bushbuddy.  Probably would be better for winter when you need to melt snow or for trips with 2 people to cook for.  Because you need the bigger pot, might as well take the stove that fits in the pot. 


 

Snow Peak 900 is the pot the Bushbuddy was designed to fit.

 
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7/7/2014 10:07 PM
 
Can anyone point to a case study or comparison test between a wood gassifier (Bushbuddy, Solo, Ti Tri, etc.) vs "standard" miniaturized woodstove (Emberlit, Firefly, etc) w.r.t. temp output, boil time, etc.? Reviews I have read don't seem to show much difference between them as far as overall performance but then there are many variables at play (type of wood, humidity level of wood, ambient conditions, etc.) and it's not always clear. Thanks
 
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7/8/2014 12:03 AM
 

I have both a Bushbuddy and a Ti-Tri but the latter is still in the box.  I will have to give it a whirl.  ANY gassifier will be more efficient than a non-gassifier.  That could possibly be a moot point with a surplus of fuel if you are only comparing burn times.  IE, maybe you could get the same or faster boil times with the Emberlit just by feeding it more wood. 

To do this right you would need to use measured sticks of lumber ripped out on a table saw so they were all of the same size/weight.

 
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7/8/2014 9:57 AM
 
TAK - I understand the theory/physics behind why gassifiers should work better but haven't seen the proof that a miniaturized gassifier does work better. The lighter weight of non-gassifier type stoves plus the relative abundance of matter to burn (compare the amount actually needed with the amount available) combined with the lack of evidence (from what I could find) that miniaturized gassifiers work better makes the gassifier type stove a hard sell for me right now. Add in the convenience of side feeding ability (and thus the ability to control the burn a little better) found on the Emberlit and Firefly stoves and I see a winner (at least on paper). Your thoughts?
 
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7/8/2014 10:19 AM
 

Totally unscientific comparison, but my bushbuddy tends to boil water a bit faster than the emberlit I think.  But with the emberlit you can keep feeding in a big, thick stick from the side, pushing it farther in as needed  -  or pulling it out to not cook as hot. 

Both are great stoves.  It really comes down to what do you need - bigger pot or smaller pot that fits around a water bottle?  I'm excited about getting the emberlit fireant as you can slip in an alchohol stove or a tray for an esbit tablet at just the right height to use on it, giving me options in case I don't want to go the wood fire route.  (Mostly esbits for me, I usually carry a few while backpacking in case I don't want to or it's absolutely pouring down rain and everything is soaked and I just want to cook some dinner - it's a great backup)  Then again, people do the same with the bushbuddy, but it's not quite as easy. 

Basically I'm happy with either stove. 

 
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7/8/2014 3:33 PM
 

stoutside wrote
TAK - I understand the theory/physics behind why gassifiers should work better ... Your thoughts?

Oustanding level of analysis on the subject.

For me, the baseline evaluation is "work efficiency" -- i.e., what takes me the least amount of effort to accomplish the goal. That's going to be a combination of carried weight plus on the ground work to do something. My one experiment with a fold up wood stove (vargo hex) wasn't very impressive. Mostly because I couldn't get my standard pot of water to a simmer without feeding it more fuel than the initial loading. At that point, I'll use the alcohol stove for less fuss. If I want to cook over a fire, I have a hard time seeing the advantage of either the simple stoves or the gassifiers over an open fire, for which I don't have to carry a thing.

If an option didn't weigh too much and I could pull it out, fill it up with wood and start the fire, put my pot on it and then forget about it until the water started perking, I'd be interested.

Even though I built it with that option in mind, I haven't tried using my combination pot support / wind screen as a simple wood stove yet.


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7/9/2014 8:29 AM
 

Evan, I agree the alcohol stove is the no fuss answer for most of us.  The Bushbuddy has a much lower fiddle-factor though than you might suspect.  I can't speak to the Emberlit as I've never even seen one.  I think the Trail Designs Ti-Tri is the next upgrade for an alcohol user.  I've used the aluminum Caldera Cone for years.  Mine is pretty wrinkled up but still useable.  Efficiency with it is far better than any other stove/windscreen setup I've ever tried.  The Ti-Tri is the same setup made of Titanium that also allows you to burn wood.  To me, that is the ticket, as that allows you to actually cook if you desire to, not just boil water, and there is never a concern about running out of fuel.  I do not agree with you that just building a fire is an efficient option, as you'll typically need some sort of contraption/grill/grate whatever (that has to be carried).  Propping up rocks is always an option but is highly frowned upon in some areas and typically takes quite a while to build the fire and get a boil.  YMMV.  When I get some Ti-Tri wood-burning time I'll post about it.

 
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7/9/2014 4:53 PM
 

Evan  -  I can almost always boil a pot of water with the bushbuddy without adding more fuel.  And if I need to add some, I litterally lift the pot and drop in a small handful of twigs.

As for the emberlit  -  the hole in the side allow you to stick a much thicker stick in there than you normally would use and slowly feed it in as you need more fuel.  Like this.

 
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5/2/2015 1:40 PM
 

TAK,  any chance you could post some results from your wood burning Ti-Tri?  I have had one for 6 or 7 years now, but have only used it with alcohol or esbit.  As you mentioned regarding the Caldera Cone, it is a whole new level of Alchy efficiency.  I have always wondered if the inferno insert was worth it or not.

 

Edited to add:

Took it out today with my oldest daughter.  Boiled a 900ml ti pot full of water in 8 minutes, with a fair bit less than an ounce.  It ha its flaws, but as an alcohol burner, it may be the best.  I wonder how the solo stove/bushbuddy would compare with the right alcohol stove dropped into it.  Looks like they sell the Trangia for the purpose.

In a related question, I'm thinking of picking up a 1.8 Mors pot for multiple person use.  The 900ml is just enough for two of us, but I'd like to be able to do 3 or maybe even drinks for 4.  Aside from an open fire, does anyone have any experience putting the Mors billy on a burner?  Probably too big for normal alcohol, but maybe someone has tried it?  What about using the Solo/bushbuddy with it for a faster wood fire?  Faster in the sense that it would take less prep, but maybe in the burn as well?

 
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