Aotu Portable Backpacking/Hiking Stove and Shoud Butane Tank Stand – Review

Aotu Portable Stove

For this blog post I am reviewing the Aotu Portable Camping/Backpacking Stove.

A few years ago I reviewed the Famgee backpacking/hiking alcohol stove, which has worked quite well. But it does take around ten minutes to boil water and requires a bit of care when fueling it and using it. The nice thing is it uses reasonably available dry gas or rubbing alcohol, with the dry gas burning quite cleanly, the rubbing alcohol not so much.

So I wanted to try a comparable stove but one that uses a more conventional camping fuel. In this case liquid butane/butane-propane canisters with 7/16 inch threads.

This Aotu version is what I picked and seems to be a representation of what seems to be a typical mini portable backpacking/camping stove in this category – the same model that is rebranded and sold all over the Internet. In fact, there is a little plate on the burner that many companies engrave their company name onto it seems, this Aotu one is not branded in this manner and that plate is blank. It is also very similar to others including much much more expensive versions. 

Aotu portable stove storage boxThe first thing I noticed when opening three packaging is how very tiny the plastic orange box is that the stove is stored in. The box has a lid that fits into the bottom section fairly snuggly, with the stove folded up nicely inside.

The stove itself doesn’t look cheap and feels substantial. It is folded up inside this plastic box with a total weight of about 3.52 ounces or about 100 grams.

The arms that hold your cooking pan or cup or whatever you are heating fold out, each one has a little tab on it for easier opening and so you just pull each arm out in turn and they will stop at their designated positions via a system of tabs along the bottom. Each one is at 90 degrees to the previous one and when they fold out you have four arms to hold your cooking pan or cup. On the end of the top of each of the arms are little fold-out extended “fingers” that further give the pot or cup stability.

The span of these arms is suited for a small pot or pan or cup, not that you couldn’t put a big pot on there but it would be pretty precariously balanced. My thought is that if you’re out camping and you need to heat a bigger pot, then you could put the pot on some stones where it was safer or not liable to tip off and then put the stove in the middle of the stones instead of putting the large pan and balancing it on the four small arms themselves.  I also think you could create something out of some foldable wires or something like that, maybe similar to the pot holder I made for my alcohol stove. Or sling your pot over it on some sort of system to hold it suspended, any number of ways could be deployed for this. It’s something I’ll probably give a try.

I had a slight issue with one of the arms; the last one to fold out would not go completely into a perfect position. It was only maybe ten degrees or less out of sync with the others and likely would not have affected the stability of the pot or cup being heated very much. But it kind of annoyed me that it would not go completely into place.

A quick look at it and I could see the problem – the tab that is supposed to stop that leg at a particular position was misaligned or miss-manufactured.

Aotu portable camping stoveA tiny adjustment with a pair of mini needlenose pliers was able to fix it perfectly. So a bit of an issue there but easily fixed.

On the side is an igniter with a red push button, even though the stove is quite small the igniter button is far enough away from anything that is going to be hot or ignite to be fairly safe from burning your fingers when igniting it.

On the side is a stiff U-shaped wire that folds out from where it is clipped in onto the tab on the last leg to fold out. This is the adjustment for the fuel/flame/heat level.

On the bottom is the part – what I think is called a lindal valve – which screws into the butane tank, with an o-ring around it. I don’t think this o-ring has much of a chance of falling off as it is seated quite well, but you definitely would not want to lose this o-ring or it wouldn’t work. It seems to be on well and after a little messing with it when I got the stove couldn’t produce any chance of it falling off without really tugging at it.

The tank screws in easily and securely, up against that o-ring.

The construction isn’t titanium or anything like that which some of the higher-end ones are made up of, but it does look really nice quality despite the modest price. It’s made of aluminum, with a honeycombed burner.

The size of the plastic box it comes in is around 3.2 inches (8.3 cm) by 2.2 inches (5.5 cm) by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), the stove itself (when folded up) is slightly smaller (obviously than the box) so I won’t duplicate the measurements here. Unfolded, the stove is around just over 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) wide and with the tips of the arms deployed about 3.5 inches (8.8 cm).

The stove also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee from the company, which is kinda nice.

After having this stove for a while I have not found anything that is bent or wearing out or anything like that. There is some discoloration around the parts of it that get really hot, but this kind of seems like it should be expected. I did put a little lube on some of the parts of the stove that move. This seemed to make opening up the arms a little easier, not that it was any big deal beforehand.

I don’t know what the BTU’s are for this, but the specs mention that it generates 3000 watts at max, a rough estimation maybe make it around 10,000 BTU or so. For reference, most burners on kitchen stovetops range from 7,000 to 11,000 BTUs, and some of the much higher-end mini camping stoves that are nearly identical or very or somewhat similar to this by the best manufacturers have ratings of around 9,000 to 10,000 BTU so likely that’s about what this can generate. Which is pretty mind-blowing for something that costs so little and is so tiny.

So to start it – you turn the adjustment for the fuel, until you hear the gas hissing.

Close-up of burner
Close-up of the bottom

Then press the igniter, maybe a couple times, maybe just once – depending on how much you have turned up the fuel adjustment.

I found that for the quickest ignition, I needed to turn the adjustment up a fair amount for the initial ignition, having it very low made it harder to start. Once ignited I turned it down to what I needed to for whatever I was heating.

At high adjustment, it produces a heck of a flame (but usually invisible) and lots of heat, so if you want to heat something fast you certainly can just crank it up, light it and then stick your pot or cup right on. There is no initial warm-up time with this, as I had found that the alcohol stove needed. 

Of course at any heat setting you want to keep your hands and other things away from it, whether you are using a lot of flame or a small amount, because it will be hot no matter what level you have it adjusted to.

This brings me to a very important thing to mention here – the flame is pretty much invisible, especially in bright sunlight. So be very aware of this and very careful. Here’s a night shot so you can see the flame.Night shot

The nice thing is that you can hear this running, it is not completely silent like the alcohol stove, and makes a good hissing noise so you know that it is running. I suppose some people might not like this, it’s not loud per se but it is definitely not silent.

For my first test, I ran the flame at a fairly medium-low heat, with the water I used having come from an insulated mug with water that had been chilled in the refrigerator’s water filter system a short time before, and it was a warm day at the beach. It started to boil at around 3:30 minutes for a good rolling boil that almost popped the cover off the water pot. This was much much faster than the alcohol stove I have been using.

This was water for coffee for my wife, who likes her coffee very hot. Unfortunately – and totally my own fault and not the stove’s – I had positioned the tank and stove on top of a bit of sand that was not fully level, and as I was taking the hot pot off I slipped it off the supporting arms before I had a good grip on it and spilled the water. Again, my fault but it does require awareness that the arms aren’t awfully large in contact points. I haven’t had any issues since then in this aspect, being more aware of it I suppose.

The second cup boiled much faster as I had turned the heat up a bit, and so after only a few minutes it was ready. I didn’t even time it this time.

For my own cup of water – I like my coffee not so hot – so it took barely a few minutes and the third cup was ready for me. 

I did find that at high heat, on a hot summer day with no wind and such; I needed to use a pot holder to adjust the little heat adjustment on the side as it was pretty warm near the stove. I had a hard time getting my hand too close to it, but other times I have used the stove I did not find it too hot to get my fingers on the adjustment part.

If you read my previous review about the alcohol stove you know that I bought a windscreen for that. I tried windscreen with this but the amount of heat this stove generates makes using the windscreen impossible as there is no way to reach down to change the heat adjustment with the windscreen around it, due to the closeness and heat. But in general the windscreen didn’t really reach up far enough to totally enclose this stove, as it sits much higher than the alcohol one. The issue is moot anyway, as the higher heat of this stove allows it to run and run at a good efficiency even in higher wind – I have used it a number of times under various conditions and don’t find that I need the windscreen for it, though it does work more efficiently when there is something for a bit of a wind obstruction though it is not necessary it seems. So positioning it away from the wind does allow it to heat fast, but I have used it in wind high enough to make it sputter and it still heated just fine. You could even use this sucker in the rain and snow, I think. Something for me to try at a later time.

When boiling water or other liquids you can really crank it up, but if you’re cooking anything more solid like food then you really really have to keep the heat backed down. Very important here, it’s easy to overestimate how much heat the burner is producing and burn more solid foods. In fact it may seem like you have the heat turned down too much but it will very quickly get your pan hot and it is easy to burn something if you don’t make sure it is not turned up too much. It can take a little trial and error and experimentation to get a good estimation of how much or how little heat you need.

That’s why the adjustment for the heat setting is very important – you can really keep it down to a low cook or even a nice low simmer if needed or crank it full blast. You have a pretty fine control here.

When finished using the stove, you just turn the heat adjustment completely down, cutting off the gas to the burner and the flame shuts off. Easier than the hard-to-extinguish alcohol stove.

After a very short time this Aotu stove cools very quickly after shutting down. Within just minutes you can unscrew it from the tank, slide the arms back closed, snap the adjustment thing up for storage, and slip the whole thing back in the plastic storage box and stow it and be on your way.Large and small tanks

You can see in this picture from Walmart that there’s the smaller tank that I have been using (less than $7 USD at Walmart – October 2023 and less than $12 on Amazon), and which lasts a long time even after a lot of experimenting on my part. And then there is a larger tank (less than $12 USD at Walmart and less than $14 USD on Amazon) that will last you even longer, it’s taller but no wider than the smaller one but I think it’s twice the capacity. You can also get converter adapters that connect between the stove and other sorts of tanks like larger propane tanks for longer running.

So all in all it’s a great little stove, and if I were primitive backpacking and didn’t want to carry much weight this would probably be the way to go. Also great for bikepacking or to carry in your car for emergencies, or take have at home or in your go-bag. Even for non-primitive camping it’s a quick easy setup for making coffee or something. Heck, I have stopped in a parking lot and made coffee before.

The alcohol stove is great too, it doesn’t put out nearly as much heat as this Aotu Portable Stove but there are pro’s and con’s as mentioned above. 

I have to say though – this has become my new favorite portable stove because of its ease of use and quick deployment and quick heating ability.

I suppose when you compare this stove to more expensive ones the build quality may not be as high, but for the price it works fine and extremely well.

Weightwise the liquid fuel is probably about the same or with very very small weight differences to using alcohol. With all the testing and messing around with the Aotu Portable Stove I’ve yet to use up the fuel in just one small container, and a quick shake seems to indicate that the liquid butane mixture inside has quite an amount left in the tank.

So, so far so good with this stove. It’s cheap, the fuel container’s cheap and fairly small, it’s easy and quick to deploy and cools off quickly, it’s relatively safe as long as you keep in mind that the flame is nearly invisible or totally invisible in bright sunlight and that it is very very hot. You might even find that you can use it in places where something like the alcohol stove might be frowned upon and open flames are discouraged or unsafe or not legal, and you may be able to use it in places where you wouldn’t normally be able to cook something perhaps – of course, all within reason and keeping mind safety and rules as to where you are.

How long will it hold up, I don’t know. I mean, there’s not a whole lot to it so if it hasn’t broken or burned up on an initial use then it’s probably not going to just fall apart or break or burn up over time, necessarily. We’ll see of course, and I’ll keep readers apprised of any changes.

And check out the video review below.

I’ll update this blog post if there are any issues or changes whatsoever, especially on long-term durability. Give it a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed – Aotu Portable Stove.

Boiling water
Making eggs

 

 

 

 

 

SHOUD Camping Stove Fuel Stand/Legs

SHOUD fuel tank legsAnother thing I wanted to test was one of the multitude of legs or stabilizer legs that are sold for the butane tank, which of course is the base for the Aotu portable stove. As I mentioned above; the tank itself is the base for the stove and the tank is relatively stable on most surfaces, but for even more stability I wanted to try one of these stabilizer legs.

Again, just like the stove there are many many of the same items that are sold by a number of different companies. 

I picked one from a random company – SHOUD – and bought one from them. They seemed to have a number of different colors for choices, while some other companies did and yet others only had one color or a couple; yet they all looked exactly identical as far as I could tell and had similar prices.

It was super-cheap and as I said – I got my choice of colors (in this case I bought one in my wife’s favorite color).

Size deployed is around 7.9 inches (21 cm) and folded around 3.9 inches (10 cm).

When I received it I was quite impressed with how nice it looked and how well the pieces fit together, as well as how sturdy it seemed to be. The legs locked in nicely and it looked very well manufactured.

But then I tried to actually attach it to the fuel canister…

The legs have three notches each to fit the bottom lip of the fuel canister for various-sized fuel canisters, the only place that my fuel canister (which is a standard size) would even come close to fitting was in the outer notches.

But getting it in there was quite an effort and I was afraid that I would break the plastic legs in doing so. It was that tight. Not only that but once I had the tank it was in there it was not fitted properly and at least one of the legs would always unlock and fold a bit to the side, which is exactly the thing you don’t want it to do for overall stability. I suppose it would work as-is, but I think that after trying to jam it in each time it would eventually break. And of course, I have no idea if this issue was just the one I bought or all of them, but unfortunately the reviews for these seem to indicate a mismatch in those notches is pretty common – something I knew before buying in fact, but I have no problem with modifying things as needed so I took the chance.

So two choices – sending it back or trying a mod. It seemed obvious that it only needed a little ‘surgery’ to get it right so I used the Dremel tool (an absolutely essential tool for me) with a cutting wheel attachment (make sure you DO NOT inhale the plastic shavings or smoke from the plastic) and carefully notched one of the legs further outward. After a couple of tries – carefully taking off a little bit so as not to overdo it – I got it exactly perfect. With a little extra buffing with some other Dremel attachments  the notch looks almost the same as the original ones.

Now it fits exactly perfectly and the legs do indeed provide a lot of stability for the stove, seemingly on every surface and even on sand. Absolutely perfect now. And it folds small enough to take very little extra room.

Can I really 100% recommend this stand? I guess I am somewhat against recommending something that has to be ‘fixed’ after buying but if you do want a stand for super-heap and you don’t mind doing a little mod with a Dremel (or other tool, even a simple file) then I would say go for it. And it is possible that some are manufactured correctly, but the reviews seem to imply that that is not exactly the case.

See my video review below.

So, if you are not so much handy with mods then skip it but if you don’t mind a bit of a mod give this portable stove tank stand a try.

Dremeled fixing of the legs

 

Legs deployed

 

 


 

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Marc M

I am a web developer and fitness geek, but I have a heck of a lot of differing interests.  Biking, the Internet, technology, movies, fitness, running and walking and hiking, science fiction, photography, graphics, WordPress, flying and aircrafts, pets and animals, history, and much more.  I like to stay very fit but I don’t mind sitting at my computer for work and play either.  I live in upstate New York (that’s far from New York City) in a rural area, yet close to a small city, with my beautiful awesome wife, a bunch of beloved cats and dogs and chickens in a very old multi-century house.

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