I’ve made a lot of different alcohol stoves (and stands and wind screens to accompany them) and think they are a great thing. But for anything longer than a week (where the weight of carrying the alcohol starts to become an issue) or for any sort of winter activities (where cold temperatures might affect the ability of an alcohol stove to perform) I think a wood stove is a better idea. I’ve made a few different wood stoves, but after reading good things about the Bush Buddy and finding out that it fit inside the Snow Peak Trek 900 that I had, I got one.
And I must say, this is a beautifully constructed stove. Exquisite workmanship. The nifty factor is very high. It comes packed in a handmade pine box, and the delightful scent as you open the shipping carton adds a nice touch.
It weighs 5 ounces, (at least the Ultra model that I got does, the other version weighs 6.5 ounces) and when you factor in that fuel is a handful of sticks you gather at your site, that isn’t much.
The BushBuddy is a downdraft gassifier stove which, as I understand it, is when the burning wood is converted into gas, which in turn burns as the stove’s primary fuel source. A wood downdraft gassifier burns, counterintuitively, downward, and the released gas is sucked through the bottom, pulled up through the double side walls, and released as a flame through the top vent holes. As it was explained to me, it boils the gas out of the wood and then burns the gas.
It is a very efficient stove. A small bundle of twigs will do the trick and it leaves behind a very small amount of very fine grey ash.
The only drawbacks are that it leaves your pots sooty, it puts a pot of boiling water high up, creating the potential for tipping, and while the chamber contains the fire, the flames leaping out of the top are at the mercy of the wind. It would really benefit from a wind screen.
But a wind screen that would reach above the top of the BB and encompass the bottom of the pot would be a very tall one and make packing a bit awkward. The only real improvement I could suggest on it would be a wind screen that attaches at the top of the stove itself, and is no taller than the BB itself to facilitate packing.
One feature that is a little freaky at first, but definitely very cool is that you can pick it up and move it around as it’s burning. The outside wall is cool to the touch. You can put it up on a picnic table with no fear that it will scorch the surface.
I already had a Snow Peak Trek 900 and the Bush Buddy fits inside of it. Not very snug – it rattles around side to side – and it’s also about an inch or so higher than the Bush Buddy itself so it rattles around from top to bottom as well. I have some other Snow Peak products, and I quite like them, but this particular product I’m not that keen on. The lid/fry pan is very floppy, and it takes nothing at all for it to pop off. I made a strap for it with a cam buckle and that helps hold the lid and the handle in place. The handles, especially the one for the lid clangs like a bell. (You can see in some of the pictures how I put a length of shrink tubing on the handle of the lid/fry pan in an effort to remedy that) The sil-nylon bag that I keep it in to keep the soot off of everything does an okay job of keeping it all together.
I’m thinking of getting a FireLite SUL-1100 instead, since the lid is snug and there are no clangy handles. Just what I need – more titanium pots.