As we saw in our article on the best wood burning backpacking stoves, wood-based cooking provides a cost-effective mechanism for preparing your food with almost no fuel cost as dry wood chips, pine cones, leaves, twigs etc can be used as fuel. In the article, we primarily focused on personal wood-burning stoves suitable for one or two people.
But what if you are looking for a stove for a larger group at the base camp? Or a wood stove that can provide more efficient cooking and can also be used in survival and emergency situations? What you need is to get a wood-burning rocket stove. Rocket stoves are simple but highly efficient biomass stoves that provide near-complete combustion with minimal smoke and residue.
So, which are the best rocket stoves in the market for camping and survival?
In this article, we will focus on answering exactly the same question and list some of the best rocket stoves for camping, survival and emergency preparedness. We will also summarize how these stoves are different from other types of camping stoves and the factors you should keep in mind before picking the best rocket stove for your next outdoor adventure.
For a compiled view of the different types of camping and backpacking stoves, check out our article on the best stoves for camping and backpacking, which discusses different types of backpacking stoves and the situations in which they are useful.
Some of the best rocket stoves for camping, survival and emergency preparedness are listed below:
A rocket stove is an efficient, wood-burning stove that can produce clean, high-temperature combustion while using dry wood twigs, branches, pine cones, leaves and other biomass as fuel. (Some camping and survival rocket stoves are also advertised to work with charcoal, but that is not the primary fuel for such stoves).
Rocket stoves are considerably more efficient than other wood-burning stoves and cheaper to use than large propane or liquid-fuel stoves because of almost negligible fuel costs. Rocket stoves are available in different designs and sizes ranging from small 4-5 person stoves to large 8-10 people stoves.
The simplest rocket stoves used for camping and survival, have a simple J-tube (or right-angle, L-tube) design, as shown below. Once the fuel is lit, the fire burns sideways because of the air draft. This air hits the back of the stove, creating turbulence and providing secondary combustion for the fuel. Because of this bottom chamber, the pre-heated air combines with the secondary combustion to create a clean, super-hot fire.
Rocket stoves are a perfect choice for boiling water and cooking during family camping, survival camping, boy/girl scout trips, mountaineering base camps, cabins and emergency preparedness. They also work well as tent or campsite heaters. But because of their heavier weight (most rocket stoves weigh in excess of 2.5+ lbs.) and large carry sizes, such stoves are generally not suitable for hiking or backpacking. Moreover, since most stoves do not have a long chimney or exhaust hood, rocket stoves are generally not suitable for cooking in small cramped spaces such as tents, unless you have decent ventilation.
In the next sections, we will look at some of the best rocket stoves for camping and survival and also share the factors to consider before picking the best rocket stove for your next outdoor excursion or emergency situations.
Material: Stainless-steel body with ceramic fiber insulation and cast iron pot stovetop. Reinforced metal door frames and powder-coated stainless-steel wire fuel shelf.
Weight: 17 lbs.
Thermal Output: 23,000 BTU/h maximum.
EcoZoom has been at the forefront of rocket stove technology for years and the latest EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove is one of their best-designed portable rocket stoves. So, no wonder, this rocket stove is our favorite pick for the best rocket stove.
The EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove features an all-metal, stainless-steel construction with abrasion-resistant ceramic fiber insulation in the burn chamber that is secured by a metallic liner for better durability and performance. The stove has a three-pronged cast iron drip pan that is slightly recessed to support flat as well as rounded cooking pots and pans. Like all other EcoZoom rocket stoves, the EcoZoom Versa is designed in the US and made in China under strict quality and safety control guidelines by a family-owned manufacturer.
The EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove has one of the best designs among rocket stoves. It has two doors, both of which are equipped with reinforced metal casing frames. One door acts as a fuel shelf window, while the other door can act as a damper (or charcoal shelf) to control the air-flow and flame temperature. The stove comes with a removable fuel shelf support that makes it easy to continuously feed the solid biomass or wood into the stove while cooking. This two-door design means that the EcoZoom stove can support wood, solid biomass as well as charcoal as fuel – a big plus over many other biomass stoves.
In terms of thermal efficiency, the EcoZoom Versa is one of the most efficient wood-burning stoves. It can attain a thermal output of 23,000 BTU and can boil 1-liter of water in well under 5 minutes, that too with only 2-3 twigs as fuel. The stove is designed to support pots and pans up to 12″-15″ of diameter and works well for boiling water, cooking, frying and even simmering food. Weighing at 17 lbs. and with open dimensions of 13.5″ x 12.8″ x 12.2″, it is not the lightest rocket stoves by any means, and hence can support heavy Dutch-oven cookware weighing up to 12-15 lbs.
The Versa Rocket stove is equipped with silicone-covered stainless-steel handles for easy carry and setup. It also has a silicone/plastic Floor ring to provide stability while cooking.
The manufacturer also offers a bunch of accessories such as power rings and carry bags. And if you are looking for a smaller rocket stove, you can check out the best-selling and cheaper 13 lbs. EcoZoom Dura Rocket Survival Stove. And like other EcoZoom stoves, the EcoZoom Versa rocket stove is backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
For its high-quality construction and superior performance, the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove is our Editor’s pick for the best rocket stove for camping, survival and emergencies. This two-door premium rocket is a top-of-the-line product for campers, survivalists, preppers and outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a sturdy and reliable 4-season rocket stove for their excursions.
Material: 0.020″ Titanium chimney and burn chamber. Aluminum support legs.
Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Thermal Output: 3,500+ BTU/h approximately.
If you are looking for a lightweight rocket stove for your camping or backpacking trip or a biomass stove to add to your bug-out bag for emergencies, then look no further than the innovative Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove. Since 2015, Hot Ash has been coming up with smartly-designed cooking stoves through multiple Kickstarter projects and the Titanium Mini stove is one of their latest innovative products.
The Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove features an aircraft-grade, 0.020″ titanium body (both chimney and burn chamber) with aluminum support legs. Its titanium body keeps the overall stove weight quite manageable – the complete stove weighs under 1 pound and hence a truly ultralight wood-burning stove option.
One of the best features of the Hot Ash Mini Stove is its improved J/L-type rocket stove design. Once you light your fuel, the fire burns sideways because of the drafted air and produces a secondary burn to create a super-hot fire.
The stove is equipped with front and rear aluminum legs that provide extra stability during cooking. The Hot Ash stove can support pots and pans up to 10″-12″ in diameter – a big plus when compared to canister stoves. The stove is pretty compact and nests to a small 7″ x 2.3″ size when collapsed. Assembly is a bit tricky, but with the provided instructions, you can assemble the stove fairly comfortably.
The Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove is available in a single metallic finish and backed by the best-in-class, lifetime warranty – indeed a big testament to its construction quality and reliability. And if you are looking for a bigger option, the manufacturer also offers a 2-lbs. Hot Ash Stainless Steel Rocket Stove.
For its ultralight construction, smart portable design and decent performance, the Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove is our Editor’s pick for the best ultralight rocket stove for camping, backpacking and survival. If you are looking for a durable and reliable wood-burning rocket stove for a 3-4 person group, then you should definitely consider the innovative Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove for your next outdoor adventure.
Material: Painted steel-sheet body with ceramic fiber insulation and cast iron pot stovetop. Powder-coated steel wire fuel shelf. Heat-resistant steel and thermoplastic handles.
Weight: 22 lbs. stove; 24 lbs. shipping weight.
Thermal Output: 19,000+ BTU/h approximately.
Material: Anodized aluminum with thermoplastic kettle stopper.
Weight: 2.45 lbs. kettle + stove; 4.96 lbs. bundle.
Thermal Output: 18,000+ BTU/h approximately.
Price: $$ to $$$ depending upon the size.
Material: Heavy-duty steel body with a patented metal alloy combustion chamber having fiberglass insulation. Cast iron drip pan. Wood-steel carrying handles.
Weight: 9.2 lbs.
Thermal Output: 10,000+ BTU/h approximately.
Material: Heavy-duty carbon steel body with a rust-resistant powder coating. Cast iron stovetop and stove legs.
Weight: 14 lbs.
Thermal Output: 10,000+ BTU/h approximately.
Material: 16-gauge (0.0625″) stainless-steel body. Canvas carrying bag.
Weight: 2.88 lbs.
Thermal Output: 3,500+ BTU/h approximately.
Material: Stainless-steel body with ceramic fiber insulation and cast iron pot stovetop. Powder-coated stainless-steel wire fuel shelf.
Weight: 13 lbs.
Thermal Output: 19,000 BTU/h approximately.
Material: Stainless-steel body with black heat-resistant paint and cast iron pot support. Solid stainless-steel fuel shelf.
Weight: 12.5 lbs.
Thermal Output: 5,500+ BTU/h approximately.
Material: All-metal, stainless-steel body with heat-resistant powder coating.
Weight: 6.2 lbs.
Thermal Output: 6,500 BTU/h approx.
Material: 0.125″ solid carbon-steel plate with a rust-resistant coating.
Weight: 6 lbs.
Thermal Output: 5000 BTU/h approximately.
Material: Lightweight, stainless steel body with heat-resistant thermoplastic parts and stand.
Weight: 2.06 lbs. stove; 4.96 lbs. bundle
Thermal Output: 3500 – 10,000 BTU/h approximately, adjustable by fan speed.
Price: $$ – $$$ depending upon the bundle items.
If you are someone who loves to get their hands dirty and try out Do-It-Yourself projects, then check out the article on the best DIY Rocket Stove designs by MorningChores. This article has an excellent compilation of clean, efficient rocket stove designs that are easy to replicate.
If you are looking for even larger wood-burning mass heaters for tent or cabin cooking, then you can check out the following best-selling wood camp stoves, in addition to the models that we listed above:
Though rocket stoves have such a simple design, you can find a lot of options in the market – each claiming to have the best design. But not all such stoves are reliable, and you should avoid picking a cheap, low-quality rocket stove with an unproven design as your primary stove for camping, survival or emergencies. If you are ever in doubt, pick one of our top recommendations and you would not be left out unsatisfied or hungry.
Once you have decided on the broad budget that you have, you need to look at a few important factors before picking the best rocket stove for camping and other outdoor adventures. These major considerations are summarized below:
The manufacturing material of the combustion chamber and chimney, stove top and supporting parts such as the support legs and fuel shelf is an important factor as it governs the durability and reliability of the stove. Why else do you think there is so much variation in the price of these rocket stoves?
The best rocket stoves have a high-quality, hardened stainless or carbon steel metal body with a heat-resistant paint coating. This allows the stoves to withstand the heat and normal wear and tear for a long time. The only exceptions are the Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove, which has an ultralight titanium body, and the Kelly Kettle Base Camp Aluminum Rocket Stove, which is available in an aluminum body as well.
Having an abrasion resistant insulation is also extremely important, especially for large rocket stoves. Some stoves only have metal liners in the combustion chambers. However, the best stoves have either fiberglass or superior ceramic insulation to provide better thermal efficiency. So, make sure you check the manufacturing material of the combustion chamber before zeroing in on the best option.
Large rocket stoves have cast iron cooktops and drip pans – that is where most of the weight of the stoves come from. Cast iron stovetops provide durability and better heat distribution. They also help in providing a stable cooking base with multi-pronged cooking bases (more the number of prongs, better the support to the pots and pans).
Finally, the building material of the fuel shelf is also something to look out for. You can very well carry the stove without the shelf, but if you want a long-running fire, you would definitely need a sturdy fuel shelf to feed fuel in the stove even during use. Our top pick – the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove has one of the best fuel shelves among rocket stoves (both in terms of construction quality and design).
Check out the building material of the stove and other supporting parts before picking the best rocket survival stove for your needs. If in doubt, pick one of our top choices, as we have listed only the most well-built and durable rocket stoves in the market.
The design of the stove is probably the most important criterion as it governs all other important factors – cooking efficiency, weather performance and portability.
The major design features to check out are the design of the combustion chamber, the design and length of the chimney and the design of the fuel shelf and fuel feeding window.
If you are going for a large rocket stove, ensure that you pick one which has an abrasion-resistant insulated combustion chamber with an oversized chimney to provide enough air draft for complete secondary combustion. Having a metal liner also helps in improving the thermal efficiency and durability of the stove. A two-door design with a damper door also helps, especially if you want some flame control.
Pick a stove that has a wide, integrated stovetop that can provide a stable support for cooking pots and pans. Most of the options that we listed have three or more pronged support drip pans and stovetops to provide a stable cooking base for pots and pans of different sizes.
Among small rocket stoves, the Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove probably has the best design features and hence a superior cooking performance. Among large rocket stoves, the two-EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove and StoveTec Big Foot Rocket Survival Stove are the best options because of their versatility and support for solid biomass as well as charcoal for fuel.
Check out the aforementioned design features before picking the best rocket stove for your needs.
Closely related to the design features of the stove are its thermal cooking efficiency and in-the-field performance. The more efficient a stove is, the lesser fuel it would need. Just keep in mind that the bigger the combustion chamber and chimney, the more heat a stove is capable of producing.
As mentioned above, rocket stoves provide cleaner, more efficient heating with minimal residue when compared to open fires and traditional wood-burning stoves. Still, some models perform better than others in terms of the overall thermal output.
We have been especially careful in listing out only the most efficient rocket stoves. Our top picks – the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove has probably the best-in-class thermal performance (20,000+ BTU max.; 30+% efficiency) even in inclement weather conditions, closely followed by the StoveTec Big Foot Rocket Survival Stove and Envirofit M-5000 Rocket Stove which also have a comparable thermal output. Another newly re-designed stove – the SilverFire 2nd Gen Survivor Rocket Stove has exhibited a thermal efficiency of over 35% in tests and hence is a new standard to beat among rocket stoves.
Of course, the thermal efficiency of the stoves can be further improved by getting a heat ring. The ability of the stoves to have a built-in windscreen or support an external heat ring is another reason why rocket stoves have become so popular in recent times.
Check out the thermal ratings and performance analysis of the stoves before picking the best rocket stove for your next outdoor adventure. You can generally get this information from the product specifications, feedback or comparative reviews of the stove.
The size, weight and portability of the stove is also something to factor in before zeroing in on the best rocket stove.
Rocket stoves are not the lightest stoves to carry by any stretch of imagination and hence not suitable for hiking and backpacking. But they have high thermal efficiency, burn clean and do not require you to carry fuel separately and hence work really well for base camp cooking, scouting trips, family camping excursions and emergency survival situations. The only exception is the ultralight Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove which weighs less than 1 lbs. and packs small enough to be suitable for hiking and backpacking as well.
We have listed two broad categories of rocket stoves – the small ones weigh less than 6 pounds and are suitable for boiling water and cooking for a group of 4-6 people. Stoves such as the Kelly Kettle Base Camp Aluminum Rocket Stove can even work for boiling water for a larger group. Most options in this category tend to pack small as well. Stoves such as the Rocket King Camping Rocket Stove and Marsh Kettles Mini Rocket Stove even pack flat when disassembled, hence making them particularly attractive choices if you are hard-pressed for space.
The second category of stoves that we have listed weigh over 6-7 pounds and work well for larger groups of 5-10 people. Our favorite picks – the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Survival Stove and StoveTec Big Foot Rocket Survival Stove are a couple of such options that work well for cooking for 6-10 people at one time.
Check out the overall size (both open and packed), weight and packability of the stove before picking the best rocket stove for your needs.
In addition to the major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular rocket stove a preferable option over other models
One such consideration is the accessories that come with the stove (or are available for purchase in the market). Most of the options that we listed do not include a lot of accessories, but manufacturers such as EcoZoom, StoveTec, Kelly Kettles and BioLite have a bunch of accessories such as carry bags, heat rings, cooking pots and grills available for purchase separately. These established manufacturers also offer replacement parts such as fuel shelves and stove cooktops in case the one with the stove gets damaged.
Finally, one of the most important additional considerations is the warranty offered on the stove by the manufacturer. The general rule of thumb is – longer the warranty period, the more reliable and durable the stove would be. Most of the options that we listed are backed by some excellent one or more year warranties, so you can use such stoves for a long time without worrying about their durability. The Hot Ash Titanium Mini Rocket Stove scores big in this category as this made in the US stove is backed by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.
You can look at all these features to determine if they make a specific rocket stove a better choice over others.
A commonly sought out accessory for the rocket stoves is the cookware – cooking pot and pan set. While rocket stoves can support larger size pots and pans (over 10″ diameter), it is advisable to use only recommended cookware for cooking on such a stove. Many of the rocket stoves that we listed above come offer bundles which include the cookware along with the stove.
If you are looking for some generic cookware, you can consider the following cook sets:
Since rocket stoves tend to get hot, you should always use heat-resistant gloves while operating such stoves. Some of the popular options to consider are:
Most rocket stoves have built-in windscreens, so you do not need to purchase one separately.
Like campfire and backpacking wood-burning stoves, you should follow some basic safety considerations while using a rocket stove. Some of these considerations are listed below:
Rocket stoves offer a convenient mechanism for cooking the meal or boiling water in a jiffy just by using dry wood chips, pine cones, leaves, twigs, and other solid biomass materials (some even work with charcoal). These rocket survival stoves provide a more efficient and cleaner combustion than a simple campfire with minimal residue and smoke and are reasonably portable for a camping trip.
In this article, we looked at some of the best rocket stoves available in the market for camping, survival and other outdoor adventures. We also discussed the major pros and cons of rocket stoves and factors to keep in mind before purchasing such stoves and shared our top picks.
Though there may be cheaper models available in the market, the options that we listed in our article offer great quality, reliability, performance, and durability and hence are great items to add to your base camp or emergency preparedness gear.
We hope that you found this article useful and it would help you in picking the best rocket stove for your next outdoor adventure or emergency prepping and survival kit. Do let us know your feedback by commenting below. Until next time, happy outdoor exploration!