Tag Archives: camping stoves

Tested: Gimp stove (solid fuel)

See also:
Honey Stove (wood burner)
Woodgas Stove (wood/pellet)

In a line Lightweight, compact ‘day’ or back-up stove using ethanol wax blocks.

Cost ‘Shoe polish’ tin (from £1) + optional band + cross-stand (from £5) + FireDragon blocks (from £1.14 a filled tin). Total: around £8.

Weight Tin (25g) packed with fuel: 133g. Cross-stand 28g, 10cm wind shield 7g. All up: 168g + lighter or flint.

Where used 2.2-day River Wye trip.

Light, simple, compact
Fast set-up, easy to light
Sits low (stable and out of the wind)
Tin makes a large burning area and is refillable
Tin fits inside a 400ml Tatonka folding-handle mug
No noise, no smoke, no smell, no residue on the pot
Fuel cools and resolidifies quickly and will relight later
Presumably can be carried on a plane, especially if you label it ‘hand sanitiser’
So light and compact it can be used alongside or to back-up a gas stove or a woodburner

Expensive at around 37p to boil a big mug
Fuel may be harder to find than gas cans at outdoors stores, but also sold in ‘home & garden’ stores like B&Q

Review: 
This Gimp Stove (a military acronym, apparently) isn’t something you can buy off the shelf. My bush-crafty mate put it together once he learned FireDragon ethanol firelighter blocks could be packed into a ‘shoe polish’ tin and easily refilled and re-lit.
He identified a small, screw-top tin (multi-buys off eBay or amazon) with the right diameter to fit the notches of the CNC-cut stainless steel cross-stand widely sold online from around a fiver. For a stable set-up, finding a tin to fit this cross-stand’s notches is the key. Or you can as easily make your own stand to suit any tin you like, but the tin’s lid needs to be airtight so fuel doesn’t evaporate. My mate even added a silicon wrist band round the base so you can seal it good and tight.

I managed to cram about four blocks (108g) into my ‘100ml’ tin (actually more like 130ml). From this I got three 360-ml (big mug) boils in the field. To extinguish blow it out, or smother with the screw lid on top for a second. The liquified gel quickly cools down and resolidifies and will readily re-ignite next time. Timings were 4 minutes tested indoors, and about 7 mins outdoors, using a thick tinfoil windshield from the base of a fruit pie or a take-away curry. There is no noise, no smoke, no smell and unlike toxic hexamine tabs, no residue on your cup or toxic smoke.
On the first freezing morning of our river trip, even though I’d slept with a 45% full gas can inside my sleeping bag, it failed to boil my water once out in the freezing morning air. The Gimp would have lit up readily and done the job. And the fact that you’re easily able to place a windshield on the ground, and need clever, faster but totteringly unstable, bulky and pricey JetBoils is another tick for the Gimp. All in all, the Gimp is a handy, cheap and foolproof pocket stove.

A one-ounce block of FireDragon

FireDragon Fuel
Made by BCB International from waste vegetable matter, the blocks come in individual sealed 27g (1oz) pods, bought 6 or 12 at a time. It’s the same (and can be used) as hand sanitiser. Once the packet is opened, the block (a mashable wax of ethanol or denatured alcohol, left) will evaporate and shrivel, but sealing in the screw tin works fine, at least for a few days. Long term you may want to verify this. The good thing with a full tin or two is you have no packaging to get rid of responsibly; you just come home with empty tins to refill.
Apparently you can ignite with a flint (BCB’s stove kit, right). I tried but couldn’t do it on used fuel, even with some magnesium shavings (the fuel lit right up with a lighter). I may try again with a fresh block, but honestly Bushcrafters, a lighter takes one second.
The best price in the UK works out about 28.5p a block by the dozen, so a penny a gram with a big mug boil at 37p – quite expensive. And you’ll struggle to find it at that price; very often it’s nearly double, or gets that way with postage. Your best bet seems to be larger Go Outdoors stores. I would guess you could get at least 30 same-sized boils from a typical 220g can of gas costing around £4 which is more than half price.
I skimmed through an online review (this guy was even wearing camo gloves!) and apparently the FireDragon boiled loads faster than hexamine (which I’ve never considered trying). I’m told the Brit army now use FireDragon instead of hexamine.

Tested: Honey woodstove

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In a line Ingeniously simple, versatile and super-light two-sized wood stove/pot stand/windbreak that packs flatter than a Kindle.

Cost £38 + post

Weight 265g in bag (+ 30g for square and Trangia base). 

How used Brew and barbie in the back garden.

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Good points 
Light, adaptable, compact and transport-friendly. More windproof than an open fire and simple to assemble. Clean stamping or cutting with no rough or sharp edges.

Bad points
A bit fiddly, but you’ll soon get the knack. Will get grubby. A hinged version is a tempting thought.

Manufacturer’s website                       See also...

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Description: Four- or six-sided stainless steel wood stove assembles in a minute with height adjustable bases and a grill. One wall segment is open for adding more fuel and the kit also includes a third base for a Trangia burner. You can also mount the floors higher to burner solid fuel. All the segments lock together to make a sturdy, stable structure and the perforated bases and slotted sides permit air circulation while acting as a windbreak.

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Two wire tent pegs or chopped down coat hanger (not included) can slot through the sides so something like a 500ml Tatonka cup can sit low inside for added efficiency, and unlike some similar cups, the handles will be outside. You could also use the grill as a load-spreading base on soft terrain to stop sinking and help maintain air-flow underneath. Plus, if you have back problems they make a Honey Stove in titanium, and if you want to cook bigger you can buy two extra side sections with a bigger base plate and grill to make an octagonal Hive Stove. It all disassembles in ten seconds and packs totally flat.


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Review: I spotted this interesting looking stove on someone’s paddle blog, tracked down what it was and bought one. I ‘got’ the Honey Stove at first sight: a simple fuel container / pot stand / windbreak that breaks down flat to more or less the size of a slimline dvd case.

I’m not especially bushcrafty but recognise the value of a supplementary stove to either save butane or act as a back-up or alternative cooking device. Apart from driftwood, northwest Scotland isn’t really woodstove country unless you carry your fuel, but a Mediterranean setting certainly is. And as with the Woodgas stove I used in Turkey last year, you could pretty much carry this as hand luggage on a plane. No need to track down the right sort of gas canister at the other end.

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Once the novelty wore off, the Woodgas stove – with its unintuitive top-down burning, flimsy pot stand and preferred tinder and pellets – was a bit too clever and as bulky as a Coleman, though still very light and unfiddly to assemble. The Honey stove burns conventionally with paper under twigs and sticks.
 ‘I could make that with an old paint pot!’ I hear you exclaim. Go ahead, but don’t forget to stamp your paint can flat before you pack it away, then pull it apart again when you next need a cuppa.
The included Trangia-style burner support is a nice touch but for me a bit redundant – I got over Trangias in the late 70s and never got into solid fuel tablets either. To me, the whole point of a stove like this is to use locally sourced fuel.

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The smaller square format for a cup (right) looks a bit small to carry am adequate charge of wood but six-up you can fit in plenty and my MSR Stowaway (left) sits just right.
First go out of the bag 500ml of water boiled in 9 mins in a bit of a breeze and a bit of refuelling. I don’t think I measured the Woodgasser but I’d say it’s about the same once it got ‘on the gas’, and I bet the Honey would be quicker still in drop-down, wire-peg mode or with a bit of practice. There’s no benefit to woodgas when it comes to sooty pots.

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While the tea brewed I slapped on some tasty garlic and herb chicken kebabs on the grill. Never used them but I found a couple of charcoal BBQ coals and in no time my succulent, aromatic lunch was encased in a crisp  shell of burned meat – will we ever learn! But the last skewer cooked up to perfection on glowing embers not flames as if from my local kebab shop.

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I was curious to see if the stove got warped by the heat – the Woodgas fuel bowl shrunk a bit which affected performance if not located correctly. The Honey’s floor plate and grill were a little warped but all still slot easily together. The stove has lost its BNIB new sheen and was a little mucky with soot, but otherwise unchanged.

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I also got round to trying the trick of wiping the cooking pot with liquid soap before using it to make cleaning easy. It works – the soot wipes right off (left); you could clean it with a bunch of grass. Who would have thought soap was so fire-proof.

UK manufacturer may explain the relatively high price for simple stamped or CNC cut steel, but the unit’s adaptability, versatility and unbeatable compactness make it feel much better value than the MkII Woodgas stove. There are much cheaper four-sided Chinese-made stoves like Lixada on eBay using similar assemblies but BPL.UK’s six-sided version makes a marginally more spacious and stable burning platform and, as mentioned, can be expanded (for a hefty £24) to a bigger, eight-sided stove. A heftier than average knife may be needed to split wood into the ideal, pencil-sized pieces but the Honey Stove is an effective and foolproof supplement to a faster butane stove. Looking forward to trying it out beyond the garden.

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