Friday, May 13, 2016

Gear Closet: Solavore Sport Solar Powered Oven

I'm a huge fan of using solar power for keeping mobile devices charged while traveling through remote locations. This has become easier that it was in the past thanks to improvements to the efficiency of solar panels and the plethora of options available to consumers these days. But, the sun can actually be used to do more things than just keep our gadgets powered up, as I learned recently when I put the Sport Solar Oven from Solavore to the test.

Perfect for use in your own backyard or a campsite, the Sport Solar Oven does exactly what you would expect – turn the power of the sun into heat for cooking a meal. In fact, it is so efficient that you don't even need to have direct sunlight for it to automatically start collecting the rays and generating enough warmth to cook a surprising number of types of foods. The oven comes with its own thermometer, and while testing it consistently kept a temperature above 220ºF (104ºC), which is hot enough to boil water, and while it might take a little longer, cook just about anything else too.

Set up for the Sport couldn't be easier. Simply find a good spot to place it in the sun, and you're pretty much done. Solavore does sell an optional reflector that can be added to the stove to help focus the sunlight further, which takes just seconds to install. It adds some extra speed and efficiency to the oven, but it works just fine without it as well.

The oven does ship with two graniteware pots, complete with lids, which are perfect for cooking in the Sport. Both are three quarts (2.8 liters) in size, which means they have plenty of capacity, and since the oven has enough space to hold both of the pots at the same time, you can actually cook two dishes at the same time.

The Sport Solar Oven is fairly large in size, but isn't particularly heavy. It weighs about 9 pounds (4 kg), which makes it not the best choice for carrying into the backcountry, but a great option for car camping or cooking without the use of gas or power at home too. There is just something really fun about using the oven and watching your meals come together using just the sun to cook them.

Because it uses the sun, and takes some time to cook a meal, a bit of planning and timing needs to go into food preparation using the Sport Solar Oven. I cooked several different things in my test model, and it usually took several hours for things to come together. That's a lot slower than a camp stove that uses gas of course and while getting the feel for the oven you'll want to keep an eye on things so that they don't get over done, but with some forethought and patience, you can eat some incredibly delicious meals anywhere that you can catch some rays from the sun.

To help you get started with the solar oven, Solavore offers some really great recipes on their website. I actually recommend starting with one or two of those options while learning how to use the Sport, as they'll give you exact instructions for preparing the food, as well as estimated cooking times. This will help you to get a feel for the product while you get some experience using it.

Other than the time it takes to actually makes the meal, the Sport Solar Oven is easy to use and works great. It really does open up the options for cooking around the campsite, and the fact that it doesn't need power or gas is a huge plus. The oven sells for $229 and comes with everything you need to make great meals just about anywhere. Just give yourself plenty of time for it to work its magic, and you'll be rewarded with some excellent meals.

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