A little while back, I referred to the Vargo Titanium Wood Stove. To wit, I’d bought one. Well, this weekend, I gave it a test drive in the backyard. The pictures look a lot like all the other ones on the web.
Fuel – I used a modest pile of collected sticks from my backyard for fuel.
Lighter – my trusty Light My Fire, some drier lint, and the lock release button on the back of my Fallkniven U2.
Pot – a GSI Ketalist for the pot. I filled the pot (about 1L) with cold water from the garden hose.
Stove – the Vargo.
I lit the tinder and put it in the stove, and piled on a little birch bark and some Honey Locust twigs, broken up by hand to about 3 inches. It started to catch and I put on a few more. Total fuel collection process was about 10 minutes. Total lighting process was about 4 minutes, including fiddling around. Once I had the fire going, I put the Ketalist on top of the stove. Everything seemed pretty stable, although I didn’t try the “kick the stove test”. Flames licked up around the pot from the vents in the top of the stove, so I knew there were BTUs getting pumped into the water. FYI, birch bark, while great for starting due to the volatile oils, also burns with a really oily smoke, which deposited a kind of nasty, gummy residue on the bottom of the pot. Beware of cramming it back in the pack without proper wrapping.
Anyway, I waited. Fire burned. I added fuel. Fire burned some more. Lots of smoke (the bark on the Locust is pretty smoky). Roughly 16 or 17 minutes later, I had a boil. Granted, I was boiling a whole litre, but it did seem like it took a long time. I will need to experiment with the vent door – too closed (I thought to direct the heat up) and it kind of starved the oxygen. Too open, and it seemed to diffuse the heat. It WAS certainly hot – the sides of the stove were quite discolored to a deep blue color.
In any case, I got boiled water off of lawn debris. I also got a sticky, gummy mess on the bottom of the kettle, and an appreciation of how to meter oxygen into a fire.
Bottom line? Not bad, but a cheaper version in steel would not be that much heavier and would cost way less. Still want to experiment with an AL stove in the Vargo as a windscreen for maximum versatility.