Power on the Go with the BioLite CampStove

I read about the BioLite CampStove in August 2012 as part of the GearJunkie‘s Outdoor Retailer Best-in-Show wrap-up. (there’s plenty of other cool stuff in that post as well).

Anyway, being a fella who likes to cook in the out of doors, I was intrigued. So I ordered one direct from BioLite and gave it a try.

Gear Up: Biolite Stove

What’s in the box.

The stove itself is comprised of two pieces, a metal Fuel Chamber (weighing 18 ounces/515 grams) and an orange Power Module (14.5 ounces/417 grams), which is a thermoelectric generator, a small fan, and a lithium-ion battery. Here’s how the BioLite Stove works.

It also comes with a snap-on pot stand, a short (yellow) USB cable, a small packet of firestarter sticks (which I did not use), and a convenient stuff sack to hold everything. All together my BioLite stove (not including the firestarter sticks) weighs in at 34.5 ounces (982 grams). A little heavier than I prefer for backpacking, but not too bad overall. By comparison, my JetBoil Sol with a full fuel canister weighs a mere 20.5oz (580grams)—and takes up less volume in my pack.

Getting ready to burn.

The BioLite Stove has a really nice design that makes it easy to set up and use. The Power Module slides right into the Fuel Chamber. There’s really only one way it can fit, so it’s pretty error-proof.

Like any device you buy with lithium-ion battery, it’s recommended that you condition (prime) the battery before using it for the first time, so I charged the battery using a (not included) USB adapter and a standard wall outlet.

Fire!

I loaded up the fuel chamber with some tinder and kindling, tossed in a match, and it started right up. The fuel chamber operates similar to a chimney-method of lighting a charcoal grill.

After I fed the fire with a little more fuel, I pushed the button on the Power Module to LO. The fan clicked on, giving the fire a flow of oxygen, and things really started to burn. I added some more fuel and waited a few moments.

Biolite Stove Review

It didn’t take long for the fire to really get roaring. I pressed the button again to switch the Power Module to HI. This got the fan going even faster, and in almost no time, the light on the Power Module turned green.

Charging Up with the BioLite Stove

I plugged in my phone and commenced charging.

Overall, the stove charged the phone just fine, but it didn’t charge it very much. I was a bit surprised at how soon the Power Module ran out of juice, considering the experiment started with a full charge from a wall outlet.

The author gets a charge out of his new BioLite Stove.

The author gets a charge out of his new BioLite Stove.

Now this was just an out-of-the-box test, so I didn’t pack the Fuel Chamber as full as I could have, but from this initial test, I’m guessing It’s going to take a lot of continually burning biomass to get a phone to a full charge.

So for the next test, I’m going to see just how much fuel I need to burn and how long it takes to get a full charge on a phone.

I’ll probably try out boiling some water on the pot stand, too.

 

Written by Tom Fassbender

An amateur hobbyist, expert generalist, and outdoor enthusiast who recently traveled around the world with his family.

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