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A Completely Biased Review of the BEST Emergency Cook Stove

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What is the BEST emergency cook stove for your bug out bag?

The best stove should:

      • Be compact.
      • Be light-weight.
      • NOT require fuel purchase and storage.
      • Be flexible to work with a variety of fuels.
      • Be dependable to last a long, long time.
      • Be free of needs such as electricity or batteries or fuel canisters.
      • Be elegantly simple.  It just needs to work dependably.
      • Be affordable.
      • Make your life better or more fun today as well as in an emergency.

It should NOT:

  • Be dangerous.
  • Keep costing more and more money to keep using it.Canister-w800-h800
  • Take up a lot of space in your bug out bag.
  • Be heavy or bulky.
  • Depend on unique or specific fuel types.
  • Break in the field.
  • Have a lot of potential failure points.
  • Be made of corrosive metals.
  • Be difficult to use.
  • Risk spilling your survival food.

Yes, Curt Linville here.  This is an unashamed, completely biased review of the emergency and reliable cook stoves invented by my

180 Tack Logo Final-w350-h500 friend Travis and me.  This article is not about corporations, or the government, or economics.  This article is about what Travis and I have done to contribute to preparedness for our families and for all who want to have a reliable way to cook or sterilize water.  It is also about my attempts to practice what I preach.  We have a young company called 180 Tack that invents and brings to market useful and dependable products for the outdoors and prepping industries.  We are doing what we can to make some very useful products available for times of fun and times of need.  Our stoves are made in America.  Our stoves are dependable.  Our company is all about moving away from the problems of corporate America and toward people helping people to live a better way.  That is why we named our company 180 Tack.  We are all about going in a new direction and running with the wind!

Back to cook stoves.  Every stove has niche that it fills.  Our stoves are not for every application.  We designed our stoves to be light, dependable, versatile, easy to use, and fun.  We have tested our stoves in all kinds of weather and conditions, indoors and outdoors, and with a variety of fuels.  Our stoves are designed perfectly to work in a backpack for a picnic or a month-long backpacking trek.  But more than that, they are designed to work for years if necessary with NO NEED TO BUY OR STORE FUEL.  Really?  Really.

The 180 Stove and the 180-VL are not big, heavy stoves.  While I have cooked for 10 on these stoves, they were never intended for preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  That said, they are about the most versatile, compact, light-weight stoves you can find.  Why?

The reason is because our stoves are designed to cook with natural fuels.  All you need to boil water or cook your dinner is a handful of twigs.  That said, the stove also works great with gel fuels for indoor cooking, with charcoal for grilling, as a wind break and stable platform for alcohol burners, and (although we feel this defeats the purpose of the stove) some people use our stove as a stable cooking platform for their toxic-fueled micro-stoves to keep from spilling their dinner.  I suppose some folks don’t want to learn how to start a twig fire.

But let’s cut to the chase.  Here are the stoves.  Below I will go over the pros and the cons.  We want our customers to know exactly what they will and won’t get with our products.

 

180 Stove:  Our favorite and most versatile stove.

      • Weighs 10.1 ounces – lighter than micro-stoves and one small fuel canister.
      • Made of 304, .024 stainless steel.
      • Made in the USA.
      • 6 x 7 inch cooking surface is the size of a burner on your range at home.
      • No hinges, rivets, welds, bolts, nuts or screws that might fail in the field.
      • Environmentally friendly.  No toxic fuels to spill.  No canisters for the landfill.
      • Lighter than the competition.
      • Very compact.  Stows in its own 3.25 x .6 x 7 inch self-forming case with all the smoky parts on the inside.  Small enough to fit in your pocket.
      • Much more stable than other backpacking stoves.  Can securely hold even the largest cooking hardware and supports dozens of pounds.
      • Generous, easy to load firebox to maximize performance and safety.

 

      • Weighs 5.8 ounces.
      • Made in the USA.
      • Nests around the stowed stoves to maintain compact form factor.

The ash pan is an optional accessory designed to work with either stove that provides a necessary surface for cooking on snow or on sensitive soils that should not be disturbed.  It also provides extra protection for your counter top when cooking indoors with gel fuels.  In most areas, I simply scrape a little soil to the side, cook, douse, and cover the small amount of ashes.  That way, I leave no scars on the land.  But in some sensitive areas or on snow, I use the ash pan.

180-VL:  VL stands for Very Light.  For those who don’t mind a smaller firebox and do want to save weight.

 

      • Weighs 5.9 ounces – lighter than micro-stoves and one small fuel canister.
      • Made of 304, .024 stainless steel.
      • Made in the USA.
      • Triangular cooking surface is generously sized with a 7.25-inch base and 5.75-inch height.
      • No hinges, rivets, welds, bolts, nuts or screws that might fail in the field.
      • Environmentally friendly.  No toxic fuels to spill.  No canisters for the landfill.
      • Very, very light.
      • Stows in its own 3.25 x .6 x 6.75 inch self-forming case with all the smoky parts on the inside.  Small enough to fit in your pocket.
      • Very compact.
      • Much more stable than other backpacking stoves.  Can securely hold even the largest cooking hardware and supports dozens of pounds.
      • Easy to load firebox.

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I have been using these stoves for over two years now both at home and while backpacking in all seasons and weather conditions here20130803_111634 in the Colorado Rockies.  These stoves have never let me down.  As a backpacker, I really appreciate the light weight of the stoves as well as not needing to buy expensive, toxic fuels for each trip.  It is also very nice to know that I do not ever need worry about running out of fuel.  As a prepper, I like knowing that I can cook food safely, dependably, and conveniently with a large variety of fuels, and I don’t need to store fuel to do so.  These stoves easily go with me anywhere.

I love the windscreens the stoves form and how close to the flame the stoves keep my pans.  This makes for very efficient cooking with very little fuel.  I have given up trying to cook on fire grates over camp fires.  The heat is too uneven, too far from the pan, and it takes far too much fuel.  Besides, I like to keep my eyebrows and hair!  In my opinion, cooking over a campfire with a grate is inefficient at best, frustrating, risky, and dangerous at worst.  What’s more, the grate weighs much more and takes more space than our stoves!

20130821_184202I really do believe that these are the best bug out bag stoves you will find.  There are other wood burning stoves on the market.  However, they are either too heavy, bulky in format, require breaking fuel into little nuggets, difficult to start fires in, fed from the top requiring one to set the cooking pot in the mud to refuel, too tall and narrow to be stable, made of corrosive metals, have failure points like hinges and rivets, or use gadgets like batteries and fans to keep the fire going.  Our stoves have none of these problems.

Now, I promised to go over the cons of our stoves as well.

1)      To use natural fuels, you will need to learn how to build and maintain small fires in all weather conditions.  As a prepper or a naturalist, this is one of the most basic skills required.  Whether you use a natural fuel stove or not, you need to learn these skills!  It is not difficult to build reliable fires in all weather conditions.  We have videos on our site that teach how to do this.  The huge advantage that our stoves have over others is that one can feed the fire without disturbing the cooking and without needing to break the fuel into tiny little nuggets.  This makes maintaining the fire much simpler.

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2)      Natural fuels create smoke.  Learning to make hotter, low-smoke fires helps a lot with this problem.  But natural fuels will smoke up your pot.  I carry a small, light rag that not only allows me to safely handle hot cooking utensils, but it also allows me to dry wipe down the stove parts as I put them into their self-forming case.  This is all the cleaning that the stove requires, and keeps my hands and pack clean.  As for the pot, I don’t mind a smoky pot for cooking in the woods.  When cooking with gel fuels at home, this is not a problem.

3)      Don’t stomp our stoves.  Our stoves will last for many years with proper care.  Matter of fact, on level ground we have had over 180 pounds on top of our stoves.  But I stomped one sideways in the dark on one camping trip and it did not fare well.  That will happen with lighter gauge metals.  But here is the good news.  I really smashed this stove up, but I was able to bend it back into shape and use it the next morning for breakfast with no problems.  So even if you smash your stove, you can still depend on it.

4)      It is possible in some conditions to slightly warp the ash pan or side walls of the stove.  This seems to happen only with VERY, VERY hot fires or uneven heating of the metal when cooking on snow or ice.  Again, this is light-weight stainless steel.  After two years of use and abuse, my stoves have not warped, but it can happen.  But again, this in no way reduces the functionality of the stove.  We would rather have the rare, slight warping than produce heavy stoves that don’t work in a pack or a bug out bag.

5)      You will be cooking on the ground most of the time.  Of course, this is standard when backpacking and camping away from campgrounds.  I have used an ash pan and cooked on higher surfaces, but safe surfaces are not always available.  Cooking on the ground is the safest and most environmentally correct way to cook.  But the ground is low, as you know.  Sometimes you may want to blow the flames to kick up the heat.  A two-foot piece of flexible tubing makes this much easier.  But I don’t carry tubing.

6)      Our stoves are NOT full-sized campfire grates.  Yep, just as advertised, they are compact.  They are intended for cooking with inch-sized and smaller sticks.  They are very stable for large pans, but they are not designed to be fire pits.  They are roughly the size of a burner on your cooking range at home.  Really.  That is the size.  They provide the largest, most stable cooking surface of any compact, light-weight cooking stove I know.  But if you want a fire pit, then go buy 50 pounds of cast iron.

7)      The stainless steel will take on a bronze color.  This in no way reduces the functionality of the stove.  But stainless, when it gets really hot will lose a little of its shine.  The heat of natural fuels is not hot enough to re-temper or melt the metal, but it will change color a bit.

8)      Our stoves are not cheap little, fall-apart emergency stoves.  Our products are made of solid, dependable materials.  Our stoves are made by American workers in the USA.  I would love to sell our stoves for less, but frankly, stoves of this quality cost more to manufacture.  We know that we are competing with flimsy, foreign-made products.  There are plenty of small, flimsy stoves on the market.  They may not be dependable, but they are available.  But we are investing in our own country and economy and building innovative, sustainable, and dependable products.

One more point.  I don’t see this as a disadvantage, but I should mention it here.  Our stoves are not tall, precarious, stovepipe-shaped towers of tipsy danger.  They are low to the ground, stable, and compact.  But that means that our stoves are not wood gas stoves.  I suppose that one might get a hotter fire going with a tall, precarious stovepipe-shaped tower of tipsy danger, but it is not necessary.  I boil a pint of ice water in the winter in under seven minutes with our stoves.  And, I have boiled water much faster.  A tall, precarious, stovepipe-shaped tower of tipsy danger might boil water faster.  I suppose I am just not in that much of a hurry.  I prefer keeping my dinner in the pot rather than on the dirt and not scorching my eggs.  The 180 Stove and 180-VL keep the flame on the cooking surface, provide a wind break, and reflect the majority of the heat onto the cooking surface.  They cook safely and efficiently.  What’s more, you can grill with our stove.  Will a tall, precarious, stovepipe-shaped tower of tipsy danger do that?

So, there you have it folks.  We love these stoves.  We believe they will save lives.  But we also get a real kick out of using natural fuels and polishing our fire building skills.  These stoves are just plain fun to play with.  Whether boiling water, grilling trout, frying up your eggs, or roasting marshmallows, these stoves are dependable, and fun.  Elegant simplicity.

Learn more at www.180stove.com.  Our stoves are available on our website or at Amazon as well as other stores around the world.  If you are a retailer who would like to carry a dependable emergency stove, then please contact us at info@180tack.com.

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What is the BEST emergency cook stove for your bug out bag? The best stove should: It should NOT: Be dangerous. Keep costing more and more money to keep using it. Take up a lot of space in your bug out bag. Be heavy or bulky. Depend on unique or specific fuel types. Break in the field. Have a lot of potential failure points. Be made of corrosive metals. Be difficult to use. Risk spilling your survival food. Yes, Curt Linville here.  This is an unashamed, completely biased review of the emergency and reliable cook stoves invented by my  friend Travis…

Review Overview

Works as advertised - 10
Reliability - 10
Ease of Use - 10
Cost - 10

10


Pros: Dependable, compact, lightweight. No need to buy or store fuel. Very economical since there is no need to buy expense, toxic fuels. Very stable. Use a variety of fuels. Environmentally responsible. Fun!
Cons: Natural fuels make smoke. The stove does a good job of keeping the smoky parts on the inside, but it can smoke up the cooking pot. Using natural fuels means one must know how to make small fires in all conditions. This is not difficult, but is a skill that must be developed. Not as cheap as flimsy, foreign-made emergency stoves.
Bottom Line: These stoves are dependable and perform very well. Cooking with these stoves is fun. But more important, they provide a way to cook or boil water without the need to buy and store fuel. They are compact and light so they fit well in a bug out bag, emergency kit, or backpack. However, if you are not one who wants to build small twig fires, then you might opt for the risks and expense of using a "push button" fueled stove.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

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About Curt Linville

Profile photo of Curt Linville
The author, Curt Linville, is co-owner of 180 Tack, LLC (www.180tack.com), the manufacturer of innovative, sustainable outdoors products for use in the wilds or at home in times of emergencies. He is also an avid outdoorsman who has been practicing survival skills in the Colorado Rockies for over 25 years in all seasons and conditions. Curt lives and learns at 8,600 feet in the mountains of Colorado with his wife and four children.

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4 comments

  1. This product looks great, The article made me want one the Jetboil is a luxury. 🙂

  2. Profile photo of

    Great in depth review, I was looking for something like this.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post. Help me a lot to pick a good one

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