Biomass Stoves

Biomass stoves are variations on the old-school wood burning stoves. These stoves can use biofuel such as wood chips, twigs, pine cones, paper, and the like. These stoves come in a variety of form factors from very simple to more elaborate. They range in price from about $20 to over $200. Some are pure stoves, some generate electricity, and other have built-in water compartments.


  • Can use a variety of readily available fuel
  • Does not require any gas or processed fuel
  • Produces heat that can be used for warming as well as cooking
  • Simple and most have few or no parts to go wrong


  • Required fuel that is relatively dry which could be a problem in the Pacific Northwest
  • Requires frequent tending to keep the fire burning
  • May not produce the steady, even heat of the liquid fuel stoves

Simple Can Stoves & Rocket Stoves

The simplest biomass stoves are the “can stoves” or “rocket stoves” that are basically a can to contain the fuel. Scouts often improvise their own can stoves using discarded food cans, soda cans, etc. You can also purchase foldable stoves, can stoves, and a wide variety of simple, yet clever devices.

Kelly Kettles

When I first saw a Kelly Kettle I thought it was device in search of a problem. However, as I studied these I came to realize that they are both practical and ingenious. These kettle stoves are larger and heavier than many backpacking stoves but they have some really appealing features. The stoves include a fire base that can be used to contain a small fire. You can then add a pot stand to the base to give you a surface on which to place your cookware. You can then add the large kettle that includes a water chamber. The kettle stores a ready supply of water and channels the heat through a hole in the top of the kettle. You can then use the hot water in cooking or for warmth. A cookware base can be inserted in the hole on the top of the kettle. Some kits come with only the kettle assembly and others include cups, cookware, and carry bag. These stoves are seriously cool, practical, and affordable. The biggest disadvantage is that they are large and would take space in a backpack. You could, however, use the kettle as a container for food or other items.

BioLite Stoves

These stoves have a fan, battery, and generator (review). The battery powers a fan in the combustion chamber and it burns fuel very efficiently. The battery pack includes a generator that converts heat energy to electricity. It uses electricity the electricity to charge the battery and provide power to a USB port. You can connect devices such as mobile phones to the USB for charging. You can purchase cook accessories that attach to the stove.

Other Cookers

There is a wide variety of other stoves and cookers including:

Orion Cooker is a large, heavy, stainless steel convection cooker that would work best at parks, home, or campsites. It is WAY to large and heavy to carry for anything but very short distances. It uses briquettes or embers and can cook a 20-pound turkey is about 2½ hours.

Solo Stoves are well-built rocket stoves available in a variety of sizes. They are constructed of stainless steel and optional cookware is available.