I’ve been on the hunt for a bit now for a solution for off-grid cooking for urban and suburban preppers. Those of us who have large yards, patios, and such can rely on using things like propane grills, charcoal grills, even the now ubiquitous patio fire pits. But, if you have nothing more than a postage stamp for a yard, if any yard at all, building a nice campfire or firing up a grill might not be feasible or practical.
Enter the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove.
I’d heard about rocket stoves, of course. Even knew a few people who had one. In my experience, they were heavy, bulky, and generally not too safe to use in a confined space due to the extreme heat they generated. The EcoZoom Versa puts them all to shame!
Here’s the video review:
In the box, you receive the stove, a windscreen, and a metal support for fuel. The instructions are pretty bare bones, because really, this couldn’t be simpler. There are two doors on the front of the stove. The top one is where the fuel goes in, the bottom is the damper.
I started the stove using a piece of crumpled newspaper, some dryer lint, and a few small twigs. It took me less than four minutes to go from there to a roaring fire in the stove.
As it burns, you slowly feed larger sticks into the stove through the top door. This is where having that fuel stand is awesome. No need to prop anything up or monkey-rig anything.
For me, the test of any off-grid cooking system is the ability to bring water to a rolling boil. So, once I had the stove going, I put three cups of cold water into a pot and set it on the stove.
It took 21 minutes to bring that water to a vigorous boil. Now, I’ll readily admit that I wasn’t tending to the stove perhaps just as closely as I should have. I was a little lax in feeding in the fuel here and there. So, I’d say that time could be cut down at least a little if you were a little more attentive than I was.
The windscreen that is included with the stove is another wonderful feature.
It is a metal collar that rests on top of the stove. The windscreen helps prevent splatters from wind blowing across your cooking food.
You can easily control the level of heat by either the amount of fuel you put in or by closing the damper door at the bottom of the stove. This allows you to bring something to a boil, then reduce it down to simmer for however long you’d like.
Another thing I really like about this stove is that, while the outside surface does get hot, it doesn’t get “burn ward” hot.
My list of cons for this product is very short. First, it is heavy. One person can easily pick it up by the attached handles and move it around, of course. But, at about 25lbs, it isn’t something you’d want to strap to your back and go on a 10 mile hike.
The other thing isn’t really due to the stove but if you are making stew or something, I’d suggest putting a lid on your cook pot. Ashes from the fire do tend to drift up as you add fuel to the fire. When I boiled the pot of water, I noticed a few ashes had settled into the pot.
All in all, this is a wonderful tool for any preppers out there concerned about preparing food off-grid.
[All photos and video are courtesy of my lovely wife, Tammy.]