Anyone that has seen my gear list know that I’m a pretty satisfied user of ultralight canister stoves. The combination of cleanliness, control and convenience usually meets my needs 9 times out of 10 when hiking and camping. I do have a strong admiration for the weight, design and ingenuity of many of the other stove concepts used in hiking; in particularly the alcohol stoves and traditional fuel stoves (which used foraged combustibles).
While perusing the goodies over at Go Fast and Light, I came across an offering by Vargo. I own one of Vargo’s early titanium versions of the now ubiquitous “soda can” alcohol stove and although it didn’t really suit me, I was curious about their Wood Stove after a recent discussion with a friend about Kelly Kettles (another traditional materials stove solution).
One of the drawbacks of traditional materials stove is that they tend to be large. Even the smallest Kelly Kettle is about 11″ x 6″. While this might not sound like a lot, when compared to an alcohol stove the size of a hockey puck or a canister stove slightly larger than a cigarette lighter, the real estate use in your backpack starts to become a serious issue for concern.
Vargo’s Titanium Wood Stove addresses this issue with an ingenious folding and locking design that makes the stove as flat as a piece of cardboard when not in use.
Personally, I can see the value of a traditional materials stove in many situation where access to canister fuel and even alcohol might be difficult such as very long trips, longer disasters, remote locations and bug-out/survival scenarios. For me, however, my eyes lit up at the possibility of using it as a light, strong, high-quality windscreen and pot holder for a stove. A lot of folks pack a strip of metal roofing flash for this purpose. While that approach is inexpensive and light, I’ve found it to be fragile, unstable and flimsy. The Vargo Titanium Wood Stove might make a great compliment to an alcohol stove in this role, serving as a windscreen as well as allowing wood burning if alcohol fuel ran out or under-performed.
The item appears to be enjoying significant popularity and is regularly sold out but they do accept back orders.