65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2011
Sure, carrying cans of fuel might be faster but carrying this stove is better due to being able to use anything that burns for fuel. I have tried everything from dried cow manure to leaves,dried grass and wood. The best is thumb sized pieces of wood. I fixed a meal of dehydrated stew (homemade)on the stove Solhuma Vital Survival Stove. It took about 20 minutes from collecting the small pile of thumb sized sticks(about 20 of them) to eating the meal. Cans of fuel might be faster but this stove is less to carry and fuel is everywhere. It also leaves a very little footprint since the little fan that runs about 20 hours on 2 AA batteries causes the fire to burn hotter and burns any remaining fuel up to fine ash. (Rechargable batteries and a small solar charger fixes the complaint about still using non reusable resorces.)
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2013
I received this stove as a gift in December. I like it a lot, but I don't love it. I think there are some changes that the company could make that would make it a truly outstanding stove. I really enjoy using it for cooking. Gathering enough fuel to cook eggs and heat up beans and soups is quick and fun. The fan really does get a fire going quickly, and it's even pretty easy to control the heat of the flame by adjusting the damper. It's better than a Jetboil for frying eggs or making pancakes, because you can get a more even, gentle heat.
I agree with those who don't like the way the fuel box fits (or doesn't fit) easily back into its compartment under the stove. I made a bag to carry the two parts separately so I don't have to fuss with them. The bag would have been necessary anyway to keep the soot off the rest of my gear, and I'm happy with this solution.
I hate the battery compartment with the flaming passion of a thousand fiery suns. It's cheaply constructed and poorly designed. The first time I tried to open it to change the batteries, the tab holding it together broke off. The screw is tiny and I don't have a tiny screwdriver in my camping kit, nor do I wish to add one. Further, the screw is not attached to the unit in any way, so it's very easy to lose it. I tossed the screw and I'm holding the battery compartment together with an elastic band. I'm happy with this solution, because it's much easier and quicker to open and close the battery compartment than with the screw and tab arrangement.
For me, the biggest problem with this stove is that it eats batteries. I used it to boil water for coffee a few times after I received it, to work out the kinks before I had to rely on it for cooking. After three or four pots of water, the batteries needed to be replaced. During a week-long camping trip when I used it maybe four or five times to heat soup, beans, or cook some rehydrated hash browns and eggs (i.e. none of these things took very long to cook) I had to replace the batteries. About every four or five uses, expect to replace the batteries. If this thing is seriously being used as a survival stove by people as their primary means of cooking, that means they're going to need new batteries EVERY DAY. That's just not cool, in my opinion, and I think the company needs to create a solution for this problem.
Bottom line: I like this stove because it's better than my Jetboil for some kinds of cooking, so it gets to stay in my camping box. But it has some serious shortcomings, and if I had to choose one stove, it wouldn't be this one.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2011
Got this stove as a gift for Christmas. I really had my eye on the JetBoil PCS, but received this by surprise. We took it to the back yard the first morning, threw some leaves into the bottom, lit them with 1 match. You toss in smaller pieces of wood as you go and the fire really gets going. There's a speed control fan that keeps the burn rate high and a slide out damper for heat control. I've used it several times since then and loved it. Ash has been a bit annoying, so keeping things covered helps. I also had to learn to be patient. Let the fire settle down before putting pans and cups over the cooking area. Burn time is good for small amounts of fuel. Most people will be interested in boiling water, which it does nicely. But this stove really shines when you cook on a skillet. Amazingly fast.
Fan uses 2 AA battery (take a few spares)
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2012
This stove is compact, very solid feeling with shiny polished windscreen pot stand. Starting a fire is the easiest thing due to the airflow as it blows any fire to a red hot ember and lights heavier wood pieces. The fire is very controllable using the fan sliding door. Cooking on a skillet was a joy as I could control the heat to keep it just right. Most wood stoves have no heat control. The high speed makes it burn like a forge, very hot. The fan allowed me to use damp wood, actually wet and blew it enough to get it lit and burning with almost no smoke. I highly recommend this stove for camping or emergency use for cooking or to create major heat at a camp. I think its fun to use and really will heat up water or cook a meal faster than any other. The fan is almost silent, not at all bothersome. I posted a video of stove use on youtube, search vital stove, my site is daddated1, I have my video there. Enjoy.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2014
We used this as our primary stove for a 6-day canoe trip, as it was advertised as a camp-stove when we bought it. We were using the stove for about 45-60 minutes per day, to boil water mostly.
At first, the stove was great - with the blower on full, the fire created was very hot. By day three, the folding metal fire-box (that you put the pot on), would no longer fold, and warped to the point where it would no longer fit over the stove base. And of course it would no longer slide into the bottom of the unit for quick storage. So we had to cart around this sooty, metal box.
Other small issues - the screw to the battery box (we removed it and replaced it with an elastic band), the air-jets getting clogged by ash (not a big deal - they can be cleaned out, but it decreased the heat-output of the stove), and the bag that it comes with ripped really easily one day when sliding the stove into it. Not very thick material.
On the plus side, the batteries (cheap alkaline) lasted for almost the entire trip. We brought a bunch of extra pairs but didn't need them. And collecting small twigs to boil water was strangely satisfying.
I'm going to return mine (or exchange it if they won't give me a refund). If you were using it lightly, once per day, or in an emergency situation, it would do fine. Otherwise, stick to a more traditional butane/propane camp-stove.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2012
This stove functions 100% as well as I expected it to. The thing cooks hot! I went on a backpacking trip with my wife last weekend and the temperature was in the 20s. This stove was great because we were able to boil a large amount of water without needing to bring tons of fuel with us. It works as advertised where most types of biofuel you come across on the ground works with it. You need to get the fire going before you turn the fan on or else it will not start. The only downside to this stove is that it is a bit bulky and heavy. I still gave it 5 stars because I knew the dimensions and weight before purchasing it. These are the only ways to improve an impressive stove. I went with this model over the Biolite which uses similar technology. The reason I did was because you can feed the fire without having to remove the kettle from the fire whereas with the Biolite you are not able to. Great stove for the price.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2013
After experimenting more with this stove, I have to say the durability is really impressive.
I originally thought the air-holed storage cap, which also serves as the base for the wood fire, would be a weak point for long fires, but I haven't noticed any warping yet.
The surprise really comes from relating my experiences with this wood stove vs. others in long duration fires.
With other wood stoves, regardless of whether they are steel or titanium, there is warping that occurs over time.
Even the thick walled firebox's grill surface has begun to warp.
But the VitalGrill, with its thicker solid metal construction, even in the fire wall, there is no warping for fires up to two hours. I tested it for that long and was able to use the fire for both a little heat and as a continuous simmering wood stove for stew.
The only real problem with this stove is that it requires constant attention as the fuel burns rather quickly. If you don't pay attention for 10 minutes, the flame can easily go out.
On another note, using a wind screen on three of the sides, leaving the side with the fan that draws in air completely open, markedly improves heat efficiency. I didn't measure anything, but water definitely came to a boil faster, and the rolling boil is much more aggressive with the wind screen than without. In a windy area, use a panel folding wind screen.
When you want a small wood stove to burn for a really long time, and this requirement is relatively frequent (e.g. every day for a week or more), and demand bomb-proof reliability throughout the trip, you couldn't do much better than this stove. Just make sure you have batteries to spare.
As wood stoves go, there are quite a number of choices out there today, and they each have their advantages and disadvantages.
This stove uses seriously solid steel construction, and compared to some other wood stoves, that's a big plus.
the steel walls for the fuel are thicker than others out there, the legs are rock solid, and even the comparatively thin square cap is stronger than some wood stoves out there.
Where some other stoves might fall apart in long term use, the VitalGrill Survival Stove will last and last. I could easily imagine bringing this stove with me for a month long base camp where I might be doing little day hikes from a single location. In such a situation, if I could set up a small kitchen area with stone surfaces, I could leave this out there as my every day stove. It's just that tough and durable.
The base of this unit uses thick, solid metal, and while that translates to the durability mentioned earlier, it also adds significant weight to a pack.
The fan works on two speeds and seems reliable, though I haven't taken it out on any outings yet, so have no idea how it would do in rough weather, getting beaten up every day. At the very least, the battery pack will likely fail before anything else. It is pretty cheap plastic. Then again, who knows, maybe it's cheapness and simplicity will allow it to function while degrading over time. the springs might rust a little or gather battery acid, and the plastic might warp a bit, and perhaps it would keep on ticking.
One nice thing about this is that you can have this unit and, say, a trangia alcohol stove, and you have a dual fuel option for very little weight gain or added materials. Typically with an alcohol stove, you need extra pieces. You really want some wind protection, and a pot stand, and if possible a way to keep the alcohol stove off the ground.
If you set up the walls of the VitalGrill, you can just place the alcohol stove inside, and you've covered all three requirements. Or, you could remove the VitalGrill firewall, and just use that with an alcohol stove. You've have the wind protection and pot stand ready to go. You'd have to deal with the alcohol stove being on the ground, but it's still usable.
It wouldn't be ideal for a weekend trip where pack weight was a concern, nor would it be ideal on a mountaineering trip. This would be a good choice on a month long outing to the woods. It would probably also be useful in a rustic cabin environment. And if you'll be in a wooded area, and rain or damp weather means grabbing wet wood, this would probably be better than many other wood stoves out there.
I'm not sure it would ever be my first choice, but it would never be a bad one.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2012
Bought this more out of curiosity than necessity. When I received this odd looking little stove, well, if I didn't order it, I wouldn't have known what it was. Taking it out of the box, the first thing I noticed was the weight - if you want something light for backpacking, forget it. If you can bear another two pounds, it's great. It was a little challenge to put it together though, but that was more fun than frustrating since I knew I'd get it in a sec, which I did. The part which actually holds the fire, folds up and slides under the bottom of the unit, but quite snugly. Especially when new - it doesn't want to come out. To try to summarize, it's basically a box with a fan blowing air into the fire from the bottom. When I put it together I filled it with thumb sized pieces of wood and lit it. Nothing impressive so far. Then I turned on the fan. That's when it turned into a furnace, everything in the chamber burning almost completely. I'm sure this thing produces enough heat to cook anything, and could use anything lying around for fuel. The only thing I would add, is, that instead of a regular battery holder, use a couple of rechargeable batteries, hooked up to a solar cell, and sealed in a waterproof case. That should be easy enough to make, oneself though. Better that setup than having to look for regular batteries in a real survival situation. Worth every penny. D. Wizard
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2012
I saw this it seemed to good to be true. I found videos on this thing. Everyone raved about the compact size, the output of heat (up to 20,000 btu) and the fact that it can be fueled by most anything that burns from wood to paper, to charcoal fatwood etc. I was amazed that it did indeed boil water in a few minutes. The unit can handle up to 50lbs. of weight as well. A wonderful addition, (that is on my wish list) is the grill unit for about 110 bucks that will grill, steam, or smoke your food. It too comes in a pretty compact unit. This Vital Stove is great for camping, tailgaiting, or an emergency stove at home in case you lose, electricity or gas. An incredible marriage of form with function. Highly recommend.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Two burners that will use natural fuels available everywhere - paper, cardboard, wood, even animal dung. It's terrific and I recommend it to all survivalists!