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Review: Emberlit Camp Stove

I have tried backpacking stoves before. After a short time testing them, I would get tired of having to pack them and their fuel bottles and then I would stop carrying them altogether. Most of the time I would rather eat cold food than carry the extra weight and bulk of a camp stove. I hadn’t really entertained the thought of using another camp stove in years until I came across the Emberlit Camp Stove.

I have been able to use a stainless steel version of the Emberlit Camp Stove for quite a while now. I have several fires under my belt with the Emberlit and I have formed a very positive opinion about this little steel box.

The Emberlit camp stove has everything that men love: fire and metal.

A Camp Stove That You Won’t Mind Carrying

The Emberlit Camp Stove is, by far, the easiest to pack camp stove that I have ever used. There are two reasons why this is the case. First, it folds completely flat (about 1/8″ thick when fully disassembled). Second, it requires no fuel bottles. The Emberlit Camp Stove heats your food using just a handful of small firewood that is extremely easy to gather in most locations.

This is also an extremely lightweight stove. There are two versions; one made from stainless steel and one from titanium. Even the heavier stainless steel options weighs only 11.3 ounces. The Ti version weighs in at an incredible 5.45 ounces.

This combination of compact size and light weight means that this is one stove that you will actually put in your pack before you hit the trail.

Set Up and Take Down

One huge benefit that I didn’t really think about until I tried the Emberlit was just how much time it saves. It isn’t quite as quick to set up as a gas stove but it is far faster than building a cooking fire in a fire ring. I can assemble the Emberlit, gather wood for fuel, and have it burning in just a few minutes. Assembly is extremely easy and the fire is very well contained so there is less site prep that must be done (clearing leaves, building a fire ring, etc.).

Take Down after using the Emberlit is just as easy. The thin metal cools quickly once the fire is out. You have relatively little in the way of ashes and embers to deal with after cooking so they can easily be wet down and buried to extinguish them. The thin metal cools fairly quickly so you can repack the stock and break camp with little delay. When using the Emberlit, you don’t have to leave behind a fire ring or huge ash pile.

I can't imagine a useful stove that could pack smaller than this.

Efficiency

Another benefit that you can’t really appreciate until you have spent some time with the Emberlit is just how efficient it is. This efficiency has more benefits than just warming your food quickly. Once you have the Emberlit Camp Stove burning, it burns with little to no smoke and burns so completely that you will have very little ash to deal with. It is a very discreet way of warming up your dinner.

This efficiency comes from the clever design. The Emberlit is larger at the base than it is at the top. This gives it a stable base, but also serves to keep the fuel away from the bottom edges of the stove where there are several air holes. The wide base and the design of the feed hole ensure that you will have to really go out of your way to clog the air holes. When the stove is burning, air is drawn in through these holes which feeds the fire and creates a chimney effect. The result is a very hot, easy to maintain fire that burns without smoke and requires very little wood.

There were too many variables to really come up with an estimate for how long it takes to boil water with the Emberlit. Wood type seems to play a roll and certainly the type of pot and amount of water play a role as well. Once a hot burning fire was established, I was surprised at just how quickly I could bring water to a boil.

Even Stoves Have to Eat

One of the things that I like the most about the Emberlit versus many other wood fueled camp stoves is the simple fact that it has a feed hole. It seems so simple but many stoves lack this feature. You don’t have to remove your cooking pot to add fuel to your stove.

Once the stove is burning, you can really jam the feed hole full of wood without smothering the fire. You don’t even have to break the wood down into short sections that will fit into the stove. They can just be fed in through the feed hole a little at a time as they are consumed.

Clean Up

You don’t really have to do much cleaning of the Emberlit Camp Stove but it can get pretty soot covered after several fires. Thankfully the stainless steel version cleans up fairly easily with soap and water. I expect that the Ti version will clean up easily as well.

It works well to simply wipe off the soot in the field so that you don’t transfer a lot of soot into whatever you are using to carry the Emberlit. Once you are home, a little dish detergent and water will go a long way toward cleaning up your stove.

The Emberlit consists of just 5 easy to assemble pieces that really take on some character from heat coloring.

Lessons Learned

I used fatwood to start several of the fires that used to test the stove. It worked very, very well. However, when you burn fatwood in such a confined space, it will deposit a fair amount of tarry soot on the inside of the stove. This soot is harder to clean than the soot left by other types of wood. Honestly, I don’t really mind the mess given how well the fatwood works as a fire starter. You can keep the mess to a minimum by using just a couple slivers of fat wood. That is all you really need anyway unless you are trying to get damp wood going.

You need the “X” adapter. Just go ahead and buy one at the same time that you buy the stove. In fact, I would like to see it included with the stove even though the price would have to increase to cover the addition. I really like to use stainless canteen cups and Nalgene nesting cups for cooking. These cups are just a bit too small to be stable on the Emberlit. The “X” adapter solves that problem and since the Ti adapter costs only $.50 more, you might as well go with that one to save weight.

Resist the urge to build the fire all at once. Building a fire in such a small space requires that you have some command of the basics of fire building. Start with tinder, slowly add kindling, and work your way up to fuel wood. Your fuel wood can be thumb sized so it is easy to gather and process. If you build to fast, you will smother the fire. Once it is really burning and the chimney effect kicks in, you don’t have to be as careful about feeding it too fast.

I did notice some very slight warping after a few fires. It hasn’t gotten any worse and it doesn’t affect assembly or function at all. I guess that the thin steel may warp a bit but it keeps the weight down and cools quickly.

Conclusion

I have really grown to love the Emberlit Camp Stove. At it’s most basic, it is a steel box that holds fire and I am not sure that there is anything cooler that than (other than maybe a titanium box that holds fire). It packs small, weighs little, burns efficiently and discreetly, and it seems to be quit durable. It is just easier to use, better designed, and more simple than any other camp stove that I have tried. Get one.

You can buy your own Emberlit Camp Stove on Emberlit.com.

Note: The Emberlit is far more versatile than this review can show. It can be used with several different fuel types including candles, trioxane, Esbit tablets, and even alcohol stoves. Some people even use it to carefully carry warm coals into their tents on cold nights. I was most interested in burning wood and tested it exclusively with wood so that is what is reflected in the review.

Disclosure: This stove was provided to me, free of charge, for review.

3 Responses to Review: Emberlit Camp Stove

  1. Patriotic Sheepdog March 5, 2012 at 20:57 #

    I have looked at these as well and it seems to do what it says. I have been waiting for an independent review. What are the dimensions?

    Thanks.

    • Matt March 5, 2012 at 21:08 #

      They are about 5″ at the widest and 6″ tall. The cook surface is 3.5″x3.5″.

  2. Dan March 6, 2012 at 12:33 #

    Matt, this stove looks really nice. I like wood burning stoves over alcohol and gas stoves because it’s less stuff to carry and you never run out of fuel. This model is very compact and appears to be well thought out. Looks like Emberlit has a winner on their hands! Great review per usual.

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