Tom Pritchard at EcoZoom shipped us a Zoom Versa stove to test and review and we are happy that he did! It arrived at our door in just a few days. Unfortunately, on the day it arrived we happened to be under an “absolutely no outdoor fires” ban from our county fire department. The ban lasted for a couple more days, so we patiently waited before firing it up.
If you want the quick version of our opinion after initial testing, here it is. We would feel very comfortable giving the EcoZoom Versa stove an overall 5 stars out of a possible 5 stars.
Quick Rating Overview
Packing – 5 stars
Size & Weight – 5 stars
Workmanship – 5 stars
Ease of Lighting – 4 stars
Fuel – 5 stars
Ease of Use – 5 stars
Safety 5 – stars
Read on for an explanation of each rated category and feedback from our cooking experience. At the end of this review, we tell you how you can get a special discount on your next stove purchase.
Packing – 5 Stars: The stove arrived in excellent condition. It was packed very well. The way it was packed would prevent damage to the stove even if the box were to be dropped on a corner.
The contents of the EcoZoom Versa box:
- Additional grate for use with coals
- Pot skirt
- Fuel support grill
Size & Weight – 5 Stars: The first thing we noticed is that it was quite a bit heavier than expected. It weighs in at around 25 pounds, even though it’s barely over a foot tall. At this weight, you probably would not consider this stove for backpacking, but the weight is of no concern if it is to be used for, say, camping, backyard cooking, or off-the-grid purposes.
- Stove: Diameter -11 inches by Height -12 1/2 inches
- Upper Door: Width -4 1/2 inches by Height -2 3/8 inches
- Lower Door: Width -2 3/8 inches by Height -1 3/8 inches
- Shipping Weight 26.75 pounds
The first time we tested, we sat the stove directly on the ground, which was not the best idea. If the stove were placed on a nonflammable platform of some kind it would make it a lot easier to keep an eye on the fire.
Workmanship – 5 Stars: It definitely deserves 5 stars for workmanship. It’s solid and well built. Actually, this thing is like a tank – it’s been built to last. This is not a flimsy thing as much of it is cast iron. The doors are designed with an “overhang” around them, so when they are closed they overlap the stove to create a decent seal. They each have a blade latch for a secure closure.
Ease of Lighting – 4 Stars: We did go online and watch the instructions video as suggested in the printed material that came with the stove. We found them helpful.
We live in the country, in an area that often is plagued with wildfires. As such, we are frequently under open-fire bans – as we well should be. That being said, we were overly cautious when lighting the stove out in the open, on a fairly windy day, only a day after a no-burn order was lifted. We certainly did not want to be the cause of a fire.
We had expectations that the stove would be more difficult to light on a windy day, and our expectations were met. Along with our constant fear of setting the neighborhood ablaze (the fear was NOT caused by the stove, but rather by our paranoia) we laughingly went through an entire small box of matches trying to light the stove. Finally, we decided we needed a long-neck lighter and went to the convenience store a few miles away to get one.
There were some embers when getting the stove started and a fairly small amount that appeared when we would push the wood further into the fire, or add a new stick. The embers quickly disappeared once the fire was undisturbed again.
EcoZoom also sells “pucks” called Zoom Ignite Discs that can be used to easily ignite the fire. They only need a single match to light them, then they burn for five minutes, which is plenty of time to get a good fire going with your sticks. Actually, according to the EcoZoom website, only half the disc is needed to start the fire in the Versa stove. It would be worth getting a couple of these discs just for a windy or drizzly day.
Fuel – 5 Stars: We gave this a resounding 5 stars because it is so cool that this stove did a great job with what most people would probably consider kindling. Even someone in a city could easily walk around their neighborhood with a 5 gallon bucket and find plenty of twigs and small branches that would be totally adequate for a week’s worth of fuel for this stove.
Sure, you could use coals in this stove, but why? Wood small enough to use in the Zoom Versa is abundant. The city dump in large cities often gives away wood meant to be used as mulch, that would be perfectly usable as fuel in this little stove, so even folks in cities could probably get a “never ending” supply of free fuel.
Ease of Use – 5 Stars: Once we got the fire going, cooking on it was like cooking on any gas stove. Play with the intensity of the fire a bit, then put on the pan and cook. We didn’t get a chance to use the pan skirt yet, as the pot and skillet we used were a bit too small – even though the pot skirt adjusted down fairly small.
The intensity of the fire can be altered by adding more wood or pulling some of the wood out of the fire box. The amount the damper door is open can also be adjusted to control the intensity of the fire.
We easily cooked two scrambled eggs and oatmeal enough for two people with about 8 sticks that were approximately 6 inches long by ½ inch diameter. We got the wood from a single small branch that we removed from a pile of brush that was going to get hauled away. You can watch us cook eggs in our video below.
Safety – 5 Stars: Again, once we got the fire going we felt perfectly safe operating this stove, even in a fairly stiff wind (around 10-15 mph). The product is well built and heavy, so there is absolutely no feeling that it would tip over. The sides of the stove below the carry handles was warm to the touch, but never what we considered hot enough to fear being burned. Actually, we kept touching it and wondering if it was ever going to get hotter – it didn’t.
Our Outdoor Cooking Experience: We cooked fried eggs and some oatmeal as our first meal on the stove. There was no noticeable time difference cooking on the Versa Zoom than cooking on our gas range in our kitchen. There was, of course, more of a “campfire” feeling because we were cooking outdoors, but we felt that was a good thing. It was easy cooking on the Versa. It took a little practice getting the hang of adjusting the intensity of the fire, but by the time we got done cooking the eggs, we were pretty comfortable with our new skill.
Our Conclusion: We plan to keep using our Versa Zoom to augment our solar cooker to be able to cook two things at once when we cook outdoors. The Zoom Versa is a well built stove that we would feel very comfortable recommending to anyone who wanted an efficient outdoor stove for camping, balcony cooking, or any similar type of outdoor cooking.
We liked the Versa Zoom so much that we partnered with the EcoZoom folks so that we can offer you a discounted price. To get $10 off on the purchase an EcoZoom stove, click HERE or on the advertisement image below. At checkout, enter the code HOMEsurvival. Enjoy your EcoZoom stove!