Bushcraft Essentials Outdoor Stoves: The Complete Guide.

Backcountry people can get very passionate about their stoves. After all, it’s their lifeline to a hot meal after a long day on the move. When every ounce counts and there are miles between your campsite and the easy convenience of civilization, you need a lot of simplicity and reliability in a very small, lightweight package.

In Europe, the German stove maker Bushcraft Essentials has attracted an almost cult-like following in just a few years by manufacturing exceptionally simple and efficient outdoor stoves that break down quickly into very flat configurations, allowing most of the stoves to fit into a shirt pocket while not in use.

Americans are just now starting to get their hands on Bushcraft Essentials and their popularity has quickly become apparent on bushcrafting blogs and social media. Whether you’re a day hiker, a hard-core multi-day backpacker, or a wily hunter stalking big game up above the tree line, there’s a Bushcraft Essentials for you. So here is our complete guide to the world of Bushcraft Essentials stoves!

Bushcraft Essentials: Simple, Light and Rugged (with a Little Bit of German-Engineered Elegance)

Bushcraft Essentials began 2012 when its founder Detlev Hoppenrath saw the popularity in Europe of homemade “hobo stoves" among backpackers and survivalists. Often made from a tin can or fashioned out of scrap metal, hobo stoves were a fun, efficient and sustainable way to cook food in the field, but not everyone wanted to manufacture their own mini-stove. Detlev set up shop in Munich, Germany, and designed what became the now legendary Bushbox (see below). He’s since added three more stove models to the lineup, with two titanium options for the dedicated gram-watchers, and a line of nifty accessories, all made in Germany to the highest manufacturing specifications.

The Smallest Bushcraft Essentials: The EDCBox

Bushcraft-Essentials-EDC-box-mini-solo-backpacking-stove.jpg
Outdoor Pocket Micro Stove EDCBox
Bushcraft Essentials

We don’t know if there is an official world record for smallest production hobo stove but the EDCBox would have to be a serious contender. Bushcraft Essential’s latest and smallest addition to the family is the EDCBox, “EDC” standing for Every Day Carry. And it’s teeny tiny. The EDCBox breaks down small enough to fit in your wallet. It is possible to use it as an alcohol stove with an aluminum bottle cap or some kind of small burner, but no alcohol burner I’ve ever seen is small enough to fit inside (which doesn’t mean you couldn’t make one). At this size your best bet is to use solid fuel tablets like esbit, candles, wood pellets or some other organic material.

The EDCBox is so small it can be carried with a small carabineer and a rubber band just hanging from your gear like a zipper dangle. People are always blown away with how compact this thing is. It has definitely been a conversation starter and irresistible curiosity here at the shop. The EDCBox is quite possibly the ultimate ultralight, super minimalist solo backpacking stove in the world today.

Product Information:

Bushcraft Essentials Every Day Carry EDCbox copy
  • Weight: 75 grams
  • Set-up size: 4.7 x 6.5 x 4.7 cm
  • Size folded: 4.7 x 6.5 x .5 cm
  • Comes with carrying case but can be secured conveniently to external gear with a small carabiner.
  • Designed and manufactured in Germany
Bushcraft Essentials EDCBox

The Lightest Bushcraft Essentials: The Bushbox Ultralight 

Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox Ultralight

To save weight, the Bushbox Ultralight deviates from the four-sided orthodoxy of the other Bushboxes to provide the lightest solid fuel or alcohol stove in the lineup. Ultracompact and incredibly simple to use, it weighs only 61 grams in a barebones set-up, 70g with the base plate and trivet (mine weighs 68g). Fits in the palm of your hand when broken down. Pieces are milled out of .3mm stainless spring steel and hook together using their own tension. Simple but brilliant.

To assemble, simply take two of the side panels and wrap them around the base or ash plate. The Ultralight comes with a perforated base plate to provide ventilation and support for alcohol burners, but if you’re going to burn wood, a solid ash plate is recommended to protect the soil beneath. Interlock and wrap two side panels around the base plate, and then thread the third panel into place so that the tension in the metal keeps everything locked down. Ad the trivet if necessary depending on what you’re going to cook with. For some pots it might not be necessary. Check out how easy it is:

The Bushbox Ultralight can be operated with many different fuels. It was designed specifically for Trangia burners, but wood, Esbit/hexamine tablets, and gel fuel cans work as well. It also can serve as an excellent wind shield for a separate gas stove. With the included trivet you can use the stove with all pot sizes. There are three different positions for base plates/ashtrays so you can position your fuel as close to your cookware as needed.

Product Information

  • Consists of: 3 side panels, trivet, base plate, cotton bag
  • Optional accessories: - ash tray - additional trivet as lighter base plate (perfect for Trangia mode) - grill plate (additional base plate)
  • Designed and manufactured in Germany
Bushcraft Essential Bushbox Ultralight 700

The Original Bushcraft Essentials: The Bushbox

Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox Outdoor Solo Stove

Our best selling stove and the one that put BE on the map!

The Bushbox was Bushcraft Essentials’ first stove in 2012 and was an immediate hit in Europe. Very small and lightweight, it breaks down to about .5 cm thick, so it’s easy to carry in almost any pocket. It makes a great compact alcohol stove (fits a Trangia burner perfectly), but can also be used with wood, esbit, pellets, charcoal or any other organic material. Comes with two trivets for any pot size, but with the Bushbox you often don’t need them. It can also be used as a windshield/pot support for other gas stoves. The Bushbox comes standard with an ash pan for soil protection and a base plate, with three positions available for the base plate depending on your needs. Combine with a grill plate accessory (see below!) for even more configurations and flexibility.

Grate Placement for the Bushbox

Assembling and disassembling is easy if you remember to “build it from the back.” Start with the back plate and the two side plates. Attach the two side plates to the back plate. The whole stove is kept together by small catches in the metal on the upper hinges on the side plates. At first the catches might offer a little resistance, but they’ll break in quickly after a few uses. Slide the ash and grill plates into place, then attach the front plate. Super easy! Here’s a little tutorial if you need help:

You can get the Bushbox in the traditional Bushcraft Essentials cotton bag or with a black, heavy-duty carrying case that can attach to MOLLE webbing or external fasteners.

The Bushbox is one of only two models that also comes in titanium. Super lux for sure! The titanium version saves you another 110g with all the functionality of the steel version. A lot of stove fanatics (and there are many) enjoy experimenting with titanium because of its different heat transfer properties. While there are pluses and minuses with titanium cookware, there are few downsides to using titanium in the stove itself if it's designed with thermal stress in mind.

Simple, versatile, lightweight and efficient: The Bushbox is a solid piece of equipment that will last a lifetime.

Product Information

Stainless Steel

  • 11.5 x 9 x 0.5 cm; 270 g
  • Flat pack, fits into any pocket
  • Multi-fuel, can be used with alcohol burners, wood, organic matter, Trangia & Esbit
  • Designed and manufactured in Germany from 100% stainless steel

Titanium

  • 11,5 x 9 x 0,5 cm; 160 g
Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox Outdoor Solo Stove

The Biggest Bushcraft Essentials: The Bushbox XL

Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox XL

The Bushbox XL is the sturdy workhorse of the BE family. Built like a Swiss Army knife for cooking, there are all kinds of configurations to play with using grates, grills, trivets and even tent poles. The XL is basically a mobile fire pit with about 5 times the volume of the Bushbox for more ambitious camp cooking and warming fires. A flat-pack firebox-style stove that makes a great alcohol stove, like all the Bushcraft Essentials stoves it can be used with wood, esbit, pellets, charcoal or any other organic material. In our opinion, the XL is the best stove design in the BE line for natural/foraged fuels due to its larger size and burning chamber. The heat from prolonged natural flames will naturally warp the metal while in use (there are no exemptions from the Laws of Thermodynamics), but don't fret. Everything will return to normal once it cools.

Bushbox XL Tent-peg-grill

Set up couldn’t be easier as the ash plate and bottom grate are fully integrated into the stove body. It actually reminds me a lot of setting up a mini metal Pack-and-Play (for those of you who've had kids), only way easier. Break down is equally simple and the whole thing folds flat to 1 cm thickness and about the size of a moleskin notebook. Close inspection of the hinges reveals the high degree of craftsmanship Bushcraft Essentials puts into their products. I’ve never had to lubricate the hinges and it’s hard to imagine what kind of stresses (short of getting run over by a truck) that would break them open. All XL kits come with two trivets that self-attach to the sides of the stove when not in use.

One thing we love about Bushcraft Essentials is always having a nice little arsenal of metal pieces around for innovative bushcrafting in the field. When you’re not cooking on the trivets, you can spool cord or twine on them, or use them as handles to get more leverage on rope work. The Bushbox XL body makes an interesting emergency scooping or straining tool, and if you place a waterproof bag in it and you have a small, free-standing bucket. We’re pretty sure somebody could figure out how to make fish trap out of it if they tried (attention all Bushcraft Bloggers!). UK Preppers put one through its paces in 2013 and found it imminently apocalypse worthy (and those guys are hard men to please).

Set-up is a snap:

And the payoff is delicious.

The Bushbox XL is available as a stand-alone item or in a combination kit that includes a universal grate and heavy-duty carrying case. The universal grate accessory is very handy as it makes using Trangia burners much more efficient, or you can use it to cook food directly over wood or charcoals. For the backcountry chefs out there who demand the best of everything, get the Grill Plate accessory for even more surface area and convenience.

Product Information

  • 12.5 x 19 x 1 cm ; 800 g
  • Flat pack, folds to about the size of a small notebook
  • Multi-fuel, can be used with alcohol burners, wood, organic matter, Trangia & Esbit
  • Designed and manufactured in Germany from 100% stainless steel
Bushbox XL Diagram

The Ultimate Bushcraft Essentials: The Bushbox XL Titanium

Bushcraft Essentials Bushbox XL Titanium

This is a straight-up rad stove. This is Stovitus Maximus. The Pocket Colossus. The Hoboissimo.

There are watches and then there is Rolex. There are canvas bags and then there is Filson. There are sports cars and then there is Bugatti. At the apex of any category is a sugar daddy luxury item that caters only to the most demanding and discriminating connoisseur. Well, there are hobo stoves and then there is the Bushbox XL Titanium. Stovaphiles, this is it!

I'm not going to lie. I dig it when somebody puts this much effort into something so simple. It ain't cheap, no, not even close, but this is an outstanding piece of equipment and there's nothing I know of quite like it.

The XL Ti weighs only 490 grams but provides all functionality of its steel-framed cousin.  That's a 40% weight reduction on the steel version. With full-sized performance, featherweight construction, and virtual lifetime imperviousness to wear and tear, this is the kind of thing you might actually pass on to future generations. Because it will still be cool 50 years from now.

On a more practical level, the XL Titanium offers something that seriously rivals any other combination of spider stove and fuel bottles for a multiday trek. Once you need more than a single fuel bottle to support your trip, the weight and bulk start to add up. If you can rely on foraged fuel, the Bushbox XL Ti is an outstanding way to stay fed, warm AND leave no trace behind. All from a piece of gear that folds down to the size of a small notebook.

The guts of the stove, the grill plate and trivets, are still stainless steel in order to eliminate any problem with thermal stress on the hot spots. And like the steel Bushbox XL set up is lightning quick as the ash pan and bottom plate are part of the construction and fall easily into place when the stove is opened.

Product Information

  • Only 490g (540g with pouch)
  • Pack size folded 12.5 x 19 x 1 cm; In pouch: 21 x 17 x 1 cm
  • All parts with high thermal stress (bottom plate, trivets) are made from stainless steel to make sure they do not warp.
  • The Bushbox XL Titanium comes with a heavy-duty outdoor bag.

Bushcraft Essentials Accessories

Bushcraft Essentials makes it easy to order replacement parts and their designs aren't going away any time soon. There are also several accessories that can be both fun and useful in getting the most out of your stove.

Bushbox Grill Plate

Bushbox Grill Plate

Bushboxes come with an ash plate and a base plate included. The base plate can be used as a grill, so technically you don't NEED a grill pate accessory, but it is the best way to cook food directly over an open flame without a pot or pan. The base and grill plate used together would allow you to use one to give good ventilation to your fuel source and one to cook the food. Highly recommended.

Bushbox Coupling Module

Here's how you can earn your Super Junior Scout Bushcrafter Badge (with Golden Flame Device). Get a Bushbox Coupling Module, take two Bushboxes, hook them together, then cook two brats to utter backcountry perfection on its luxuriously long cooking surface. The coupling module is a fun little variation on the classic Bushbox set-up.

Bushbox-Coupling-Module

Bushbox Ultralight Ash Plate

Bushbox Ultralight Ash Plate

The Bushbox Ultralight comes with a grill plate (with holes) and a light-weight trivet. If you're going to use a lot of natural fuel, a solid ash plate is recommended to protect the soil beneath your stove. Insert it on the lowest position to catch the ash as it falls through the grill plate. Only 14g.

Bushbox XL Grill Plate

The Bushbox XL Universal Grate and the XL Grill Plate are two different things. Grates are the size of the XL's burning chamber and can be used in several positions in or on the stove (which is very very useful if you're going to use Trangia/alcohol burners).  The Grill Plate has a lot more surface area and goes on top the Bushbox XL for cooking savage beast meat and nourishing your inner warrior. Or some BBQ chicken. Which is also good. Highly recommended.

Bushbox XL-Universal-Grate
box-XL-Grill-Plate-Accessory

Appendix A: Stove Selection Matrix

Nobody can claim to have written a complete and exhaustive guide to anything without an appendix or two. So, here's a great chart to help you decide which BE stove is best for your needs. The larger the stove, the more versatile its use.

Bushcraft-Essentials-Stove-Selection-Matrix