BioLite CampStove


Woodburning stove charges a phone

I’ve had this amazing camp stove for about 6 months now, and it lives up to the hype (which in this case is saying a lot). First off, it burns wood. No need to bring fuel of any kind, you can run the stove off twigs and leaves, or a stick or two, which can be collected off the ground almost anywhere. Burning wood is normally very inefficient and smokey, but the BioLite has a secret weapon. It uses a small thermoelectric generator to create a bit of electricity which is then used to power an internal fan. The fan blows air into the fire chamber creating perfect combustion from regular wood, or any dry or almost dry biomass. The resulting fire is hot, and clean. There is literally no smoke; it doesn’t even leave black soot on the bottom of your pans! Once the fire is started (which takes about 2 minutes) you can pack the combustion chamber with wood, and when that wood catches, a vortex of flame will leap 6 to 10 inches above the stove. Put a pot on it, and it will boil water faster then anything short of an industrial kitchen stove top.

As if that were not enough, the internal generator creates enough excess electricity to power a USB plug on the side of the stove. It’s strong enough to power an iPad or iPhone. Getting a complete charge takes some time (longer then cooking dinner) but the stove provides such a nice open flame that it’s like having a campfire, so I just keep feeding it and enjoy the flame until whatever I need charged is done.

The stove breaks down into two parts (power unit and combustion chamber) and once cool, the power unit fits inside the combustion chamber for compact storage. It is light and rugged. I use the stove on motorcycle trips and it’s perfect for overnight campsites, or heating a lunch on the side of the road.

Looking at reviews on the internet, I have seen some criticism of the stove for it’s weight. Fair enough, it’s not really a super light backpacking stove, but for me the benefits of not carrying fuel and the “greenness” of burning biomass make it preferable to a traditional camp stove. Add to that the ability to power USB, and this thing becomes truly over the top amazing.

My only issue with this stove is that it can be tricky to regulate the heat. The fan has two power settings (low/high) which helps but even on low the stove burns wood pretty hot, so it can be tricky if you just want to simmer.

I’ve noticed that they have started selling a grill top accessory which I don’t yet have, but is very high on my wishlist.

-- Mickey 10/6/13

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