I recently tested out the TOM SHOO camping stove and was impressed with its performance and versatility. In this detailed review, I’ll share my experience using this budget-friendly wood stove and why it has become a backpacking essential for me.
What is the TOM SHOO Stove?
The TOM SHOO stove is a small stainless steel wood-burning stove designed for camping and backpacking. It costs around $20 USD on Amazon.
The stove uses a process called wood gasification. This means it converts wood into flammable gas which burns cleanly and efficiently.
Gasification stoves like the TOM SHOO allow you to cook with real wood fires while producing very little smoke. This makes them popular choices for environmentally friendly camping.
Key Features of the Stove
Here are the main features and components of the TOM SHOO stove:
- Compact size – The stove measures around 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter and 3 inches (8 cm) tall. This allows it to fit easily in a backpack.
- Low weight – It weighs approximately 1 pound (0.5 kg) including all parts. This makes it portable for hiking or backpacking.
- Stainless steel construction – The stove is made entirely from stainless steel. This makes it durable but adds some weight.
- Storage bag included – Comes with a mesh storage bag to hold all the pieces together. This keeps things organized.
- Versatile burning options – The stove can burn wood, alcohol fuel, or solid fuel tablets. So you have flexibility in the fuel you use.
- Ash tray – A tray catches ashes and embers, keeping them contained. This can be emptied out easily after cooking.
- Pot support – Metal arms hold pots and pans above the flame. These fold together for easy packing.
- Grill top – An optional grill grate allows you to cook food over the open flame.
- Alcohol burner – A special tray converts the stove into an alcohol burner.
First Impressions – Well Built for the Price
When I first took the TOM SHOO stove out of the bag, I could tell it was solidly made. The stainless steel construction makes it durable for backcountry use.
- Includes storage bag, pot support, grill, and alcohol burner tray
- Weighs 14.1 oz for just the stove and legs
- Weighs just over 1 lb with all components and bag
- Dimensions are 5 inches in diameter and 3 inches tall
This packable size means the whole kit fits easily into an MSR canister stove bag. Perfect for backpacking.
Taking apart the pieces, I was impressed with how simple the design was. There are just a few main parts:
- Bottom base with air holes
- Gasifier unit
- Ash tray
- Pot supports
- Optional grill and alcohol burner tray
How to Assemble the TOM SHOO Stove
Putting together the TOM SHOO stove is quick and straightforward. Here are the basic steps:
- Place the bottom base on the ground. This has air holes for oxygen intake.
- Set the gasifier unit on top of the base. This is the main chamber where wood burns.
- Decide your fuel type. For wood, put the ash tray in the bottom to collect ashes. For alcohol, flip the tray upside down.
- Put the metal top on last to close the chamber.
- Take the two pot support pieces and connect them in an X shape. Rest this on top of the stove.
Once assembled, you have a complete wood gas stove ready for lighting. The whole process only takes about 1 minute.
Using the Stove to Burn Wood
Let’s look closer at how well the TOM SHOO stove performs when burning wood. This is what it was primarily designed for.
Starting a Fire
To start a fire in the stove:
- Use small dry twigs and leaves as tinder in the bottom. This helps ignite larger pieces.
- Build up small pieces of wood in a teepee shape around the tinder.
- Light the tinder in the center and let the flames spread outward.
- Slowly add larger sticks once the fire establishes.
It may take some practice to get the right technique for starting the fire. The stove works best with dry wood that ignites easily. Wet wood is more challenging.
Heating Up and Boiling Water
Once lit, the wood rapidly heats up thanks to the gasification process. The flames concentrate in the center for efficient heating.
In tests, the stove boiled a cup of water in just 6 minutes. This is 2-3 times faster than a regular campfire setup. The concentrated flame gives it a lot of heating power.
A nice benefit of the stove is that it stays hot for a long time after lighting. The embers continue producing heat.
You can cook multiple items without needing to continually restart the fire. It keeps an even temperature for 30-60 minutes typically.
Versatility for Different Pots
The X-shape pot support provides stability for different sized pots and kettles. It worked well in tests with small cups and larger pots.
The wide opening also makes it easy to add more wood while a pot is already on the stove. With some stoves, the pot limits wood access.
Efficiency and Low Smoke
Wood gasification means the TOM SHOO stove burns fuel very efficiently. The fire converts wood to gas which combusts cleanly.
This results in minimal smoke production. The fire generates lots of heat while using less wood overall compared to a normal open campfire.
Fuel Flexibility – Wood, Alcohol, Solid Fuel
What I love most about this stove is that it gives you 3 fuel options:
Wood Burning Stove Mode
This is where the stove really excels. The gasifier design creates a hot, clean-burning wood fire perfect for cooking.
To use it as a wood stove:
- Put the ashtray on the right side up to catch the ashes
- Build a starter fire with small kindling
- Once coals form, add larger pieces of wood
Even with damp wood, I was able to get it started after some practice. The key is starting small and letting a coal bed build up before adding bigger fuel.
The large opening makes adding wood easy, so you can keep the fire going strong. The flame is centered; surrounded the pot evenly when testing.
Alcohol Stove Option
The included alcohol burner tray lets you use denatured alcohol, HEET, or other alcohol fuels.
To use as an alcohol stove:
- Flip the ashtray upside down
- Put the alcohol tray on top
- Fill with alcohol fuel
- Place pot support and pot on top
It’s not as efficient as a purpose-built alcohol stove. But it’s convenient to have the ability to quickly boil water without gathering wood.
Solid Fuel Tablets
You can also use solid fuel tablets like Esbit by placing them in the burner tray. Great for when open campfires are prohibited.
Having these multiple fuel options gives me flexibility when choosing a stove for different trips and conditions.
Packable Size is Great for Backpacking
The TOM SHOO stove packs down small for backpacking. At just over 1 pound total, it won’t add too much weight to your pack.
And it fits perfectly inside an MSR stove bag. The compact storage size helps keep the soot and ash contained too.
The lightweight and packable size make this a great wood stove option for ultralight backpacking.
Boils Water Fast
When testing the stove’s performance, I was impressed with how quickly it boils water. The centered flame and heat distribution brought 16 oz of water to a rolling boil faster than I expected.
The large opening and cross-pot support design accommodates different pot sizes. I was able to use different mugs and pans from small cups up to 24oz pots with no problem.
The wide opening makes tending the fire very convenient when cooking. Overall, it’s an efficient and fast performer despite the budget price tag.
Durable Stainless Steel Construction
The stainless steel build makes this stove durable for the abuse of backcountry use. It’s solidly constructed and feels like it will hold up well over time.
I haven’t had any issues with the stove itself after several uses. The only negative is that the grill grate mine came with was pre-dented. Not a deal breaker, but slightly disappointing.
The stove’s stainless steel does stay hot for a while after the fire dies down. Titanium cools down faster. But the TOM SHOO’s sustained heat is nice when you want to cook for a longer period.
Great Value at Just $20
Considering its quality and performance, the TOM SHOO camping stove is an incredible value at just around $20 on Amazon.
You get a versatile wood/alcohol backpacking stove plus accessories like the grill and carry bag for a very reasonable price.
There is a $30 version with a handle on the base plate for carrying. But I don’t think the handle is worth paying $10 more.
Overall, the TOM SHOO gives you great functionality and flexibility without breaking the bank.
Good Alternative to the Canway Stove
The TOM SHOO stove is very similar to the popular Canway wood stove which costs around $20 as well.
The biggest differences are:
- TOM SHOO pot supports form an X-shape
- Canway uses a circular pot support
- TOM SHOO is slightly lighter weight
- Canway may have a bit higher build quality
But they offer almost identical performance in my experience. Both are excellent budget wood stove options.
So I’d say choose between them based on whether you prefer the X pot supports or round supports. You can’t go wrong with either!
Convenient Features Make Cooking a Breeze
There are some nice design features that make using the TOM SHOO stove very convenient:
- Large opening makes tending the fire easy
- Cross pot supports hold different pot sizes steady
- Ash tray catches coals/embers to keep area clean
- Alcohol tray converts it to a backup alcohol stove
- Grill grate for cooking small items right over the flame
You can cook a hot meal or quickly boil water for coffee using the best fuel source available. The stove really helps make cooking easy when camping.
Advantages of Using the TOM SHOO Stove
Here are the things I liked best about using the TOM SHOO Stove:
- Low cost at around $20 USD
- Lightweight and compact
- Made from stainless steel for durability
- Easy to assemble and use
- Burns wood efficiently with minimal smoke
- Boils water much faster than campfire
- Stays hot for 30-60 minutes on one load of wood
- Works with multiple fuel types
The Verdict – My New Go-To Camp Stove
After taking the TOM SHOO stove on several backpacking and car camping trips, it has become my go-to camping cooker.
The mix of packable size, fuel flexibility, durability, and fast boiling performance make it an awesome camping stove option at a very reasonable price.
For only $20, you get a quality gasifier wood stove plus multi-fuel capabilities in alcohol and solid fuel modes. This is an amazing value.
I highly recommend backpackers give the TOM SHOO camping stove a try. It’s built well, versatile for different situations, and acts like a more expensive stove at a budget price.
This is definitely a smart addition to any camper’s outdoor cooking kit. The TOM SHOO stove has earned a permanent place in my pack.
You can buy the TOM SHOO camping stove from Amazon with a discount if you apply the code: 10459OQZ at checkout.