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Winnerwell Fastfold

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: Winnerwell Fastfold wood stove

A lightweight tent stove for cooking and heating which is more portable than stainless steel models.

Pros

  • Lighter than steel

Cons

  • Warping
  • Not foldable as a flat pack
  • Design fault on air intake
  • Cost
  • Chimney exceptionally difficult to master

I wanted a wood burner for my Lavvu so that I could cook food and heat my tent in poor weather. After some research I settled on the Winnerwell Fastfold. Inspired by travels in Scandinavia, Winnerwell is a company who make a variety of tent stoves and this is their lightweight titanium version.

I have used it for several nights to heat my Lavvu and cooked a variety of meals on it. It does this well enough but it is let down by a couple of design faults which could be improved easily enough. 

The first issue is the chimney. In this respect this issue affects all titanium stoves. The pipe comes rolled up for stowage. Instead of slotting several sections together, the sheet of titanium is rolled the other way to create a long thin tube.

It is most definitely a two-person job first time round and an additional piece of plastic tubing is essential (drain pipe from a DIY store etc) so there is an additional expense and then what to do with the tubing afterwards...DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS FIRST TIME IN THE FIELD. As it is, I ruined mine and had to order another. Once the stove has been lit and the pipe heats up it builds up "memory" so subsequent efforts to set it up  gets easier. 

In use, the stove is easy enough to fit together and simple enough to use. There is a damper for flame control (without it, the flames go roaring up the chimney) and a flame adjuster on the door (which also provides something of a view of the flames). The top panel is big enough for most pots and pans and unlike the Seek Outside there are no screws in the way. Although it needed feeding regularly, I was able to keep warm all night. 

However, after a few burns, I noticed the top panel had become warped. This means it does not sit flush against any pots or pans put on it, which makes it less efficient. I also had to be particular about my choice of wood to ensure enough heat for cooking (different species have differing BTU output). 

When it came to packing it the hinges had become very stiff to the point I was afraid to place any further pressure on them in case they snapped.  It folded eventually with some  coaxing and jiggling though  I wonder how long it will tolerate this with long term heating and cooling.

Next, it does not fold flat because the chimney attachment which contains the damper is welded on to the top plate. This needs to be removable for easier stowage. A simple slot and rotate design would achieve this very easily such as on the Seek Outside range of titanium stoves. I do not stow it inside my pack so have to carry it instead, though this is not a huge issue due to its weight, just a little inconvenient. The Seek Outside on the other hand is much flatter when packed away.

Little things also matter in that the stowage bag is a little too tight for easy packing. This is a nuisance as it puts pressure on the chimney tube which could potentially cause creases in it making it more difficult to roll (It seems every equipment producer enjoys packing their items into a bag which is a shade too small so they are not alone in this!).

Finally, when I packed it up last time round, the air intake handle which is part of the door snapped off so I am no longer able to adjust the flame. 

Luckily, it was still in guarantee and the team at Winnerwell sent a replacement free of charge (I just had to pay for P&P). Just be aware that I phoned them to discuss the problem as their email portal did not seem to be working (in that I did not get a response). They are looking into this to see if there is an issue with the webpage. It is worth noting they speak perfect English!

The biggest advantage the Winnerwell has over its rivals is that the base can be used as a fire box which may suit some who just want a basic open fire to cook with  and/or keep warm. That said, due to the amount of warping, the box no longer stands steadily on the ground so to bear this in mind if used on uneven ground. . 

My conclusion is I guess it is never going to be as robust or reliable as steel but the significant weight reduction does make it more versatile. Only you can decide if it is worth the cost. 

Background

Bought two months ago and used to heat my Polish Lavvu as well as cooking meals and boiling water.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $610

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Specs

Price MSRP: $499.00
Weight 4 lbs (stove + chimney pipe)
Packed Dimensions 15 x 9 x 2 in (stove body) / 12 x 1 x 1 in (rolled pipe)
Assembled Dimensions 15 x 9 x 7 in (stove body)
Flue Dimensions 3 in diameter / 108 in length
Firebox Capacity Approx. 900 cu in
Fuel Type Dry seasoned wood
Product Details from Winnerwell »

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