Charges devices; requires only twigs to run; well-designed; portable; lightweight
More expensive than batteries or traditional camping stove; some parts aren’t water-proof
US$129 + shipping
The BioLite CampStove is the perfect companion for campers and hikers who need to keep their electronic devices charged while exploring the bush.
The stove – compatible with the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPod nano – uses a small internal fan to create and maintain a fire, converting the heat generated into electricity to charge any small devices connected via USB.
At just under 21cm tall and 13cm across when packed away, and weighing in at 935g, the camping stove is compact and lightweight. Handy for those walking long distances.
The stove only requires small sticks and twigs to burn – fuel that is available at all outdoor camping locations – removing the need to carry burdensome flammable liquids such as Butane for traditional cooking stoves.
Starting the fire with the supplied firestarters is a breeze, and for most experienced campers getting the fire to a constant level is a simple task.
While maintaining a fire with small twigs isn’t hard, the fire will require constant attention as the fuel burns quickly. This would be an annoyance if you have to regularly move the food that is cooking on top of the stove to resupply the fire.
In our testing the stove charged an iPhone 5 at four percent every half-hour. A slow pace, compared to the usual 90-minute charge when plugged into a power outlet. However while camping for the night, time is not an issue and the heat provided from the BioLite stove will also keep campers warm.
The rate of charge is dependent on the heat and consistency of the fire, which meant the charging dropped in and out at times. The charge is also dependent on the BioLite’s internal battery, which charges the stove’s fan before any connected device.
The stove’s small internal fan blows on the fire to keep the flames consistent and the electrical parts of the stove cool. It has two speeds – fast and slow – to adapt to the fire and automatically shuts off when the stove has cooled down sufficiently.
It could be argued that carrying extra batteries and purchasing a regular camp stove would be cheaper, and in most cases that would be true. However, regular campers will enjoy the convenience of having an all-in-one system that weighs very little and can be fuelled at any site.
Packing up the stove was simple. It cooled to a comfortable level within an hour after use and required minimal effort to clean. BioLite recommends the use of a nylon brush to clean the stainless steel stove body and the bottom, which can be hard to reach if you have large hands.
The stove body is also dishwasher- safe for cleaning at the end of a trip if you wish to keep your hands clean.
Included with the BioLite CampStove is a collection of firelighters, a carry sack, instructions and a USB-to-USB cable to charge the stove’s fan before travel.
The BioLite CampStove is aimed at a specific market of outdoor- goers who still desire charged gadgets. While the rate-of-charge won’t excite those in a hurry, the stove’s lightweight profile and infinite fuel source make it a useful addition to hikers and campers backpacks.