A portable wood stove may be the most important part of your bug out bag. Not only will it give you somewhere to cook your food and heat water to purify it, but the heat will keep you and your family warm. A fire acts as a central location for your camp but it can be a hassle setting a new fire pit each night as you move towards safety. A portable stove gives the flexibility to set up anywhere and the compact size means you can get a fire started quickly.
When you start looking for your ideal wood stove, you will find three main options. The first of these is the fully collapsible portable wood stove. These tend to be around a foot and a half in diameter and collapse down to a flat cylinder less than two inches in height. This makes them perfect to stick in your backpack as you move from place to place.
The main drawback is that they do not tend to retain heat well so you will constantly have to add more wood to keep the temperature high enough to cook food and boil water. The fact that they are designed to collapse also makes them weaker as the more joints, the more places where it may break over a period of continuous usage.
The best brand for the fully collapsible portable wood stove is Volcano. Their Volcano II collapsible stove can use charcoal and propane as well as wood and comes with a built in grill so you can cook straight on the stove. It stands a couple of inches off the ground on four sturdy legs making it perfect for woodland or grass camps. Brand new, a Volcano stove will cost around $100.
If your bug out bag is already beginning to feel quite heavy, then you may want to find a portable wood stove that is more lightweight. While you may not get the same cooking temperature from a small stove, they tend to be more efficient than their collapsible counterparts as they do not fold down. The lightweight nature also means that it can be carried by anyone instead of just by an adult, which can free up space in your bigger bags.
The current market leader for a lightweight wood stove is BioLite. It stands just eight inches off the ground and weighs just 33 ounces. It is very efficient for its size, using just 2 ounces of wood to generate enough heat to boil a liter of water.
The big selling point is that it also has a USB adaptor and uses the energy generated from the wood to power your devices. This means that you can take a radio or GPS locator with you without worrying about losing charge. Expect to pay $130 for the basic model.
The final option for wood stoves is one that is much larger and heavier for camps that are more permanent. It should still have handles to enable you to move it small distances, but it will also come with a pipe vent to allow you to put inside a tent. It will be much bigger than the other two options meaning that you will be able to use two or three pans at a time. This option is worth looking into if you have a larger group and have a base camp in mind.
If this sounds like what you need, you should look at the TMS portable wood stove. It is 18 inches long, 12 inches wide and the stovetop stands 15 inches from the floor without the extension legs. The pipe vent extends up to two feet from the top of the stove and comes with a cap to let the steam escape. It does not fold down but weighs less than six pounds without wood so it is easy to move around. You will find it online for less than $80.
Whether you choose the fully collapsible, lightweight or the long term stove, a portable wood stove can be an enhancement as well as a major part of your survival. It is an even better idea if your relocation is in a heavily wooded area with a supply of dry wood.