The Honey Stove

You know me. Lightweight is all about being there out there, my feet treading lightly on the ground snow, watching the sun set and rise on a distant horizon from a high camp. I hate fannying about, gear I’ve got to work with, coax and adjust. If I started that shite it would become all about the gear and not where I am, looking at my titanium pindörst and not the view. Nightmare.
So, when Bob the Pod asked if I wanted to trial one of his new self designed and manufactured Honey Stoves, my first reaction was “Jings, you’re joking, aye?”. But there’s no point in having any kind of opinion without constantly updating your data. Things change, hey, people change. So I said: Alright!

There will be others in internet land giving greater detail I’m sure, but basically it’s a Meccano set. There’s 9 flat sections made from 0.7mm stainless steel that slot together to make a hexagonal shell. There’s three horizontal inner trays which you can mix and match depending on what fuel you’re using. It’s fiddly and a little tight to put together, cold fingers and tired eyes will suffer here, but once together it’s rock solid.
It comes in a wee case, with an ashtray to sit it on if you’re burning solid fuel, and this’ll help reflect heat as well, so I’d pack it all the time as it’s weightless. They whole thing does pack almost flat, but it does weigh 351g.

I’ll be testing this with ready made fuels, there’s not much to burn on the snow covered tops, so I’ve got a Greenheat tin under it in the photie, which works okay but getting the lid back on to put the flame out is awkward. I’ll try other stuff as I go.
The pot there is an Optimus Terra Weekend which is a good fit, my first attemept with my old MSR Titan Kettle was abandoned as the kettle handles sit on the edges of the side sections and you can’t sit it flat. Bummer.

I’m sitting on the fence here. I’ll land on one side or the other soon enough, maybe even later. On my arse or feet, we shall see. If I can get the boil time down, I’ve got a flat-packing cooker as well as a radiator in my tent for heating hands, feet, socks?
If I slice a finger on it when I’m putting it together at 2200hrs, 1000m, below freezing, tired and hungry in my tent, then someone one day will find a trig point which looks like one of the cast of Hellraiser, what with all the stainless steel pieces protruding from its body.

This is good stuff for me to be doing. Is this finely made piece of lightweight backpacking kit all about the geeks gratification of spending time with the mechanics of it’s operation, or is it going to be as simple and unobtrusive as I’m used to?

56 thoughts on “The Honey Stove”

  1. They seem all the rage. Look at any outdoor blog any time and that stove is there. I am staying way from them….Saying that Bob has got a good idea there and I hope they sell out. Good to see a fine company like his doing well.

  2. Marketing is a critical element in the introduction any new product. My concern is the weight, I would rather use a Bushbuddy (aka Bush Cooker) than the Honey stove. But others will see the advantages of such a stove in its usability with multiple fuel sources.

  3. Bob knows his stuff, viral marketing is the way forward.

    I’ll be using mine a little out of context as it were, so I might get to say something different about it.
    Also, I probably won’t be talking about it on here again this year as I want to get some varied testing done with it.

    Unless I burn my tent down with it.

  4. I use the occasional home made meths stove for day hike cuppa’s and brew’s but on an overnight or multiday I want fast and easy hot stuff in me with no faff. Plus they dont make those ickle meccano spanner’s in “Ti” do they?

  5. I folded it up and put it away. I won’t use it again until I’m sitting in my tent desperate for some hot/cuppa/food.

    Aye, we shall see.

  6. You developed a firm opinion on this yet? Looking at wood burners for a trip to Norway in feb and flying with gas/multifule burners and fuel bottles is getting harder. I’ll be mostly under the tree line so figure its a shame to pass on all that free fuel but, as you say, I’d rather be skiing/enjoying the view than coaxing a fiddly burner along. Oh, and I want one taht’l take a litre pan or bigger to supply hot drinks for four exausted 40 something blokes.

  7. Truth be told, I got fed up with it! The finishing of the first version wasn’t too good and I used to slice my fingers on it, so it didn’t make it out on any bigger trips.
    It’s been updated since then though.
    In use it was pretty good, especially with the tin of napalm in the photie above.
    The pot on it above is a biggie and there’s room for a bigger size again, so don’t see a litre pot being an issue.

    I’ll need to dig it out again!

  8. Have to say I was surprised when I googled “honey stove review” and you popped up. Wouldn’t have thought it was your cuppa. Not sure its mine either. Perhaps the best thing is to just bight the bullet and fork out for a gas burner with a pre-heat tube.

  9. Aye, google must be half asleep, I haven’t mentioned the thing in a year!

    I like the simplicity of gas, the quickness too. I’m not overy impressed with that MSR Windpro, the canister-top Brunton gave better performance in lower temperatures despite the MSR’s pre-heat.
    The GoSystem Thermotech is a cracker, doesn’t pack so small though.
    I should really seek out some new kit to test in this area, I think the new jetboil won’t arrive in time for winter use.

  10. Funny you should say that. The Windpro was number one on my hit list. When you say lower temperatures how low do you mean? I’d be surprised if an upright could beat an inverted can at seriosuly low temps but of course thats the marketing speaking not practical experience. That Go System is new to me. A steal at 40 quid and it looks bombproof but half a kilo! What is it tungsten?

  11. Nah, it’s just about a foot wide!
    Mine’s 350g compared to 210g for the MSR.
    The Thermotech is much more stable as it’s low and wide, the fuel hose is longer and you can adjust the way the canister sits without moving the stove. The burner is a wee bit too small though.

    I used my Brunton Flex in -15 and it never faltered, the Windpro struggled when it was warmer on that recent Grey Corries trip. I’ll take out again with new gas and see what happens.
    I’m afraid I have no tolerance for anything that doesn’t supply with cuppas on demand :o)

  12. -15 is the sort of territory I’m looking at. Guess after 20 years in R&D I shouldn’t be surprised when theory and practice don’t line up. Perhaps my Optimus Stella will just do the job. I understand its the same burner as the Crux. Any experience with the crus way down low?

    I’ll take a closer look at the Thromotech. I recon its worth a punt at that price and would be a fine addition for car camping with the kids. Besides a man can never have too many stoves!

  13. Now, I might be wrong here, but I think the Stella is both discontinued and devoid of a pre-heat tube. It’s just a Crux with big legs I think?
    But the Crux burner is the best canister burner I’ve used (it’s the same one as on the Brunton Flex), it’s a great size for most pots, seems to burn efficiently too.
    It’s really hard to judge performance without a side-by-side test. What I’ll need to do is get a few of us out with different stoves and the same gas and see who’s got their cuppa first.
    I’ll be back with more on this over the next couple of weeks I think.

    But yes, you can’t have enough stoves!

  14. Pete, did you use the windshield that comes with the WindPro? I used the stove last year in February, on a wild night fairly high up. It took a while, but I thought it did well in the circumstances. I was keeping the heat output as low as the wind would allow (they say it’s the best way of using gas stoves anyway) but what seemed to make a difference was the closely fitting windshield around the burner.

    The thing is that if you only boil water to heat up stuff in a zip bag, the combined weight of the WindPro, with the Trillium stabilizer, the pot lifter, the pot itself and the windshield easily comes up to the 500g mark. And the Jetboil is about 461g, and in the end takes up less space in the pack. Haven’t used it in winter yet, so I don’t know how badly it does with a cold cartridge. But then, the first thing one does when stopping to set up camp is putting the cartridge in one’s jacket, isn’t it?

  15. Aye Andy, I learned my lesson a while back and I always use a windshield these days. It makes a huge difference to the performance, windy or not. A square sitting under the canister helps a bit too I think.
    You’re right about the weight thing, the more complcated the arrangement gets the better one of the integrated systems look. I suppose the only advantage that a remote canister stove keeps is stability as the centre of gravity is so low

    Good point aboout the gas, the last two overnighters I’ve carried a gas in my chest pouch to keep it warm.
    I never mention this stuff because I think it might me look even more oddball.

  16. Yep, I was also using the round foil base that comes with the WindPro (I think) to stop the cold from the ground getting to the cartridge.

    I wish the Primus 4-season mixture cartridges were more easily available up here. I could only get the big 450g and that’s not as comfortable to fit in your chest pouch, to put it mildly!

  17. I like the wee lids on the Primus cans, good for stopping rust spots, and I like the Gosystem gas, but it’s getting rare in the small size.

    Since I’m stuck indoors I think I’ll do a cookwear post!

  18. Stella is indeed discontinued (though you can still pick them up) and is I think a crux burner with a broad base. Lovely folding mechanism means it packs down to nothing for such a big stand (think it was named stella after a character from Transformers :-)).

    Just been reading around the subject a little and am reminded of a few comments on use of canister stoves at low temps. One suggest that remote canister stoves are at a disadvantage since they don’t feel the heat of the working end. Reason for your dissapointment with the windpro w.r.t the Brunton? If you put the Brunton burner on the end of a tube (aka Optimus Stella) does is perform like the windpro? Another is that a pre-heat tube lets you invert the cannister to liquid feed. Although MSR don’t seem to recommend the practice the Windpro should let you do this. Do either of you use the windpro with teh can on its head? I’m seeing positive comments about the use of the windpro in winter and I could see why it might be a popular choice since it seems to be cheaper and lighter than other inverted cannister stoves(60 quid for the windpro against 130 quid for coleman Fyrestorm!)

    Just one more question and then I’ll leave you in peace: What about priming the can with a pocket hand warmer or is that asking for trouble?

  19. Messing with the canister by adding a heat source always has the potential for mishap, but how likely is it reallY?
    That’s for us all to decide when we’re packing for a trip :o)

    I inverted the can for the Windpro, I got a little flaring as expected and then I got the same piss-poor performance that I had before.
    The Thermotech with an upside down can is like a jet engine. It’s a bugger that it’s the size of a brick.

  20. Re the flaring and inverting, one thing that worries me about some inverter stands is that you end up having the canister higher than the burner. From what I read, the way to avoid flaring (and if you cook in the vestibule of a Laser Photon, that’s something you will want to avoid!) is to turn the canister upside down very slowly, never lifting it above the burner level and always keeping the flame as low as it will allow. That has also got the advantage of not wasting fuel round the sides of the pot. That’s what I’ve read. I’m hoping to go camping on the ‘Gorms plateau next week and I’ll have another try. Last winter I was happy with how the WindPro performed. But then: I was worried about other things at the time, like the tent not being blown off by the gale!

  21. That’s why I cook in front of my Snowclaw in the porch!

    Slow is good, worse case scenario if you rush it, you get light-back from flaring to liquid fuel at the injector and have a fireball to yourself.
    Theoretically of course :o)

    Good luck for next week. I’m bursting to get out too.

  22. “I’m hoping to go camping on the ‘Gorms plateau next week…”

    Andy – sorry, I realise I don’t know the first thing about your experience, so apologies if you’re totally on top of things, but have you seen the SAIS avalanche reports and blog these last few days? The avalanche risk in the Cairngorms has been pretty severe for a while because the persistent cold is meaning the snowpack isn’t stabilising through freeze-thaw cycles, plus the assessors have been blogging that skis or snowshoes really are the only feasible way to travel with the depth of accumulated snow.

    Of course if you’re all geared up to handle that it could well be awesome!! :))

  23. PTC*, would you ever consider using the Honey Stove in a tent porch? It seems a bit risky to me…

    Cracking site BTW, keep it up!

  24. Cheers!

    I would with the Greenheat can, it’s got a very predictable flame. But with foraged fuels it would be different I suppose, but the flames would never get very big so you would probably get away with it.
    The only real isssue is it becomes a big box of roasting hot metal!

    After all this bantering, I’ll take out and try it again soon…

  25. Mattc: thanks for your concern, much appreciated!

    Well, I read the SAIS reports and blogs every day actually. So I’m well aware of how serious it is up there at the moment. I have a nice route worked out which should be pretty safe, though. After Derry Lodge, the track along Glen Derry, then up the South Shoulder of Beinn Bhreac that leads up to Craig Derry. South facing slopes are supposed to be the riskiest right now but the gradient on that shoulder is gentle enough and if you keep right on the cusp of the crest it is usually all right. I would of course judge on the day what the snow conditions are like on the crest. If it’s a double cornice, then it’s back to base. If it’s clear enough where the crest is, I’d make an attempt. And once at the top you’ve the Moine Bhealaidh at your feet and I know a couple of places where I’ve camped before with a grandstand view over Macdui and the other big guys. On a day like yesterday, it’d have been fabulous. Early next week, gales are forecast and it looks like it may be unsettled the whole week. I’d have went yesterday if the roads had been clear. I’m waiting like a hawk for the next gap in the weather.

    Oh, and yes, I do have snowhoes and a choice of Hillebergs to suit conditions. The gear is all there, and hopefully the good judgement too.

    But the biggest problem is getting to the Linn of Dee. I don’t think the road from Braemar through Inverey has been cleared, and it’s a long walk from Braemar… Also, the SAIS blog report today has a picture of an avalanche very close to the A93!

    So, it’s even ropier on the roads than it is on the hills, but I’m always ready to turn back if I sniff trouble on either of them.

  26. Sounds good Andy – I hope you get the weather window to make it happen.

    I saw that avalanche pic on the SAIS blog. There was a pretty impressive shear test pic too, on the Lochaber blog if I remember right.

    I wish I lived a bit nearer to get to the ‘gorms more often. I’ve got a trip there lined up for late Feb. Still, for now Snowdonia is wearing a fine winter coat, and the roads to it are open! :)

  27. I’m a two hour drive away from the ‘gorms but there’s the small matter of negotiating the Devil’s Elbow and the darned snow gate. The gritter is seldom there before 9am and more like 10am actually, so early starts are a luxury if there’s been any snaw overnight. And it looks as if next week we’re in for a bit of a thaw but more of the white stuff too. An adventure alright! If the road is blocked I have a plan B. Leave the motor at the Spittal of Glenshee and back to the spot where I camped in February, as featured on these comment pages…

    But I keep reading of folk turning back after a 3 hour slog through deep drifts, so I may regret going after all. Ach, we walkers are like farmers, always moaning about the weather…

  28. Can only agree with your remarks about the Windpro, tho’ I was prepared to suffer the inefficiency for its low-profile stability & lightness(?) for use under the flysheet. I used a foam square as insulation when using the canister upright & also had some success with inverting the canister in sub zero temps, using a stand made by cutting down an old aluminium mug – which also kept the canister off the cold ground.
    Zen Stoves site suggests that MSR acknowledge, but won’t recommend, careful invertion at low settings as a way to improve cold weather performance. Even so, for me it’s not really a stove for solo lightweight winter use.
    Chris Townsend’s review in TGO this month suggests that the very similar Primus Express Spider at £40 outperforms the Windpro in every way. I may well try it, though the burner diameter does seem a bit small.
    In winter I’ve seen remote canisters stood (briefly!)on top of the lid of the pan being heated but I’m not brave enough to have tried it myself (it takes the gas feed pipe very close to the heat source).
    Incidentally these canisters are designed with an inwardly-domed base as a safety feature – it apparently reverses (i.e. pops out) to relieve excessive pressure well before the actual explosion occurs. I’d be half a mile away before then!

  29. Good info thinkgreysky.

    I liked the look of the Primus Spider apart from the narrow base and short-ish fuel hose.
    I’ll maybe need to have a closer look as it’s way lighter than the Thermotech.

    I’ve seen a canister “pop-out”, purely in the interests of science.
    In the workshop, bored at lunchtime…

  30. Wow this discussions grown some since I last looked. Had a black out last night so havn’t had any internet. Did spend a nice evening in with the missus feeding kids and making night feeds with head torches and camp stoves. Wouldn’t recommend the Optimus stella for solo winter use in the field but as an emergency backup for the home its a corker!

    From what I can see of it the Primus Spider looks great but if I’m right its available from spring 2010? Won’t be an option for this winter then.

  31. I’ve emailed my contact at Primus (who’s on holiday, ach!), so hopefully I’ll find out something soon-ish and maybe even get a test sample.

    We had a black out last year and it was kinda fun. If you’re an outdoors type you’re surprisingly well prepared!

  32. Yeah. It did put some more fun into the kids bedtime routine and I was feeling rather smug about my preperedness for just such a situation!

  33. Emily likes daddy’s e-lite, it has flashing red leds an everything. Mum and dad get the Zipkas by default. Gonna have to get Benji a headlamp before he wants to join in or there’ll be fightin’

  34. Just when you thought I’d gone away and left you alone. Am about to take the plunge and buy a remote canister stove for Norway. It was looking like the Go Systems thrmotech for a tiem there but now I’m hund on the Primus Gravity. You any experience with this one?

  35. Nah Dave, I don’t know it, but it looks neat. It’s low, the legs look wide for stability, there’s pre-heat, it’s got four pot supports. The only issue for me is the short hose that Primus seem to like.
    Looks like a potential winner.

  36. We’ve got a Primus Gravity. It’s not my first choice cold weather stove but to be fair that’s only because I’ve also got an Optimus Nova multifuel and I’m a bit of a pyromaniac! :)

    I’ve never been the greatest fan of gas stoves so I’ve not tried all that many, but the Gravity is nice – low profile, very stable, wide burner, good with large pans (thinks snow melting). When I have used it in the cold it’s done fine – it has a good preheat tube and inverting the cannister is an option as long as you can rig up a way to keep it stable. It packs up reasonably compact for the design (I use the windshield as a ‘sandwich’ to help protect the fuel line and piezo wire). Speaking of which, the piezo on ours is still working after 4 years!

    I’ve never bothered to assemble any stats on boil times or fuel usage, but it’s always done the job and it’s never let us down, so on that basis I’d happily choose it for the job.

    PS. Where are you going in Norway? I’m over there in March but using the DNT huts.

  37. PTC, Thanks. Good price too. Every bit helps since I’m buying gear like mad man right now :-0

    Matt: Many thanks for sharing you first hand experience. Reasuring. Looks like the one I’m going to choose. If it lets me down I’ll let you know :-)

    Just got a long weekend this time (two full days plus a half day either side) so we’re keeping it to within a couple of hours drive from the airport. Opted to jump off at Oyer from where prepared tracks will get us over to a DNT hut on the Troll-Loype for the first night. Conditions permitting we’ll then head off track. Trip is realy a shake down for something bigger next winter. You?

  38. I’ve touched on a bit of the Troll-Loype at the southern end of the Rondane. This year I’m trying a new area for me, Tafjordfjell, which is kind of roughly NW from the Jotunheim. A week hut-to-hut on nordic touring kit in self-service huts. It’s actually my first commercial trip with a leader for many years, I’ve preferred to go independent and have done for about 14 years, but the group has dwindled so this year required a new and drastic strategy!

    So are you camping or snowholing after the DNT night?

  39. Hmm. Rondane. Nice part of the world! Driving to Ringebu was an option but one we dropped since it’s an extra 90 minutes driving and so all told three hours less on the snow. We’ve opted to lug tents around. Snow holing would be great fun and would take a lot of weight out of my pack (my winter tent is 3.5kg-ouch) but it takes so long to dig a shelter.

    David? Snowdon? Havn’t been on Snowdon since 1986. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a while before I go there again?

  40. Sorry just joshing. There was a chap ‘training for Norway’ lifted off Snowdon a couple of weeks ago, He was apparently camped and needed the big yellow machine in the middle of the night…. Perhaps he’d run out of Rennies… :-)

  41. Aah. I see. Topical gags. Fraid we don’t get the MR news over here so it was lost on me.

    Suppose it could’ve been a mild case of indigestion. Alternatively I suppose it could’ve been a genuine emergency. There but for the grace of god….

  42. I liked the BBC report last week that “thousands of poeple were heading to the hills, most of them badly equipped”.
    Stupid bastards.

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