I got turned onto wood stove cooking last year, as much for the ambiance of cooking dinner over a fire, as the weight savings from not having to carry stove fuel on trips. But I’ve always wanted a wood stove that folded flat to make it easier to pack, so I asked my wife to buy me a QiWiz Firefly UL Titanium Collapsible Wood Stove as a birthday present earlier this year. QiWiz is an Ohio-based UL stove and tool-maker run by Rob Kelly, who’s the mad professor of ultralight backpacking cooking, grilling, and baking.
While the Titanium Firefly UL wood stove is insanely lightweight and only weighs 2.86 ounces / 80 g (with the side FlexPort shown), the chief reason I wanted one is that it disassembles and folds flat for easy transport. Most of the other UL wood stoves available today are much larger can-like contraptions that are difficult to pack and take up a lot of space, which you’re unlikely to have if you carry a small volume or ultralight backpack. A wood stove that folds flat can be easily stowed in an external pocket, a desirable feature since segregating it from the rest of your gear and clothing will keep them from smelling like they’re smoldering or on fire.
The Firefly consists of four titanium panels that slot together to form a combination windscreen and pot holder. The top of each panel has a pot support that is narrow enough to hold most cook pots. If you have a very narrow pot or one made out of a beer can, QiWiz sells “narrowlight” supports that slot into holes in the pot holders or frame that will hold the pot at the right height above the fire.
The bottom of each side panel has two angled feet which hold the bottom of the fuel box (a piece of wire mesh) in place. When purchasing the stove you can also get a very thin sheet of titanium to cover the wire mesh and reduce airflow into the stove, which I prefer because it also keeps hot ashes from falling onto the ground and scorching it.
When you purchase the Firefly, you can also get one of the panels with a hinged FlexPort (shown above) that lets you feed the fire using larger diameter and longer pieces of wood from the side. This is incredibly convenient, especially if you want to simmer something because you can regulate how much fuel the fire gets. To reduce the fire’s heat output pull the sticks out of the firebox. To stoke up the fire, push more fuel in. Simple and very useful if you like to simmer or cook real food instead of just boiling water to rehydrate meals.
Firefly Component Weights, as configured (2.86 ounces/80g total)
- FlexPort Panel (22 g)
- 3 x Regular Panels (50 g)
- Mesh Floor (8 g)
- Titanium Floor (<1 g)
Cooking and Assembly
When lighting the FireFly, I fill the fuel box with small kindling and finger-sized sticks up to the bottom of the pot between the pot supports. I usually keep the FlexPort at least partially open and light the fire from the side, toward the bottom. I often don’t need any fire starter to get it going provided I have dry wood, and a match or two lights the stove up quickly.
When cooking with the Firefly, I usually need to augment my first load of wood in order to bring 2 cups of water to a roiling boil. This can be done from the side via the FlexPort or by inserting smaller pieces of wood, about 2-3 inches long and the diameter of my middle finger, into the corners of the fuel box between the pot supports. I often use both techniques simultaneously, but it really depends on the size of the wood I’ve found nearby and how much I’ve collected.
When it comes time to disassemble the FireFly, I can do this without getting my hands sooty, by holding the edges of the panels. The same holds for assembly. When not in use, I store the Firefly components in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag from Ikea.
What About Rain?
Whenever I carry a wood stove, I always bring along a few cubes of ESBIT (solid fuel) in case it rains and I can’t find any dry wood to burn. A cooking pot provides an ESBIT cube with enough cover that you can cook with it in rain provided you use a small pot stand to keep it off a wet surface. I usually just find a rock, the size of a small tangerine, to use as a stand for my ESBIT cube. I put the rock and the ESBIT inside the FireFly, cover it with my pot full of water, light it from the side using the FlexPort, and use the FireFly as a windscreen. This is much simpler than carrying a lot of extra ESBIT specific components, although QiWiz does sell them for use with the FireFly. (I like QiWiz’s Dual Fuel system so much that I use it for very simple/short trips and plan to review it separately in the next week or so.)
The Firefly is definitely an ultralight enthusiast’s stove. I don’t mean to disparage it by saying that, but this is a stove for people who like to tinker with their gear and push an idea to its limit. This stove is also optimized (with the FlexPort option) for people who cook, bake, or grill and need the ability to adjust heat during different phases of that process, although it also does a fine job for boiling water for freezer bag-style meals.
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