Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove
By John D. McCann
I received a prototype of the new Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove from Brian Vargo, the owner of Vargo Outdoors. Brian asked that I field test the stove and provide him with some feedback, to include suggestions for improvement, if any, before it went to final production. Needless to say, I was eager to test this new lightweight wood burning stove, as I always felt a small folding titanium wood burning stove would be great for backpackers, as well as survival purposes.
Upon receiving the Stove, I was amazed at how light it was, only 4 oz. by my scale. With the case it only weighs 4.5 oz. So far so good. Being the base is hexagonal, it is 5" on the longest side (so the sides can drop down below the base plate), but the base plate is only 4-3/4" wide.
When you unfold the stove, you can see that there are no parts to lose. The base and all panels are connected by titanium hinges.
The stove is very easy to assemble. You simply raise the first panel that is attached to the base plate. Then working you way around the base, wrap the panels, one to each side of the hexagonal base plate. The 3rd panel has a slot for a tab that protrudes on the base plate. The 5th panel also has a slot, but the tab on the base plate for this slot is a snap type tab that locks into the slot. This holds the entire stove together.
Now that it was established that the stove could be assembled easily and quickly (seconds), it was time to take it into the field and get a fire going in it. We found a location with a large flat rock so we could set the stove up on the rock, as opposed to setting it directly on the ground. If a rock isn't available, we might suggest that you carry some heavy duty aluminum foil to place under the stove, so you reduce the fire hazard to the ground below it. Some Curly Birch (also known as yellow birch) was collected as tinder as well as some small kindling. With a stove this size, the fuel doesn't have to be very large, and our kindling size wood worked well for our needs. The tinder was placed into the assembled stove and ignited using a ferrocerium rod.
Once a good fire was established, I placed a Vargo "Ti-Lite" Mug, three quarters full of water, on top of the stove. The fire was kept going by feeding small sticks through the door, until the water boiled. It took approximately 5 minutes for the water to boil.
When the stove was initially assembled, I wondered why the slots, for the tabs on the base, where larger than the tabs. At the time, I didn't believe it would affect the stove any, but I was wrong. As the stove is used, if the tabs are set in the center of the slots, the stove stays together in a manner where the door will close completely. I learned during the test, that movement of the stove allows the tabs to slide to the end of the slot. When this occurs, the door will no longer close completely.
After completing our test with a fire in the wood stove, I thought that the wood stove would make a great wind screen for an alcohol stove, if it wasn't too tall. So I tried a Vargo Titanium "Triad" alcohol stove setting on the base. It took approximately 8 minutes to boil a Vargo "Ti-Lite" mug of water.
While we were testing, I figured I might as well try a Halcon designed alcohol stove I had made from a Coors Light can. It took approximately 10 minutes to boil a Vargo "Ti-Lite" mug of water.
Overall, I found the Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove a very usable product. It worked well as a wood burning stove, as well as a wind screen for an alcohol stove.
The one problem I encountered was the slots for the tabs, used for assembly, were too large for their intended purpose, which allowed the stove to shift, preventing the door closing completely. I addressed this issue with Brian Vargo, and he immediately contacted the factory making these and is having the die changed so that the slots for the tabs will be just slightly larger than the tabs, on future stoves. This will allow the tab to be inserted, but will not allow the stove to shift, causing the tabs to slide to the side of a slot. This certainly shows Brian's willingness to make changes for the improvement of his products.
Well the new stoves are in and the slots for the tabs, as discussed above, have been made smaller and the stove really seems to be more sturdy. Brian, as always, stood by his word and got the stove modified for the second production run. Here are some new photos:
The bottom line is this is a very light, very useful, folding wood burning stove, that can double as a wind screen for alcohol stoves. I like it!
Update - November 9, 2011
The Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove is now available in Stainless Steel. It is identical to the titanium model, but weighs 3.1 oz. more (The titanium is 4.3 oz. and the stainless steel is 7.4 oz.). The price of the Stainless Steel is $20.00 less which might interest the budget conscious. I like them both!
If you would like to purchase this great new stove, CLICK HERE to be transferred to the Stove Section of our store.