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Adventure / January 29, 2017

Gear Review: BioLite Camp Stove

Written by: Renee Howard

On a recent trip down the Grand Canyon, I learned my tech game needed a boost.

My phone died on day one, and the solar panel I’d packed was useless in the bottom of the canyon. I was forced to ration my camera batteries.

That’s no way to live.

So after the trip, I looked into alternative backcountry power sources. That led me to the BioLite Camp Stove, which serves the dual function of stove and charging port. Hot beverages, hot dogs and a charge? Sounded good to me.

The BioLite Camp Stove is built around a stainless canister about the size of a quart jar. That canister is mounted on a stand and fitted with a small thermoelectric generator. 

The stove is fueled by small dry twigs or pellets—nothing much bigger than your index finger. Just place a few bits of kindling in the canister, light it, and start the stove’s electric fan to get it torching. 

Heat from the fire is then trapped by a copper probe and converted to electricity by the attached generator. That electricity powers the fan and charges devices from a USB port.

In my experience, it takes the BioLite about twenty minutes to charge a device to a useful degree. That’s a long wait, but it might save your life when your solar charger is out of commission and you really need to wake up that GPS unit.

The power output was slow, but considering the very few similar products on the market, a max continuous output of 2W at 5V, and peak output of 4W at 5V isn’t bad.

The company claims the stove boils water in as little as 4.5 minutes. When including the time it takes to get the fire going, I found the process actually took about 15 minutes. And I had to stoke the fire while cooking.

The BioLite weighs 2.5 lbs. That’s a bit heavy, but it evens out when you think how much a couple full MSR fuel bottles plus a gas stove weigh. Various attachments allow the user to cook with pots and pans or to use the stove as a grill. 

Overall rating: A-

The stove sells online for 129.95.

Have you used the BioLite Stove? Email us at [email protected] to share your experience.

about the author

Renee Howard

Renee is a photographer and writer based out of South-central Alaska. Her interest in bridging gaps between all manner of outdoor sports, philosophy, folk culture and backwoods artistry is a significant motivation for her work.

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