Rating: 2 / 5
The TrailStove by Stratus is a straight forward wood burning stove. I purchased one about a year ago or so and looked forward to the weight savings I would make by not having to carry fuel with me. The stove it's self is a sheet of metal that is manufactured to form a hollow tapered tube. It is wider at the base than at the top and sits on three little folding legs. There is a metal grill inside near the base on which the fuel, twigs etc, rests. Fuel is inserted from the open top or via a round hole in the side of the tube near the top. You light the fire and then using a little blow pipe supplied, you can blow air into the stove to stoke / fan the flames. Your cook pot simply rests on top. However, whilst the trailstove idea is simple enough, a few problems repeatedly occured during use.
Firstly the mere act of placing a cooking pot on top of the stove SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the air supply to the fire. The provision of the blow pipe became all so clear. I started having to spend large amounts of time blowing into the pipe to get / keep the fire going. Eventually, I realised that the only way to overcome the problem was to delay cooking, remove the pot and fill the stove with so much fire wood and burn it down untill the stove became full of glowing embers / coals. This took a considerable period of time and was very tiresome. Ventilation is by far the bigest problem with this stove, there simply isn't enough and the blow pipe simply cant compensate enough.
Secondly, once you started cooking, I found the stove to be unstable. Sure it will sit there without a problem if you leave it alone, but try and stir your food or poke some more wood (Refueling) into the hole in the side of the stove and you ran the risk of one of the folding legs folding up under the stove and the hole thing topling over. I lost count of the number of times I have seen this happen when numerous friends including myself have used the stove. So if you buy one, always keep hold of the pot handle, at least you wont lose your food.
Sure, it's nice to tinker around with a fire at camp, but when your hungry this stove is a pain to use.
So, sadly, I have resigned this stove to the back of my attic. 1 out of 5.
*** UPDATE 08/08/2005 ***
Having just looked at the Trailstove website www.trailstove.com it appears they have recently updated the design to remove the three folding support legs. This has reduced one of the biggest drawbacks, its instability. Nothing to suggest that the ventilation problem has been improved though. In light of the recent improvement, I've upgraded my score to 2 out of 5.