Camping is a great way to spend some time enjoying the great outdoors. Motorcycle camping is an even better way to spend some time enjoying the great outdoors because getting to the camp site is actually enjoyable too. The problem with motorcycle camping is that your bike becomes loaded with camping gear, making it bulky and/or a tad top-heavy. Depending on the degree of difficulty of the terrain you’re riding in, this can cause a significant reduction in the fun factor. To minimize this it’s best to try and minimize your gear.
Emberlit is a light weight collapsible stove that’s perfect for motorcycle camping. Thinner and weighing less than a drug-addled supermodel (11.3 ounces and it folds flatter than my iPhone), it’s easily stowed in a saddle bag, backpack, or front fender pack. For those who favor anorexic gear there’s also a titanium version that weighs less than the skeletal remains of a drug-addled supermodel (just 5.45 ounces). Both stoves assemble quickly and easily – after just a few tries I put it together in about 20 seconds.
One of the best features of the Emberlit is it’s fuel source. No need to pack fuel, this stove runs on wood. And by wood I mean twigs, sticks, and branches. Unless you’re camping in the Sahara Desert or on a frozen arctic tundra, bits of dry small diameter wood are readily available in abundance.
One recurring theme with motorcycle camping is compromise. The Emberlit is no exception, particularly when compared to a stove that’s more high-tech – like a Jetboil. The Jetboil sets up easier (not by much though), lights quicker, and comes with self-contained cookware (assuming you’re just boiling water). It also doesn’t require any attention once it’s lit and isn’t nearly as messy to clean up or pack down. Emberlit’s compact design is somewhat compromised by having to tote additional cookware, but if you want to use a Jetboil stove for more than just boiling water you’re going to need additional pots or pans – which takes up even more space.
On the other hand, the Jetboil also costs more (at least twice as much) and will continue to cost money as you replenish the fuel being burned. And yes, you can run out of fuel. Plus, as a stand alone stove, the Jetboil doesn’t come close to the compactness of the Emberlit. I also have a hard time imagining how you could break or damage the Emberlit during a crash. The Jetboil is marketed as a technologically advanced cooking system; traditionally I’ve found the more high-tech something is the more easily broken it becomes.
There is a knack to starting a fire and cooking with the Emberlit. Because of this I highly encourage any first time users to do at least one trial run in the backyard before taking it into the backcountry. I definitely learned a few lessons the first time I used it. For my field test I rode out into the High Desert of Central Oregon and set it up on an old abandoned cistern perched in between two buttes. I thought I was clever by bringing some material from the lint trap in my dryer to start the fire with. It ignited easily but the wind blowing up the draw between the buttes accelerated the flame and it burned through before I could get twigs to light.
Lesson One: Bring fire starter that burns slowly. My riding partner saved me with some cotton balls he had dipped in petroleum jelly. There’s a plethora of home-made fire starter recipes online, or you can buy some from the Emberlit website.
Lesson Two: Start small. Use dry grass, pine needles, leaves, small brush, bits of peat bog, chunks of whale blubber, or dried elephant dung – depending on your geographic location – to build the flame. Then move up to twigs and sticks.
Lesson Three: Pay attention. Twigs and sticks tend to burn quickly so make sure you have everything you need within reach. If you need to scavenge more wood, step away to gut and skin your meal or prepare Brontosaurus burgers, you may return to find your fire has died out. This could be one of the negatives of Emberlit, constantly having to tend it. Personally I liked the challenge of it. And really, what do most people spend a lot of time doing while camping? Tending and poking the fire.
In my opinion the biggest negative with this stove is it’s messy clean up – all the pieces of the stove and the bottom of my cookware were covered in soot. So were my hands by the time I got everything stowed in my pack. This might prove less problematic by using a cleaner fuel source like whale blubber or elephant dung. Pieces of the stove can also be rubbed on the ground or in the dirt for a rough cleaning, which is something that occurred to me after I packed it up. This leads to Lesson Four …
Lesson Four: Bring a shop rag, towel, moist towelettes, or a team of operators (trust me – you can use your hands to blacken all their faces for a midnight insertion behind enemy lines).
One of my biggest concerns about this stove was having to wait for it to cool down before I could repack it and head back out on the trail. This turned out to be a nonissue. By the time I had finished scarfing down my lunch and burping it back up, the embers were out and the stove was cool enough to disassemble.
I like the Emberlit. It may not be as convenient or quick as some other small portable camping stoves, but there’s something about it that appeals to my inner survival enthusiast. I certainly enjoy watching reality based TV survival shows that feature people stranded in extremely hot climates suffering from severe dehydration. I like to watch these episodes in the summertime while sprawled out the couch, eating a popsicle with the air conditioning on full blast.
For me the biggest appeal of Emberlit is it’s low-tech, minimalist design. It’s simplistic, extremely reliable, reasonably priced, and really only requires one initial investment. You’ll also never run out of fuel and have the option to do more than just boil water, like roast marshmallows or heat up a cavalry sword to cauterize a wound. Plus, if you high side at mach speed out on the trails and end up with a broken femur you can rest assured (in a hospital bed full of morphine) that the Emberlit will be unscathed.
The Emberlit Stove retails for $44.99 in stainless steel and $84.99 for the titanium version. To learn more about the Emberlit stove, or to see the other products they have available, check out their website.