BioLite CampStove 1 Wood Burning and USB Charging Camping Stove (Original Model)
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- Turn fire into electricity! Powers most USB-chargeable devices including cell phones and smartphones on backpacking and camping trips, or during power outages using, sticks or any other biomass
- 20 minutes of charging with a strong fire gives you about 60 minutes of talk time on most smartphones
- During a full burn, the CampStove can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 4.5 minutes.
- CampStove weighs about 2 pounds and is about the same size as a 2-liter Nalgene water bottle
- An internal starter battery helps kick-start the wood fire before the stove begins generating its own power
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The BioLite Wood Burning CampStove combines the benefits of a lightweight backpacking stove and an off-grid power charger so you can cook a meal while charging your gadgets. The Campstove is the perfect solution for both the backcountry campsite and also Emergency Preparedness Kits. No Fuel to Buy or Carry: Our stoves cook your meals with nothing but the twigs you collect on your journey or in your backyard, eliminating the need for heavy, expensive, polluting petroleum gas. Quick to light, fast to boil and easy to use. Charge your Gadgets: By converting heat from the fire into usable electricity, our stoves will recharge your phones, lights and other gadgets while you cook dinner. Unlike solar, BioLite CampStove is a true on-demand source. Stay Green: By using renewable resources for fuel instead of petroleum, you're reducing your carbon footprint. You'll also keep fuel canisters out of the landfill. Be Prepared: The CampStove isn't just for camping; it's great to have when the power goes out in a storm or other natural disaster. You'll be able to cook and keep electronics charged while power lines are down. No need to worry about your local store being sold out of propane, the CampStove is designed to run on any biomass. Support a Better World: We're using the same technology inside the CampStove to bring clean, safe energy to families across the developing world. Have Fun: Like a campfire, you can sit around the CampStove and watch the flames dance as you roast marshmallows and tell stories with friends. How it Works: Using BioLite's patented thermoelectric technology, the BioLite CampStove converts heat to electricity that powers a fan to make the fire ultra-efficient. Extra electricity can be used to charge small electronics like mobile phones and LED lights. At BioLite, we develop breakthrough technologies and empower people to power themselves.
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Wow - seriously. This thing is nuts. It gets so hot that the coals constantly glow red hot inside. On high speed (the fan settings on the outside) I had 4 eggs and bacon strips cooked up and ready to eat in about 8 minutes. Boiling water took a bit longer, but still faster than I feel I could have done it on my stovetop.
After that trip it kind of just sat on a shelf in the event that I ever got around to camping again. I did purchase another unit for my brother that he literally keeps it in his trunk whenever he heads out on a lengthy road trip. My brother has freely advertised his unit to all his friends and has probably helped BioLite sell another 30 units all on his own.
Fast forward a few months to Hurricane Matthew that tore along the east US coast. I was in one of the cities affected by the storm and was without power for about 2 weeks. This was especially difficult due to having 2 adult and two children family members visiting during that time from Europe (not the greatest of impressions for their first experience in America) and cold showers are never enjoyable.
So, I break this stove out after about the 3rd day to start cooking meat that would otherwise go bad due to lack of refrigeration. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 10 days this stove kept 8 people fed, EASILY. I did get the Thermos add-on for the stove which ended up being invaluable for making coffee in the mornings. The entire stove breaks down and fits inside the Thermos, which is pretty nifty and saves space when packing a backpack or storing it on a shelf. As a parting gift I ordered another stove and gifted it to my European in-laws on their way out of town. It was WELL received and appreciated.
Alright, so you know the life story of my BioLite stove, so let me point out a few things for those potential buyers so you know what to expect:
1) This stove is voracious - utterly insatiable. You have to keep feeding it to maintain the heat necessary for cooking things. I will caveat this though. Fire consumes, right? So, it is to be expected that if you introduce a source of fuel to fire, that source will be reduced as it is consumed. The harder the fuel source, the longer it takes to be consumed. That should be common sense, but I didn't come around to the obvious without some trial and error. On my camping trip, I was using pine-cones and dry fuels of that nature (Wet fuel is a no-no and will irreparably break your stove - I'll explain in the next point). But... Lump Hardwood Charcoal (which is healthier to cook with than briquettes anyway) is a very hard fuel source. I have learned that the fastest way to get up and running is to fill the stove cavity with hardwood charcoal, dribble a very small amount of lighter fluid over it, wait a second or two for it to soak in, then light it. Breakfast in half an hour or less - I guarantee it.
2) I do not recommend getting the grill add-on for this stove... It is made of really cheap metal and I've found that putting a skillet directly on top the stove works just fine, and long as you can balance your cooking apparatus. A round pot without a long horizontal handle works even better.
3) When the stove heats up, it trips a sensor in the attached thermal-charging battery/fan that you attach to the side during set-up. At the base of the inside of the stove canister, there is a small port that sits right in front of the little fan in the piggyback unit. Note: The fan blades are PLASTIC. This is why you cannot use wet fuel with this unit and also why after you're done using it and try to turn off the fan it will not turn off. Your stove is not broken, it simply has to spin the fan while there is still a heat source near the fan blades to avoid melting them and making the stove worthless. The fan has two speeds: Keep it Hot Speed, and Burn Your Eggs Speed. I use Burn Your Eggs Speed to boil water - works very well.
4) Once you get the heat going and the fan is on, etc, you can't just plug in a USB and go to town. You must wait for the little green light to come on, indicating that there is enough of a charge being created. Only then will the stove charge an attached electronic device. (We kept two smart-phones charged enough to conduct our daily lives just by charging them during meals. Note: smart phones charge faster if you turn them off before plugging them in.)
The charge generated is a trickle, but is enough to make the difference between an emergency situation and a situation that is merely uncomfortable.
Thanks BioLite for an amazing product - I've freely advertised for you guys ever since Hurricane Matthew!
I paid full price for this stove and have purchased 3 other stoves as gifts for friends and family also at full-price. One emergency and it's worth the money, you'll see.
The stove delivers on the cooking promise, it produces an oxygen powered, mostly smokeless fuel source that will boil water fast. Not as fast as my isobutane camp stove, but plenty quick enough. If you only want to power a hot flame for cooking, using only bio-material when in the bush, I recommend this product.
Overall design and manufacturing is impressive across the board, but the component weight is concerning for backpackers – which may not be the primary consumer the product is intended for. However I did notice a little heat damage to the device after a single trip, which leads me to wonder about the longevity of the product.
The ordering experience was very pleasant and the company was quick to send the items before the holidays. The packaging was nice (something maybe only a designer would appreciate) and the company’s intention to serve third world countries was admirable.
As stated, the stove and components are well made, but maybe to a point that they ended up too heavy in a pack. Even splitting the components up among members of the group proved a little heavy on the straps (considering all the gear collectively). The grill top is especially heavy, but unless they switch to expensive alloys, the added weight is most likely a necessary hindrance to having a grill type cook top when in the bush and off grid.
It took a considerable amount of fuel to keep the fire raging, it basically requires a handful of sticks or pine cones every 2 minutes, or else the fire will go out and the fan will create a big smoke plume from the hot smoldering ash….lighting newly added sticks / pine cones from the hot ash requires a little help by blowing into the top of the stove…and getting many faces full of eye-stinging billowing smoke. Topping the stove with fuel every 2 minutes didn’t seem a chore, until I tried generating enough power for even a modest amount of electrical charge (a four hour process)….if you do the math…that is feeding the fire 120 times, and yes, THAT is a lot of collecting and work.
This brings me to the most disappointing part. The BioLite Camp stove simply does not provide enough power to charge your electrical items, even for a modest amount of power. There is a GREEN LED indicator that shows when the unit is powering your device….this cycles on and off in competition for power with the internal fan. It was pleasant at first to see the GREEN CHARGING light come on and provide charging power…but then it became frustrating when you realize the charging would last maybe only a minute, then up to five minutes of “not charging” as the on board fan consumed the power (which you can NOT turn off while the fire is lit presumably for overheating reasons). Hence four hours of trying to get even a 20% charge to the Bio Lite Nano Grid power bank. My hopes were to simply charge the power bank during the daily meals, to provide adequate camp lighting at night…and even with four hours of feeding the fire (there are much better ways to spend time on a hike) it gave me only enough power for about 20-30 minutes of light at night using the camp lights. Which may seem “ok”…but consider we spent much of the day on a marathon burn to generate this power.
The power producing ability was by far the most disappointing quality of the BioLite, which of course is why you would probably buy one of these products in the first place. I was willing to pay more, and deal with heavier weight if I could get free power from burning twigs in the woods…but the technology simply isn’t there yet. Hopefully the this is a growing pain that BioLite is working on, after realizing that their first generation camp stove isn’t all that efficient…and therefore the promise of power generation is more of a novelty…which comes at a high cost to consumers.
Although my product experience was mostly good, the lack of power-producing ability leads me to believe that the camp stove was not market-ready for a widespread release…hopefully the next generation products from BioLite will be more advanced. I would like to see at least twice the power output for me to consider using it on a hike, but more importantly, for me to recommend the stove (as a fellow product designer) to others.
Just being honest.