User Review: BioLite CampStove
Source: borrowed it
This might not be the most ideal product for backpackers, but its ingenuity and usefulness are too much to resist. If you appreciate the "pros" enough and can use some common sense to combat the "cons," let the good times roll!
- Cooking qualities are excellent
- Charging qualities are a plus!
- Great heat!
- Stable and safe for cooking
- Heavy (who doesn't want the lightest thing ever?)
- Dirty (bring a grocery bag or two to contain it in the backpack after use)
- A bit noisy
- Promotes bringing more gadgets ("Simplify, simplify" -HDT))
A friend loaned this ingenious product to me for the summer, and I am eager to get one of my own. I understand why many people don't like, but it is what it is. . . As always, I would highly recommend that you read the directions carefully and experiment at home before taking it to the woods.
Start-up: Without the use of fire starters, the tinder, twigs, and fan had the flames roaring within 5-6 minutes. The battery was pre-charged at home, so there was no down time before the fan could be used. BioLite recommends the pre-charge to expedite use for phones and other devices in addition to the fan.
For cooking purposes only, this is an extremely effective option in the field. The BioStove is a bit heavy for a backpacking stove, but well worth the weight when considering the charging capacity of the product for phones, iPods, GPSs, and headlamps.
Fuel: As directed, tinder was used to start the fire and larger pieces of wood were used , maxing out with ½ inch diameter sticks. Egg-sized embers from the campfire became the fuel for the stove on our second night at basecamp. It worked infinitely better as the heat was more clean and hot.
Without a doubt, embers are the best choice if a campfire is burning nearby. Whether it was the ember-style or using wood, it took little effort to keep the fire going to charge our electronics.
Cooking: A quart of water with the fan on low was boiling in less than five minutes without a lid, which is outstanding compared to other stoves on the market. This is one of the more stable stoves I have ever used with respect to its wide base diameter with the landing gear down- way more than my JetBoil. I would highly recommend a pot lifter for moving the pots to and from the stove. “Safety first!” Even with the use of the top pot stabilizer, users should be incrediblly careful while cooking. One bump and boiling water or food could do some impressive damage or send your meal flying onto the ground.
If using it at a campground or basecamp, a long metal spoon for scooping embers from the campfire works great. We used half of an old pie iron left at basecamp years ago. A cheap and effective alternative would be this product or a long handled serving spoon from a local store. Wind is a concern if you let the flames lick the generator side- YIKES! Keep an eye on it. Easy enough.
Clean-up: After allowing the stove to cool, we tapped out the leftover ash and wiped the inside of the stove out with wet then dry paper towels. I double-bagged it in grocery bags while in my backpack. Upon returning home, I washed the stove section in the dishwasher and cleaned smeared ash from the generator section with a hot dish towel.
Cons: The noise from the fan was a bit loud. It didn’t bother me, but my friend works for networking company and listens to fans all day at work in the control center rooms. He was begging me to put it on the edge of camp to charge our phones and headlamps because he associated the sound with work.