Disclosure: I was NOT compensated for this review. I purchased the EcoZoom Versa at its normal price, for my own testing purposes.
A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon the EcoZoom. I immediately saw the potential benefits of this handy little stove. If you are a fan of camping, prepping, or even just awesome gadgetry, you’ll like the EcoZoom. Read on for my thoughts on this stove, and for a discount code to purchase your own EcoZoom rocket stove!
The EcoZoom arrived about a week after I ordered it. I chose the “Versa” over the “Dura” because I like the option of burning charcoal, which the “Dura” doesn’t have. (Both stoves will burn wood and dried biomass such as dung or corn cobs.) Below is a photo of the shipping box, and the product box that was in it. The silver colored ring is the pot skirt that comes with the EcoZoom stove. You can use the skirt to keep more heat in around the bottom of your dutch oven or pot for extended and even more efficient cooking.
I was a little surprised at the size of the actual product box. I knew that the EcoZoom wasn’t a large stove, but it still took me by surprise when I saw how small it was. For reference:
I broke into the box, eager to give this thing a try. The stove itself if a little heavy, approximately 25lbs. Because of the carrying handles, it’s not difficult to move around though. (It’s just over 12″ tall, and a bit over 10″ across.) I hauled the stove, and the stick support out into my side yard and set it up on my side porch, and gathered up a good handful of dry sticks. Most of the sticks were about the diameter of a coffee stirrer up to the size of a pencil, and a foot long or so. A small wad of newspaper and a match later, it was fired up! It was extremely easy to start and maintain the fire in the EcoZoom. I added two sticks of dry apple wood (about the diameter of a shovel handle and maybe 2 ft long each) and that was all the wood I needed to cook my entire meal. I didn’t even use the entire length of the apple wood sticks.
Dinner was turkey burgers with green peppers. I oiled my favorite cast iron pan, and started warming it up on the Versa. It took just about three minutes over the little fire to have the pan and oil heated up and ready for the burgers and peppers.
Throughout the cooking I would push the sticks into the stove cavity approximately every 5 or 7 minutes, and the burn continued with minimal effort on my part. The EcoZoom did not smoke at all, with the exception of the initial start up when the paper was burning off. My burgers cooked quickly, (4 total) and turned out excellent!
When I was done cooking, I simply pulled the remainder of the sticks out of the burn chamber, and left them on the stick support to cool. The outside of the Versa was not quite hot, but still uncomfortable to the touch so I left it where it was for about 20 minutes to cool.
At that point I simply dumped the ashes out into our burn pile by tipping the stove forward and giving it a shake. I used a paper towel to wipe the top and sides, and that was it for clean up! Good as new, and ready to be put away. (Also, if you note the design of the top, you can see that it would support a round bottom pot like a wok as well!)
The Versa can be used with charcoal as fuel also. I haven’t tried that feature out yet, since I’m out in the country and have access to lots of wood for fuel. If you’re in town, perhaps charcoal is a better option for you. The Versa comes with a tiny grate that you drop in through the large door to support the briquettes. It is oblong, so it only goes in one way, you can’t put it in incorrectly. I suspect maybe half a dozen or so briquettes would cook your whole meal. (According to the literature in the package, when cooking with charcoal, you insert the grate, close the large door, and drop the lit charcoal in to the stove through the open top. The bottom door functions as a damper, increasing or decreasing the oxygen flow. I plan to give this a go very soon, as our annual grouse hunting trip is fast approaching. My Versa will get a workout for sure!)
This little stove is big on ability. With a dutch oven, and a fry pan you could cook just about anything on the EcoZoom. This stove is perfect for the family camping trip, hunting/fishing trip (Mmm, shore lunch!), or even just for use at home in the backyard. It’s been really hot here lately (Wisconsin hot, like mid/upper 80′s) so using the Versa outside in the yard was great, I didn’t end up with a hot kitchen, clean up was minimal, and I got to sit outside and enjoy a beautiful day.
The EcoZoom would also be an ideal disaster preparedness stove. It requires no lighter fluid, no propane, just wood from the yard, or some biomass, (If you have the Versa, charcoal is another option. Charcoal is easy to store, and safe. If it gets wet, you just let it dry and it’s good to go again!) and you’ve got a clean, safe cooking surface. While it’s not “portable” in the sense of packing it up in a backpack and hiking off with it (25lbs isn’t really practical unless it’s the only item you’re packing) it is easy to transport in a vehicle or camper and takes up very little space. You don’t even have to transport fuel with it, any dry wood or biomass you find can be used to cook with!
Then there is one more thing…EcoZoom is helping people in third world countries around the world. When you purchase a stove from them, they put another stove in a shipping crate, and when they have a full shipment, off they go to those in need! So your purchase makes life easier and safer for a person in a third world country. Because almost 2 million people die each year from cooking hazzards (smoke inhalation, falls into fires etc) the EcoZoom can make cooking safer and less dangerous. (Especially for children, can you imagine having small children around an open cooking fire?) More on this here:
The only “cons” to the stove that I can personally see are:
Not made in America (Usually I only buy American made products!)
Not “backpack portable” due to weight, though that’s not really it’s purpose anyway, so it’s not much of a con really.
Outside of stove gets fairly warm so you’d have to watch your wee ones carefully around it, but you’d be doing that anyway, so again, not much of a con.
Some of the “pros”:
The build seems to be quality, and I can see it lasting a good long time under normal usage.
Fuel for the stove is everywhere, no hauling your own when you travel.
Burns efficiently, so you need very little fuel to keep the fire going for the duration of your cooking time.
Attractive appearance, this is not something you’ll need to hide. In fact, everyone who has seem mine so far has been quite intrigued by it.
EcoZoom donates a stove to a third world cook in need to increase their family’s safety around the cooking fire!
All in all, I can say that I enjoyed using my Versa, and I intend to keep using it often. I can see it being an invaluable tool on my camping and hunting trips. Since we do both often, the Versa should be seeing lots of use in short order.
If you would like to purchase your own EcoZoom stove, I can offer my readers a $5 discount code! (This works for both the “Dura” and “Versa” models) Use the code “OCG1111″ (Case sensitive) when you check out to get the discount. (Again for full disclosure purposes, if you use my discount code I earn a small commission from EcoZoom. As I said before though, I was not paid for or compensated in any way for this review. The above is my honest opinion, no strings attached.)