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Pomoly Dweller Max 3: A Detailed Outdoor Stove Review


A image of the front of the Pomoly Dweller Max 3 with a fire being started.
The Dweller Max 3 is a large camping woodstove designed to be used in the coldest conditions

The Pomoly Dweller Max 3 is what I would consider a product for outdoor enthusiasts who cherish the warmth and functionality of a "portable" wood stove during their adventures. Crafted from what I consider to be durable materials, this is one of the more powerful stoves the company has to offer. To do it justice, the Dweller Max 3 was put through the rigors of a Canadian winter to see how it performed.


This stove was sent to me as a review product because of my unique situation and the test it would be put through. As someone who lives outdoors for the majority of the year, I used this stove for most of the winter. In fact, I am writing this article while sitting next to the stove on a chilly day.


With that being said, my goal is to provide you with some practical insights into the burn time, functionality, and power of this stove. I can say that while the Dweller Max 3 may not be for everyone, if you want to stay warm while winter camping, then keep reading.  

 

Specifications and Features

The Pomoly Dweller Max 3 is a large-sized camping stove. Despite its size though, it still has a trick or two up its sleeve. The first thing that comes to mind, for example, is that it has legs that can be easily bolted down for a more permanent setup. I can see this being integrated into van and bus setups (Maybe Lonewolf902 did that already lol). 


Here are the features and specs for this stove that I grabbed from the site:


  • Storage Dimensions: 14.2" x 10.24" x 15.16" (L, W, H)

  • Assembled Dimensions: 14.2” x 15.35” x 102.4” (L, W, H) (102.4 inches is from floor to chimney cap)

  • Weight: 33.4lbs

  • Fire Box Volume: 25.3L

  • Stove Pipe Diameter: 2.76 inches, 9 feet tall

  • Glass Windows: 3 (1 front, 2 on either side)

  • Material: Stainless Steel 304

You may have noticed that I put "portable" in quotations during the intro. This is because at almost 34 pounds, this stove is quite heavy and I would not recommend it for backpacking. If you're on a snow machine, dragging a Polk, or car camping then this would be a good choice for you. That being said - it can still be considered "portable" because of its size (in my opinion) 


An image of the inside of a tent with the Dweller Max 3 being started.
The stove is easy to start up making your tent a warm space for a little gear bomb.

Key Features

  • Cooking Area: Small/Medium sized area on top with a removable plate. The top of the stove is crafted from 3mm thick steel, minimizing warping under high temperatures.

  • Ventilation System: Includes vents on the top of the stove door, underneath the stove, and at the back. This provides excellent air control for the fire.

  • Air Curtain: A unique system where air entering from the top moves downwards, forming an "air wall" between the glass and the flame. This system keeps the glass clean and prevents soot build-up. The air curtain should be closed at the start and opened once the fire is suitably strong, usually within 3 to 5 minutes.

  • Viewing Windows: Three glass windows offer a cozy view of the fire from all sides. I also found that the heat was intensified coming from those parts of the stove.

  • Ash Tray and Chimney Design: Features a removable locking ashtray and an inverted chimney design to prevent creosote leakage.

  • What’s Included: Dweller Max 3 Stove, a carrying bag, 8 sections of stove pipe, 1 stove pipe with a chimney cap, a chimney fixed ring, and a fire poker stick.

There was some thoughtful engineering put into this stove, not just aesthetically, but functionally as well. All the components fit well together and when properly maintained, the stove runs like a charm (more on that later). 


An image of the Pomoly Dweller Max 3 with the stove pipes inside of it.
When packed up, this stove is easily transported

Design and Build Quality

This stove is one of the best-looking ones I've encountered on the market. It's apparent that significant time and effort have been invested in refining this model, making it superior to other Dweller Max iterations. I believe with this one they added a bigger firebox and exhaust controls amongst other small fixes.


Design Aesthetics and Ergonomics

The stove boasts a robust appearance; its stability is evident in how it remains unmovable against accidental bumps or nudges. The aesthetic appeal of three glass windows enhances the overall experience, particularly at night when the illuminated firebox adds a cozy ambiance to the tent. 


The strategic placement of vents, door handles, and trays contributes to its ergonomic design, although there are some sharp edges. If you're like me, sitting in a camping chair and reaching down to add wood to the stove, you will get scraped. 


Most stoves I have use a roll-up stove pipe which has advantages and disadvantages. In the case of the Dweller Max 3 the pipes are solid and fit into the stove body when you're ready to pack it all up. I assume that Pomoly went this route to give you a thicker stove pipe for the amount of heat output you can achieve.


Build Quality and Materials of the Dweller Max 3

The quality of this stove justifies its price point. Crafted from high-grade steel, all components fit seamlessly. I have experienced minimal warping in the back and it seems to fix itself after heating up/cooling down. Occasionally, the bottom vent might present difficulty in operation due to ash accumulation, but this is easily fixed by jimmying the handle a bit.


High temperatures can make the door and handle challenging to operate. When the stove is ripping hot I highly recommend using heatproof gloves. The inclusion of extra rivets suggests foresight into the longevity of the assembly, although all of the ones that are preinstalled seem to be holding up just fine after months of use. 


The secondary air intake, air curtain, and baffle system efficiently re-burn smoke. You can see each part working which is observable through the 'swirly flames' at the back. I have noticed significantly less smoke out of the chimney because of these implementations.


My Opinion on Durability

After four months of use, its appearance has evolved, adopting a bronze patina, yet without any discernible corrosion or deterioration. I try to be gentle with all of my stoves, regardless of build quality and this one can handle minor jostles. 


The stove pipes are quite malleable if you bang them together, especially when they're hot. As long as you're not rough with it (like an old-school dented firebox) it will hold up to being knocked. 


An image of the Dweller Max 3 inside of a tent.
The decision to go with the 304 stainless was smart as it retains heat and can take a bump or 2

Setup and Ease of Use

Setting up the stove is remarkably straightforward, taking about five minutes from start to fire. All you do is place the stove where you want it, unfold the legs, and that part is essentially done.  


Remove the stovepipe segments from their storage position within the stove, and assemble them piece by piece. Ensure the air curtain is closed to prevent any drafts from affecting the initial flame. It's crucial to have the bottom and back vents wide open to provide maximum airflow and make starting the fire as smooth as possible. Then, you're ready to start the stove and enjoy the warmth. 


I normally love putting stoves together like a transformer but this solid construction will help mitigate any warping, which would explain why I don't see very much.


In terms of ease of use, this stove excels in every way imaginable. Even when using damp wood or in challenging weather conditions, such as windy environments, starting a fire remains uncomplicated.  

There were nights when I woke up chilly because the stove had gone out and within 10 minutes I had it back up and running using some kindling and cotton/petroleum jelly fire starters I made. 


The effectiveness of the bottom vent in supplying air to the fire is to thank for this, and the chimney's rapid draw causes strong ignition. The only times I found I had difficulty was if the bottom vent was blocked with ash or if the chimney cap was crusted over with creosote.


Some tips I've learned about starting this stove include:

  • Maintaining a thin layer of ash in the bottom of the stove is advisable, as it assists in heat retention so don't empty the stove of ash.

  •  Should you need to empty it while in use, avoid opening the main door entirely to prevent hot embers from falling through the vent cracks at the bottom, potentially clogging the tray slot. 

  • If the stove has all but gone out, use a stick and run it back and forth over the bottom of the stove, this will push ash through to the tray below.

  • A practical starting tip is to lay some twigs horizontally over the bottom vents to prevent them from falling through. Place your tinder on top of the twigs, and then add your kindling. This method ensures nothing falls through to the bottom during the initial lighting.

If you're a backcountry winter camper and have a way to transport heavy gear then I would recommend this stove for its ease of use. I've had it set up in one place for over a month and there were no issues packing it back up again. It is becoming my favorite basecamp stove simply because it's the easiest to set up quickly.


Performance Testing Methodology

In the pursuit of a thorough evaluation, I subjected the stove to rigorous performance tests across a variety of conditions to gauge its adaptability and functionality. Utilizing diverse fuel types, including hardwood, softwood, wet wood, punky wood, and dense wood, paper towels, the stove burned any wood I could find.


It proved its mettle even in extreme weather conditions, with its performance remaining unflinching down to temperatures as low as -25°C, through stormy weather and even a big late winter snowstorm. There was never a time when I had the dreaded thought, "Hmmm, I'm not sure this can keep me warm enough". 


An image of using a hand to measure the length of a piece of wood
The stove can handle larger pieces of wood
An image of wood being held in a hand
This was the average diameter and length of wood I used. About 11 inches long and a 3-4 inch diameter.

Heat Output and Efficiency

To accurately measure the stove’s heat output and efficiency, I deployed two thermometers; one positioned outside to record ambient temperature and another inside near the middle of the tent to gauge its heat output. 


Remarkably, there was an average 40°C temperature difference between the two zones. Adjustments to the vents, particularly the closure of the back vent, significantly amplified the heat emanation from the firebox. 


I did not have a stovepipe thermometer or a wood stove fan in use with this stove.

The stove's firebox, with its 25-liter capacity, comfortably accommodates medium logs, allowing for 1-2 large logs alongside smaller kindling. On the coldest of nights, with what I term "premium firewood," the stove consistently yielded residual coals even after three hours. 


Cooking Performance and Time

The stove's cooking performance was exemplary; even though that was limited to boiling water for coffee and cooking the occasional bacon. The thick steel plate on the top provides a nice even heat across the entire cooking surface. This works well with cooking items such as cast iron.


Although a round plate atop the stove can be removed to intensify the heat directed onto a pan, in my testing, the necessity to do so never arose. I also never used it to add small sticks as the Pomoly website suggests, the front door worked fine.


An image of a kettle on the Dweller Max 3
If you're like me and use this stove for heat and boiling water then you'll be good to go. I can see someone cooking smaller meals on this stovetop.

Issues Encountered

The only notable "issue" (and I'm nitpicking here) encountered was the frequent buildup of creosote on the side glass, more so than on the front glass. While the air curtain at the front effectively mitigates buildup, maintaining visual clarity of the fire through the side panels proved challenging, diminishing the aesthetic and practical enjoyment of viewing the fire within. Otherwise, I had no issues using this stove.


Maintenance and Cleaning Instructions

Maintaining your stove involves routine tasks to ensure it operates efficiently and safely. For example, the ashtray must be cleaned at least once daily to prevent overflow and potential fire hazards (I've burned a few holes in my floor because of this). 


For the chimney cap, a regular check every couple of days is necessary; bang it out to clear any blockages, ensuring optimal airflow. Always wait for the stove to cool down before handling the chimney pipe for cleaning, although I often use fireproof gloves to adjust the pipe even when it's hot — don't do what I do.


For long-term care I suggest you avoid running the stove at high heat constantly; a "medium" setting will suffice, especially in larger tents like the Pomoly Circle 6. While I haven't encountered any issues yet, keep an eye on the rivets and other parts. Pomoly includes spare parts with their stoves, which usually means something will need to be replaced.



Pros and Cons Summary

I suppose that this list being so small is a good thing as there's not much to say beyond the fact that this stove provides warmth and it does so conveniently. 


Advantages

  • Efficiency and Design: The Dweller Max 3 has a lot of options for airflow making it burn even wet wood with ease

  • Glass Windows: Having 3 windows to see the action in the stove leaves the guesswork out of when to add wood and adds a nice ambiance to the tent.

  • Packability: The stove pipes and accessories all fit either in the stove or the included bag making this an easy package to transport.

Disadvantages

  • Creosote: Frequent creosote buildup on the side glass requires regular cleaning, which can be a hassle.

  • Bottom tray: If chunky or small embers fall while the ashtray is not in place there is a chance it can become hard to put the tray back in

Comparison

The only stove that comes to mind in comparison is the Winnerwell Woodlander Medium Tent Stove. This is because it uses the same thick steel 304 stainless that the Dweller Max 3 uses. In this case, the Pomoly stove stands out for its efficient air curtain feature, larger fire box, and multiple venting options.

Final Thoughts and Recommendation

In conclusion, the Pomoly Dweller Max 3 tent stove offers an excellent value proposition for those in need of reliable, efficient warmth in outdoor environments. With its interesting design, ease of use, and efficient fuel consumption, the stove justifies its CAD 760 price for those prioritizing warmth and durability in their camping gear. 


I would say that while this stove is not suited for lightweight expeditions such as hiking or canoe camping due to its size and weight, it is an ideal choice for sled and truck camping. Both solo adventurers and group campers will find the Dweller Max 3 a worthy addition to their outdoor equipment collection.


An image of the Dweller Max 3 in a tent with strong shadows.
The Pomoly Dweller Max 3 has become my favourite basecamp stove.


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