REVIEW – Wood-fired “twig” stoves that work on the principle of wood gasification are all the rage right now in the “off-grid” community. The Tom Shoo stove and titanium pot represent a low-cost but very effective way to cook most things without using any electricity, propane, or gasoline. There are some tradeoffs, but with practice, the system is quite effective and fun to use.
What is it?
The Tom Shoo titanium pot and wood cooking stove represent a system that works great together but can also be used independently. The pot is a 750 mL titanium pot / mug, and the stove is a small stove that uses wood (or alcohol) to heat and cook food outdoors.
What’s in the box?
- The pot with lid
- Bag for the pot
- The stove (in a bunch of pieces that easily fit together)
- Bag for the stove
- Pot size: 750 mL
- Pot material: titanium
- Pot dimensions: 3.94 x 3.94 x 4.33 inches
- Pot Weight: 7.2 oz
- Stove material: Stainless Steel
- Stove fuel: wood or alcohol
- Stove folded size: 5.4 x 2.8 inches
- Stove weight: 1 lb
Design and features
The Tom Shoo titanium pot is the perfect companion to the Tom Shoo stove. The pot features wire handles that fold in, a bail for hanging and lifting the pot, and a lid with a little tab for easy lifting. The pot features embossed graduations inside in both milliliters and ounces.
It’s light, sturdy, and can serve as both a cooking vessel and an eating/drinking vessel.
The lifting tab on the lid even features a little slot so that the tab doesn’t fold down until you’re ready for it too.
The bottom of the pot is flat so it sits securely, and the lid fits tightly. The lid also features a few small holes to allow steam to escape.
The stove is in seven pieces which nest inside of each other and all fit into an included storage bag. The first time you unpack it, it seems a bit daunting, but there’s really only one way they fit together.
The stove includes a shallow dish for alcohol use, but the real star is when the stove is fired with wood. The stove is designed to re-burn the gasses given off by the burning wood creating an efficient and smoke-free fire. This is accomplished by having a double-walled area where air is heated and injected into the top of the burn chamber.
This heated air causes the smoke and gasses to combust and heats food quickly and efficiently. A stable pot rest is included, and a small grill is also included so you could in theory cook some food right over the flame (without a pot).
It takes some practice to get the right size of wood set up and to get the stove lit, but it really does work quite well. The key is to have all of your wood ready before you light the stove. Have it all cut or broken to length (about 3 inches) and with pieces no bigger around than your pinkie finger. You’ll need a pile of wood ready because you will need to keep feeding the stove pretty much continuously while cooking.
Because the pieces are small, and the stove burns hot, you’ll go through wood quickly. I found that it took around 7-10 minutes for the stove to really get going to the point where the gasification starts (you’ll see flames pour from the holes in the top), but this could be reduced with practice in building and feeding the fire. Once the stove was really going, it took about 10 minutes to boil a full Tom Shoo titanium 750 mL pot of water. This is longer than a “standard” cook stove, but you are burning wood and not propane or gasoline.
The pot was a pleasure to use. It’s sized well for the Tom Shoo stove, having roughly the same diameter as the stove. This made for compact storage, but if the pot was a bit wider, more of the heat could have been focused on the bottom of the pot and not up the sides.
A few things that I noticed while using the pot and stove. You’re burning wood, so there is soot. Your hands will get dirty.
The bags included with both the pot and the stove are nice because they keep the rest of your gear from getting sooty. Another important consideration is that there is no bottom to the stove. That means that you can’t really put it on a heat-sensitive surface like a picnic table at a campground (as me how I know). It needs to be on the ground, on a rock, or on some other heat-resistant surface. I used the metal lid from a paint can, and that worked well.
What I like
- It’s actually pretty fun to use the stove, as long as you’re not in a hurry.
- The included bags are nice for keeping things together and clean.
What I’d change
- Include a bottom to the stove so it doesn’t char what you set it on.
It’s a slower process than using a traditional camping stove. You have to gather and break the wood to size. It takes some time to set the stove up and get it going. It can be dirty and you can’t just turn it off when you’re done cooking. If you’re in an area with a burn ban, you might be out of luck. But if you embrace all of that and enjoy it as part of the process. Using the Tom Shoo titanium pot and cook stove can be a very pleasant experience that adds to your time in the woods.