EcoZoom Versa Review
Before I go into the cooking capabilities of this device I first want to talk about its design and quality. For the price, I have come across devices that cook similarly but are in no way a comparison to this. It reminds me of the wood burning arga I had at my old old farm. Heavy duty, robust and rustically beautiful. The latch design on the air and wood feeding doors is simple and perfectly natural looking for the overall design. Its double walled and thermally insulated to prevent the exterior becoming blindingly hot with a ceramic ember catcher that also feeds air up into the stove. I believe it has a cast iron top which is just another way this stove stands out. Most would likely be aluminium to save weight and cost, but Ecozoom really wanted this to be a long lasting piece of quality equipment. Mostly though, this is a really aesthetically pleasing piece of equipment.
Well, while it is considered a portable cooking stove, it’s not something you would throw in a backpack and take on a hike as it’s actually a rather heavy device if I am completely honest. It is, therefore, unlikely I would take it wild camping although I would take it to a campsite as most campsites wont allow you to have an open fire. This means I can still cook in a more traditional manner for the smokey flavours and charred meats that I enjoy from a standard campfire without getting kicked off-site for reasons other than alcohol. It’s large enough for me to get my 14 inch pan on the top with room to spare and while, in reality, it is bulky it does not feel oversized in any way. The chimney is quite small to direct heat efficiently and conserve the amount of fuel required for high temperature cooking and I have used very little firewood compared to similarly designed cooking equipment.
I’ve taken this to the beach and popped it in the boot of my car to go up the mountains and for a good ol’ stir-fry in the sun. Mostly though, it’s served me as a daily cooker while I’ve been renovating my home. I have been without a kitchen for a few weeks but, thanks to foresight, I managed to get this before hand and set up a temporary outdoor kitchen with this as my main cooker. I had a gas burning hob, a wood burning kettle for quick cuppa’s and I even had my BBQ for when I had a few people around helping out with the bigger tasks. Throughout maybe 3 weeks of renovation though this was (besides the kettle, obviously) the most used device in my culinary arsenal. I’ve cooked the standard English breakfast, stir-fry’s, bolognaise and the odd boil in the bag ration using this and it has performed flawlessly. I’ve even had a few tradesmen commenting on it and asking if they could have it when my new kitchen was finally fitted. I politely declined in a traditional builders manner.
It uses very little fuel thanks to the design while producing high heats for flash frying meat and lower heats for my bolognaise. There’s little else I could ask for and given that I live on the side of a mountain I had plenty of access to fuel without fear of running out mid fry. The insulated design prevented me from burning myself or my table and the handles were always handy for moving the stove to make space even with wood burning inside. I will also mention at this point that most stoves of this type can be difficult to get going. They rely on the heat from the fire to drag air in through the feed hole to get burning but, thanks to the lower chamber and door, it was much easier to get burning as it drew air in far more easily with the extra opening.
Overall this is one of the best devices I’ve used in quite a long time and I’m really glad I had the chance to use it while I was without a traditional kitchen. I often go camping and cook on an open fire but something really pleasant came from sitting in my garden cooking on a daily basis. Part of me was sad to have access to a modern cooker after weeks of sitting outside with friends and family knowing that convenience of a modern cooking unit would drag me indoors more. Still, thanks to the EcoZoom Versa. I had a very enjoyable time while I was without modern conveniences. Also, with the spare materials I had after my house was completed, I decided to make an outdoor shelter on the back of my home which would be the kitchen for some garden parties for the rest of my summer.
Buy your EcoZoom stoves here.