I like camping.
I like eating while camping. However, sometimes, cooking on the trail can be a challenge. One of my fondest memories as a Boy Scout was an 11 day, 75+ mile trek at Philmont Scout Reservation in Cimeron, New Mexico. I carried a Coleman MultiFuel stove that was FAR from light, and a LOT of white gas fuel for the stove. Between the stove and the fuel, they were the heaviest things in my backpack. I really would have appreciated a lighter option, like the EmberLit Stove
Modern marvels or needless complication?
Today I have a variety of backpacking stoves:
- alcohol burning can stoves of the homemade and store bought variety, like this svea stove
and the Etowah Outfitters alcohol stove
- an MSR Micro Rocket Stove clone (Etekcity 2 Pack Ultralight Mini Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove with Piezo Ignition) that uses disposable isobutane canisters
- a TOMTOP Portable Multi Fuel Outdoor Backpacking Camping Picnic Stove that works on white gas, kerosene, or pretty much any liquid fuel that will burn
- a few military surplus solid fuel stoves like the Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove
The problem with every single one of the options above is that they require fuel that has to be sourced off of the trail and carried with the stove. I am not a fan of carrying any more than I absolutely HAVE to when backpacking, so I’ve been on the lookout for better options for heating food.
In the quest for a lighter option I explored woodgas stoves a few years ago on the theory that the stove might weigh about the same as some of the man-made fuel stoves listed above, but since wood stoves burn sticks found along the trail, I would save space and weight in my pack. The wood gas stove that a kind soul made for me to test worked great, but was a bit too bulky for lightweight backpacking. (click HERE for instructions for how to make a woodgas stove from a few left over cans). I had given up until stumbling across the EmberLit Stove brand of portable wood gas stoves that fold flat. They are called “wood gas” stoves because the way the airflow holes are arranged allows some of the unburned fuel that is typically lost in the rising smoke to actually be burned on the way up. So, they burn the wood as well as the flammable parts of the smoke… that is the “gas”. Not to be confused with gasoline, which is a totally different animal. EmberLit was kind enough to send their original stainless steel EmberLit Stove for testing.
How EmberLit.com describes the EmberLit Stove:
“The EmberLit Stove “Original” weighs less than 11.3 oz (320 g) and is constructed of rugged 304 stainless steel. When you compare that to a full canister of fuel and burner, the difference in weight is astounding! The stainless steel EmberLit is impervious to corrosion and is remarkably strong. This camping or backpacking stove will hold the weight of any pot or pan that will sit securely without wobble. Like the rest of the EmberLit line, this wood burning stove comes with a lifetime guarantee because you are never going to wear it out. With use, the individual panels that make up the EmberLit may take on a slight warp. This is normal and doesn’t affect the assembly or durability of the stove. Great for backyard smores, camping, backpacking, canoeing, motorcycle/bicycle touring, river running, bushcrafting, wilderness survival, and disaster preparation. Made in the USA!”
|Panels||4.5 x 5.5 inches|
|Stove Height||6 inches|
|Top of Stove||3.5 x 3.5 inches|
|Packs Flat||1/8th of an inch|
|Fuel Type||Does not require you to carry fuel. Use sticks or debris found on trail|
|Country of Orgin||Made in the USA|
This was the fun part.
I started with a few test burns in the back yard. There is a learning curve associated with assembling the EmberLit Stove, getting the fire started reasonably quickly, and managing the amount of heat the stove generates. The first few burns were less about cooking and more about leaning how to use a small wood stove.
Once I had the hang of the EmberLit Stove I tried popping some popcorn using a popping kettle made from an aluminum can. It worked surprisingly well… again… once I got the hang of managing the height of the flame via managing the amount and timing of wood added to the wood stove.
Next I took the EmberLit Stove on a camping trip where it shared cooking duties with a couple of the liquid fueled stoves. The EmberLit Stove did well enough that it was the ONLY stove that I took on a backpacking trip the following month.
Is the EmberLit Stove good for backpacking?
Sometimes. As in,
- if there is an ample supply of small sticks and twigs to burn and it isn’t expected to be too wet
- you have learned how to quickly light the EmberLit Stove in the field
- you are cooking something that doesn’t require fine cooking temperature control, or…
- you have learned how to control the temperature managing when and how quickly you ad wood to the EmberLit Stove
- you will be in an area where fires are allowed
Sounds like a fairly restrictive list, but it wasn’t that hard to satisfy all of the requirements for me. It just required a few test sessions in the back yard before venturing off into the woods.
Once in the woods the EmberLit Stove is easy to set up, easy to use, rather stable, and easy to clean up to put away when done. I LOVE that I don’t have to worry about any sort of liquid fuel mess, leaks, volatility, weight, or storage requirement when cooking with sticks found around camp. Cooking on a fire requires a bit more mental activity than a typical liquid fuel stove, but I don’t mind that at all.
At less than 12 oz total AND no need to carry any fuel for most camping trips the EmberLit Stove is a nice, rustic option that allows a safe fire to be built up off of the ground where it won’t scar the earth. I don’t grab the EmberLit Stove for every trip into the woods, but I find myself choosing the little portable wood backpacking stove more often than not. I am anxious to see how much lighter some of the other models are.
Ready to buy the Emberlit Stove?