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Bushbuddy Ultra Wood-burning Stove Review

Bushbuddy Ultra Wood burning stove test

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.

Bushbuddy full of sticksIts 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.

Bushbuddy Ultra stove packed away.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.

Bushbuddy Ultra | $135 | Buy | More Info

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.

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  • This is a great review, Rick. You have me sold on trying one. I don’t see the wet as being a problem. You can always find dry wood or make it if you need to.

  • Wood stoves have always intrigued me.
    They are so simple and they give that soothing feeling of watching a real fire, not just a synthetic flame.
    However they would not work for my adventures. Most National Parks that I visit here in Australia forbid the collection of resources, including wood.
    One could schlep the wood with him/her but that would be rather bulky and heavy.
    There is one more thing that I hate about cooking on a wood fire: it blackens the bottom of my pots with sooth making a real mess when they need to be packed away.

  • That’s an interesting contrast to where I tend to paddle. In the Boundary Waters, the U.S. Forest Service actually installs fire grates at all the campsites and on most of the Lake Superior shoreline, you can collect and burn wood. Many of the state parks forbid collection of wood, but everywhere else it’s allowed.

  • I like it! Always good to keep things simple. And here’s another simple solution for people like gnarlydog where wood fires are prohibited:-

  • […] my most recent push north, I carried a Bushbuddy wood-burning micro stove. Since it burns tiny scrap wood and various other solid combustibles found randomly in […]

  • It is looking compact. I would love to purchase one. Generally the size of wood stoves are too large to carry. It will be beneficial for me while going for a forest rock climbing.

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