This is a small review of the Honey Stove, which BPLUK design, manufacture and sell.I should say that I've only used this in its wood burning configuration, although it can be used as a pot support and a stove support for a huge variety of different cookers and also for esbit - there's loads of details on Bob's website here. I had a mind to use this as a pot support for our whitebox stove, but our pan (for 2) is too big to sit inside the perimeter and pressurise the stove properly. It would theoretically work in this way, you just need a smaller diameter pot than our old 1.7ltr AGG. In the end I ended up with a DIY solution to the wobbly whitebox issue.
Bob has good reason to be proud of this, it is designed brilliantly and manufactured in the UK as well, a rare thing. It comes in a black cordura flat bag, there are 6 sides and a number of middle plates, and the fact that it packs very flat is worth talking about - I slipped it down the back of my pack, along with a quiche silver foil tray to protect the ground, and since its close to your back it helps to mediate some of the weight. It weighs somewhere in the region of 340gms, though I only used 1 middle plate which brought that down a fair bit. If you use it to support a trangia for example, its going to weigh less than half that.
So weight is not everything: the stove itself is a lovely piece of engineering. The first time I put it together it seemed fiddly and the metal really tight, but by the end of the trip it was a no brainer - the fixings loosen up a little and the slot design makes sense. No moving parts = good camp efficiency. Once its up, the next thing to say is how completely stable this design is. After using a whitebox exclusively for a year or 2, this was a dream. Its so solid, and our 2 person pot isn't going anywhere at all. This is pretty important, in the blustery climes of northern Europe especially I think - we have a huge variety of conditions, high winds and uneven ground to deal with, and this device provides a really firm footing for our precious dinner. Picking partially cooked food from the floor is not the best.
The fire itself is really easy to get going with a bit of tinder and then takes only a handful or 2 of wood to bring water to a boil. It is really efficient, much more so than a regular camp fire, and more than I expected. The fire is completely sheltered from the wind but obviously draws enough air to get very, very hot. Hopefully the picture above shows you just how groovy it is from that point of view. Its also nice to be able to control the heat: as opposed to a meths stove, you can feed this and make it flamey, or keep it low and efficient and just for cooking.
I have to say I really liked this stove, and I didn't necessarily expect to. Its absolutely rock solid, and in my clumsy world that counts for quite alot. It packs flat and is incredibly fuel efficient. Food does taste better over wood, of course it does, that's why everyone loves a bar-b-q. It has 'real fire' cache - its big enough so you can get a proper burn going on and do marshmallows (i don't like 'em myself but you go ahead!) and stare into the flames until your eyes glaze over. You can even dry your socks and shoes off a bit (careful now...) In comparison, these things aren't so easy to do with the Trail Designs Ti Tri - that's a much more enclosed wood burner, and maybe a tad less luxurious because of that. I've only used an old Bushbuddy type stove for a few days (borrowed) but found it to be too small for a 2 person pot - it took forever to boil, not a problem with the Honey stove. But, all the above are a genuine advantage to using the Honey Stove and really add to the camping experience, a reward for your hard days walking.
I probably wouldn't take it for camping solo that often, because the weight puts me off, but for 2 or more that's easily mitigated, especially over a long weekend or more. I kicked myself for not taking it on the soaking wet weekend around Pumlumon I did with a friend - it would have been great to have had a real fire to help dry us off and give a little comfort, and we had forest campsites for 2 nights where we could possibly have found enough dry twigs to start a fire. And, to be completely honest I expected the weight to be more noticeable than it was - it more than paid T and I back in luxurious camp fire vibe (lightweight glamping anyone?), volcano hot food and meths weight saving over a 10 day trip for 2 in the Lakes at Easter. It will definitely be coming out again with us in the future. I can't wait to use it on a last minute dash to the New Forest, its born to go there! Now, if only Bob would make a titanium one....