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Wood or Propane Stove?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012 23:45

People often ask me if they should use a propane or wood stove for their survival plan. Honestly, it really depends on the purpose of the stove. If you are planning to Bug Out, I would select a wood stove. But, if you are planning to Bug In, then I would use both. 

Bugging Out

Choosing the right stove for your Survival Bag is important. A propane stove provides many advantages over wood. Propane does not need to be dry, it is easy to light, does not smoke, and there is no wait time. High end propane stoves are generally lightweight. However, propane stoves require propane. Even if you have a bag dedicated to propane, or store dozens of canisters in your vehicle, eventually you will run out in a Bug Out situation. 

In contrast, a wood stove can be used indefinitely. That is, as long as you have dry tinder and purchase a quality stove. Wood stoves can be difficult to get going, they smoke, and you need to doctor the fire. Even with these disadvantages, I still recommend carrying a wood stove in your Survival Bag. You will never have to purchase fuel or carry tanks for a wood stove. Wood stoves will pay for themselves in a few camping trips.  

You can make the argument that you do not need a stove in your Survival Bag. Sure, it costs money, takes up space, and you can easily build a fire on the ground. A stove makes life a little easier, and you will have a little more control over how you cook or boil water. There are several products on the market for wood stoves. I currently own and recommend a Bushbuddy or Solo Stove for your Survival Bag. 

The Bushbuddy and Solo Stove both use gasification, which means they burn wood, but are constructed in a manner to also use the gases that burning wood creates. The end result is a fire that runs more efficiently, takes less wood to keep going, and has little to no smoke. The trick is ensuring you have dry tinder, but slightly moist tender will also work.  Even twigs will sustain a fire in a Bushbuddy and Solo Stove. 

It usually takes 8-10 minutes to boil a liter (approximately 34 ounces) of water. The Bushbuddy and Solo Stove have similar construction. Both stoves will nest in a Snow Peak Trek 900 (.9L) Titanium Pot. The Bushbuddy weighs 5.1 ounces, and the Solo Stove weighs in at 9 ounces. While the Solo Stove is nearly twice the weight, I believe the construction and materials are of higher quality. And at nearly half the cost of the Bushbuddy, the Solo Stove is a much better deal. 

Bugging In

If you are deciding to Bug In, then I would recommend using a propane stove as the primary means of cooking and boiling water during the first phase of a disaster.  Some of you, even if you are new to the prepping lifestyle, probably already have one. Your household barbeque grill, that thing you use to burn hot dogs, can be a great asset during a grid down situation. You can also use your grill to boil water. Just make sure you have extra propane canisters on hand. Another great thing about propane is that it has an indefinite shelf life. 

If you do not own a grill, or are looking for a portable grill, I like the Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove. I originally purchased this grill for camping, but have since adopted it for my survival plan. The Camp Chef is very compact when packed, and is fairly durable. You can even purchase a grill box and cast iron grill/griddle, which adds more versatility. 

If you are serious about using propane as your primary fuel source during a SHTF scenario, then I would recommend investing in a large propane tank. If you take this route, I would also recommend investing in a propane generator. 

Unless you have a very large propane tank, or if the SHTF scenario is indefinite, eventually you will run out of propane. This is where a wood stove comes into play. You have several choices, and size and weight should not be an issue since you are staying in your home. Do your research, and figure out what works best for you and your budget. 

Products and Prices at the Time of This Article (7/11/2012)

Bushbuddy - $117 USD + Shipping

Solo Stove - $70

Solo Stove (2 Pack) - $130

Solo Stove Pro - $130

Snow Peak Titanium Trek 900 Cook Set - $50

Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove - $99

Camp Chef BB-60L Deluxe Sport Grill Box for 2-Burner Stoves - $99

Camp Chef CGG16 Cast Iron Grill/Griddle - $35

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 18:07
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