I have found that when it comes to finding the portable perfect stove the main factors one should look for are based upon need and ability. I know it sounds simple right but sometimes we just don't think as clear as we aught. I hate these gimmick garbage selling ideas people throw out there, but are not giving you the real down and dirty details you seriously need to know about its real capabilities. When it comes to purchasing I don't feel people should ever get caught up in this awh view of something just being the new thing on the market. So let me brake down for you what most fail to sincerely advertise. But before I begin, let me help bring reality to the table here as many people out there have families, and I know, your in shock hearing it, but its true, and well when it comes to cooking, time plays a huge part in that. Ok, stop, I know that your wheels are just turning inside saying, "What, No way? Are you serious?" Also let me state this as well, I am not focusing upon the ideal traveling backpack stove as this follows under individual cooking and not group cooking. So here is my quest for finding the perfect portable stove and the considerations I feel one should look into.
Things To Consider
So let me start with this, money should never be the reason one purchase something but rather because it does the things you need and has multiple abilities that add towards its over all value. Now you might ask, why are you saying money should never be the reason to purchase and or not purchase. Here is why, if you purchase for the price and not the real value of a thing you are wasting your money period. And this is frankly why people get bummed out at when they buy the hype and not the real value they are unknowingly seeking. Let me explain some. I purchased some time ago a solo stove and well I was not fully happy with it, but then again I was not aware of what I was fully needing as I had thought. And why, I hadn't cook out in a while nor was I considering all the other possible things I would later need, which tends to exist when you do things more often. I saw it work and how it functioned, and well it was not till I began to cook things myself, that I began to actually see where its real limits where. Sure it made a nice fire, but I didn't know how smoky things would get till the fire really got going and the air flow was at its peak. Once it did, feeding the fire required a lot of paying attention when cooking, which was actually annoying as it made me change my focus on cooking certain foods at time to keeping a bunch of fuel near me and or needing to have more processed at times. If I had a full 5 gallon bucket filled with finely cut fire wood about the size of a common medicine bottle as think and long, I could cook about three simple meals for family of 9. Now if I used charcoal the burn time was far more controllable but I had to play with the heat some adding and or using less charcoal to keep things more level based. But there was always a problem I found and it was the issue of low heat. I could never sincerely keep the low heat going good because the height of the canister was to far away for the heat to radiate well enough to cook at a lower heat. So I had to realize that fast high heat or medium heat was about as far I was going to be able to cook, which showed me something I had not considered as the fuel issue as well. Also as I might add cooking with hardwood which I had a lot of was not so easy as it burns at a lower level of heat as opposed to soft words which burn fast and furious. When it comes to abilities these are the qualities we need to filter through to find it's weaknesses and expose them to our mind. Does it cook well for all purposes sure, is money a factor when it comes to fuel, or does it have multi-fuel capabilities.
The Double Burn Gas Stove: These stoves are simply difficult to cook with if you are needing to sincerely cook long term for a family and here is why, first they require continual feeding of fuel in order to continue cooking for a prolong period of time. And since they air flow is constantly being drawn in the fuel is forced to burn faster and controlling the air flow is not so simple. They work fine for simple cooking like eggs and toast, but if you have to cook more complicated meals that require more time to cook for example chicken and dumpling soup, well you might as well sit by the stove and have a bucket full of small cut wood for fuel to feed it over and over again, to keep the heat continually fluctuating. Also the only time you can enjoy it with no smoke will be when your fuel intake is not compromised by over feed it, or you don't compromise your air intake, which means keeping the ash down and no damp wood as it takes a little time to get the right heat and ignition and burn working together. Another thing these don't cook on low heat long, so yeah it limited. Its great and all for high heat cooking, but again you have to feed the beast. And if we include the issues of baking well this is out of its scope and abilities as well. Therefore, one would have to create some creative means as to bake which would require adding something and or using some creative measures to do so. Just remember these stoves are basically useful for simple dishes which just want a normal flow of medium to high heat. Price wise some of these are just about ranging from $100 dollars to $130
The Propane Stove: These bad boys I do not like one bit and here is why, first the are completely dependent upon propane gas fuel sources which means heavy canisters and a non replenish-able fuel in the field, and refuel cost every time its fuel has been expended. Not very bright if you ask me. Sure it may sound great but it abilities are so limited its not worth the purchase. Unless you enjoy throwing away money these bad boys are not worth their weight in gold. If hard times where to arise finding fuel may be something you just can spend you money on as it will literally act like paying monthly rent and that is a cost you sincerely have to consider. Also I must add if we include the issues of baking here only the oven type propane stoves have this ability but in small quantity, which means a considerable wait time for any baking to be procured if needed and small portions. These price range from about $100 dollars to $300 dollars.
Fold-able Stove and Oven: This stove (Firebox Stove) is by far a sincerely worthy stove. First off, you can use any bio-fuel as well as add a propane stove if you so desire when you add the tangia propane stove attachment. You can cook both with high heat as well as low heat, and if you want to bake something just add the fold-able coleman oven and begin baking. I can indeed vouch for this, as I also own one myself and was able to cook easily for my family of 9 and fuel wise it only required a 5 gallon bucket of processed wood and only used about half of the wood for fuel for a days worth of cooking. The great part about this stove is how compact it is and yet, throw a cast iron pot or pan and your good to go cooking wise. I prefer cast iron cooking as the pan holds the heat far longer and better rather than the hear just radiating out quickly, do to convection. And because it does not function like a rocket stove but more like a mini grill, your heat index is easier to manipulate. If you add the oven to bake it fits perfectly on top of the stove inside the circular bottom the oven has under it, but mind you your baking amount is still limited and if you can find a coleman stove rack get it so you can bake on two levels because they dont sell this rack separately unfortunately. You can also buy an attachment for the tangia so you can hook up to normal propane tanks so frankly its a complete system in its self. And all this is under $200 dollars. If you want to add more insulation to the oven just use a welders mat and make a cover to slide over the sides and top. But if you ask me who else can you do that can do this and completely remain compact-able and portable? I personally left my stove in the rain numerous times and well it functions perfectly even with all the rain wear and tear on it. So there you have it the perfect stove and oven.
If you want a more durable oven model Winnerwell makes a portable oven however it cost is $115 dollars but like I said before quality over cost is far better in the long run. And it has two racks to bake on. I know, your smiling as I am, its ok just buy it....LOL
Avi Ben Shalom: