Editor's note: You'll be hearing more from the instructors at P.R.E.P., who submitted this gear review of the EcoZoom Versa, on LivingReadyOnline.com. Be sure to check out the full EcoZoom Versa review here.
The folks at EcoZoom asked us if we were interested in trying out their Versa stove and writing an unflinching review of our findings. That takes nerve and you better be ready to take a punch if your product is lacking in any way. Of course we said yes, always happy to discover a worthy survival solution or to thin the herd of junk products where needed.
We first saw their stoves at a survival expo out in Colorado a couple years ago and were intrigued. Rocket stoves come in various designs and many people have tried to create their own version. Some even make them from debris lying around. There are usually a couple of problems with rocket stoves. They are either made in pieces from debris and not easy to transport, or they are made of some kind of structural steel/concrete and could double as a ship anchor. Some designs are even dangerously hot to the exterior touch due to lack of insulation, which is a fire hazard in itself. One thing is for sure though; they work great if you can get your muddy hands on a good one.
We found that there actually is a solid solution to this problem. In the Versa model we found that EcoZoom has created a good combination of strength, weight, portability and safety. Here’s what we found as we put the stove through some paces.
EcoZoom Versa Review: Pros
- Much easier than making a full campfire
- Much easier to contain/extinguish than a campfire
- Can be moved while hot, unlike a typical fire
- Has convenient handles for transport
- Stable footprint, just find and clear a small level spot anywhere
- Works well in windy conditions
- Potentially works well in rainy conditions due to the fire being shielded
- Multi-fuel (biomass, charcoal or anything that burns)
- As opposed to a typical charcoal fire, you can adjust the temperature and not have to carry charcoal with you unless you want to. The stove does come standard with a nice heavy-duty cast iron charcoal grate that allows you to get every last bit of heat from briquettes before they fall through to the lower ash chamber.
- Great instructions using pictures that are easy to understand
- Their charity program will send a stove to a needful family for every unit they sell through their Z+ Program
EcoZoom Versa Review: Cons
The well insulated structure and refractory brick makes it a heavy piece of equipment, so it’s not a convenient trail stove. This stout little rocket is best suited as an off-grid cooking option in case of disaster, or a base camp stove, but you won’t be throwing this in a backpack anytime soon. For hiking, I’ll rely on either a bush craft stove or a portable cooking system.
EcoZoom Versa Review: The Verdict
In the end, we love this thing and consider it to be one of those things you will only need to buy once and keep using for many years to come. Its amazing ability to be useful in almost any environment, using almost any combustible solid material is a big plus for us as we are hard on equipment and go to some rough places.
Check out more survival gear reviews and instruction from P.R.E.P. at ReadyGoPrep.com.