The pocket-sized, wood-fire burning, (eco friendly?) 180 camping stove
By C.C. Weiss
February 19, 2012
The 180 Stove is a simple, portable backpacking stove that relies on wood as its sole fuel. Unlike gas canisters and liquid propane, wood is a natural fuel that's available in all types of wilderness areas, making it a renewable, clean source of fuel for backwoods cooking. And since there are no canisters to buy, carry and dispose of, you save weight and space in your pack.
The 180 Stove's weight of 10.4 oz (295 g) is heavier than tiny, ultralight backpacking stoves, but since you don't have to carry a canister or any fuel (save maybe for dry tinder), you save on the asterisk weight. The stove is also super portable thanks to its compactable design. The three sides and three slats break down into a flat package that measures 3.25 x 7.0 x 0.63 inches (8.3 x 17.8 x 1.6 cm). It's so small, you can slide it into a jacket or pants pocket and it assembles in seconds without any need for tools.
The wood fire you create is the sole source of heat in the 180 Stove. There isn't any type of flame-intensifying fan, as is the case with stoves like the BioLite, but its three-sided stainless steel design blocks the wind, allowing you to more easily light and stoke a fire. Its cooking power will depend on how large of a fire that you build underneath it.
"The 180 Stove does channel heat onto the cooking pan, provides a great wind break, and provides plenty of air intake to keep the flames going," Curtis Linville of 180 Tack, LLC explained. "In our tests in sub-freezing temperatures, the 180 Stove boiled 16 oz (473 ml) of water starting with ice in it in about 6 minutes. This was with only a moderate fire. More impressive fires could be used."
One of the other advantages that the company touts is the green nature of the stove. It claims that since the 180 Stove doesn't use any toxic fuels or require disposable canisters, it is greener than other stoves. This is debatable and depends upon how it's used and what your personal views on "eco friendly" are. While the stove is indeed greener in terms of its fuel, the open-bottomed design means that you're burning directly on the ground, something that has the tendency to scar the earth and leave remnants in what might otherwise be a pristine wilderness.
One of Leave No Trace's principles says to "use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires." LNT explains that fires change the look of the natural landscape because people take firewood and leave charred remnants behind. Essentially, if all backcountry users started fires, it would leave a rather large "trace" on the environment. For this reason, the organization encourages the use of camping stoves that don't rely on wood fires. 180 Tack suggests covering the burned area with dirt, but embers, ashes, charred rocks, etc. and bushes and trees stripped for firewood could still change the landscape from its natural state.
Linville told us that the company offers an ash pan for this reason. The ash pan slides underneath the stove and contains all the ashes and charred wood so that you can dispose of them afterwards.
One issue the ash pan won't solve, though: Some backcountry areas ban fires all together or at high-danger times (partly for the Leave No Trace ideals mentioned), so you may not be able to use a stove like this. And since it's a small stove designed specifically for backcountry use, that could be a problem depending upon where you plan to travel.
The 180 Stove is available for US$46.95 through 180's website. For those that prefer to go even lighter, 180 also offers the 180 VL Stove, a V-shaped, 2-slat stove that weighs just 5.9 oz (167 g). While the VL stove is nearly half the weight, it is about the same size when compacted down. It costs $29.95.
Below you'll find a tutorial on how to use the stove. Decide for yourself if it's a more environmentally friendly alternative to existing options like canister and liquid fuel stoves.
Source: 180 Tack