View Full Version : Custom Fritz Handel - Bushbuddy Stove

2006-09-13, 22:37
The following review is for a custom prototype
Fritz Handel original Bushbuddy Stove.


Manufacturer: Fritz Handel Enterprises - Iskut, British Columbia, Canada
The commercial model is available here:

Specifications: This is a wood burning double walled, conventional vented (read as 'not forced air with fan' - rather natural drafting) made of stainless steel. NOTE: this review is for a custom 'one-off' prototype version of the Bushbuddy stove. Dimensions, design, construction materials and final weight are radically different from the standard model.
Stove dimensions = 4 1/4" dia x 3 3/4" high (custom sized to nest inside a Snowpeak Trek 900 titanium pot)
Stove weight = 4.70 oz
Constructed from .004 stainless outer wall, and .010 inner wall.
Custom nicrome wire fire grate. (Fritz has extremely limited quantity!)

Aquiring the Stove:
I first heard about this stove from an article by Ryan Jordan of BPL. Ryan had his own custom bushbuddy made for the Arctic 1000 expedition. I contacted Fritz about this, and he prompty responded to me with a very lengthly and extremely detailed account of Ryan Jordan's custom stove design. He made extremely helpful suggestions and offered performance reviews including both very important positive and negative effects on Ryan Jordans custom model. I put complete faith in Fritz, giving the big thumbs up on all his suggestions for improvement and alterations from Ryan Jordans bushbuddy. So how does my custom stove differ from the standard bushbuddy? Well to start with, for an extra $40.00 CAN, Fritz custom builds your stove to your exacting specifications so it will nest perfectly in your chosen pot. The materials are much thinner and lighter than the standard model. My stove is a combination of .004 and .010 stainless steel. (Ryan Jordan had an all .004 SS built *FYI - stove will buckle over time with extended use) The design of the vent chambers is significantly altered so that one entire component "the base plate" of the standard bushbuddy design is eliminated or rather it is integral in the custom model. Lastly, Fritz has a very small supply of "nicrome" wire he uses for the firebox. This wire withstands higher temperatures while being much smaller and lighter than the steel mesh used in the standard model.

Initial Observations:
Right out of the box, I was blown away. No - Technically I was blown away by the box itself. Fritz hand cut and nailed a custom wooden crate to ship the stove in. In hindsight this is just one of those little details that makes Fritz Handels craftsmanship so incredible. I immediately weighed and measured the stove. It was 'spot on, perfect'. - as if there were any doubt. Turning the stove in my hand, I was utterly captivated. As a tradesman myself, specifically a metal worker, I would like to think I have a good eye for metal work. I knew immediately upon looking at the construction of this stove... this was constructed with 'master-class' hand skills and meticulous attention to detail. The sheer complexity of the compound bends, the way Fritz rolls over his edges, and the welded seams ... there just aren't words to describe it other than ..'art'. Just looking at the design of the stove, having never tried it...it deserves an engineering award. The complex bending, folding, rolling and welding of the very thin .004 and .010 stainless has created an astoundingly strong and stable yet featherlight stove. Here are some pics:
The Stove nested for travel:
Assembled for use:
The fire box and double wall vent chambers
Note the vent openings both in the upper portions of the firebox and
also just beneath the fire box mesh. This is the brilliance behind the performance:
Stunning exquisit craftsmanship. Every edge is smooth, the microscopic spot welds are a sheer work of art.
This gives a good perspective on just how tiny these spot welds are.
Stove Weight Pic:

2006-09-13, 22:38
Part 2

I used the stove for about 2 hrs continuous, experimenting with different woods, pots, amounts of water etc. Recording temperatures, and boil times.
Here is one example test. Taking one large handfull of wood: - pieces ranging in diameter from baby finger size to about 1.5x dia of thumb size.
I broke some small pieces and loosely filled the stove 1/3 full. Using 4 drops
of denatured alcohol and and flint striker, lit up beautifully. This was about the perfect amount of wood for an efficient flame using my SnowPeak Mini Solo in this test.
This picture shows how wood can easily be added to the stove without removing the pot.
The flame pattern is smooth, moderately to well protected from wind and
of course ... HOT! As the flames die down.. a bed of embers is super fueled by the lower combustion air vents. This creates an intense glowing heat, with almost no flame and little smoke.
I achieved an 11 minute rolling boil with .75 litres of water starting @57deg F.
Note in the picture that I used only aprox 2/3 of my original handfull of wood.
Also note the intense glow of the coal bed in the firebox.

I will complete more testing and report back in this thread at a later time.
I hope you found this initial review helpful, or at least, entertaining with
the quantity of pictures to support my observations. If you are at this point 'drooling' to have your own stove made.. Definately email Fritz and tell him
Ryan Miles sent you. Fritz lives in a tiny, rediculously isolated village of Iskut in Northern BC - population 283 people. Most of them literally live off the land.. building their own homes and hunting and fishing the local wilderness to support their families. Supporting this native village is not just a great cause,.. you're getting a piece of gear of the highest quality. A design to rival the sierra zip stove .. and at less than half the weight of the Ti model sierra zip. And of course .. no moving parts, no batteries to carry.. nothing to break - nothing to fix. Total cost of custom stove designed to your specs: $130.00 CAN. Enjoy.

To summarize my initial thoughts on this stove...
A Fritz Handel Bushbuddy is to Hobo Stoves..
as Western Mountaineering is to sleeping bags.

2006-09-13, 23:06
That is a COOL (HOT?) stove. If anyone is aware of a lightweight, compact stove that uses a small flue pipe I would appreciate any info you have. I plan to get a Golite Hex 3 and put a fiberglass stove jack in the side of it and have a heater for the shelter. Sort of an ultralight version of a sheepherder's stove is what I'm after. I've been to Kifaru's site and seen theirs but I'm sure there are others. DIY plans would be way cool 'cause I'm cheap.

2006-09-13, 23:31
Turk. Excellent job on your review. Looks like you picked a winning design for your upcoming bushwack. Originally I was shocked at the price when I viewed the linksite. But, after your enthusiastic and complete depiction of what you hold in your hand, I am impressed and assured of a great product.

Apparently, all hobostoves are not created equal.

Great job on your review.

2006-09-14, 01:28
Wow! Very nice tooling on that stove. Good design.
I understand the price if they are not mass produced. Nice that it produces such output without fan and thereby without batteries...

I like woodburning stoves my latest the "Firespout" is also of stainless but it buckled while in use this winter, it fell over in the snow making it buckle even more :hmpf:

SGT Rock
2006-09-14, 04:27
Now that is a cool stove. I love the weight for a well made hobo stove that can nest inside a pot. Sure beats a lot of other designs out there from the looks of it.

I am seriously thinking of getting one.

2006-09-14, 14:15
[B]Total cost of custom stove designed to your specs: $130.00 CAN. Enjoy.

wow! that's only what? $1.52 US, right? :D

(seriously, at 80%, that's $104.)

2006-09-14, 15:46
That is a COOL (HOT?) stove. If anyone is aware of a lightweight, compact stove that uses a small flue pipe I would appreciate any info you have. I plan to get a Golite Hex 3 and put a fiberglass stove jack in the side of it and have a heater for the shelter. Sort of an ultralight version of a sheepherder's stove is what I'm after. I've been to Kifaru's site and seen theirs but I'm sure there are others. DIY plans would be way cool 'cause I'm cheap.

I assume you were looking at the Kifaru Parastove (http://www.kifaru.net/stovpara.htm)? Have you looked at the Titanium Goat Titanium Cylinder stove (http://www.titaniumgoat.com/cstove.html)?

Or you might look at the TiGoat Titanium Stove (http://www.titaniumgoat.com/stoves.html) as it's somewhat comparable to the Kifaru Small Stove (http://www.kifaru.net/stovsmal.htm).

I've not heard or seen any DIY Plans, but if you look at the sites I imagine you could easily come up with some sketches.

2006-09-14, 15:50
Turk, very nice on the custom stove you got. Very sleek looking.

In your discussion with Fritz, was his thought that ALL 0.004 will buckle over time (including the 0.004)? Or, jsut that the weight bearing parts of the stove will buckle (and therefor your stove has the weight bearing parts made of 0.010)?

It's slick as heck that he custom fabbed to your dimensions... got to keep that in mind...

2006-09-14, 18:54
In your discussion with Fritz, was his thought that ALL 0.004 will buckle over time (including the 0.004)? Or, jsut that the weight bearing parts of the stove will buckle (and therefor your stove has the weight bearing parts made of 0.010)?

After Fritz made the first custom stove for Ryan Jordan, Fritz tells me he played around with several duplicate models of Ryan Jordan's stove. He was trying to find a happy medium between weight and durability. Also the firebox made completely of .004 was expanding and contracting over time and thus distorting the shape. I believe my stove was the first .004/.010 hybrid. He used as little .010 as possible but reinforced the inner firebox chamber with the heavier steel, and the pot support stand. Fritz tells me that an all .010 stove of same dimensions will weigh in around 5.25 - 5.5 oz. Whereas Ryan Jordans all .004 stove weighed in at 4 5/8oz (Fritz made quite an adament point of this final weight) - although Ryan later advertised the weight at 4.0oz on his arctic 1000 blog. Mine is a compromise between the two. Long term durability, but still needs some caution. Should be stored in your pot when on the trail. As alcohol stove users though, the folks around here know all about taking a little extra care with UL gear.

one thing I forgot to mention ... hmm better make this a warning..

WARNING: DO NOT QUENCH THE STOVE WITH WATER. I got lucky in further testing today. the rapid cooling of the thin steel caused a loud "ping' noise when i extinguished the fire with a pot off water. Luckily I had no deformation. In all future use I will allow the stove to extinguish itself and air cool to ambient temp.

2006-09-15, 13:12
Ah, so it's just the reverse of what I thought. I assumed he would have made the exterior and pot stand (aka the weight bearing portions) out of 0.010, as I assumed the deformation was due to softening from heat and bending due to weight bearing stress.

However, the deformation due to thermal cycling makes sense.


2006-09-15, 19:20
I recently purchased this stove:


It is much heavier, 17 oz advertised, but I have traded weight for volume. The stove disassembles into a flat package 3/8" thick. I have found volume to be as big a problem as weight.

SGT Rock
2006-09-16, 03:46
Holy cow, looks a lot like a folding wood stove I was working on. Looks like they took it past what I had though. Mine didn't weigh nearly that much.

2006-09-16, 11:06
One of these high end hobo stoves might work quite well with a spider kettle for car/base camp cooking. It would use much less fuel than just raking coals under the kettle.

2006-09-16, 12:34
Yeah, that Makaira is pretty cool. Last I had seen it, they hadn't finalized pricing. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Oh, here's one that popped in Google-Ads whil I was looking at something else...

Littlbug (http://www.littlbug.com/index.htm)

Looks promising...

Oh, and T-a-K... Spider Kettle?

2006-09-16, 18:37
Holy cow, looks a lot like a folding wood stove I was working on. Looks like they took it past what I had though. Mine didn't weigh nearly that much.

Yeah - the steel they use is pretty thick. It could probably be made using less thickness, but then I can stand on it as they have made it. Almost indestructible, ready for a lot of hard use. Had too many stoves that didn't last long enough to get solid use. The soda can alcohol stoves (all kinds) are in the latter catagory - easy to make, but if you don't have a supply of soda cans :bawling:

I looked at a lot of homemade wood stoves. They all use cans or some kind of stove pipe - a lot of volume to carry even if they light.

The design is simple to put together and take apart - can do either in well under 1 minute. The firedoor panel goes in last and comes out first. Take that panel out and the rest pretty much almost falls apart. Once assembled, it is all locked solidly together. You can order a spare panel without the huge firedoor and have solid panels all around. Except for the firedoor panel, all the panels are identical.

I looked at the LittlBug stove - my biggest problem with that design was the fact that the fire sits on the ground - no fire grate. What do you do in snow? With a fire grate on the bottom and air flow there, you can sit the stove on large branches (even wet ones) on the snow and it will still work as usual. Also, I don't use a sleeping mat that rolls into a cylinder - prefer the thermarest z-rest. So I have nothing to wrap the disassembled stove around.

2006-11-21, 20:43
Replies from thread : http://hikinghq.net/forum/showthread.php?p=15852#post15852


Do you know what is the differance between the UL and standard? I am what you would call less weight conscious. For me 10 oz is just fantastic however if all things are = I would take the lighter stove. The stove does seem real nice.


You're the one with the custom-sized bushbuddy right? When you do a review, will you briefly touch on the differences between yours and the production model?

The Bushbuddy comparrison:

Stock Bushbuddy: 4 5/8 in diameter and 4 1/8 high when nested
wt = 10 3/8 oz. Sorry I do not know the exact metal gauge of
the standard model but it is MUCH thicker and stronger than the
UL version. It can take a beating and abuse unlike the UL's.
Built like a tank.

UL Bushbuddy (prototypes): 4 1/4" diameter by 3 3/4" high, when nested
made of .004" fully hardened stainless for the most part, with reinforcing parts of .010" stainless. With some variations between experimental models.
Ryan Jordan has the absolute lightest model 4.6oz. And my early proto
was 4.7oz.

UL Bushbuddy (production model): 4 1/4" diameter by 3 3/4" high, nested.
less .004" material, more .010" stainless (including entire firebox.)
final weight of production model: 5.0oz (verified)
Cost: $110.00 CDN available soon from www.bushbuddy.ca

2006-11-21, 20:57
Just got confirmation from Fritz that my newest ULBB proto WILL definately become the production model for sale. Available for sale soon on the bushbuddy site. www.bushbuddy.ca

Also ... not sure if this is a faux pas or not, .. but Ryan Jordan of BPL just purchased 100 units. Not sure if they will be sold yet on backpackinglight in a limited run. If that was not supposed to be public knowledge, you didnt hear it from me :)

Both of us have pressured Fritz into creating a smaller version of the stove. At this point in time it does not look like anyone else is getting custom sizing. Fritz has spent his efforts on a mass production rig for the current ULBB dimensions. Here is an excerpt from an email by Fritz to myself:

"About the possibility of making a stove that is 3 5/8" diameter, I have experimented with one four inches in diameter, and found it inferior to the 4 1/4" diameter Ultra, with reduced heat output. Other considerations are that a smaller diameter is less stable and can tip over more easily, and a low but broad pot is much more efficiently heated than a tall skinny pot. Personally, I think if it will fit in the Snow Peak 900 titanium pot, this is small enough, I would not want to use a smaller pot, and find this size too small when cooking for more than one person. For these reasons, and considering the time and effort it would take to tool up to produce a new stove, it looks unlikely that I will be producing a stove this size any time soon, if ever. There is an attraction still for me to do some more experimenting with smaller stoves, because of the possible savings in weight and materials, what Buckminster Fuller called 'ephemeralization', so I don't entirely rule out the possiblity of making a stove at least a little smaller sometime in the future. From the experiments I have done so far, the Ultra seems to have reached an optimum balance between miniaturization and performance."

so ... basically there will be no more custom one-offs. The UL production size is THE size. Even pleading with fritz to make a Snowpeak mini-solo nesting version (which I explained would also fit the MSR Titan, Olicamp kettle and several other highly regarded solo pots) was no use convincing him. He is geared up for production with the current size.

My prediction ....
If / when Fritz does make a mini-UL bushbuddy stove design for production, I predict that Ryan Jordan will convince him to make
a) A Ti version

b) dimensionally sized to nest with the new BPL series of Ti pots that came out yesterday. Guessing pot inside the stove, with pot-support nested inside the pot with lid on. But this is just my speculation, definately not fact, and not even rumor at this point. Just a hunch ;)

oh and c) .... I am going to take a wild guess it will come in at 3.5-4oz wt. and offer BPL premium members a full Ti kitchen (stove, pot, lid, spork, cup for under 10oz wt. Again not a rumor. Just my personal off the cuff wild @$$ guess :)

SGT Rock
2006-11-22, 03:10
Making a Ti version of one of those is not going to be easy.

2006-11-22, 12:27

Nice report...great looking stove.... Thanks for posting about it with the pics.


2006-11-22, 13:11
On the subject of stovepipe, I've wondered if a small diameter stovepipe could also serve as a walking stick, or a tent pole. Then you could have a small woodstove inside a small tent or snow shelter. When I say small I mean really small, smaller than kifaru. Say you had a 1" diameter titanium tube, 6 feet long. At the 5 foot mark you might have a hand grip of some sort of whipped cording. This could also serve as the insulation for where the stovepipe goes out the teepee, serving as both tent pole and stovepipe.

The idea is not to allow the stovepipe to get too hot, at least at that point. The easy part is not to have a fire to big for the 1" pipe. The tricky part is doing so without having to feed the fire constantly. But if you are inside the tent anyways, and can't think of anything better to do than play with fire, then that isn't so bad. The stove itself could have many variations, and it would need to either serve as the base to the pole/stovepipe, or connect into it from the side. For a solo tent it would probable be an end pole rather than a center pole, but that is more an issue of tent design which kifaru and others have covered well.

1. Weight of 6' 1" titanium tube strong enough for hiking stick.
2. Maximum burn rate for a 1" diameter stovepipe.

Once you go this route, efficiency to water isn't as critical, since the heat is also used to heat the space. The essential thing is that most of the heat is removed from the flue gas before it reaches the 5' mark. I suspect that a very small and simple stove design is possible, weighing less than the stovepipe.

p.s. It a 1"D 6' titanium tube was 4oz, it would have a wall thickness of about 0.08" or 1/16". Aluminum would be about twice as thick for the same weight, and might be more dimensionally stable and less likely to crush, but perhaps more likely to buckle. Depends alot on the grade of titanium compared to 6061-T6 aluminum. I might fool around with a very light aluminum tube before I search around for the right weight of titanium to replace it.

p.p.s. As for the amount of draft that can be generated and the amount of heat that can go up such a tube, to complicated for me at this moment, but if we get a velocity of 3 ft/sec that would a flow rate of 1 cfm, is also about 1 oz per minute. With a fuel to air ratio of 14:1 that would be an ounce of wood every 15 minutes, for 300 BTU of heat if you got 75% efficiency. I don't know if you could get that much draft, but you might get that much efficiency if you count space heating and not just hot water. For more efficiency to the water you will need a stove that involves more friction loss within the stove itself, which reduces draft. Anyhow, an ounce of wood every 15 minutes, or even 4 oz of fuel every hour would require a very small firebox. You only need about 2"x2"x4" for 1 ounce of wood fuel.

2006-11-22, 19:05

Good idea....since you normally have two hiking poles you could have dual stacks for twice the size/capacity etc for the same weight... work it.


2006-11-26, 22:54

Good idea....since you normally have two hiking poles you could have dual stacks for twice the size/capacity etc for the same weight... work it.


Nice catch...

2006-12-15, 16:37
Hey Turk
Nice review of the Bushbuddy. I've now seen a few brief reviews online and I'm salivating over this stove. But before I feel comfortable laying out $100 USD for a stove like this, I'd like a little more detail. Would you mind providing a little more information? Like:
How long does it routinely take to boil 3-4 cups of water?
How does it work in windy conditions?
In wet conditions, when all or most of the kindling is wet on the outside?
How much tending does it require? Can it boil 3-4 cups on one load of wood?

Thanks for whatever additional information you care to offer. Looks like a wonderful little stove.

Gerry Magnes
Schenectady, NY
gmagnes [at] nycap [dot] rr [dot] com

2006-12-15, 23:19
Will try and offer what info I can.

As for wet wood. Never a problem. I used the stove during a weekend
trip of endless rain. Had been raining for 13 straight days. Everything
was thoroughly drenched. When starting a fire in the stove I usually
feather cut a few sticks and slash off most of the bark to get it going

The type of wood you are using is everything. I have found birch to
be #1 choice as it has a long burn time, one of the few types of wood
with a bark that is not naturally fire retardant and the tree is extremely
susceptible to disease and so there's always a large supply of dead wood
around here. Primo wood choice for bad weather.

But anything works well. Wet dry, bark, twigs, pine cones. It all
gets the job done, with not a huge impact to boil time.

I have reached 6 minute boil times with .75lit of water feeding the stove
no wood at all. Just small shreds of birch bark every minute or so.
Flames were engulfing nearly entire pot.

I keep the flame pattern very conservative usually, hence a bit longer
boil times. 10-18 minutes is quite a conservative estimate for up to
2 litres of water. (I have not tested beyond 2 litres to boil yet)

But when you have a primed rich bed of coals, you dont need any flame
at all. The coal bed glows intensely, the heat output is huge
(in comparison to say a soda can stove) and by feeding in very small
pieces of wood spaced a few minutes apart you can actually avoid
any flame at all. I am experimenting with baking in this manner.

The boil times are subject to a huge number of variables.
Type of wood, how much you load the stove, how much fuel you are
willing to waste in the name of speed and shape and diameter of pot.
All big factors.
In the first page of this thread if you look at the handfull of wood I
had in the picture. That is easily enough wood to boil 2 litres of water
in somewhere between 13-18 minutes. starting from a cold stove ignition.

Hope that answers a bit for you. Kind of a hard topic to make meaning
comments on.

2006-12-15, 23:26
something I thought of to add that maybe summarizes a bit better.
If you build up a good coal bed. eg: boil a mug of coffee first...
then stoke up the fuel supply to boil water for meal.. you have
considerable less tending as you are cooking in no-flame mode, you
have long consistant heat, but not the speed of a heavily loaded
Fast boil times require you to basically focus on the stove/cooking to keep
up with optimal fire tending.
Thats pretty much the trade off. But there is a large middle ground.
I would want to maybe have a look at the stove every 5 minutes or so if
I was doing a slow boil while doing camp chores.

2006-12-17, 01:12
Thanks for such a thorough response. Just the kind of real life feedback I was looking for. Sounds like just the kind of stove I'm looking for, but now I need to figure out a rationalization for spending $100 for this sort of gear--more than any other stove I've ever bought, and as an authentic gear head, I've got a few. Does wind affect it at all one way or the other?
thanks again,

2007-02-15, 22:21



2007-02-16, 18:15
well that was a pointless link.
BPL had 100 bushbuddy ultras and they sold out in a matter of a couple hours.
Now out of stock.

Wonder how much more demand there will be.
Poor fritz. He will have to hire someone to work his assembly line :biggrin:
to crank more out.

2007-02-21, 14:38
well that was a pointless link.
BPL had 100 bushbuddy ultras and they sold out in a matter of a couple hours.
Now out of stock.

Wonder how much more demand there will be.
Poor fritz. He will have to hire someone to work his assembly line :biggrin:
to crank more out.

Yeah, there's some discussion of that over at BPL... apparently Ryan J didn't see that coming at all :D

2007-08-29, 00:32
Hi Turk,

What are your long-term impressions of the BushBuddy stove? I'm thinking about trying one of these.