Updated: Apr 17, 2019
There are a few reasons I was interested in the backpacking stove option. I typically use a jetboil but like the idea of having a fire source that I could cook with more than 1 pot or container. Cook something else after finishing something number 1... that kind of thing. I also liked the idea of having a small contained fire for places that do not have the best situation for a full campfire. Be it wind, exposure, ( I won't say rules but there that is...) and just ease of not messing with large amounts of wood and holes and on and on....
Prior to settling on this stove I looked at a few others like the Toaks Titanium and the Solo. They are all around the same price area... $50 -ish give or take $10 at the time I purchased this one. What made me decide on the Vargo was its ability to collapse and fold completely flat. It came with a storage pouch that makes it easy to pack away and keep the soot and ash off your other gear.
This thing is super lightweight at 4.1 oz according to REI. If you use sticks and small pieces of wood from the area you would not need anything else other than a lighter or matches. No fuel bottle to carry means a lot less weight.
There are other reviews you can find on youtube and even a few boil tests if you are in to the exact number of minutes and how it compares to others. I will say, based on my observations, nothing comes close to a jetboil if you are in a hurry. This isn't that. This stove is great for someone who is not in a rush and wants to sit and enjoy the experience of the fire, cooking or whatever. I didn't find it to be a bad experience, I mean your out there anyways so who cares if it takes 10 minutes to boil water. It works and it's ultra-minimal. I used some small sticks and worked my way up to maybe golf ball sized pieces but it seems to work best with finger sized sticks as the largest. You need to get it going pretty good at first then work your way up. Since it pulls air flow up from the bottom it burns pretty hot and you'll need to prep ahead of time and have fuel sticks around ready to feed in. Once you get it going though it burns fairly clean but you will need to babysit and keep feeding the beast. When you are done you need to wait awhile for it to cool enough to put away.
I burned wood for probably over an hour. It gets very hot and after cooking could be used as a small ambient fire source in areas where that might seem like the thing to do. I did use a Trangia stove inside of it to see how that went. It works pretty well. The Trangia fits inside and left enough gap above the flame to then set a pot on top of the Vargo. This method actually works very well but not sure if you would want to plan to carry these two items since the Trangia and fuel + the Vargo would likely cancel out any weight or space savings you gained - but what the heck, it was worth a shot.
What I like: Small and light - could fit in a large pocket - burns whatever you want
What I don't: Hard to keep hands clean when putting it away, get black soot and ash all over hands unless you are super careful. Get some soot on pots or cooking containers too. Small pots or bottles like a Klean Kanteen will fit inside the top. I used 2 small pieces of steel wire to create a rack to hold my Klean Kanteen.
Supplier: (Where I bought mine) - REI link to stove