A guest post by Rick Beaty of a Crooked Blue Line.
I’ve always relied on canister fuel. I’ve always been a pocket-rocket-style-stove-type guy. Usually, my kit is made up of only what I can buy from REI or other large outdoor retailers. I never considered cottage industry equipment. The Bushbuddy Ultra wood-burning stove, manufactured in the cottage industry, was the first piece of kit that made me rethink every other piece of gear I hauled in boat and on portage.
Other than over coals from campfire, I have never cooked in the backcountry without my “technology”. The Bushbuddy Ultra changed that.
Its simple beginnings, in the tradition of homemade Hobo stoves, constructed of paint or tomato cans, does only one thing: provide contained fire over which we can cook. The Bushbuddy does that and to perfection, providing an incredibly efficient housing for fire. That’s it, nothing more. You still need to collect, ignite and manage the fire within it in order to boil 1 liter of water in four minutes.
It has no moving parts, pins or gaskets, nothing to render your stove useless either. Rather, it’s hand made by Fritz Handel in Iskut, B.C. Canada, of stainless steel. A double-walled construction, like two cans nestled together, with holes on the outside bottom and holes on the inner topside, allows for secondary combustion.
(For example: oxygen pulled in through the bottom holes provides initial combustion of the fire starter and kindling. As the flame rises towards the top holes, a secondary supply is lured into the top holes and forced downward supplementing the initial combustion.)
The thought and engineering that went into this refined design of stove is evident when you see the perfectly cylindrical flutes of flame funnel out of each hole and up onto your pot.
The Bushbuddy’s burn is so efficient it siphon every last bit of fuel out of every stick and twig, leaving little, if any, fine white ash, which very easily left scattered around after use is much more environmentally friendly than a fire pit or an empty canister of fuel. You couldn’t start a fire in a ring of rocks and boil a liter of water with as minimal an amount of fuel and effort as you can with the Bushbuddy.
After a day’s paddle, after camp’s been set, you settle into the cool dirt of riverside woods, get down on your knees and actually work for your fire. It’s meditative. Arched over the stove, it begins to shine its old world charms, it’s hobo beginnings and unexpectedly becomes the perfect little solo fireplace for warming your hands when you don’t want to scorch a pit for campfire.
It is 5.1 oz, 4 1/4″ diameter by 3 3/4″ high, so its light and relatively small. It nestles perfectly into the Snow Peak Trek 900 (.9L) titanium pot, which is essential to protecting your $115.00 investment as well as being the perfect-sized cookpot on top as well.
The drawbacks are obvious. If it’s too wet out to start a fire, you ain’t cookin’! That is unless you already are or are willing to become proficient in backwoods 101: staring fire in all conditions. For the unconfident, combine this stove with any small alcohol stove as backup, such as the Minibull Atomic, which can nestle inside the Bushbuddy creating the perfect, two-burner, kitchen range, or covering you when fire starting with natural material is inhibited by wet conditions or lack of skills.
For me, multifunctional simplicity is the driving factor in choosing lightweight gear. Does it offer an efficient simplification of an essential item of gear and reduce its weight? The Bushbuddy does so handily. It is the epitome of simple, yet advanced, lightweight stove. Nothing compliments a rushing river more than a lighter tread.
Snow Peak Trek 900 | $45 | Buy
About the Author
Rick Beaty writes about paddling and adventure at Crooked Blue Line. To pay the bills between adventures he trades in gold and silver rare coins in Boston. He’s a section paddler of the NFCT who enjoys nothing more than canoeing the great rivers of Maine.