Friday, July 20, 2012

A Field Test: The 180 Stove.

Its time to take a look at another wood burning camp stove and put it through its paces. This time we have the Colorado made and invented 180 Stove. Made from 304 stainless, this tough, sturdy stove comes to us from the 180 Tack Co. The compact nature of this stove allows it to be even stored in your back pocket. If I had to put it in a comparable size, I would say that the 180 stove is about the size of two decks of cards laid side by side when collapsed. Weighting in at 10.4oz. the 180 stove is a touch heavier than the last stove we tested (the Littlbug Jr.), but it also has a fairly large cooking area at 7” X 6” which is probably the reason for that extra weight.

When you take the stove out of its heavy mil plastic bag you will see all the pieces nestle together to form a ½” thick package, with a slim chance for any pieces to go missing. Set up is a breeze, and with only 6 pieces it comes together is seconds. In order to assemble the user connects the two sidepieces to the back panel via some tabs, then slip the sturdy cross bars into their tabs on the side panels. The stamped or laser cut “180 stove” on the side panels act as air flow ports allowing ample air to fuel the fire. When you have the stove all fitted together properly it forms damn near solid box that can handle the heaviest of pots, go ahead throw your cast iron on there, it can take it.

Again I will mention that like all these thin stainless stove there is of course a slim chance of cutting yourself on an edge, so please be careful. Unlike the past two stoves showcases the 180 stove basically makes compact fire pit. You build you fire on the ground and the 180 stove acts like a grate, but also adding the bonus features of wind protection. The front of the 180 allows for incredibly easy access to adding fuel to the fire, the large opening can handle large pinecones and decent size sticks with no problem. Even allowing for extra long stick to be fed in as the unburned portion just rests on the ground.

Lighting the stove is as easy as all the rest. Its all in the sticks you choose, starting with small twigs and pine branches I moved to pencil and permanent marker size sticks, quite quickly getting the heat you need to boil some water or cook some foot. When I was doing the testing I was using my 1 litre Zebra billy can, and as you can see from the pictures that the cooking surface of the 180 stove is much larger than the pot, I think this is the only down side of this cooking set up, as I feared I was loosing a lot of heat around the pot. Now if I was cooking with a shallower wider pot I am sure the boil time would have been shortened exponentially.  So now that I think about it its not so much of the stoves problem, but more of that the user would have to possible tweak there set up to get maximum efficacy. Also with that being said and like I mentioned in other posts that I am in no rush while camping, boil time is not that important to me. I just found that the issue is that the extra loss of heat meant that I had to gather more sticks to be burned in order to bring that water to a boil.

Another good point about the 180 stove is that even if you had just your standard fire pit at the campsite, no need to make a separate fire just to cook. The durable natural of the stainless steel allows you to rest the 180 directly into your main fire and cook there (perhaps off to the side, but still).

The 180 stove is a solid choice for outdoor cooking, it provide the user with the ability to have a larger cooking surface for large pots and keep a even heat across the bottom. This is a great option of people looking to use bio fuel for group outings and trips. For its lightweight it sure is a sturdy stove, and the windscreens functions beautifully.  I also really like the fact that this bad boys packs down into a rectangle. Easy to store and its simple shape does not gobble up more room than it needs. 180 Tack also has a separate ash / snow pan for the 180 for users who do not want to scorch the earth or cook in the wintertime.

I just want to say thank you to Curt Linville from 180 Tack for the opportunity to try the 180 stove out and to experience the ease in which this stove can adapt from small cooks to full on fire box. You can pick the 180 stove directly at 180 Tack or in Canada at Bushcraft Canada.

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