I've lived in Flagstaff, AZ, since 2003, where I'm an active member of the Coconino County Sheriff's Search & Rescue team and an avid hiker.
Should We Spend That Much on a Campfire Stove?
My husband and I had been eyeing the Solo Stove for months, each time we'd wander through REI, which we often do when we're in the area of the store ... usually for some other reason than shopping for camping or backpacking gear (although we do that pretty often, too). They'd have that shiny stove displayed in the center of a circle of colorful camp chairs, next to a big, multi-person tent and all kinds of camping doodads and gadgets that most of us don't really need.
We thought, hmm, that stove looks like it would be cool to use when camping on our off-grid property among the pinon pines and junipers--a dry environment where you need to be super careful about fire and the resulting sparks. We definitely needed something to contain evening campfires, as we'd sit there dreaming of toasting marshmallows (we're trying to cut way down on sugar), while watching the amazing show of glittering stars, glowing planets and the occasional space station fly-by.
But $300? We had to think about it ... again.
Hint: We Bought One
Then Another Gift Card Came Along.....
We'd already had a $25 REI gift card burning a hole in our collective couple's pocket for months, but we couldn't decide what to spend it on. (You can't get much at REI for $25 or less--at least, not much that isn't edible or just a small gadget we didn't really need or want.) But then, I was so happy to receive a $150 gift card from my friends as a __th birthday gift ... and I knew just what I (we) wanted to get.
So we waited for the upcoming REI Anniversary Sale, when the Solo Stove would be 30% off. Add the two gift cards, and the balance due was more tolerable for us. That said, now that we've used the Solo several times, we'd buy it even without the gift cards, because we'll be using it a lot, for a long time.
The Actual Review, Please, You Ask?
So, the Solo Stove definitely does its job of containing the fire and minimizing--but not completely eliminating--sparks (depending on how full of wood you load it and whether you keep that fuel below the rim). And it concentrates the heat and smoke too. There's actually very little smoke created during a full burn, and you use much less wood compared to an open campfire. As their promo material says, "The Solo Stove Campfire doesn't just burn wood. It actually cooks the smoke out of the wood and then burns the smoke not once, but twice!"
With its heat shield, this double-walled stove stays cool on the bottom, so your fire won't scorch the ground. And the air that comes up through the holes near the base not only channels oxygen to the fire but also sends it to the smaller holes around the inside of the rim, which not only adds to the Solo's efficiency through secondary combustion but it looks really cool too.
The stove is super solid but not too heavy, so it's not hard to dump the ashes out. Once the fire has died down and the coals are glowing, we can go to bed and not worry about fire. The ashes--which are significantly less abundant than they are with an open campfire--will be cold when we get up in the morning, nicely contained in the Solo Stove.
The stove also comes with a carrying/storage bag.
We give the Solo 5 out of 5 stars. It lives up to its claims, in our experience.
Where to Buy a Solo Stove
Do You Own a Solo Stove?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Deb Kingsbury
Liz Westwood from UK on June 05, 2019:
I have seen these around and wondered hos they performed. This is a helpful review.