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Comparing Wood Burning Backpacking Camp Stoves | What's Important and Why It Matters (Part Six)

Posted by Kent M. Hering | Inventor of the Littlbug Stove on

In this collection of posts I am presenting 20 considerations that are important when choosing your wood burning backpacking camp stove and showing how these considerations are dealt with in four different stove designs available on the market today.

In this post I will discuss the complexity, Leave No Trace capability, available accessories, company values, where the stove is made, patents (what they can tell you) and price vs value of the Littlbug Junior, Solo Titan, Emberlit FireAnt and Vargo Hexagon wood burning backpacking camp stoves.

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Consideration 14 – Complexity vs Simplicity: Complexity is expensive – simplicity invaluable. Designs often start out simple but they don't tend to stay that way. I found it was pretty easy to design a complicated stove but extraordinarily difficult to design a simple one. You can expect complicated stoves to be heavier, bulkier (i.e. larger when packed for transport), have a smaller firebox despite large assembled size and sell for a higher price. One of the stoves in this comparison is complex (Solo).

Some Indicators of Complexity vs Simplicity

Littlbug Junior Solo Titan Emberlit FireAnt Vargo Hexagon
Weight 5.1 oz 16.5 oz 6.5 oz 7.4 oz
Packed Size 14 cu in 116 cu in 7 cu in 13 cu in
Firebox Capacity 113 cu in 50 cu in 29 cu in 31 cu in
Price1 $54.95 $89.99 $39.99 $39.95

1 prices subject to change

Table 14

Consideration 15 - Leave No Trace Camping Principles: Wood fires leave a scar but with a properly designed stove, you can burn wood without leaving a trace. Some campsites have an established fire pit so you wouldn't need to take extra precautions to protect the ground (think carrying something you don't need). Where there isn't a fire pit, keep in mind that there is the possibility of damage to the earth both on the surface and below it. You can avoid leaving blackened earth with a bottom for your stove but unless you can prevent the fire's heat from penetrating the earth, you will kill what lives in the soil. Two stoves in this comparison have a bottom that does not protect the earth from heat damage (Emberlit and Vargo). One stove has a non-removable bottom that protects the earth from both surface and sub-surface heat damage (Solo). One stove offers a fire bowl as an accessory that can be removed from the stove (Littlbug). The fire bowl protects the earth from both surface and sub-surface heat damage. Bringing the fire bowl along is optional and it also includes a set of removable stainless steel chains that give you the ability to suspend the stove and cook standing up.

The Littlbug Leave No Trace Kit

Figure 15

Consideration 16 - Available Accessories:Accessories allow you to customize your stove to meet your particular needs without having to buy (and carry) features that you don't need on your trip. Accessories vary from stove to stove. Visit company websites for current offerings. Click here to see accessories for Littlbug Stoves.

Consideration 17 - Company Values: What are you supporting with your purchase? Does the company keep the money you pay to them or do they use it to support other organizations? Do they support caring for the earth and its inhabitants? Do they actively promote Leave No Trace principles? Where are the jobs they provide located? Do they engage in any deceptive practices? Answers to these questions can help you decide which stove to buy.

Consideration 18 - Where Your Stove is Made: If you want to know, it should be easy to find out from the company's website. If the company doesn't tell you, maybe there's a reason they don't want you to know.

Littlbug Junior Solo Titan Emberlit FireAnt Vargo Hexagon
Manufactured in United States China United States China

Table 18

Consideration 19 - What a Patent Tells You: Not all patents are created equal. Some protect the idea behind how a product works (called utility patents) and some just protect what it looks like or what is referred to as the ornamental appearance of a product (called design patents). Products that don't meet the strict requirements for a utility patent may qualify for a design patent which is cheaper and much easier to get than a utility patent. You can easily check what kind of patent it is by doing a patent number search on the USPTO website . Only one stove in this comparison demonstrated the innovation and originality necessary to be granted a utility patent (Littlbug).


Consideration 20 - Price vs Value: Price doesn't matter if you have an unlimited budget but it does for the rest of us! Seldom does best value come at the lowest price. Price is what you pay, value is what you get. Value is about how useful the stove is to you. It can never be determined in terms of money and it will vary from person to person.

Littlbug Junior Solo Titan Emberlit FireAnt Vargo Hexagon
Price1 $54.95 $89.99 $39.99 $39.95

1The information in this table comes from each company's website (prices subject to change).

Table 20

In your search for the backpacking stove that's right for you, I hope you end up choosing a Littlbug Stove! You can check out our products here.

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While we add value to your outdoor experience, you are adding value to our planet and all that live here. Littlbug Enterprises donates at least 10% of its profits to help care for the Earth and its inhabitants.