Everyone wants to have the right product when they’re cooking, but what happens when you go camping? I’m an avid lover of the outdoors, and I’m always sitting outside watching the stars. Sometimes, I want to have a fire in the evening so that I can cook and get that mood enhancement. However, I don’t want to build it from scratch each time. When that happens, I like to use the Solo Stove Lite.
For those long trips where you don’t have a resupply access point, cooking with wood is ideal. It’s an excellent fuel source, and it can reduce your costs and expenses. You’ve got to make sure you’re allowed to burn a fire in the locations where you hike, and there has to be dry wood available.
Sometimes, I take along some fuel tablets to use with my Solo Stove. It’s a great backup in an emergency, such as when it has been raining, and there isn’t dry firewood available.
No Trace Left Behind With The Solo Stove Lite
Everyone knows that you aren’t supposed to leave any traces of your presence there when you’re camping or hiking. Most people don’t think of the campfire as a problem, but I do. If there’s a fire pit I created, it means someone’s going to see that and know I was there.
I prefer the Solo Lite Stove because it’s quite easy to cook on than a campfire, and it has a lower environmental impact. You don’t need a lot of wood to boil water, and there’s no need for a separate windscreen. It’s also easy to simmer food, and it self-extinguishes when the fuel has burned up. Plus, I like the base because it prevents the ground from scorching. When you’re done, and the fuel (wood) is gone, all that’s left is ash.
Though there are other wood stoves on the market today, few of them feature a burn plate underneath. This is essential so that the fire doesn’t leave soot traces on the rock or scorch the ground. Some of the other products out there have flat panels for easy storage, but that’s not my main concern. I don’t want to risk burning the forest. That matters to me, and I don’t mind carrying a wood stove that’s a little heavier to ensure that it has a closed base.
The Gasifier Difference
In a sense, the Solo Lite Stove is a gasifier stove with inverted double walls. Basically, it’s a can within a can that includes a pod stand. It effectively burns wood and provides more smoke than a single-wall can with punched holes. Ultimately, air can flow through the voids between the cans, gets heated, and burns the wood and smoke within the inner can. The process works like this:
- You burn wood, which produces smoke.
- There’s more heat and energy when you burn the wood and smoke.
- The trick here is burning the smoke before it can waft away. Some of it is going to escape when the fire is started.
- To burn the smoke, add oxygen to it through inversion (from the top down).
- The dry wood (fuel supply) is infinite, so you don’t have to carry it.
- This stove is so simple to use. You don’t have to maintain anything or adjust the controls.
There are two components to the Solo Lite Stove. You get the main burn chamber with a separate pot stand. This drops inside the chamber when you’re not using it to make it easier to store.
The pot stand is just a metal ring that has three feet with a gap. You add more fuel through the opening, and the cookpot sits at about the height as the top of the feet. As you pile those sticks into the burn chamber, make sure they’re not poking up over the feet of the stand.
Simmer and Boil Water
It’s possible to simmer and boil water with the Solo Lite Stove. Just feed in more or less fuel. If you’re cooking those packages of noodles, just fill up the wood chamber of the Solo with kindling. Make sure it’s about the diameter of your ring or pinky finger and is only as long as your thumb.
Usually, it isn’t hard to collect wood, and it should be all around you. Just search for sticks that meet those requirements, or break longer pieces down to the right side.
You’re only going to need around three or four handfuls to cook your two-pot dinner.
Now, you should light the wood with your preferred fire starter. I typically use cotton balls with some Vaseline on them. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go. The first wood load is sure to be enough for boiling up to a pint of water. However, you can always add more wood through the pot stand’s gap if needed.
The Solo Stove Lite does recommend that the fire gets started on top of the pile instead of at the bottom. However, I’ve found it works either way and rarely have a problem using my method.
If you want to simmer, add more wood to your burn chamber after the water is boiled. You get a different amount of heat produced based on how much fuel has to go into the fire. I think it helps to remove the cover from the pot now so that you can gauge the simmer strength and prevent a boil-over. It’s possible to cook a real meal on this stove. Usually, I choose backpacking meals that start with boiling water. That way, it’s purified before I add any other ingredients. You can also select the cup meals; pour boiling water over it, stir, and eat!
Ideal for Stove/Pot Combinations
I like the Solo Stove Lite because I can use almost any pot I want with it. However, you should be aware that you’re going to have slightly more instability if you choose a large and wide pot because the stove is quite small. There can also be some issues with the placement of your stove. If it’s on an uneven surface like a rock or the ground, you should be a bit more careful.
Try to find a pot that matches the diameter of the pot stand. It’s going to make life so much easier for you. Once you do that, consider the height of the pot. The one I use for most of my outdoor cooking holds the pot stand and Solo Stove Lite inside it. That way, it’s easier for me to transport everything when I’m backpacking.
I just put the pot cover on and then wrap up the pot/stove system in a mesh bag. You don’t have to do that step, but I find that it keeps the soot from the outer pot from getting onto my gear. Make sure you wash the outside of your pot and let it dry before putting it away. Usually, I find a nice stream bed nearby and rinse it in the water. Then, I scrape it along the rocks and sand to clean it.
You can also bring along a rag or washcloth, but that’s something else to carry and not forget to repack. Generally, the light scouring is enough to remove soot buildup if you do it after every meal.
Whenever I take my Solo Stove Lite with me on trips, I always use some fuel tablets. It’s just a habit so that I’ve got something to cook with if the wood supply is wet. Sometimes, it’s raining when I stop, and I must cook under a tarp (which I bring in case of that problem). Under these circumstances, you can still use the Solo as a windscreen/stand for your fuel tablets. This means you don’t have to carry another stove system. Here are a few things to note here:
- Never use the pot stand that comes with the Solo Stove Lite when you’re burning fuel tablets with it. That’s not going to give you enough protection from the wind and can waste a lot of heat. Plus, the tablet is too far away from the cook pot’s bottom to provide the right amount of heat transfer.
- Fuel tablets could fall through the metal grate, which is right inside the stove. This happens as they shrink and start burning up. You can stop this problem by putting the fuel tablet on some tin foil or metal before lighting it. That way, it burns completely from the inner grate’s top.
- Don’t put your fuel tablet in the center of your stove grate. Instead, put it to one side. Position the pot so that it’s going to sit on top of the rim of the stove, but it’s not completely closing off the air to the fuel chamber within. This air gap can be extremely narrow, but it’s still going to work. The pot remains stable as long as you’re using one with a small diameter.
Solo Stove Lite Recommendations
If you like the idea of having a campfire at night and don’t want to build one, the Solo Stove Lite is a great choice. You can also use less fuel throughout your trip, which protects the environment and reduces how much you’ve got to carry with you.
I find that the Solo Stove Lite is an economical product. Though it’s a little heavier than other models and can be slightly more expensive, I choose it because of the integrated heat shield, which protects the ground. It’s a must-have so that you Leave No Trace.