Sierra ZzipStove Review

Sierra  ZzipStove Review- By: Lorin John

We here at are always on the lookout for items that can make your life easier in an emergency situation. We have found just such an item, and I took it up a local canyon for a “test drive” this past weekend.


The Sierra Zzip stove is not a new product. It has been around, essentially unchanged, for a couple of decades. It has a devoted, if small, following among long distance backpackers who find that it frees them from having to carry fuel canisters or bottles. On an overnight trip, this is not a concern, but when you are on the trail, away from the ability to resupply for days on end, every ounce starts to count. For backpackers, they can use twigs, wood chips, natural charcoal from old fire-scarred trees, pretty much anything organic. One user even reported exceptional results from dried elk droppings!


For a “prepper”, the ability to prepare hot food can become critical. You may have gas or propane, but there are restrictions on how much fuel you can store. Wood fires are great for keeping warm, but inefficient for cooking.  Emergency fuels such as Instafire or Fire Rocks are better, but their soft flame is turned into a blowtorch by the Sierra Zzip stove.


The secret of the Zzip stove is simple. You start by lighting a fire in the small burn bowl. I used some fire starter and a few dry twigs. Once I had a small fire, I flipped a switch, and a fan, operated by a single AA battery, started pushing air through the flame, just like blowing on a campfire to get it going. One alkaline battery should last six hours or more. (Sustainability alert! If you use rechargeable batteries and a solar battery recharger, you can keep the stove going practically in perpetuity with a pair of batteries).


Other reviewers have boiled a quart of water in four minutes. Full disclosure, it took me closer to five, which still compares favorably to other small stoves. I just kept feeding small pieces of wood and charcoal through the opening in the windscreen. With charcoal, I got better results by breaking up complete briquettes into smaller pieces.


Once the water was boiling, I poured some Food Supply Depot Creamy Stroganoff in, and brought it back to a boil, then set the fan switch to low while my hot meal simmered away.


A mere twelve minutes of cooking plus five of cooling later, the Creamy Stroganoff was ready to eat. Good thing, the smell was making me hungry!


The Sierra Zzip stove in made in the USA, and is featured at $54.99 on



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One thought on “Sierra ZzipStove Review”

  • Joe Stirling

    An essentially free and weightless option is to use an aluminum pie plate and three tent pegs.

    First buy and eat a pie. Save the pie plate and wash it off. Put the plate on the ground. Take your wide based cook pot (a billy can will work too but not as efficient) and decide spacing for your tent peg tripod. Wide is great. Pierce the pegs through the pie plate. Voila. You can choose to bend the sides of the pie plate up a bit for more of a wind break. You can put rocks under the pie plate to adjust the height in relation to the pot. Use twigs for the fire. A handful of twigs will boil a liter of water.

    You could go nuts and make an aluminum foil windbreak, but I used this method for a two month hike without needing to do that. You can use the aluminum pegs for your shelter after they've cooled off, but I eventually just left them dedicated for cooking, I made a drawstring bag out of silk to hold blackened pot, the pie plate, the pegs and camp suds etc in the pot.

    If it started to rain I would collect some twigs and stick them under my pack's rain cover. If I was lazy or everything was wet a squirt of hand sanitizer would get the fire going. A pie plate weighs essentially nothing. We used the same plate for over two months of twice daily cooking. You can find twigs anywhere.

    When the black fly season began (we were in eastern Quebec) we began to use our pie plate just to make smokey fires when we took a sit down and air out the feet break. As an aside, if you take a 10 minute break, shoes and socks off, after every 50 minute stretch of walk your feet will not get rank and you will be able to walk for a very long time. Arrowroot, baking soda, tea tree mixed up and put in a baggie does wonders for the feet. I was born with clubfeet that are very flat and doing this could put down 40km a day walks (along a rail trail and country roads) for days. Anyway, these smokey fires kept the flies at bay and our sanity in place. Without this plate 'stove' we wouldn't have taken the breaks we needed and rested the dogs, hydrated, snacked, observed nature, etc.

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