Friday, January 14, 2022

Product Review: Firebox Nano

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

I have mentioned the Firebox Nano when I blogged about my most recent Get Home Bag configuration, but I haven't given it a proper Product Review until now. I will be using the same three tests I used in my review of the original Folding Firebox 9.5(!) years ago, with the same utensils, so that the results are comparable between models. 

The tests are: 
  1. How easy is it to light and keep fed, using natural materials. 
  2. How quickly it will bring 16 ounces of water to boil in a steel mug. 
  3. How quickly it will bring 24 ounces of water to boil in an uncovered aluminum pot.
  4. How quickly it will cook a single egg on an aluminum skillet. 
Why is the pot uncovered? Because that's how I originally did the tests, and I don't want to change the test metrics; if I did, the results would not be comparable. 

All tests were performed on my back porch where wind would not be a factor. I used natural fuels, but since this was not a referendum on my fire-making skills, I used a lighter to start them.


First Impressions
The 3" wide Nano is, by design, much smaller and commensurately lighter than its 5" wide big brother. Whereas the original Firebox weighs 2 pounds, the Nano is only 6 ounces. 

Other dimensions:
  • Width: Nano 3.0", Original 5"
  • Height: Nano 4.75", Original 7.5"
  • Thickness when folded: Nano 0.25", Original 0.375"
Because the Nano will inevitably draw comparisons to the original, I will repost the results of my initial tests so you can determine which model is right for you. 

Test 1: Fire Starting
Original: The Firebox has a nice big opening 5" square. I had plenty of room to set up my fire, but it took me a few tries to get it to light. It wasn't as efficient as the Solo Stove, but once the fire got going it quickly took on a life of its own and started putting out a massive amount of heat. Unlike the Solo Stove, the Firebox most assuredly can be used to warm you up like a campfire, because its large steel walls radiate that heat out like, well, a radiator.
Nano: I had an easier time starting a fire within the Nano. I wouldn't say this is because of any expertise on my part; rather, because of two horizontal feed slots near the base of the stove (now present in the 2.0 version of the 5" Firebox as well). These allow me to feed the stove from the bottom with very long sticks. Given the much smaller size of the Nano, these slots are a necessity for keeping your fire fed when you place anything on top for cooking. 

Unlike the larger version, the Nano does not put out enough heat to serve as a portable campfire. I expected this, and do not fault it in the least. 

Test 2: Cup Boil
Original: The Firebox boiled 16 oz of water in three and a half minutes. Also, this thing is rock solid. I had no fear of knocking over the stove or the cup that was on it -- probably because I was afraid I would brush up against it and get third degree burns. I am not kidding when I say the Firebox is a portable campfire rather than a stove.
Nano: It should be no surprise that, given a smaller burn chamber and smaller cooking surface, the Nano took longer to boil the same amount of water. Even though it took 6.5 minutes -- nearly twice as long as the original -- I felt that this was an acceptable amount of time to wait. 

While the Nano is by no means wobbly, it is much less stable than the original, especially when the legs (which double as cooking supports) are folded inward for small items. I strongly recommend the purchase of the X-Case accessory, which not only serves as a carrying case and ash pan, but also helps secure the legs in place and increases the stove's stability. 

Caution! When serving as an ash pan the X-Case can become very hot! In fact, it scorched the plastic flooring on my porch, and some even melted to the bottom of the X-Case. If you are cooking on a surface that is potentially heat-sensitive, put down an insulator first. (My Nano kit came with a piece of Carbon Felt which would have been ideal in this situation, and I will use it as a ground cloth from now on.)

Test 3: Pot Boil
Original: 24 ounces of water took six and a half minutes to come to a roaring boil.

 Nano: Again, cook times increased with decreased size, and again, it was just under double the original time: 11 minutes. 

The biggest problem I experienced was keeping the Nano fed. The fire needs more attention than the original, specifically by feeding sticks into the bottom fuel slots to make sure as much fuel as possible is burning. If you walk away from this stove for more than a few minutes the fire will go out; fortunately, the coals are still quite hot and it easy enough to get things going again by feeding it more fuel and oxygen. 

Test 4: Egg Cooking
Original: Fuhgeddaboutit. Cooked that egg in a flat minute. This was the only stove that completely supported the frying pan without even a hint of wobble. I could probably roast a Cornish game hen over this monster.
Nano: Two minutes to cook the egg, although (as expected) I had some issues with the handle of the pan wanting to pull the pan itself off the stove. I suppose this could have been mitigated by turning the Nano's legs to face out instead of in, but by this point the ash pan was pretty full of ash. Between that and the hot metal I decided not to risk it, and I achieved adequate results by placing the handle directly in line with one of the support legs.

My Rating: A+
While the 3" Nano cannot outperform the 5" original in heat output, it more than makes up for that in weight savings and portability. Even so, its performance is still better than that of the Solo Stove (whose measurements were an 8 minute cup boil, 12 minute pot boil, and a three-minute egg).

Ultimately, which stove you choose comes down to what you need it to do. Either will cook well; you just need to decide if heat output or portability is more important. As for me, I have one of each, with the original kept in my camping & bug out gear, and the Nano in my Get Home Bag. 

If you do decided to buy the Nano, I strongly recommend you get the combo kit. For $45 you receive the Nano stove, X-Case, and Carbon Felt wind screen/hot pad, and choose as an add-on the fuel plate for $6.50 to allow you burn fuel tablets and gells.


No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to