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One the major components on any serious prepping effort is having adequate facilities for cooking outdoors. In my case, I have a fancy stainless steel gas grill but that is not going to do much good if there is no propane or the fuel line that delivers our propane is destroyed. I also have a cook-ready fire pit that utilizes wood but that is large and bulky (even though it looks very cool in my back yard).
The practical solution was to find something portable that could burn charcoal briquettes or, in a pinch, kindling, twigs or other pieces of wood found out and around the wilderness. After doing some research, I set my sights on the Volcano II Collapsible Stove and purchased one directly from Emergency Essentials. It arrived in three days even though I ordered the standard shipping. I was impressed. But alas, with other obligations, I did have have a chance to use it until this week.
Here is the scoop.
The Volcano II is collapsible. And when I say collapsible, I mean it. It measures about 5” high and 13” across in its collapsed state. The whole thing fits nicely in an included pouch that appears to be very sturdy and although this is a heavy sucker, it is completely transportable. Plus, it burns both charcoal and wood – very handy, indeed.
The complete kit includes:
- The Grill
- Two grates: and upper grate for grilling and a lower grate for charcoal
- Heat Deflector Plate
- User manual
- Carrying case
There is also an optional kit that includes a propane attachment but since my intent was to use this as a survival grill, I did not bother with the extra expense.
Opening the grill is a cinch and if you ask me, incorporates some pretty nifty engineering forethought. All you need to do is pull up on the handle and the entire stove pops open. The legs splay out and unfold perfectly, locking themselves in place a making the stove nice and stable. Adjusting the heat is easy too, using an open and close vent toward the bottom of the stove.
Closing the stove is equally easy: lift the stove up from the lower section and it folds back in to itself just like magic.
Look Ma – I can touch it!
Perhaps the neatest thing about this stove, and something I had spaced out about during my initial investigation, is that although the cooking surface and the interior gets hot – very hot – the outside remains cool and touchable. Amazing! This means you can set it on any service and not have to worry about damage. This to me is a huge plus.
Cooking with a Cast Iron Skillet
We decided to cook up some hamburger steaks using my cast iron skillet. We only used 13 briquettes which was not really enough to get the skillet burning hot but the hamburgers did cook – they just took a long time. I would recommend using double that amount for skillet cooking. Or, if cooking meats, simply use the grill and skip the skillet.
After the coals burned out, all I had to do (well actually, Survival Husband did the cleanup) is turn the stove over, dump the ashes then wipe out the residual ash with a paper towel. As I mentioned above, we then collapsed the stove by pushing it up from the bottom. Back into the bag it went – snugged down and ready for the next time. Or, if need be, ready to grab and go if an evacuation were required.
Dutch Oven cooking and more
The Volcano II is designed – and appears to be ideal – for Dutch oven cooking. (I just ordered my Dutch oven last night so I have not had a chance to try it out yet.) It will fit any Dutch oven up to 12” in diameter and will allow you to stack multiple Dutch ovens and cook a full meal deal, just like the boy scouts.
There is also a Kevlar “lid” or tent that you can buy for about $20. When cooking with the lid on, you essentially create a convection oven effect. I imagine that with some hickory chips, the lid would allow you to smoke your food as well.
I had some questions about the type of Dutch oven to use with my Volcano II so I called the 800 number and spoke extensively to the fellow who answered the phone. I am glad I did. He gave me some tips for using a Lodge 8 quart Dutch oven (you line up the “ears” of the Lodge with the tabs right inside the rim) but also suggested Camp Chef brand. He also told me that you can purchase disposable “Dutch oven liners” or elsewhere that are really nice when out in the wilderness since the liner fits inside the Dutch oven and you just toss it out when done. No muss, no fuss although I need to think about the ecological impact of these foil liners before I jump in.
He also told me that a good way to gauge temperature was to assume that each charcoal briquette would put out about 27 degrees of heat so if I wanted to cook at 350 degrees, I would need 13 briquettes.
I was very impressed with the customer service and the friendly attitude of the Volcano folks even though I had purchased my stove from one of their dealers and not directly from them.
Thumbs Up from the Survival Woman!
In summary, I give the Volcano II a big thumbs up for ease of use, safety (the outside stays cool), portability, and sturdiness. I mean really, this thing is built like a tank! Now if only my Dutch oven would arrive!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Bargain Bin: Emergency Essentials has the Volcano Stove with the propane option, which is just slightly more than the non-propane version that I purchased a couple of months. If you have had your eye on a Volcano II Collapsible Stove, this is a really good deal. Or, of course, you can save a few bucks and get the regular version. You will not be sorry.
After reading reviews on products from various vendors, I am now going back to these 300cc Oxygen Absorbers which are sold. This is one area where you want to make sure you are getting a quality product.
Other Survival Woman picks:
- Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: The basic standby for all types of cooking, inside or out.
- Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers: A must have to go with that skillet.
- 550lb. Type III Paracord 100′ Black: I wish I had known about Paracord years ago. There is no reason not to have a few hundred feet around your home, in your car, and in your bug out bag.
- 20 Gallon Size Mylar Bags: This qualifies as a screaming deal. Shipping is free, of course.