The Best Stealth Camping Stove You Didn’t Know You Needed

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but in just a few short months Dusty and I are taking our stealth van lives on the road again.

And NOT in the U.S. this time.

In preparation, I am looking into getting some new stealth travel items, particularly, a new lightweight wood burning camping stove.

I’ve talked about it before ad nauseum, about how living a quiet life in a van can save you a ton of money. Well, without going too far into Dusty’s personal life, he has a job that hires him to do projects. They can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.

As of this very moment, he is nearing the end of a project that has taken almost two years of his life. He makes good money, but it ties him down to one spot for as long as he’s working and tires him out. At the end of the day, the poor guy can’t even see straight 🙁

Grumpy dusty needs time off of work for adventure
Back off, ladies. He’s mine!

Luckily, he will be done in just a couple of weeks and then…we will have almost two whole years of adventure!

We have both been really looking forward to this and saving up all of our pennies in anticipation of not working.

It’s basically a dream come true.

Thank You #VanLife

So, on to the camp stove business. Part of our disjointed adventure plan is to fly away to far parts of the world and see some stuff. It’s something Dusty has been doing most of his life. He has every gadget thinkable when it comes to traveling light, and I wanted in on the action.

I remember the last time he left for Central America, having to drive him all over town looking for fuel he could carry onto the plane so that he could use his Ultralight Backpacking Stove. It’s a great little stove, but it has always freaked me out.

For one thing, it’s kind of scary. Every time he starts that sucker up, I’m afraid he’s going to set one of us on fire. Gas gets on to his hands, runs down and puddles under the unit, until it eventually starts running down the line that connects to the can.

Now, I’m not saying this happens to all people who use it, but it happens to Dusty every single time. He’s accident prone but seems to be pretty unfazed by it.

If you can get past that part, the stove works great, but again, you run into the issue of carrying fuel around.

Fuel is never something I want to have to worry about. If I know I’m going to be country hopping and taking all sorts of different types of transportation, I would rather not worry about sourcing it

or worse, spilling it.

I had dreams of getting an ultralight backpacking stove that I could use wood to fuel.

Initially, I looked into the Biolite Camp Stove Wood Burning and USB Charging Bundle. At first glance, it looked like a winner. Not only could I cook just about everything on it with its attachable grill tray, but it also contained a USB charger.

However, at $200 bucks and ALMOST 8 LBS, it seemed a little exorbitant.

Sure, it charges your cell phone with the magic of fire, but was that enough to entice me to buy it?


At the end of the day, trying to fit that into a pack on top all of the belongings I would need for two years in a foreign country seemed a little extreme to me. My pack is only so big and I know there are more important things I will want to bring with me…like clean underpants.

I love cooking, but not that much.

The best lightweight stealth camping stove you didn't know you needed
So I start fires with tortilla chips. Wanna fight about it?!

I ended up buying the Solo Stove Lite on a whim, and HOLY CRAP is it amazing!

We took it out for a maiden voyage on a camping adventure last weekend and I am so happy, it might just replace most of the other stove options in our van.

First of all, it’s a perfect size. At 9 oz, it fits conveniently into our smallest pot and is light enough to lug around.

Also, if you don’t use damp wood, it’s almost completely smokeless. That’s a huge deal for my stealth van camping peeps out there.

I also love how fast it cooks. We don’t have the  Solo Stove Pot, we just have our regular cookware, but even then, it took less than 13 minutes to get to a  rolling boil.

With the approved cookware that fits perfectly on top, they promise a boil of 34 oz of water to happen in 8-10 minutes.

And in the morning, when I haven’t had my coffee yet, those extra few minutes are crucial.

That’s the thing, I bought this sucker for overseas travel thinking that’s the only time we would ever use it, but once I saw how easy it was, I quickly changed my game plan.

Now, instead of using our old Coleman Stove Top for morning coffee purposes, I find myself busting out my Solo Stove instead. Not only is it convenient, but it’s kind of fun to play with.

the best lightweight camping stove you didn't know you needed


Obviously, unlike the Coleman Stove, this is not an “inside the van” type of gadget. There are wood burning stoves you can install inside your van, this is not one of those! Since this will create carbon monoxide fairly quickly, this has to be used outside.

For those of us stealth camping and living off grid though, it comes in handy.

How to Use The Solo Stove Lite-Wood Burning Camp Stove

how to use solo stove


The infographic above is for the Solo Stove Bonfire, which is the exact same thing, only bigger!

For my fire, I first went around my campsite and collected as many sticks and small twigs as I could find. After that, I broke them up into small bits, about 2-3 inches long. They say the sticks should be about as long as your thumb.

Now, after looking at the instructions, it felt like I could fit a ton of twigs in there, but that wasn’t the case. The area inside the solo stove unit is really tiny. 2-3 inches of the twig is really all that’s going to fit, which is the main drawback to this:

You will blow through fuel.

If there was one thing to complain about with this design, it’s the fact that you have to constantly be feeding it twigs so the fire doesn’t die. If you get yourself a nice big pile before you start cooking, this shouldn’t be a problem.

But, if you’re like me and tend to find yourself wandering away after a couple of beers and coming back to a cold stove, you will have to rethink how you do your cooking.

drinking beer while using the solo stove to cook dinner
This is usually what’s going on behind the scenes during a massive outdoor cooking project

In the end, I found that chopping up some firewood into chunks actually worked the best. The chunks were small enough to fit inside but thick enough to keep the fire going longer than twigs would.

Also, that means I get to play with an ax which is always a welcome activity.

With the Solo Stove Lite, you will be able to cook a nice dinner quickly, and with minimal smoke. If you’re looking for an ultralight camp stove for backpacking, or a stealth cooking option while living in your van, try this sucker out. I’m a huge fan, and can’t wait to make some new things on it!

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