A few weeks back, the guys over at EcoZoom, asked me if I wanted to do a review on their “Versa” model stove.
Being the ever curious gadget hound that I am, I of course sent them my address right away (I’m never one to turn down a product to review)
Unfortunately for me, but fortunate for my yard, we have been in the middle of the Texas equivalent of a monsoon for the past few weeks.
Well I finally caught a break in the rain and got a chance to test this thing out.
I also talked them into giving us an exclusive discount.
(Just use the coupon code SURVLIFE13 to get $15.00 off of the order at checkout)
First things first, what is the Ecozoom Versa?
Here is the description from the manufacturer:
EcoZoom’s Versa Stove can burn wood, charcoal, or dried biomass and is our most versatile cook stove. The Versa is a great option for those wanting cook fuel options while still providing the same EcoZoom durability. The Versa is our most popular emergency preparedness model in the United States and is also great for camping.
The Zoom Versa features an abrasion resistant and durable ceramic combustion chamber with a 10 cm in diameter vertical section that forces the gases to mix with the flame, decreasing harmful emissions and adds a refractory metal liner to the inside of the combustion chamber that protects the ceramic insulation, increases the life of your stove, and improves combustion efficiency.
This stove features our new hinged combustion chamber doors enabling for an effortless conversion from wood to charcoal fuels. Both the main combustion chamber door and the damper door (bottom door) have reinforced metal frames and have hinges that serve to securely close the doors and regulate airflow. The Zoom Versa also has a durable, reformulated 6-pronged cast iron stovetop that improves heat transfer for all pots including round bottom pots and woks.
And here is just a short video on how it works.
How big is it?
- Stove: D-11 in H-12 1/2 in
- Upper Door: W-4 1/2 in H-2 3/8 in
- Lower Door: W-2 3/8 in. H-1 3/8 in
- Shipping Weight: 26.75lbs / 12kg (Free shipping with FedEx Ground!)
- Refractory metal combustion chamber
- Abrasion-resistant, lightweight ceramic insulation
- Two internal grates to hold both wood and charcoal
- Two hinged doors
- 6-pronged universal cast iron stove top
- Stick support
- Adjustable galvanized steel pot skirt
- Painted sheet metal body with reinforced doors
- Plastic and steel handle
Here are just a few pictures from my own personal test on the Versa.
(As a note, I only tested the stove using charcoal briquettes, so your results will vary)
So what did I think about the Ecozoom Versa?
Portable- it’s not light but it is portable. At 26 lbs, you’re not going to strap it onto your back but you can use it when you’re camping or in a “hunker down” situation.
Energy Efficient- My test only used charcoal, but 14 coals was enough to keep a fire going for well over 3 hours. which is perfect for times when fuel consumption is a major concern.
Nearly smokeless- The amount of smoke it produces is up to 80% less than a standard campfire.
the concentrated heat is in a small area and even with the high heat it takes a while to heat a cast iron pan enough to fry an egg
The heat was enough to max out my infrared thermometer, (over 1022 degrees Fahrenheit) but it seems like most of the heat was contained inside the wall as the heat leaving the stove was only measured at 300 degrees ( still good for a slow cook, but not hot enough to sear my steaks the way I like it.)
Price- These are a little hefty in the price tag, but they have quite a few options to choose from and are still cheaper than I have seen some competitors products.
The bottom line: This is a good stove to have if you’re an avid camper or in an area (such as a desert) where fuel wood might be hard to come by. It works well and produces a hot fire, but it is concentrated into a small area and may take a while to fully heat a thick cast iron pan. Once it has been fully heated however it will keep warm for a very long time, with minimal effort. But again 14 coals was enough to keep the stove simmering hot for hours (honestly I just gave up checking after about 3 hours so I don’t know how long it really stayed hot).
If price is your concern, stick with a campfire. But if you want something that will maximize your heat and cooking time while minimizing your fuel consumption, the Versa is a good bet.
The build quality is very nice and it seems that it would last for a very long time. You wouldn’t really go wrong putting one of these in your camping gear or keeping it stashed in your Bug Out Vehicle. The small amount of smoke that this produces also makes it a reliable cooking source if you happen to be stuck in the city and need to remain concealed.
The alternative is always to make your own rocket stove.
Have you used the Versa stove?
Do you have something that you think would work better?
Let me know below.