EcoZoom Versa Camping Stove
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- Eco friendly, energy efficient cooking, great for outdoor, camping and emergency preparedness
- Easy to use and clean
- Refractory metal combustion chamber, abrasion-resistant, lightweight ceramic insulation
- Two hinged doors, 3-pronged universal cast iron stove top
- Stick support
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The VERSA offers the flexibility to cook with wood, Charcoal, or solid biomass fuel in a rugged and durable design. The versatility of the stove makes it your perfect outdoor cooking stove for almost any need. The VERSA provides the same efficiency and heat output as the Dura when cooking with wood, while also offering the alternative of a more controlled cooking experience with Charcoal. The VERSA is the most popular VERSA in the United States and makes for a great camping, patio, or emergency preparedness cooking solution. A fully insulated vertical combustion chamber Forces gases to mix with flames when in use, decreasing harmful emissions while boasting tremendous fuel efficiency. The combustion chamber and top door insulation is lined with a refractory metal to provide ultimate durability. Both the main combustion chamber door and the damper door (bottom door) have reinforced metal frames with hinges that serve to securely close the doors and regulate airflow. Lastly, the VERSA features EcoZoom newly designed three-prong stove top and stainless steel handles. The flattened prongs decrease the chance of chipping the cast iron top while still offering the ability to cook with a flat or rounded bottom pot/n the rigid stainless steel handles are covered with Silicone grips to ensure they stay cool even when the stove is hot. Simply put, the VERSA offers a versatile outdoor cooking experience with big power in a portable package.
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It proved so easy to use that we'll be cooking with it an extensive part of summer I think.
The Versa is like a metal bucket (no bigger really) filled with ceramic with a funnel in the middle and a cooking crate. One larger door is meant to start and feed the fire (despite the fact that it is small, there is a stand allowing you to put long branches that you push forward progressively). The smaller door is called a damper door and allows you to control the air flow to turn the flame up or down. Close both doors and the fire is quickly out. There is a cast iron top that concentrates the heat directly where you need it and allows you to use flat pans or round-bottomed ones.
We used twigs and branches because that's how we plan to use it but you can also use coal bricks (4/8 to cook a whole meal) or compact biomass fuel.
My son started every fire we've done on the Versa. It is quite stable due to the weight of the ceramic insulation and this also prevents any burns because though the sides may get hot, it is never scalding hot.
In fact, it seemed to me that once the fire is put down and you're out camping you can actually put the Versa under your tent to warm it for quite some time like a small heating system because it stays warm then but produces no smoke).
You would have to push it real hard to make it tumble and even then most of the embers would remain inside the funnel.
Once you're done you close the doors and leave it until it's cold, no need to keep an eye on it.
Compared to an open fire, there is just no risk of an uncontrolled fire starting from your own.
-it is quite effective : boiling one liter of water takes just a few minutes since the Versa concentrates the heat right in the middle.
-it uses a lot less fuel than an open fire : no need to scavenge for plenty of branches . A few twigs to start and 3/4 branches is just enough for us to cook one meal entirely, now try that with an open fire.
For both these reasons I find the Versa to be a perfect tool for emergency preparedness. You can keep the hot meals + disinfect water for days with pretty little wood or sparing your charcoal.
-it produces a LOT less smoke which is both confortable and discreet.
-I love the fact that it is fairly safe and child friendly since we chose this for family time too. My son is planning marshmallows in a nearby future with his friends. I feel this is secure enough to let them do this with little supervision.
-it requires really minimal cleaning : open the doors, let the ashes out (they are quite white showing an almost complete combustion) and reuse them in the garden to both feed the soil and prevent pests from eating your plants.
None so far, since we plan to use it mostly around our house, the weight is not an issue. We wouldn't put it in our backpacks but we will carry it to the sea for a summer dinner soon.
I thought from the start it looked nice for our needs but I was really enthusiastic after trying this around. And it's the kind of thing you know you'll use for years and years because it is durable. My husband had doubts but was truly positively surprised. As for my son he looked for sunny opportunities to use it more.
However, operating the Versa still has much in common with open wood fire cooking when compared to cleaner fuels such as propane or white gas. I had hoped that the hotter, more complete combustion of wood gases would prevent the accumulation of soot on cookware, but this was not the case, I still ended up with the familiar black coating on the bottom of aluminum and stainless pots. Another minor annoyance is that ash tends to spill out from the bottom door, making a mess in windy conditions.
Still, overall the Zoom Versa provides an efficient and convenient way to cook with wood, subject to the limitations of wood as fuel.
This model is the best one of the series, it has the 6 pot supports and both a fuel door and a lower door for controlling the burn rate. This is a stove you have to tend to. The fuel chamber is pretty small (which helps it burn so clean), but this means that in a matter of 15 minutes it'll burn out if you don't tend to it and constantly feed it sticks. You don't have to put many in for it to be hot, but you do have to lay them out on the feed rack and keep them feeding into it. Don't think you can fire it up, walk away for an hour like you can with charcoal and come back to a cooked meal. This is not that type of stove. You can use it with charcoal and coal and then it'll burn for much longer.
I like knowing I have this stove in my garage since in any kind of emergency I can get a very hot fire going and there will be fuel. For the Zombie Prep group, it's also a covert way to cook, because the flame is contained (not visible) and there's essentially no smoke it burns so cleanly. In nearly every emergency, there's wood of some type around that would be freely available to fuel this stove.
An easy way to light this stove is to place a small chunk of fire starter (sawdust packed with wax) in the burn chamber on your first few sticks and light that. In a few minutes it'll be hot and burning well. Kindling works well too, and once the burn chamber is hot it'll keep everything going nicely. Open the bottom door all the way to increase the air flow at lighting time, close it partially to control the burn rate once you have your fire going. You can also change between the 2 included grates depending on the size of your fuel and how your wood burns. One grate has wider openings than the other and smaller pieces tend to fall through if you use the larger grate.
This stove design is called Rocket Stove due to the swirling action in the burn chamber. The creator has opened up his patented design to help enable impoverished countries get these at less cost and improve their cooking conditions.
*** Nov 2012 I was asked about using coal in this stove. The only coal I have tried is Charcoal, which works great and lasts longer than wood. I don't have lump coal to try but it does come with a coal grate and says it works well with coal too.
4 stars for a great stove that cooks with nearly any wood source, not 5 since it's high maintenance to keep the fire balanced.