Sierra Zip Ztove
Historic Range: $55.95
Reviewers Paid: $5.00-$55.00
Reliable, basic, and light.
- Flimsy wire
I used an original zip stove when thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in the '90s. I never understood why anyone would carry fuel when wood was abundant from Georgia to Maine. Plus I love the smell of a wood fire!
Source: bought it new
It's a good choice if you don't want to fool with making sure you have enough fuel. I carry mine around for quick meals on the trail, even though I usually cook right over the fire.
- Infinite fuel
- Long battery life
- Flimsy cord
Setup: Plop it on the ground and set up a miniature campfire inside. As simple as it gets.
Ignition: Getting a small fire going inside is pretty easy, even with wet fuel. Get a spark or small ember at the bottom and turn the fan on. It works every time.
Flame Control: You're limited to turning the fan on and off, and adding more fuel if it starts to die down. It's more an issue of timing than adjusting a knob like with white gas.
Cooking: Getting water to a boil within minutes has never been an issue. I wouldn't try a larger pan on it, as it would become very unstable due to the shape.
Wind: The stove acts as its own windscreen.
Fuel Efficiency: If you're running out of sticks in the woods, I don't know what to tell you. I've used the same AA alkaline for several overnighters in the past.
Stability: The biggest flaw is the tendency to tip over. Flat ground and small containers on top are required.
Packability: It doesn't collapse or anything like that, but it will fit in a large coffee can if you need an estimation of size.
Ease of Use: If you don't know how to build a fire, you shouldn't be backpacking in the first place.
Features: It's an original idea to use small pieces of wood in a camp stove, and one that I've come to prefer over liquid fuel and fuel tabs. One less thing to worry about running out of or to buy on a regular basis.
Construction & Durability: The cord is a bit dicey, and I've gone ahead and replaced it with a small bit of lamp cord. The soldering job for that replacement was incredibly easy. The body itself is tough enough. If the fan ever burns out, I'll try saving it with a metal case fan like you would put in a computer. I don't think a plastic replacement would survive the heat.
Conditions: It's been handy for lunch stops where building a fire would be impractical. If you're trying to get it going in the rain, it takes a little more effort. Once you get that first bit of flame going and turn the fan on, even wet fuel takes off within a minute.
Overall, I'd recommend this little stove to anyone, supposing you can find it anymore. It's a great choice if you don't mind having to scrounge for small bits of wood. Thick chunks of semi-rotted hardwood seem to be the best fuel source.
Source: bought it new
I found one at a yard sale for $5 and grabbed it up. It works great even with wet material as long as a fire is going before hand. It's in my BOB.
Price Paid: $5
This is the coolest stove you can buy. Small size and weight, never carry fuel. The only thing that needs improvement is the quality of the manufacturing. It is functional, but a little cheaply made. I will be making my own power supply for my Zip stove when I get around to it, because the one that it comes with shorts out sometimes.
Still, five stars for innovation and bringing a unique product to market.
Price Paid: $50
I owned the original Zip Ztove and have never used anything else. Most people do not know how to use it. Turn the fan on to boil and turn the fan off to simmer. I sell the old Ztoves and have only a few left. The new ones have way too much on them. I use it to car camp and only use charcoal. It has no black residue. And another one for backpacking. Why anyone would use anything else baffles me. When I backpack I have all the hot water I want...including hot bath water. Hot water...anytime I want.
Price Paid: $19
I've used this stove in all kinds of weather conditions on the southern AT. Using a lithium battery I've been on the trail for weeks using a single battery. I have my water boiling well before others using gas stoves. I make sure to pack cotton soaked with vaseline for a quick start to the fire. I wouldn't own any other stove.
This thing was great. We used a windproof match to get the little fire started and that's it. It worked flawlessly burning water quickly. The only thing is we were a little worried about the open flame in the wind. The flames get pretty large. We had to operate on low to be safe.
My only reservation is that it might not work so well in wet weather. The manual says you can use charcoal so I'd like to try that.
The stove(s) arrived in small carboard boxes with a minimum of packaging; a good first start. Instructions were quite clear on proper use; also some good hints at efficient use. Initial assembly was easy. Weight was as advertised. I own both the steel and titanium models.
Operating the stove efficiently took some practice. Nothing bad in the design of the stove, just getting away from the instant gratification mindset of hydrocarbons. Once I learned how to competently start a small fire, starting with vaseline-soaked cotton balls, then to shredded pine, then to small twigs, and finally larger sticks, I did quite well for myself. If you are out in the winter using this, I suggest keeping your kindling close to your body to warm it up. A spark catches easier in warmer kindling.
Once a solid fire is set, operation is a breeze (pardon the pun). A liter of water goes from freezing temp to boiling in just under 7 minutes with a good fire and blower on "High." You do not need a windscreen, but should be behind a windbreak of some kind in winter. You do not have to worry about it being blown out, but do have to worry about the wind stealing your heat.
This is my favorite stove. I put a Trangia alcohol burner in it as a back-up (credit to Chip Rawlins of "The Complete Walker"). It may be messy, but you don't have to worry about running out of fuel (if you're in a forest). It is very hot.
Just be sure to put out your ashes very, very well.
Price Paid: $55