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818 BioLite CampStove 2013-06-05

BioLite CampStove charging GoalZero Guide Plus

Last summer Amy, my wife, found a startup company, BioLite, who was hoping to make a wood burning camp stove. I thought, ‘what's so unusual about that, we already have a wood burning Zip Stove?’ Ah, the big difference was the new BioLite stove was supposed to convert heat from the burning wood or ‘bio-mass’ into electricity. The stove was to have a USB port designed to charge mobile phones, cameras, batteries, etc. Excited by the innovative idea, Amy supported the startup and bought a stove through their Kickstarter campaign. In late fall we received our much anticipated stove.

Our initial reaction was that the stove was bulky and heavy, but it had a large rechargeable battery that operates the fan and is the source for charging other devices. We played with the stove a few times and decided to use it on this year’s summer trip.

Our summer trips are fun trips into the mountains but they are also working trips. We collect and organize data for future maps and guides and try to blog as regularly as possible. In order to work with computers, pads, mobile phones, GPS units, and cameras, we need electricity. The BioLite might just the thing to keep us going on days when the solar powering capacity is limited and we need a little extra power to keep working.

A few BioLite notes ...

I have been amazed by the BioLite marketing campaign. I see their ads, articles, and reviews everywhere.

The stove is a wood burning stove. There is no 'on and off' switch. There is no flame adjustment.

With a few pieces of dry tinder, the stove is easy to light.

Once burning, the stove roars like a furnace. While doing trial burns, I used our fireplace poker to help position sticks in the burner. A long stick would also work as a poker.

The tripod legs offer good stability. I was able to level the stove by adjusting the legs.

Once the light (around the USB port) changes to green, it is ready to charge.

Just be prepared to keep adding fuel to keep the charge going.

The BioLite uses a lot of fuel, however the small branches are easy to gather.

If the light changes to orange, it needs more wood!

The stove has a two speed fan. While on high, the stove hums, but also goes through wood very fast. I tended to use the fan to control the rate of burn. When I needed more flame, I switched the fan to high and then back to low as soon as possible.

The stove needs to be attended constantly.

We have not cooked on the stove yet, but plan to at least boil coffee water on the stove. We chose a small pot with a bail to use with the stove. The stove fits inside the pot. The bail will be useful to hang the pot above the flames instead of sitting the pot directly on top of the hot stove.

The BioLite charges my iPhone 4S and the Goal Zero Guide Plus AA battery pack. I did not try using the stove to charge my iPad directly. The charge was not fast, but I am hoping the rates will improve.

We do not plan to carry the stove backcountry but, if we have good results while using it in the campground, then the stove will find a home in one of our packs. Maybe, Amy would like to add the stove to her pack, she bought it you know and ...

After burning the stove for an hour, there was only a small amount of ash residue in the bottom of the chamber.

The fan continues to run after the fire burns out. The fan then quits automatically after the stove cools.

We want the BioLite stove to work. It will fill a need for us on extended trips. At the end of the summer we plan on writing a follow-up.

Happy BioLite trails


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