Conquerwild’s #1 pick for Best Wood Burning Camp Stove: Biolite Camp Stove 2!!
It’s always gratifying to be able to eat a freshly cooked meal while camping. In my opinion, the best way to do this is with a wood burning camp stove. These minimalistic and generally affordable contraptions make cooking in the wild simple and satisfying. For those of you who are interested in cooking your camp food over a natural fire, I’ve searched to find the best wood burning camp stove that money can buy. Here are 6 of the most efficient and reliable products out there.
What We’ll Be Reviewing
- Überleben Stoker Flatpack Stove
- Biolite Camp Stove 2
- Solo Stove Lite – Portable Camping, Hiking and Survival Stove
- Firebox Stainless Steel Nano Stove
- Redcamp Wood Burning Camp Stove
- TOSHMOO Camping Stove
Überleben Stoker Flatpack Stove – Best Value
With a sturdy, compact and resilient design, the Uberleben Stoker Flatpack Stove is an easy frontrunner when put up against any of the best backpacking stoves out there. This versatile product works super well with not only chunks of wood, but also twigs, bark, pine needles, moss, wood pellets and pretty much anything else you can think of.
The Überleben cuts straight to the point in the best way possible. Once you’ve assembled this stove, it’s super easy to light and sustain a fire. Thanks to the non-restrictive design which allows for great airflow, your fuel will be able to burn for long periods of time.
The German word überleben means “to survive” in English, and that’s exactly what this stove was made to do. This thing is just about as durable as you could imagine- nearly airplane black box territory if you ask me. Its heavy duty stainless steel composition provides extreme strength and anti-corrosiveness, meaning it should last you many camping trips. Overall- a phenomenal wood burning backpacking stove.
- This stove is very lightweight, weighing only 14.5 ounces.
- It comes in a nice, canvas carry pouch with velcro for easy transportation.
- It’s ultra durable thanks to the heavy duty stainless steel makeup. It won’t corrode, rust or warp from the heat.
- When it’s packed down, it’s only 6” x 6”, so it can easily fit in a backpack.
- It can also be used in combination with an alcohol stove, charcoal or Esbit tablets.
- It doesn’t come with assembly instructions (though it’s pretty easy to figure out).
- There’s no way to control the draft coming in, so the flames may become a bit intense at times.
Biolite Camp Stove 2 – Best Pick Overall / Most Features
For those of you who are looking for something a bit more impressive, the Biolite Camp Stove 2 has definitely got your back. To call this thing a “wood burning camp stove” would be a bit of an insult, because it does much more than that.
The reason this product is larger and more expensive than usual is its giant, heat-powered battery pack. It looks like something straight out of the future (sort of like a giant cheese grater wearing a jetpack, which I totally love).
For full functionality, you must charge the Biolite’s battery before you embark on your trip. Once you get a good fire burning, the Biolite converts heat into energy, and it will maintain the battery’s charge. When your stove is nice and hot, you can charge your phone with the built in USB or shine some light with the gooseneck lamp that’s included. This stove even comes with fire starters, a pot and a bowl, so you don’t always need to bring an entire mess kit or cookware set.
This product also has a heat powered internal fan, which has 4 settings that let you manage the size of your flames. The fan makes a huge difference when it comes to controlling your fire and sustaining it. This stove is camp cooking innovation at its finest. If you’re looking to kill 2, 3 or maybe even 4 birds with one stone, this is probably the best product for you.
- The internal fan allows the flames to have 95% less smoke than a typical fire would.
- It’s easily the most versatile option on this list with a heat powered USB, lamp and internal fan.
- It can boil a liter of water in about 4½ minutes, which is super fast.
- The burn chamber is 5” x 5” x 8.3”, providing campers with a decent amount of room for firewood.
- There’s an LED dashboard that tells you the fan setting, power output and fire strength.
- Besides the stove and battery pack, it comes with a kettle pot, a french press, a grill with a cover and a plastic bowl.
- It’s the most expensive wood burning camp stove on this list.
- Due to the battery pack, this stove is a bit bulky and heavy.
Solo Stove Lite – Portable Camping Hiking And Survival Stove – Most Lightweight
Innovation doesn’t always have to come in the form of technology, as the Solo Stove Lite Camping Stove demonstrates. This product uses a clever design to encourage a strong and steady fire without any battery or fan power.
The beauty of this tiny, lightweight camp stove is in its inventive double wall design and vent holes. The air is able to filter in through the holes on the outer walls, become heated and then enter the burn chamber. This hot oxygen will keep your fire burning steadily for a long period of time.
This product will take a bit longer than the Biolite to cook a meal (it takes 8 – 10 minutes to boil 34 ounces of water), but it makes up for that with convenience. When it’s packed up, this thing is only 3.8 inches tall with a 4.25 inch diameter. Weighing in at 9 ounces, it’s also the lightest wood burning camp stove on this list.
For a seemingly simple and ultra compact product, the Solo Stove Lite will be able to accomplish most tasks that beginner campers need.
- It’s the most lightweight product on this list.
- It comes with a handy nylon stuff sack.
- The unique design allows for gasification to occur, meaning that you get a clean and nearly smokeless burn.
- There’s no need for batteries or a fan to get a good fire started.
- It’s made of stainless steel and chrome wire, so it’s very durable.
- The pot holder doesn’t always give the best fit on the top of the stove.
- The removable cook ring can get pretty hot, so removing it while a fire‘s burning may cause an issue.
Firebox Stainless Steel Nano Stove – Best For Alternative Types of Fuel
If you’re looking for something that’s stunning and stylish… then maybe the Firebox Stainless Steel Nano Stove isn’t for you. This thing looks about as unpolished and industrial as you can imagine for a small camping wood stove. However, this product completely makes up for that with the quality of its design and its versatility.
In addition to fuel wood, you can use charcoal, alcohol, gel or practically any other type of fuel you can think of with this stove (though we always recommend wood, as it’s the most environmentally friendly). The cross-feed wood delivery system allows for an efficient, long lasting burn and the ash pan at the bottom of the burn chamber ensures that no mess is left behind on the forest floor.
To call this thing a tool for kings and queens would be a huge stretch. This is a stove fit for the minimalists out there. Even though it’s simple and a bit rough around the edges, the Firebox Nano Stove is super efficient and worth the money.
- This stove can be used with pretty much any type of fuel you’d like.
- The stainless steel material makes it sturdy and anti-corrosive.
- Thanks to its hinged design, there’s no assembly need, which makes it great for beginners.
- It’s very lightweight and super compact. When it‘s collapsed and inside its case, this stove is 5” x 3.5” x.75”.
- Again, this thing is kind of ugly (but who cares, it‘s a stove).
- It’s a bit more expensive than some of the other minimalistic stoves out there.
Redcamp Wood Burning Camp Stove – Largest
Introducing another trusty, small wood burning stove that’s great for beginners and experts alike: the Redcamp Wood Burning Camp Stove. This product has a nice and sturdy build with a design that allows for super easy operation.
The Redcamp comes in a crafty, double-handled carry bag which encompasses and protects the product perfectly. This collapsable stove opens and closes in an accordion-like formation, which is pretty clever craftsmanship in my opinion. The bottom grate for the fuel wood is pre attached, making for easy assembly. Plus, it’s a breeze to clean with the help of its removable catch tray.
I like the addition of the “trap door” on the side of this stove, which allows you to feed in more fuel wood, even when you’ve already got something cooking. While this isn’t the most lightweight wood burning stove out there (weighing 5.5 pounds, it‘s the heaviest on this list), it provides top notch durability and gives beginners all that they need to be able to get a controlled fire going.
- When it’s fully opened, it’s 10.6” x 7.8” x 7.8”, making it the largest product listed in our wood burning camping stove reviews.
- When it’s collapsed down, this stove is less than 2” thick, making it easy to transport.
- The top grate/pot holder is super stable.
- The entire stove (including the grates) are made of 304 and 430 stainless steel, meaning they’re very strong and anti-corrosive.
- There are lots of vent holes at the bottom, allowing for oxygen to feed the fire.
- It’s the heaviest product on this list.
- Many customers have reported that it comes covered in a protective film that’s hard to get off.
- The trap door and rotatable switch on the side of the stove can become hot once the fire’s started. Therefore, it may be tough or unsafe to open it with your bare hands.
TOSHMOO Camping Stove – Most Affordable
The least expensive product on this list is by no means the worst in terms of quality. In fact, the TOSHMOO Camping Stove is up to par with all of the other simple camp stoves on this list in almost every aspect. Once you’ve put all 6 of its pieces together, the TOSHMOO is completely hassle-free to operate.
Like the Solo Stove Lite, this product has a double wall design, which allows oxygen to accumulate below the main chamber, where it heats up and fuels the fire. Some beginner campers may be turned off by the assembly process, since this stove comes with the walls and pieces disconnected. However, the directions are straightforward and it’s a small price to pay for such an affordable product.
My favorite aspect of this stove is probably the large gap in the pot supporter. This makes it super easy to just toss in pieces of fuel wood while you’re cooking. No need to touch or move anything. Just keep a supply stack of fuel wood nearby and you’ll be able to cook anything you’d like for as long as you’d like.
If you’re just looking for a contraption to burn some natural fuel and cook your food, then TOSHMOO is definitely an ideal, sturdy and compact choice.
- It’s super affordable!
- It’s made of stainless steel, meaning it’s strong and long lasting.
- This thing is ultra compact. When you collapse it down, it’s only 2.8” tall and 5.4” wide.
- It’s lightweight at 1.1 pounds.
- It comes with a mesh carrying sack.
- The serrated cross stand allows this stove to sit stably on almost any surface.
- Assembly may be a bit complicated since there are so many pieces.
So, What Is A Wood Burning Camp Stove?
To those who aren’t well versed in the world of outdoor cooking equipment, it may just seem that a stove is a stove, right? Well, not exactly.
A wood burning camp stove is precisely what it sounds like: a portable, outdoor stove which is powered by the heat of burning wood. It’s basically a mechanism which allows you to create a small, controlled campfire and that you can cook with.
These stoves come in dozens of variations. They range in size, shape, design, material and methods of operation. This means that almost anyone can find a wood burning camp stove that fits their exact needs.
The Benefits Of Using A Portable Wood Burning Stove
Now that you know what these contraptions are, you may still be confused as to why you need one… Especially when there are so many other options out there when it comes to camp meal preparation. Personally, I believe that wood burning stoves are the best option for the following reasons.
Better For The Environment
First and foremost, these stoves are eco-friendly. With a wood burning stove, you don’t have to rely on igniting charcoal, gas canisters, gel or anything else that lets off toxic fumes into the ecosystem. Instead, the fuel is all around you!
You can use logs, sticks, pinecones, moss, twigs, dry grass and lots of other natural resources. Also, many woodburning camp stoves are designed to limit the amount of smoke that’s let out into the environment.
Better For Your Wallet
These stoves are also the most cost efficient! You won’t need to invest in gas canisters, alcohol burners or anything else like that. If you’re camping on a budget, this is probably the way to go.
Great As A Backup Plan
Most of the products listed in our wood burning camp stove reviews can be used with wood or other types of fuel. However, some campers simply use woodburning camping stoves as a backup. You can keep one of these contraptions as a replacement in case you run out of fuel for your primary stove. Remember: camping is all about having a plan B, C, D and E.
If you want to start a campfire but open flames are prohibited in your area, these stoves are a great alternative. You may not get that same classic experience you’d get with a campfire, but it’s a close substitute.
It’s also worth mentioning that wood burning stoves make for a more fun and authentic camping experience than other types of stoves do. There’s something wildly satisfying about creating and maintaining your own fire and cooking food on it.
How To Choose The Best Camping Wood Stove
While all wood burning camp stoves use the same type of fuel (firewood), not all of them are exactly the same in every other aspect. There are lots of distinguishable factors that go into the best products out there. Here are some of the key elements to look out for:
The Best Materials
When a product is meant to endure intense flames and survive the wilderness, the material composition needs to reflect that.
Generally, the most durable wood burning camp stoves are made of stainless steel. This is always a great material for outdoor equipment because it’s highly resistant to rust and corrosion. Also, it won’t morph from excess heat.
Chrome is another material that is fairly resistant to rust and damage. It‘s cheaper than stainless steel, but it‘s also not as strong.
While titanium is stronger than stainless steel (3-4 times stronger, to be exact), it’s usually more expensive and scratches more easily.
Efficient Wood Burning
Obviously, the main function of a wood burning stove is- you guessed it- burning wood! Not every product out there does so in the same way- it all depends on the stove’s design.
All wood burning stoves contain a burn chamber, which is where the firewood goes. It’s important that there’s some form of ventilation on this chamber, as fire needs oxygen to survive.
Some wood burning stoves have a double wall design. With these, air enters the outer wall through a set of vents. If there’s a fire burning inside the chamber, the air will heat up and pass through another set of vents into the inner wall. This creates a gasification effect, thus feeding the fire with hot oxygen. This method is great because it’s able to create quite the intense and long-lasting fire.
In general, you can judge a stove’s effectiveness by how quickly it’s able to boil water. Most wood burning stoves should be able to do so in 4.5 – 10 minutes.
Think About Size
The size of your wood burning camp stove should reflect your needs as a camper. Are you looking for something super compact, or would you prefer a larger product that can support bigger pots and pans?
Most of these portable stoves are between 5 – 11 inches tall and 5 – 8 inches wide. The size of your stove also indicates the amount of firewood you’ll be able to burn at one time.
Is It Collapsible?
If you’re going to be hiking with your stove, I suggest finding something that’s collapsable. These stoves, like the Redcamp Wood Burning Camp Stove, can fold into themselves and make for a much smaller package to carry. Some wood burning stoves come disassembled and need to be put together. These are also great for easy carrying.
When we talk about portability, we must also talk about weight. No one wants to lug around a heavy chunk of metal on their backpacking trip.
Luckily, many portable wood burning camp stoves weigh a pound or less (the Solo Stove Lite weighs only 9 ounces!). Some products with advanced features like heat-powered battery packs (such as the Biolite Camp Stove 2) weigh a bit more than that. At the end of the day, it’s important to know your own limits as to how much weight you can carry.
It’s always a nice touch when a camping wood burning stove comes with a carry bag to make for easy and convenient transportation.
Stability = Safety
Stability is another factor to look for in a wood burning camp stove. You want your product to stand on its own without toppling over and causing a forest fire.
Usually, the taller the product is, the more likely it will be to tip over, especially in windy environments.
If your stove has legs at its base, be sure that there are at least 3 of them for all around coverage. Serrated cross stands (such as that on the TOSHMOO Camp Stove) offer great support and will remain stable on most surfaces.
Let’s not forget that these stoves are mainly used for cooking. Your cookware needs to be able to sit safely and securely on the top grate/pot supporter. The larger the diameter of this grate, the more secure your pots and pans will be while you’re cooking.
While some of the wood burning camp stoves I’ve recommended are quite simple and minimalistic, there are others that go above and beyond with their added features.
Some stoves have a battery pack that runs on heat-generated electricity. This is the case with the Biolite Camp Stove 2. These products are incredibly convenient because they often come with a USB for charging electronic devices. The Biolite also comes with a fan to help strengthen the fire, a LED dashboard and a lamp. Not everybody needs all of these features, but they’re definitely super helpful!
Some people like to use pocket bellows for their wood burning camp stoves. These are basically collapsible, straw like mechanisms. Campers use these to blow into their fire and help feed it. While these can be useful, I don’t find that they’re always completely necessary.
How To Get Your Fire Going
There’s no point in purchasing a wood burning stove if you don‘t know how to get a fire started. Some people may be turned away by the fact that you can’t just flip a switch and start cooking with these stoves.
First thing’s first, you need to find the right fuel for your fire. There will be plenty to spare in almost any camping location. You just have to know what to look for.
The heartbeat and perhaps most important part of your fire is the tinder. There are many different natural resources you can use as tinder. These include:
- Dried Leaves – One of the most effective forms of tinder which will significantly increase your chances of getting a good fire started. Depending on the time of year and the weather, you may not always be able to find dry leaves in your environment.
- Dried Grass – Perhaps the most commonly used form of tinder, dry grass burns quickly, so you need to use a lot of it.
- Twigs – Small sticks are also very commonly used and they work great when accompanied with dry grass.
- Pine Needles – You may be able to find lots of pine needles scattered around the forest floor. These burn very strongly and they’re great for a wood burning stove.
- Pinecones – These work really well as tinder because they ignite rather quickly. They tend to smoke a bit more than most sticks or twigs, though.
- Dried Moss – A great option that not many people think about. This works extremely well when sprinkled throughout your firewood. Just be sure that it’s completely dry.
- Tree Bark – Being that it’s almost always dry, this probably won‘t fail you in getting a good fire going.
- Tree Sap – A rather uncommon, but super helpful form of tinder that works when you have a large amount of it.
Whatever you decide to use as tinder, bunch it all up and place it at the base of your firewood.
Kindling is another important part of your fire. For most wood burning stoves, since you won’t be able to fit large logs inside, this will be the main aspect that sustains the fire. It generally consists of dry sticks that are about the width of your pinky.
Usually, fuel wood comes in the form of larger logs, about the girth of your wrist/forearm. Since you have limited space for this fire (usually burn chambers are no larger than 10 inches tall and 6 inches wide), there isn’t always room for large logs.
Some wood burning stoves have a cross-feed wood delivery system (like the Firebox Stainless Steel Nano Stove). This means that it has holes on the sides of the burn chamber which allow you to insert fuel wood. With this system, you’ll be able to feed a little bit into the fire at a time.
You can also chop up your fuel logs into short yet thick formations.
Just always remember to avoid using wet or damp wood for your stove, as it will probably not ignite. For more information on how to start a fire in the wild, check out our article on how to build an efficient campfire.
Taking Precautions With Your Backpacking Wood Stove
Essentially, your wood burning stove is a hazard to the environment around you when you’re not using it properly. You must remain in control at all times. Never leave your stove unattended when there’s a fire burning.
Always remember to keep some water handy, especially if you have to pack up your stove in a hurry. Not only is water great for putting out your fire, but you can also pour it on the smoldering steel to help cool it down. This will drastically lower your chances of getting burnt.
As far as the stove itself goes, be sure that the grate at the bottom of your burn chamber is sturdy. This is what will be holding your burning firewood in place. Efficient stoves also have an ash pan below this, which catches ash and embers as they fall. This is crucial in keeping the ecosystem clean and preventing a fire.
I don’t recommend using wood fired camping stoves inside of a tent, but if you must, make sure that your tent has lots of vents and sufficient airflow.
Cleaning Your Wood Burning Camp Stove
Portable wood stoves for camping tend to get fairly dirty pretty quickly from soot, ash and dirt. That’s why it’s super important that you clean it in between uses.
Some stoves have walls that come apart. In this case, you should disassemble them and soak each of the walls in some warm water for a couple of hours. Make sure each piece is submerged in its entirety. Then, you can use a brillo pad to scrub the walls in a circular motion.
If your stove does not come apart, you can wet the interior and then use a grill scrubber to remove any residue.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the best wood burning camp stove. At the end of the day, it’s important to know what your exact needs are as a camper. Each person may have a different preference over which product is best for them. Just be sure that the stove you choose excels in all of the essential areas listed above.
Each of the products we’ve reviewed here are excellent choices for most campers and backpackers. However, one camp wood stove seems to stand out above the rest.
Our Top Pick Is….
It’s rare that we rank the most expensive product on our list as our top pick (this is our first time ever, actually), but this camp stove is legions above everything else here. This is some top tier technology, mixed with the authenticity that comes with a fire-cooked meal. The innovative design has not only an efficient stove, but also a lamp, a USB charger, a dashboard and more. This product is the epitome of easy, green, next level camp cooking.
If you’re on a budget and don’t find all of these extra features necessary, then the TOSHMOO Camping Stove is another affordable and amazing choice.