Compared with other wood-burning stoves, the design of the Solo Stove Lite works exceptionally well at converting small sticks and twigs into heat. You’ll have hot water and warm hands in no time. There are lighter options out there, but they require assembly and sacrifice burning efficiency.
Solo Stove Lite
✅ A warm camp vibe
✅ No need to carry fuel
✅ Less smoky than a regular fire
✅ Efficient combustion and high heat
❌ Need to find sticks and twigs for fuel
❌ Not good for above-treeline areas
❌ Only legal in places that allow campfires
❌ Difficult to use in wet conditions
❌ Tricky to build the fire
❌ Requires attention to keep going
- Weight: 9 oz
- Material: 304 Stainless Steel
- Height: 5.7 in
- Diameter: 4.25 in
- Type: Can Style Stove
- Average Boil Time: Less than 10 minutes
- Available accessories: Windscreen, Alcohol Burner Backup, Cook Pot, Fire Striker
The Solo Stove Lite is a remarkably well-designed sleek wood-burning stove that has an intense flame and easily boils water or cooks up a stir-fry dinner. Not having to carry gas canisters can save you weight and money in the long run too. Compared to other wood-burning stoves, its simple airflow design requires no assembly and makes cooking with wood fast and efficient. It does require continually adding fuel while you cook and can make a sooty mess out of your cookware, but that’s the tradeoff for the warm glow of a campfire.
The Lite would really shine on a backpacking, car camping, or fishing trip where you knew there would be dry fuel and clear weather the whole time. I would recommend this stove to a wood stove enthusiast who wants an impressively efficient and hot-burning stove that will be cooking for 1-2 people only.
I wouldn’t recommend this stove, or any wood-burning stove, to someone on a long thru-hike where the weather will be changing unpredictably. This also wouldn’t be a good option for someone backpacking in a typically wet area, like the Pacific Northwest.
Performance Test Results
What We Tested:
Originally I thought lugging an aluminum fire pit into the backcountry would not be anywhere near a lightweight option, but when you factor in that you’re not carrying fuel it actually outperforms many other popular cooking systems. While the stove itself is not ultralight, not carrying fuel puts the Solo Stove Lite close to that category.
Compared to other wood burners we have the Canway Classic, Toaks Titanium, and Vargo Titanium Hexagon wood stoves. As a gasifier stove, the Canway Classic is the most similarly designed but is noticeably heavier than the Solo Stove outweighing it by a whole 7.6 oz.
I’ve also seen this exact same stove design marketed with many other brand names, which gives me the feeling companies are just slapping their logo on a mass-produced stove. The Toaks Titanium is a bit lighter than the Solo Stove, and looks like a gasifier stove, but doesn’t seem to perform as well, and requires assembly.
For gas vs. wood stove, we compared it to the Jetboil Zip and the MSR Pocket Rocket 2, two of the most popular backpacking stoves. For the pot weight, the Jetboil has an integrated pot, and for the rest, I used the weight of the Solo Stove Pot 900. For the fuel for the two gas burners, I used the weight of a full 4oz IsoButane fuel canister.
I didn’t include the weight of the optional pot stand and cup included with the Jetboil Zip.
|Brand & Model||Burner||Pot||Fuel||Total Weight|
|Solo Stove Lite||9 oz||7.8 oz||-||16.8 oz|
|Jetboil Zip||10.6 oz||-||7.4 oz||18.0 oz|
|MSR Pocket Rocket 2||2.6 oz||7.8 oz||7.4 oz||17.8 oz|
|Canway Classic||16.6 oz||7.8 oz||-||24.4 oz|
|Toaks Titanium Wood Stove||7.9 oz||4 oz (Toaks Titanium Pot)||-||11.9 oz|
|Vargo Titanium Hexagon||4.1 oz||4 oz (Toaks Titanium Pot)||-||8.1 oz|
Not carrying fuel doesn’t save you a ton of weight, however, it does make the Solo Stove Lite a surprisingly lightweight option if you know there will be fuel where you intend to camp.
When compared to other wood-burning backpacking stoves the Solo Stove is lighter than some, but not the lightest option available.
Initially purchasing the Solo Stove Lite, you will spend a bit more than some other stove systems available except the heavier Canway Classic. Compared to gas-fueled stoves, however, you can save money by not having to purchase fuel in the future. If you consider that a standard 4oz fuel canister can last you from 3-5 days, at around $7 per canister, fuel prices will quickly add up to be more expensive than the Solo Stove Lite after just a few trips. However, these fuel costs can be worth it for peace of mind, and not worrying about wet wood conditions.
The other wood stoves we compared to, the Toaks and Vargo, are cheaper AND have lighter weight; but you will sacrifice some efficiency with those designs.
|Brand & Model||Price||Pot||Fuel||Total Price|
|Solo Stove Lite||$65||$35||-||$100|
|MSR Pocket Rocket 2||$50||$35||$7||$92|
|Toaks Titanium Wood Stove||$45||$45 (Toaks Titanium Pot)||-||$90|
|Vargo Titanium Hexagon||$60||$45 (Toaks Titanium Pot)||-||$105|
The stove itself is relatively featureless with no moving parts.
The stove comes with a pot stand with a hole in the side for adding fuel without removing your cookpot and also a carry sack.
It can be hard to cook on low heat with this stove, when the flame gets low it’s not long before it will go out, so it needs constant attention.
The Lite is the smallest option from Solo Stove at 4.25 inches in diameter and 5.7 inches tall. The stove is designed to nest perfectly inside the Solo Stove Pot 900 so I would recommend buying these items together. The whole kit fits easily into a backpack but wouldn’t likely fit into a water bottle holder on the side due to the squat shape of the pot.
Compared to other wood-burning backpacking stoves the Solo Stove Lite is similar in size. The Canway Original stove measures 5.5 inches in diameter x 3.38 inches tall when collapsed, which is a bit smaller but doesn’t have a pot specifically designed to nest inside, so you might have to find one yourself.
Heat & Cooking Efficiency: 8/10
The Solo Stove Lite gets very hot and will boil water quickly if you’re good at maintaining the fire, but add too much or too few sticks and the temperature will vary quickly. If you want to cook on high heat sauteeing some vegetables this stove works pretty well. Keep in mind you’ll have to keep popping sticks into the stove as you cook.
This is not the stove you want if you’re looking to simmer your food on low heat. Once the fire is out the stove is not large enough to hold many smoldering embers.
The stove seems most well adapted to boiling water over any other kind of cooking but would be possible to cook up some eggs or veggies with a quick hand in adding more fuel. In my testing, I was able to get two cups of water to start bubbling after about 4 minutes and 21 seconds, and a full rolling boil was reached after 6 minutes and 58 seconds.
It’s not nearly as fast as an Isobutane/Propane canister stove but when you get to enjoy the warmth and glow of a campfire, I actually enjoyed the wait. After boiling the water over the stove I did notice quite a smoky flavor to just the warm water, which might be noticeable in tea or another light beverage. I’ve never noticed the smoky flavor after adding it to a backpacker meal.
There are a few different options for similar wood-burning backpacking stoves on the market. I have not used these stoves but found reviews that estimated a similar boil time to the Solo Stove Lite. The Littlbug Junior estimates their boil time at 4-6 minutes. And the Canway Original has a similar design and boil times of around 5-7 minutes.
The Solo Stove Lite has a minimalist sleek look. Solo Stoves are designed with a double wall gasifier style, which allows air to enter in below the fuel to combust, and more air travels up the sides, picking up heat providing a secondary burn. Gasification stoves gives you a relatively smokeless burn and a high intensity of heat with surprisingly little fuel.
There will be some smoke when you first get the stove going, and again when the fire starts to go out.
Solo Stove recommends the Solo Stove Pot 900 for use with the Lite because the stove nests perfectly into the pot. This is their 900ml capacity camp pot, which features folding arms and a lid that has a rubberized handle for safe handling.
This design compared to other wood-burning backpacking stoves is a step above their designs which don’t have this 2 stage gasification design. Granted it is much cheaper but the Canway option has 4 different parts that fit together and weighs quite a bit more. All these parts can end up being noisy banging together in your pack.
A lighter weight option is the Toaks Titanium wood burning stove which comes as a three-part kit and weighs only 7.9oz. It isn’t a gasification stove however and might take longer to boil your water.
When it comes to design I think the Solo Stove Lite takes the cake with its simple two-part kit and pot designed to perfectly nest inside.
Material & Durability: 9/10
The Solo Stove Lite is made out of 304 Stainless Steel, which provides corrosion and rust resistance. The metal they used is strong and durable, however, there are slightly lighter stoves out there made from Titanium.
When setting up your Solo Stove Lite you’ll want to find a nice flat area of ground, away from dry leaves and other potential fire hazards. The stove itself is stable enough, however, the pot stand itself is a bit narrow and flat on top making it easy to accidentally knock the pot when you are adding sticks to the fire.
The Canway model has an option for a pot stand that has fold-out arms that provide a wider and toothed base for pots to rest securely on.
Weather Resistance: 3/10
Wet weather can really put a damper on your Solo Stove Lite. A little bit of rain might not be a problem but if the sticks and twigs at your camp are soaked through it could be almost impossible to cook. Definitely take a look at the weather before and during your planned camping trip to see if bringing a wood-burning stove is a good idea.
A good way to mitigate this risk is to bring a fire starter of some kind. I’m a big fan of cotton balls (or dryer lint) soaked with vaseline as an emergency fire starter. Solo Stove also makes an alcohol burner stove that works well inside the Solo Stove Lite as a backup option.
Windy conditions can be managed by shielding the stove from the wind or even purchasing the windscreen accessory from Solo Stove. Windy conditions can make your fuel burn faster and disperse the heat quickly before it heats your water, so expect longer boil times and the need to collect more fuel.
Cold temperatures are no problem for a wood-burning stove. This is one area where the Solo Stove Lite might be even better than an Isobutane/propane canister stove since these can have fuel pressure issues in really cold conditions.
Other competing wood-burning stoves on the market will have all the same problems with inclement weather.
Ease of Use: 7/10
Lighting the Solo Stove Lite can be a little tricky at first especially if the wood you’re using is a bit damp. You’ll want to first collect your small sticks, twigs, and tinder, or use a knife to shave down some thin strips of wood for tinder. Put the larger pieces on the bottom of the stove and the smaller pieces near the top and use a match or lighter to get the top of the sticks lit. Because of the small opening of the Lite, it can be helpful to lift the stove and turn it at an angle to get it lit.
Once you get a few sticks burning it should easily spread down into the stove getting the heat convection going. After that, it’s just a matter of continually adding sticks, but not so many that you impede the flow of oxygen.
One of the major drawbacks of a wood stove like the Lite is the mess it can make. The outside of your cook pot will get sooty and black after your first use, and it will quickly get all over your hands and clothes if you’re not careful. You can wipe off some of the soot with a dry piece of toilet paper, but I just try to be careful not to touch the outside of the pot except the handles. Keep it in the carry sack when stored in your pack to keep everything else clean.
Compared with other wood-burning stoves, you’ll end up with similar issues keeping things clean. The design of the Solo Stove is nice because there are only two pieces of the kit to put away, making it easy to keep your hands clean. Otherwise, you have to deconstruct a tower of sooty stainless steel pieces for storage.
Also, in a video I came across online, the Bushbuddy Mini, another similar stove, got so hot when tested that the wood plank it was on nearly caught fire, a design problem that the Solo Stove didn’t seem to have.
Ease of Setup: 8/10
Because of the simple two-piece design of this stove, the Solo Stove Lite is much easier to set up than almost any other wood-burning backpacking stove I’ve seen out there. You just gather fuel, build your fire, and pop it on the pot stand to get boiling. If the wood around is wet, I recommend using vaseline-soaked cotton balls to get things rolling, and once lit the fire should be hot enough to burn damp wood.
Dry wood works best for obvious reasons, and if you have the option hardwoods burn hotter and longer, such as birch, maple, hickory, and oak. Softwoods, like pine, fir, spruce, and cedar will still work just fine, but you might need to collect a little more.
If using the stove with the backup alcohol burner, you can just slip it inside the stove, open the lid, and add your alcohol and light. Use it with the pot stand to provide airflow.
Denatured alcohol will work best with the alcohol stove, but boil times will take longer, and the alcohol tends to burn off quickly. Never add alcohol while the stove is still lit, wait for it to burn off, add more, then re-light. You can quickly catch much more than your burner on fire if you start splashing alcohol around an open flame. And keep in mind the flame is often invisible with denatured alcohol so extra caution is advisable.
There are not a lot of frills and extras with the Solo Stove Lite and that’s kind of the point. Here are the features I noticed:
- Wide air holes provide powerful convecting airflow.
- The main chamber is a bit narrow compared to other similar stoves.
- The pot stand allows the addition of fuel without lifting the pot each time, but the pot contact points can be slippery. I like the design of the Canway stove’s pot stand.
- The wire grate that the fuel sits on allows all the spent fuel to fall into the ash pan. The high heat burn means the sticks are burned down to almost nothing, so the ashes don’t accumulate quickly.
- The double wall design might add some weight to the stove, but it’s worth it for the high-efficiency burning.
Other accessories: 7/10
The Solo Stove Lite can be ordered with a whole kit of extra accessories including the Pot 900, a windscreen, a backup alcohol burner, a fire striker, and “tinder on a rope”.
The windscreen works really well, with little stakes that you can stab down into the ground to hold it in place, however, I personally would probably leave it at home and use a backpack, my tent, or even my hands to just block the wind.
The Pot 900 is a great addition as it is designed to hold the stove inside it while in your backpack, and is a good size for almost any use for 1-2 people.
The backup alcohol burner is probably a good idea for anyone going on a longer trip where you won’t be able to know what the weather will do. But keep in mind now you will have to carry alcohol fuel.
The fire striker is a good option for starting fires in any condition and makes for a good backup if you run out of lighter fluid or matches.
Out of these, the only thing I don’t like is the tinder on a rope, which is essentially a stick of resinous wood, which lights easily. I just prefer vaseline-soaked cotton balls (or dryer lint) as an emergency fire starter.