I had to wait nearly 3 months to try out my brand new stick stove, the KIHD Stove Ultimate, which I bought at the Outdoor Adventure Show in Toronto in February. I intended to take it to Algonquin in early May, but the weather looked horrible and I figured all the wood would be wet. It was a good decision. It was wet – very wet – along the Western Uplands Trail!
Two weeks later I set out on my very first solo backpacking trip, a hike at Point Grondine Park on the Point Grondine Reserve. My stick stove was tucked nicely inside my pot, which also held the rest of my “kitchen” stuff (bowl, spoon, dishcloth, dish soap, water treatment drops, fire starters, matches, hand sanitizer, flint). I did bring my MSR Dragonfly stove as a back-up, in case the wood was wet or I couldn’t boil water!
Before I describe my experience with the Stove Ultimate, here’s what the KIHD website says about it:
For settings where wood is plentiful and burning it will not cause damage to fragile ecosystems, this wood burning stove allows you to travel without carrying fuel and it packs down to the size of a pancake.
The individual titanium panels easily fit into place during setup and the unique locking mechanism lock it together. The low square design focuses heat upward, directing it to the pot for quick, efficient cooking.
- Made of ultra-light titanium, a material that withstands long-term heat without damage.
- Designed for pots no larger than 1.5L.
- Removable access door can be inserted or removed for air-control and for refuelling.
- Assembled dimensions are 11.0 x 11.0 x 12 cm carrying case.
- Made with 20 gauge Titanium 20
- Weight: 0.529 Lbs (240g)
- Packed size is 11 x 11 x 12 cm
- Carrying case included
- Made in Canada
There are 9 pieces to the stove, and it is very quick and easy to assemble. At Point Grondine, I set the stove inside the designated fire pit (the pictures above with stones were from a separate testing elsewhere). Using only my hands (no saw or knife required), I broke tiny pieces of wood off the dead branches that I gathered from my campsite. I set some in the stove – in a haphazard way – and then since I had brought homemade fire starters with me, I put a wax coated cotton ball in the middle of the stick pile.
On the 2nd match, the fire lit! As soon as I was convinced it was going to continue burning, I put my pot with water on the stove, and covered it with the lid. I continued to feed the fire with progressively bigger sticks. I even had a bit of the fire going outside the stove, which I would shove inside with another stick. I didn’t use the door at all. I used my 2L pot, and within 9 minutes I had boiled 1L of water. I made hot chocolate, and added the rest to my bowl of dehydrated butternut squash soup. Once it was ready, I ate it with homemade sesame pepper crackers. Yum.
Later, I boiled another litre of water to make a hot water bottle for inside my sleeping bag. I left the stove for a few minutes until it had cooled, and then I put it away. My only complaint about the stove is that – not unexpectedly – it quickly went black, and my fingers got messy packing it away. It does, however, come with its own cloth case to keep the blackness from getting the rest of your gear wet (or from scraping your pot).
I used the stove again the next morning to boil water for tea and oatmeal. This time, it was raining, but I cooked out in the open and it worked just fine. The pot completely covered the fire, so my dry wood (kept under a tarp overnight) stayed dry.
I was surprised at how little wood the stove used. I left a big pile for the next campers.
After my trip, I took my stove to my parents’ house to show them how neat it is. And of course I couldn’t sustain enough heat to boil water as quickly as when I had been camping. I’ll blame their wood! This time, I played with the door after boiling the water just to try it out. It was easy to put on and remove. I wondered whether it would be too hot to the touch, but it was fine.
I can’t see myself switching over completely to a stick stove for my canoeing and backpacking trips (wet wood, environmental impact), but I do like the idea of bringing it along, and carrying slightly less fuel, knowing that if the weather is good, I can cook a few meals on the stick stove. It’s fun and it beats the loud noise of my MSR Dragonfly! The stick stove is also a great back-up in case my Dragonfly pump fails, my fuel is spilled, or any other stove calamity strikes! It is very light weight, and so compact! Bonus that it fits inside my pot. I’m looking forward to using it on my next trip!
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