July 24, 2024

The appetizing aroma of roasting venison wafted enticingly from the twig stove in front of me. The sound of sizzling meat coming from the folding grill on the top of the stove reinforced the attraction. I rotated the grill from time to time to allow the venison steaks to cook evenly on each side. After about 20 minutes, the steaks appeared to be fully cooked. I removed the folding grill from the stove, opened it, and cut one of the steaks with my EDC knife to make sure it was fully cooked. It proved to be well-done. I used my knife to spear each steak to move it from the folding grill to the serving plate. I then took the steaks inside for dinner and thus completed this most enjoyable aspect of Siege Stove testing.

Background

I really like twig stoves. They are light, they are easy to use, and I have a virtually unlimited supply of fuel growing in the woods around my home.

On June 11, 2021, SurvivalBlog published my review of a couple of twig stoves. They were both pretty good stoves. I then ran across Pat Casico’s April 8, 2019 review of Siege Stoves in SurvivalBlog. The Siege Stove titanium flat-pack sounded especially interesting. So when Mr. James Fisher of Siege Stoves recently invited me to test their titanium flat-pack stove, I jumped at the chance. Five days later, a package containing the stove arrived in the mail.

First Impressions

One of the first things I noticed as I opened the package was the simple, well-written, and well-illustrated set of directions that was included with the cross-members. Those directions are entitled, “Secrets of the Siege Stove” and are available for viewing at their website.

Using only the cross-members, it is possible to make improvised stoves using cans as small as soup cans or as large as one-gallon paint cans.

The package also contained a can opener, a drawstring bag with the folding grill, a drawstring bag with the flat-pack stove, side toasters, a poker, a sheath for the cross-members, and a heavy vinyl pouch in which to carry everything.

The pouch is sturdy enough to use as a knee pad, and will also provide the stove and other items in the pack with good mutual protection. One possible improvement for future models would be making the pouch out of silicon instead of vinyl. This would allow the pouch to tolerate the heat if someone placed the stove into the pouch before the metal had cooled thoroughly. It would also allow the pouch to double as a pot holder or hot pad if necessary.

I quickly noticed that the flat-pack Siege Stove is made of a heavier gauge of titanium than the Emberlit titanium stove that I have previously used. This made the Siege Stove significantly sturdier without adding much weight.

I also noticed that the cross-member base provides the stove with better separation from the ground than the other twig stoves that I have previously used. This should help reduce potential degradation of topsoil from excessive heat if the stove is used directly on the ground.

Mr. Fisher recommended a number of excellent videos on the siegestove.com website. The information they contain is excellent, so I recommend those, as well.

Side-by-Side Testing

I tested three twig stoves side by side.

The first contender was the Siege Stove Titanium Flat-Pack that is the focus of this review. It weighs approximately 17 ounces in its black vinyl pouch including the directions. The dimensions of the filled pouch are approximately 9.75 X 9.5 X 0.5 inches, for a total displacement of 46.31 cubic inches.

The second contender is the Emberlit-UL Original Titanium Lightweight Backpacking Stove. It weighs approximately 6.75 ounces in its nylon case including the directions. The nylon case will help keep soot off the other items in a pack, but it will quickly melt if exposed to heat, and is too thin to use as a knee pad or to protect the stove from other items in the pack. The cased dimensions are approximately 7.25 X 5.25 X 0.375 inches, for a total displacement of 14.27 cubic inches.

The third contender is a generic “gasser” stove. It weighs approximately 17 ounces in its nylon mesh case, and does not come with any directions. The cased dimensions consist of a 3 inch diameter cylinder approximately 5.5 inches tall, for a total displacement of 71.27 cubic inches (although the cylindrical shape further complicates the efficient use of space within a pack).

The First Testing Session

It was a beautiful, sunny day in late winter/early spring. The temperature was 42 degrees Fahrenheit. There was a light breeze from the southwest.

I collected a bucket full of broken twigs, each piece roughly 4 to 8 inches in length and about 0.375 to 0.75 inches in diameter.

I placed each of the stoves on a wooden bench by the fire pit near my pole barn. I placed a 1 square foot floor tile under each stove to protect the surface of the bench.

I then took three identical number 10 cans and filled each with one full quart of water. The cans had originally contained whole kernel corn that had been served at a dinner at our church.

Next, I tried to ignite all three stoves simultaneously. For each stove, I took a cotton ball with a dab of petroleum jelly on it, ignited the cotton ball with a ferrocerium rod, dropped the burning cotton ball into the stove, and then placed twigs over the flame.

It is easy to ignite one twig stove in this fashion. It is not especially difficult to ignite two twig stoves simultaneously. But for me, igniting three twig stoves simultaneously was like trying to juggle one ball too many. When a juggler attempts that feat, he tends to drop all the balls, not just one. As I attempted to light all three stoves simultaneously, I kept allowing one or another of the stoves to go out while I focused on the other two. Then when I tried to get the problem stove going, the other two stoves would go out. I guess I just don’t score very high points for multitasking.

In any case, I finally got all three stoves burning. I found the Siege Stove to be the easiest to ignite, the gasser to be the most difficult, and the Emberlit Stove to be somewhere in the middle. I also found the Siege Stove to be the easiest to stoke, with its wide top.

Due to the difficulty getting all three stoves ignited, the process took much longer than I anticipated. I finally had to terminate my testing for the day before initiating the water boiling test.

The Second Test Session

I was able to continue my side-by-side stove testing a couple of days later. It was a sunny early evening, with a temperature of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. There was a light breeze from the west.

For this test, I broke the twigs into smaller pieces, roughly 3 to 4 inches in length. Some of the twig pieces in my first session had been too long, making it difficult to feed them easily into the stoves.

In order to assist with the ignition process, I used some additional tinder in this second testing session. Back on April 28, 2021, SurvivalBlog published my article about salvaging beeswax from a bee tree in which the hive had perished due to cold weather. I had used the salvaged wax to treat cotton balls for use as tinder. To make sure that I had enough flame to get all three stoves started simultaneously, I first ignited a cotton ball with a dab of petroleum jelly using a ferrocerium rod. I then lifted the burning cotton ball with two twig pieces, and dropped it into a stove. Next, I dropped two of the cotton balls treated with beeswax onto the burning cotton ball in each stove. Finally, I dropped a handful of twigs onto the burning cotton balls. In this way, I was able to ignite all three stoves simultaneously.

When I had all three stoves burning well, I put a number 10 can containing a quart of water on each stove. I then kept all of the stoves stoked, and waited for the water to boil.

After about 20 minutes, all three cans of water were starting to steam significantly, and the Siege Stove can in particular looked like a simmer was almost ready to transition into a rolling boil. But three fully stoked twig stoves consume a lot of twigs very quickly. Suddenly my bucket of twigs was empty. As I ran back and forth from the woods, grabbing more twigs and breaking them up, the stoves consumed fuel faster than I could gather it, and went out. Once again, I had to terminate the testing before it could be completed.

The Third Testing Session

The third session four days later consisted of testing the folding grill. I did this by preparing venison steaks, as outlined in the introduction above. The outside temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with overcast but dry conditions and a light breeze. I was especially impressed by how cool the handles of the folding grill remained throughout the grilling process, and by how well the folding grill contained the meat. I was very pleased with the results, although in retrospect marinating the meat might have produced even better results.

The Fourth Testing Session

Later that evening, as dusk gradually darkened into night, and temperatures fell into the upper 40s Fahrenheit, I reignited the Siege Stove, and number 10 can containing a quart of water back on the stove to heat. Within 15 minutes, there were definite signs that boiling was imminent, and within 16 minutes the water in the can was fully involved in a rolling boil.

I removed the can from the stove, and then used the residual heat of the stove to burn the remaining venison juices from the folding grill.

I then sat by the stove as the orange coals gradually darkened, and the glow was increasingly outshone by the light of the moon. In harmony with our ancestors reaching back to Adam and Eve, I contemplated the mysteries of creation and the Creator in the feeble glimmer of dying embers. It was a fitting capstone to my Siege Stove testing.

Conclusions

I really like twig stoves. Of all the twig stoves I have ever used, I like the Siege Stove Titanium Gen 4 Flat-Pack best. It is easiest to kindle, easiest to stoke, the most stable, and heats water faster than the other stoves I have tested. For a solo backpacking trip, it is a toss-up between the lighter weight and smaller footprint of the Emberlit Stove, and the multiple advantages of the Siege Stove. For cooking for a group of two or more, I would select the Siege Stove every time.

With a price at the time of this writing of $159.99 at siegestoves.com, the titanium flat-pack stove offers excellent value for the money. The complete titanium flat-pack kit (which includes the side toasters, large folding grill, cross-members, cross-member sheath and storage pouch) costs $199.99 at the time of this writing. If weight is less of a concern, the basic stainless steel flat-pack model cost $89.99 at the time of this writing.

Disclaimer

Mr. James Fisher of Siege Stoves was kind enough to provide a Titanium Gen 4 Flat-Pack Stove for testing and evaluation in conjunction with the writing of this article. Mr. Mikhail Merkurieff, of Merkwares LLC was kind enough to provide an Emberlit-UL Original Titanium Lightweight Backpacking Stove for my 2021 review. I tried not to let their kindness interfere with my objectivity, and believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.