BioLite CampStove

Cool concept, right? Basically a canister wood-burning stove that drives a fan-powered charging pack. It promises to simultaneously solve the fuel problem and address the emerging demand to charge up phones, GPS systems, or other USB devices. It is weighty–more than 2 lbs.–but how much does your stove, fuel and other charging device (or pack of spare batteries) weigh? It breaks down to a bit more than the size of a liter water bottle.

At that size and weight, it's crucial that it both cooks and charges effectively, which is where the rubber meets the road. My conclusion is that it works, but it requires pretty constant attention. Dry tinder is crucial (birch bark, tiny twigs, fire-starter sticks), and it's worth bringing or collecting good fire-starter fuel as you travel. Once going, the fan does a pretty stellar job keeping it flaming as long as the fuel isn't soaking wet. While it does boil a quart of water in five minutes or so under ideal conditions, if you want to cook a longer dinner it requires fairly constant hovering to regulate heat and repeated lifting of the pot to add fuel. As for the charging feature, yes, it works, and it avoids the solar system problems with low-angle sun and cloudy days, but it isn't a wall charger by any stretch. I found that I got about a 10 percent charge on a phone in the 20 minutes it took to cook dinner.

The bottom line: Pick your trip for this one. For longer journeys where fuel weight becomes onerous and recharging is a real issue, this might be your baby.

Intel for the BioLite CampStove:
8.25" x 5"; 33 oz.; $129.95;

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BioLite CampStove