Solo Stove Lite Review: We Tested the Smokeless Camp Stove
Is the Solo Stove wood-burning camp stove worth buying? I put it to the test to find out
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Wood-burning and biofuel camp stoves—like the Solo Stove Lite—have long intrigued me. I’ve seen them as a potentially more sustainable alternative to more traditional propane stoves and a way to cut down on carrying fuel while backpacking. After testing the BioLite CampStove 2+ for several months, it was time to try out the Solo Stove camp stove to see how it compares and whether or not it’s worth all the hype.
I used the Solo Stove Lite for several weeks on various camping trips in the Eastern Washington Cascade Mountains. From the time I’ve spent cooking with this stove, I can confidently say that it is a stellar backpacking companion for anyone who likes cooking with fire.
Below is my honest review of the Solo Stove Lite and how I think it is best used for camp cooking.
What Is the Solo Stove Lite?
- Weight: 9 oz
- Height: 5.7 in
- Diameter: 4.25 in
- Material: 304 stainless steel
- Fuel Types: Wood or alcohol
- Average Boil Time: 8-10 minutes
The Solo Stove Lite is a portable camp stove with a double wall design and ample airflow to help smoke be consumed by the fire, cutting down on smoke and channeling heat for cooking. It uses the same unique engineering as the popular Solo Stove fire pits and the other Solo Stove camp stoves, the Titan and the Campfire. What sets the Lite apart is its size and portability. The Lite is suitable for 1-2 people while the Titan is intended for 2-4 people and the Campfire is for groups of more than 4 people.
Made from 304 stainless steel materials, the Solo Stove Lite is designed to be a stove that lasts for years (if not a lifetime). It is highly durable, easy to clean, and made from materials that can be recycled. The ultralight design makes it one of the lightest wood-burning camp stove. While this light weight makes it a great backpacking stove, it works for all types of camping because it packs down small and requires minimal upkeep.
you to cook food or boil water using the biofuel you find around camp, like small sticks, twigs, leaves, and other forms of kindling. According to Solo Stove, you can boil water in as little as 10 minutes.
Solo Stove also makes a small alcohol burner that’s compatible with the Solo Stove Lite and provides a more consistent flame and temperature. With this attachment, you can use the stove via the alcohol burner instead of relying solely on what’s available around your campsite.
How to Use a Solo Stove Lite
The Solo Stove Lite—like all the Solo Stove camp stoves—is simple to set up and use. A small cutout on the top of the cooking ring allows you to refuel as needed throughout the cooking process, and most camp pots and cooking equipment are compatible with the stove. Solo Stove also sells several stainless steel cooking pots and cook sets should you want to stick with the brand.
How to use a Solo Stove camp stove:
- Find level ground or set up on a camp table.
- Remove any debris from the cooking area to prevent the fire from spreading outside the stove.
- Remove the cooking ring that’s nested inside the camp stove.
- Gather dry sticks and tinder.
- Fill the stove with the collected biofuel.
- Light the fire inside the stove.
- Replace the cooking ring.
- Begin cooking.
Note: I encourage you to overview the components and instructions to ensure proper usage before attempting to cook.
What I Like About the Solo Stove Lite
If you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use wood-burning stove that is lightweight enough to bring backpacking, there is a lot to like about the Solo Stove Lite. Overall, I enjoyed my experience using the Solo Stove and accessories. Setting up the stove and starting the fire is easy, so long as you orient the cooking ring in the correct position to allow airflow to the fire.
I love how nicely all the pieces—including the Solo Stove pot—nest together, making packing a breeze. Unlike other biofuel stoves, this one doesn’t have too many pieces. All you need is the stove body and the cooking ring to get started, and the burner is compatible with most camping pots.
Having a large opening on the top to put sticks into and get the fire started is a handy feature, and the cooking ring is well-designed, so I didn’t need to remove the pot to refuel while cooking. I was able to easily and quickly start the fire and keep it going with dry fuel. I opted to use a fire-starting cube to make the process easier a few times, and this helped get a steady flame much faster when boiling water.
Overall, I enjoyed cooking with the Solo Stove Lite and could see myself using this for more casual backpacking ventures in areas that allow fires. It packs down small and is easy to maintain a fire, and the cooldown time is only a few minutes once the fire goes out.
What I Don’t Like About the Solo Stove Lite
As far as wood-burning camp stoves go, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about the Solo Stove Lite. It is lightweight and easy to use, but like any product, it isn’t perfect. The main downfall I saw with this stove is the inconsistent boil times. While Solo Stove claims that the average boil time is around 8-10 minutes, I was hard-pressed to get 1.5 liters of water to boil in under 20 minutes. Other factors like wind, fuel type, and the water’s starting temperature may have influenced this. Still, if I were getting off the trail from backpacking and needed to cook quickly, I could see those inconsistencies being frustrating.
Beyond that, I was glad I had a pair of leather gloves with me to move the stove as needed while cooking. Although the stainless steel is very durable, it gets hot while the fire is burning, and you could easily burn yourself if you’re not careful. Since this stove gets hot and produces an open flame, it’s a good idea to keep kids and pets away from the cooking area to prevent accidents.
The last thing is the cool-down time. With any biofuel stove, there is a wait time for the fire to burn out and for the stove to cool down enough to stow it away. While it only takes about 5-10 minutes for the stove to be ready to clean out, it is an extra step in the cooking process. I enjoy cooking with and around fires, so cleaning out and disposing of ash or coals was not too much trouble, but it takes more time, and there is more room for error.
Q: Do Solo Stoves rust out?
Yes, Solo Stove camp stoves and fire pits can rust out over time and with prolonged exposure to moisture. Combining high temperatures inside the fire pit with moisture may increase the chances of staining or rust forming. With all steel fire pits, this is possible and quite normal. Solo Stove states that if their products rust, it does not affect performance, but rusting isn’t covered under their product warranty.
Q: Can you pour water on a Solo Stove?
Solo Stove does not advise using water to put fires out in their products. Instead, allow the fire to burn down on its own, and they’ll produce ash. Always keep a fire attended while waiting for it to burn down. If you don’t want to wait for the fire to burn out, use the Solo Stove lid and cover to suffocate the flames.
Q: Does the Solo Stove need to be cleaned out?
You should regularly clean out the ash from your Solo Stove to achieve proper airflow. While the stoves and campfire products will still function with a build-up of ash, they may not work as well, and the smokeless properties won’t be able to perform due to the lack of airflow.
Q: What can you not burn in a Solo Stove?
You should not burn treated wood in a Solo Stove. This includes any wood you’d likely find at a construction site or lumber yard, including pallets, driftwood, chemically treated wood, painted wood, or stained wood. The release of chemicals in treated wood creates toxic fumes, and this act should be avoided.
Q: Is the Solo Stove Lite airplane friendly?
Yes. You can put the Solo Stove Lite in checked luggage or carry-on bags because it doesn’t contain any fuel or sharp components.
Q: What are the best types of wood to use in a Solo Stove?
Hardwoods are the best for hotter, longer burning fires at any campfire, but they’re incredibly effective for use in the Solo Stove. Hardwoods work best because they’re naturally harder, and the internal surface area tasks longer to burn through. Some examples of hardwoods include oak, hickory, maple, ash, and compressed wood.
Final Thoughts on the Solo Stove Lite
The Solo Stove Lite is an excellent biofuel stove option for individuals or couples who enjoy car camping and backpacking. Thanks to its small compact size, it’s easy to bring along on various backpacking ventures and it’s functional enough to use in other camp settings. While it may never compare to the speed and convenience of something like the Jetboil, it has its place in the outdoors. The stainless steel materials are durable and easy to maintain, and the innovative design makes the stove quite fun and efficient to use.
While I wish the boil times for water could be more consistent, the design is worth the investment if you enjoy cooking with a fire. The alcohol burner is a big selling point for me because it provides users with more options than comparable products. Ultimately, I’d recommend the Solo Stove Lite to users who don’t mind the extra time and attention it takes to use a wood-burning camp stove.
If you prefer quick and easy camp cooking, stick with something like the MSR Pocket Rocket.
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