The humble camp stove – essential for the first cup of coffee in the morning. There’s a new option in town with the BioLite CampStove and it’s got a little black magic magic hidden within its stainless steel and orange plastic body. Not only will the BioLite heat water and grill a steak, it’ll also charge your phone.
BioLite’s claim, “…makes cooking on wood as clean, safe and easy as modern fuels while generating electricity to charge phones, lights and other electronics off-grid.”
The magic of behind the gadget charging is a Thermoelectric Generator that converts the heat within the camp stove combustion chamber into electricity. Pretty groovy.
The CampStove is designed to burn the small twigs, sticks, and pine cones that are easily found around any camp site. No need to chop or split wood with this device.
The genius behind the CampStove technology is that it was designed first and foremost to burn in an extremely efficient manner. The thermoelectric generator creates an electric current to power a small fan that dramatically improves the combustion of the fuel. The fire in the CampStove burns very hot with very little smoke and the extreme heat creates enough additional current to charge small electronic devices, such as your phone.
How Does the Magic Happen? Simply attach the orange power module to the side of the stainless steel combustion chamber with the power modules copper probe inserted into the combustion chamber and build a fire within the chamber. The probe collects the heat within the chamber to create an electric current which powers a small fan that vastly improves the combustion efficiency. Once the fan kicks in the fire burns so hot that it creates an electrical surplus that will top off the charge of small electronic gadgets.
Advantages Over Other Camp Stoves:
- No need to carry fuel – Gas canisters and white gas are just a memory
- Biomass is the fuel – Sticks, Twigs, and Pine Cones are all around and easy to find and use
- Can your stove charge your phone?
Packing it in – The CampStove is much smaller than you may think. At about the size of a 1 liter Nalgene bottle. The stove / power unit weighs a shade over two pounds. CampStove accessories include the Kettle Pot and Grill which weigh 1.8 lbs and 1 lb respectively. The total weight the package tops out at a hefty 5 pounds but since there’s no need to carry fuel fuel and you have the comfort if a real campfire this may be an acceptable tradeoff.
Using the CampStove – We found the camp stove very easy to start, especially since the power source is under your feet and easy to collect. Just as with a traditional campfire, the initial fire is a bit smoky until the fan kicks in. Once the fan starts blowing the fire becomes a glowing inferno within the steel jacket, no smoke, just a mezmerizing swirling flame hovering above the combustion chamber.
Keeping the fire going requires a bit of effort. The small bits of fuel that the CampStove runs on burn fast, very fast. The constant feeding that the stove requires quickly becomes the camp chore of note.
Heating water, for tea, with the CampStove and the 1.5 liter Kettle Pot took a little over six minutes and two refuelings of the combustion chamber. A camp dinner of brats on the grill took 36 minutes and 8 refuelings of twigs and sticks. Collect a pile of sticks and then double it.
The Charge – Once the BioLite was ready to charge (it’ll let you know with a green LED) it topped off our test iPhone 4s by 15% during the 36 minutes of the test. More than enough battery life to allow us to use the constellation app for stargazing. A decent battery top off while making hot tea and dinner – not too bad.
The Verdict – The BioLite isn’t perfect. Few things are. Compared to some white gas stoves it’s heavy – but less than the combined weight of stove and fuel; It’s work – The BioLite is hungry and you’ve got to keep gathering small burnables to feed it; It burns hot and fast using materials that are too small for a regular campfire – The efficiency of the BioLite is amazing. And it’ll top off your phone – For trailhead camping the BioLite will do what few other devices can accomplish. We like it.
BioLite also offers a larger version of the CampStove called the BaseCamp and is coming out with a new product called the KettleCharge that promises to be even more versatile.
You can learn more about BioLites products HERE