Product Review: StoveTec
-- Reviewed by Pat Cascio (SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor)
Some months ago, I alerted Survival Blog readers to a small company, in my neck of the woods, called US Tactical Supply that has customer service second to none, as well as having top-notch products, most made in the good ol' USA. As I stated before, if you are looking for cheap knock-off merchandise, or just "cheap" anything - then don't do business with US Tactical Supply - they don't carry junk - simple as that. However, if you are looking for the best-of-the-best in high-quality products, with friendly folks, who are sincerely happy to help you, and appreciate your business, then US Tactical Supply is the place to go.
Anyone who is familiar with doing business with the Department of Defense knows that, you have to carry merchandise that meets or exceeds DOD specifications. US Tactical Supply is a DOD supplier - enough said, eh? Military and law enforcement personnel strive for the best products they can get - they can't afford to have their gear fail them, when they need it the most. So, a lot of the customers who deal with US Tactical Supply are military and law enforcement. As well as savvy survival-minded folks, too.
Kevin Swanson, the President of US Tactical contacted me, and wanted my honest test and evaluation on a new product they are now carrying called the "Stove Tec" - it's a "rocket stove." You can get the skinny on the Stove Tec at their web site as well as being able to watch a short video describing how the Stove Tec works. Now, anyone familiar with survival gear, will readily recognize the Stove Tec emergency stove as a "rocket stove" - there are various makes and models on the rocket stove on the market, as well as detailed videos out there, on how to make a rocket stove yourself. However, all rocket stoves are NOT the same!
The Stove Tec rocket stove is probably the best-made of the bunch if you ask me. Stove Tec (located in Oregon) manufactures several different versions of this little emergency stove, and Kevin Swanson sent me the top-of-the-line model for test and evaluation. And, I'm here to tell you, this baby should last you many, many years of hard use. This is "the" emergency stove you want when the power goes out, trust me!
I received the two-door Stove Tec model, which is the deluxe model. This baby has a metal-lined ceramic door that burns any available wood or flammable biomass material. The combustion chamber isn't just lined with "fire brick" like other rocket stoves - nope, this baby is also metal lined, to help retain the heat for a good long time, as well as to protect the fire brick (ceramic). The deluxe two-door model is the one you want to purchase - the main upper door allows you to feed your fuel into the fire chamber, and the smaller, lower door, allows you to adjust the heat - neat idea, when you want a hotter or cooler fire for cooking, and it allows you to cook longer, too.
The stove top surface - it's double thick cast iron, with six pot supports - you're not gonna have to worry about this part of the stove failing you. You can either place a frying pan or pot right on top the cast iron stove top, or use the include galvanized steel pot skirt to keep your pan or pot slightly above the stove top surface. I found that I liked just cooking on the stove top surface - as did my wife.
The body of the Stove Tec is painted green, and is sheet metal - but there's no need to worry about the sheet metal "melting" on you or a hot fire burning through it - the double layered kiln-fired combustion chamber protects the outside sheet metal. There is always plenty of small tree branches and twigs around our homestead, so finding fuel for the Stove Tec rocket stove was an easy chore, to be sure. We also found that, we could use wadded-up paper to start and burn a pretty hot fire, too. There are heat resistant plastic and steel carry handles on the Stove Tec.
There's a nice metal support that you place in front of the upper door on the Stove Tec, for feeding your small pieces of wood into the fire chamber, so you don't have to sit there and hold the wood - you simply slide it into the fire chamber as it burns, to keep the fire going. It honestly doesn't take much wood at all, to get a super-hot fire going to cook a meal. We have enough wood on our small homestead to last through a lifetime of use cooking on the Stove Tec - honestly!
If you are serious about long-term survival, under harsh conditions, then you need to take a serious look at the Stove Tec rocket stove from US Tactical Supply. When your propane tanks run dry, and you can't get 'em refilled, you'll sure be glad you have the Stove Tec standing by. And, if you're out camping or hunting, you don't need to have a huge cooking fire - that wastes a lot of wood - in order to cook a meal. A mere handful of wood will provide more than enough fuel for cooking a meal, or to fire-up the stove to warm yourself. I don't care if you live in the big city or out in the boonies like I do, you will find the Stove Tec rocket stove to be a blessing when the power goes off, and you need to cook a hot meal. As I stated, it takes very little wood or other material (even charcoal can be used) to get a good, hot fire going in this rocket stove.
Sure, you can find rocket stoves all over the place, but trust me, I've seen a lot of 'em, and they don't even come close to the Stove Tec in quality and features. The Stove Tec sells for $124.95 at US Tactical Supply, and they do have a less expensive model. However, I'd spend a few bucks more and get the deluxe version - you'll appreciate it more.
Whenever I shop around for any survival gear or supplies, I not only look at the best prices I can get, I also look at the quality of the products I'm thinking about purchasing. Cheap is never good! Another thing I look at is the company I'm going to do business with. I can tell you horror stories about some big name companies, that simply have some of the worse customer service you can imagine - even some of the big-name gun companies have customer service that sucks! If you want to do business with a small company, that really cares about customer service, and carries mostly US-made products, then take a look at US Tactical Supply - they are growing, and deserve your business. Don't always think you are getting something cheaper some place else - don't shop around on "price" only - take a look at the company. I enjoy doing business with the little guy, especially when they carry so many US-made products....that's why you'll hardly ever find me in the big box stores - I don't like contributing to the economy in China. I'd rather shop the small, independent stores, that want my business, and are there to stand behind the products they sell. Ever try returning something to one of the big box stores? Yes, it's a pain-in-the-rear at times - an you sure get the impression that they are doing you a favor by allowing you to shop their stores - when it should be the other way around.
In all honesty, I don't know why I hadn't laid claim to a rocket stove before now. Yes, I have a propane cook stove that I use several times per year when the power goes out. But I can't possibly stock enough propane tanks or bottles to last me many years. With the Stove Tec rocket stove, having enough fuel isn't a problem - especially when it burns all manner of fuel. You see, sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks...and I learned just how much I'm gonna need the Stove Tec rocket stove when the power goes out. I've got mine, now you need to contact US Tactical Supply and get one of your own. You're gonna wonder how you got along without it. And, you'll be surprised at the friendly, helpful folks that answer the phone, too.