Petromax very kindly sent me one of their new Firebox FB2 stoves to try out and review. The FB2 is the big brother to their original Firebox FB1 stove with the same design and features, but bigger. I really wanted to give this stove a try because I have used a number of smaller solo stoves over the years which didn’t really cater for both cooking whilst being substantial fire for warmth. The size of the FB2 really appealed to me as I could have a contained fire for cooking with as much heat output as a regular camp fire.
Out of the box
The Petromax FB2 stove comes in it’s own nylon pouch which fastens up with strong straps and clips. The pouch is made from ripstop water repellent fabric and holds the parts of the stove quite tightly so they don’t clang around when being transported. It is easy to open up and quickly pull out the stove for use.
The FB2 comes in a “flat pack” arrangement with several steel sections which fit together to form a rectangular steel box which contains your fire. The sections all are all machined to fit tightly together to ensure that the stove remains sturdy (even with heavy pans of food or water on top). Two side panels and a back panel slot together into a base plate and then an ash pan and grill lid hold everything square and solid. The front stays open so that you can continuously feed the fire and also allows a generous air supply to the fire.
The grill lid has been machined from a single piece of steel, with machined holes and slots (instead of bars which you commonly see on other grills and stove tops). I really like this design because it gives additional strength to the FB2 and a really stable flat surface for cooking. It is also much more sturdy than a regular grill and impossible to lose bars or have them bend or snap over time.
All of the steel panels have narrow slots cut into them to allow airflow from all sides, these have been really nicely machined and finished with no rough edges at all. The base also has these slots and the precise width of these slots allows just the right amount of airflow but will not allow excessive flow when you are using the stove in a stronger breeze. The slots also act as expansion joints to prevent the stove from distorting or becoming misshapen from high temperatures. All inner surfaces have been polished to a mirror finish, this helps reflect the heat inwards and upwards which is exactly what is needed in a cooking stove (especially in windy conditions).
The exact grade of the steel is unknown, but the manufacturer states that it is “high quality stainless steel” – Let’s not forget that Petromax are a German manufacturer and have a great reputation for their high quality petrol lanterns, so I trust the materials they have used on their stoves too. The over all quality and build of the Petromax FB2 is impressive, clearly it is built to be used over and over again, and designed to last!
It is worth mentioning that the weight of the Petromax stove (at 3kg) means that it would be too heavy for me to carry in my EDC kit. But saying that, the Petromax stove is large stove and it is perfect for trips with friends or occasions where I intend on doing a lot of camp cooking. It does fit nicely into the cargo hatch in my kayak, and is great when I pull up onto a little beach to cook some fish I have caught. I have used this stove on a number of occasions now and so far I am really impressed, read below….
Click on images to ENLARGE ….
Setting It Up
Setting up this stove is very easy, so easy that I didn’t bother to look at user manuals and just got stuck into it. It took less than 2 minutes to assemble with no fiddly parts or anything that needs fixing or screwing together. The separate parts simply slot together with the ash tray and the grill lid holding everything rigidly in place.
The first step is to place the base on a level surface and slot in the two side pieces with the L shape part towards the back of the stove. Then place the back section in, which will hold the two side pieces up at the same time. The grill lid can then be places on top, with the folded lip at the back of the stove and over the top of the back section. As you then slide the ash pan inside the stove, the stove is ready to be used.
I like to place the stove onto two flat rocks (especially when using it on the beach) or even a raft of timber to raise it off the floor a bit and create a gap for air flow. Both the stove base and the ash pan have slots cut into the steel to allow the air to flow straight into the heart of the fire.
Controlled Fire & Cooking on the Stove
Starting a fire in the Petromax stove is really easy, unlike smaller stoves, you can easily life off the grill lid and get your hands in there to arrange tinder and get things lit. I like to slide the ash pan out to arrange the sticks before I light the fire, this also allows me to light it more easily with a ferro rod and then just slide the pan and fire back into the stove.
The inside of the FB2 is a very generous size, and you can pack a lot of fuel in there. By removing the grill lid, you can pile up some hardwood and get a roaring fire going, The FB2 is a good solution for trekkers or campers who are staying in places that do not allow an open fire, having a controlled fire is much safer anyway (especially in woodland), and can be burnt and cleaned away afterwards with much less risk of spreading. Once the fire burns down a bit, just replace the grill lid and cook in the embers. Fuel can be fed continuously into the fire through the front of the stove whilst there are pans of food on top cooking.
The grill top is a really good size and you can easily fit a large pan on there, or two small ones, the pan I use most often is a 21cm skillet (shown in these pictures), but I have also tried my 32cm frying pan on there with a full English breakfast cooking away nicely! It is a also possible to place food directly onto the grill to cook, the Petromax FB2 doubles as a fantastic barbecue.
Cooking on the Petromax FB2 is easy, the large flat surface is really stable and I am much less worries about pots of water toppling over as I am with a small stove. It doesnt really matter if a pan slightly overhangs the side of the stove either, it still works great.
After I have finished using the stove and the fire has burned right down, I pull out the ash pan with a pan grabber and just tip the ashes away. From that point, cooling the stove down to a temperature that I could handle enough to pack it away takes approximately 15-20 minutes. It is worth spending a couple of minutes to give the inside of the stove a quick clean to remove the soot. The polished steel is easy to wipe clean with a cloth or a handful of moss. I sometimes put the stove parts through my dishwasher which brings them up as good as new. If you do not clean it, I imagine that the narrow slots could easily get blocked up and not allow adequate airflow.
I absolutely love the fit and finish of the Petromax FB2,it is literally the nicest stove I have ever seen. Every part of the stove is so well made and fit for purpose. There are no fiddly parts or potential weak spots – All in all, this is a top notch stove. I have no worries about being tough with the Petromax stove and giving it some hard use, the materials and construction of this thing are incredibly sturdy and will clearly last a very long time.
The price of the Petromax FB2 is £129.99 which given the quality and build of the stove is a fair price to pay in my opinion. Yes you can get solid fuel camping stoves a lot cheaper, but I have tried a lot of stoves and found many of them to have something wrong with the design, or I just don’t trust them to last over the long term. The FB2 far exceeded my expectations as a portable stove, and despite the heavier weight, it is the best stove I have used to date.
- Material: stainless steel
- Material (Bag): nylon
- Stove (assembled) L x W x H (in cm): 20.5 x 30 x 17.5
- L x W x H w/ packaging (in cm): 22 x 32 x 7
- Weight (in g): 2900
- Weight with packaging (in g): 3100
A Big Thanks to:
A big thanks to the guys at Petromax for the opportunity to try out their new Firebox FB2 Stove.