Bug Out Bag Basics: Cooking Outdoors Using a Solo Stove

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wood gathering campireHave you ever thought about how you would cook on the run?  What I mean is this: you are ordered – or need – to evacuate the shelter of your home and are not sure where you are going.  You may need to camp out and you are most definitely going to have to fend for yourself.

The bug-out-bag is ready to go will all kinds of gear including some paracord, a good knife and whistle, Mylar sleeping bags and a tent, water purification tablets, first aid items, plus some freeze-dried food pouches.  Life is good, right?

Now wait a second.  How are you going to cook your food and what are you going to cook it in?

Today I am going to share with you the results of testing the amazing little Solo Stove and offer up some suggestions for including such a stove and some related gear in your bug out bag.  Because I am so biased about these things (Solo Stove is a sponsor here on Backdoor Survival), I decided to let the Survival Husband share his opinion of this nifty little stove.

The Amazing Little Solo Stove

The Solo Stove is very compact and light weight and is easily, at 9 ounces, carried in a backpack.  It comes with it’s own little pouch which is easy to stash and which keeps the stove protected from the other gear in your bag.Solo Stove_20

The stove uses bio-mass broken into pieces that are the size of your finger so that they will fit in the combustion chamber.  I suggest that you need to gather up your bio-mass in advance of starting the fire because it will get burned up fairly rapidly and you will want to keep the hot flame alive by adding to the combustion chamber as it is consumed.

There are two methods for starting the fire and I tried both.

1.  Fill the combustion chamber to the top with bio-mass then start the fire by lighting it from the top.  In our test we used a cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly as a fire starter.  We could and should have used our fire steel but to be honest, we were both too lazy to dig it out of our bug-out-bag.

Once you have a fire going, keep feeding the fire until the stove is drawing.  You will know this is happening when you see that the fire has spread across the top of the stove and secondary combustion will be seen near the air vents.

2.  With this second method, you put in enough bio-mass to cover only the bottom of the combustion chamber.  Add your fires starter (again, I used the cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly) and start your fire.  After the fire is going, keep adding bio-mass.  Soon your stove will be drawing, forcing the heat up through the chamber.

I actually preferred this method although the Solo Stove website prefers method number 1.  Your mileage may vary.

Solo Stove_21Once the fire is going, place the removable raised section of the stove on top of the fire.  This top piece holds your pan on the stove and also contains an opening so that you can continue to feed the fire.

You are now ready to start cooking.

We put four cups of very cold water in our pot for testing and were impressed when it boiled the water in about ten minutes.  Also, as you can see in the picture, we used a large pot.  I was concerned about the stability of the stove with such a large pot but in fact, there was no problem.

I do recommend, however, that you get some compact and  lightweight cooking utensils for use in a bug-out situation.  There is no way that you are going to want to lug a pot of any size in a backpack.  In addition, a smaller pot will make more efficient use of the heat generated by the fire.

Solo Stove_22

All in all I thought the Solo Stove was an excellent choice for a compact stove and I would definitely recommend it.

PS: I also tried using charcoal briquettes in the Solo Stove but they took too long to start and did not get hot enough fast enough to be efficient.

The official user guide for the Solo Stove can be found here: The Solo Stove User Guide.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By now you know that I am not the best photographer in the world.  I never claimed perfection in this area and as much time as I spend at it, I don’t think I will every get any better.  Still, a picture is worth a thousand words so I made a little photo story showing you our test of the Solo Stove.

A Few Hints for Using Your Outdoor Stove

If you plan to use your Solo Stove – or any cooking device that uses bio-mass – as a backup for when the power goes out, take the time now to gather up some biomass now so that it will be nice and dry when the time comes.  We have actually gathered quite a bit and are storing the twigs, pieces of wood and bark and pine cones in five gallon pickle buckets that were given to us for free by a restaurant.   (We probably have the only pickle scented biomass on the planet.)biomass (1)

Another tip is learn how to start a fire now.  Whether you use a fire steel and tinder, dryer lint, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly or something else, learning to start a fire is a simple skill that will take you just an hour or two to master.  Apartment and condo dwellers – this includes you too.  When I was a city girl, I knew nothing about fire building and the first couple of times I tried, I pretty much smoked out the neighborhood.  So take heed, and start practicing now.

The Final Word

Gathering bio-mass then using it as fuel makes me feel like a pioneer lady and I like that.  Sometimes, as a matter of fact, I think I was born in the wrong era.  Of course back then there were no computers and no blogs.  On the other hand, times were simpler and less complicated and I would like to believe less stressful.

Alas, if we are required to grab our bags and go, stress levels will be high.  The one thing we should not have to worry about it how to boil water or how to cook our food.  The Solo Stove gives us a compact, easy to use and economical solution to that dilemma.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Bargain Bin:  Cooking outdoors does not have to be a challenge.  Start with the Solo Stove and add some low cost items that will make cooking and bugging out less of a challenge.

Solo Stove:  I was so impressed that I renamed this the “Amazing Little Solo Stove”.  The price is $69.99 but for a small amount more, you can get a version that also burned alcohol.

Swedish Firesteel: Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions.

Light My Fire Tinder Sticks:  Some people prefer to purchase tinder and this is a good choice.  I like to use cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly that I make up myself, a couple dozen at a time.  They store well in a small Ziploc baggie or re-purposed mint tin.

Lightweight Anodized Aluminum Outdoor Mess Kit:  This is a well-priced, under $20, mess kit that is lightweight and with decent reviews. 

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency. You will be amazed at how small and portable these are; a packet will easily fit in a back pocket.

Emergency Shelter Tent: The Emergency Tent is a lightweight and compact emergency shelter. It is wind and waterproof and easy to set up and is roomy enough for two people. Less than $10.

Emergency Sleeping Bag: Another low cost item designed to keep you warm in an emergency situation.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Water treatment tabs are a bug out bag essential.

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.

Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of  Survival Gear Checklist   15 Items to Get You StartedParacord for about $8. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color.

Emergency Essentials/BePreparedThe big news this month at Emergency Essentials is their Mountain House Sale. You can expect sizable discounts of up to 32% on all types of Mountain House products.

Other specials of note include the Freeze Dried Poultry and Vegetable Combo for $114.99. The six #10 tins include Chicken A La King, Chicken Teriyaki, Noodles & Chicken, Rice & Chicken, Broccoli and Green Beans. Now that I have a good supply of bulk foods, I appreciate the convenience of ready-made meals where all you need to do is add some hot or boiling water and you are done.

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Bug Out Bag Basics: Cooking Outdoors Using a Solo Stove — 5 Comments

  1. I grew up with a mom who could cook “anything”. She was a true southern lady! And, she always used her cast iron skillets! They were well seasoned and the meals she prepared were awesome…best fried chicken ever and cornbread that would melt in your mouth. I will ALWAYS recommend the cast iron skillets. There is one other use that perhaps no one would think of…they make a great weapon!!!

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