I love being in the outdoors whether it is camping, hunting or both. Temporarily living off the land is great fun but I do always stay connected with my phone. Not only do I have to plan on how to cook, but also how to charge. The BioLite CampStove Bundle ($199.95) allows users to cook and create power to charge.
The BioLite CampStove is a portable biomass stove that uses thermoelectrics to create smokeless fire that also is able to charge devices. No need to bring propane or other fossil fuels to create the fire and energy. The BioLite works by burning sticks, twigs, pine cones and other biomass. The package comes with a stuff sack, instructions, USB cord, CampStove, Firelighter, KettlePot with stuff sack, and portable grill with a cover. The bundle is compact and lightweight making it easy to transport or take on a hike.
BioLite takes heat from the fire through a heat probe which is attached to the power pack. A thermoelectric generator converts the heat into usable energy which powers the fan and sends excess energy to the charging port. The fan forces air back into the fire creating an efficient, clean burn.
Everything other than the grill top fit nicely into the KettlePot making it easy to carry on a hike or when on the go. Simply, pull the three main components out and fit them together and you will be ready for fire.
The CampStove is well constructed and will definitely survive a beating in the outdoors. The bottom of the generator has a power button which controls the fan and a USB port.
My technology class happily agreed to assist me in the review so we decided to cook some hot dogs. First thing we need is some fire, so we loaded the canister with small sticks that I picked up from my yard. The unit comes with some lighter sticks which look to be compressed cardboard or paper. After lighting a stick and dropping it in, I turned on the fan and we had instant fire.
The fan whips the tiny fire quickly and in seconds there is a nice hot fire. I was impressed how fast the fire started and how clean it burned. The fan also creates a cool funneling effect on the fire that my students enjoyed. We let the fire get going and added a few more sticks before adding the grill top.
The grill top is made of the same quality as the CampStove and is also lightweight. All you do is fold out the two legs and set it on top of the chimney and you are ready to cook. The design makes sure that the grill is super stable making it easy to cook on.
After letting the grill warm up for a few minutes, we added a package of hot dogs which began to sizzle immediately. The small lid that covers the chimney helps force the flames and heat into the grilling surface. Make sure you use tongs to open and close and do not forget to check periodically to add more sticks.
While the hot dogs cooked, we charged an iPhone. The phone immediately began to charge just like it would being plugged into any energy source. I do believe the charging from the BioLite is quiet slow, but where else can you charge your phone using fire?
The hot dogs cooked just right and took about as long as they would on just about any grill. In fact from unpacking the BioLite to cooked dogs literally took around 10 minutes. This can be a great way to take a break to cook on a hiking trip without costing much time. The provided light can also be powered by the unit for night cooking which will help save any battery-powered lights you carry.
When you are all done with the fire, simply leave the fan on and the BioLite will burn the fuel down to a tiny bit of cool ash. This also only took minutes and I was able to just pick up the CampStove and carry it back into my classroom. It left no mess and no worries of causing a fire in the woods.
In a 48 minute class period I was able to take roll, walk my students outside, unpack the BioLite CampStove Bundle, cook and eat hot dogs, clean up repack and back in the class before the bell. I think if needed, I could stop and cook a meal or boil some water in about half the time. Having the ability to make such a useful and clean fire out of just a few small sticks we found is awesome. We literally started the fire in seconds and on the first try, and when we cleaned up, there was a tiny amount of cool ash. Add that with the smokeless fire, and you have an impressively environmentally friendly product. Add in the ability to be charge devices and run lights and you truly have an off the grid device. I will keep the BioLite CampStove Bundle with me every time I head to the woods or if I am running from the zombies. I highly recommend having one.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I like: Light, compact and easy to make a clean, usable fire; Being able to convert fire into energy is quite useful
What can be improved: Nothing; Really great product