BioLite CampStove – The Substance Beyond the Hype

BioLite Wood Burning CampStove

BioLite Wood Burning CampStove

The BioLite CampStove received a huge amount of media attention this summer for being the first camping stove that can burn wood for cooking and recharging USB-enabled electronic devices. That’s a bunch of baloney, in my opinion. There are far better ways to boil water in the backcountry and recharge electronic devices than using a wood fired stove. Especially since you need to sit around and burn wood for HOURS to recharge a cell phone with the BioLite. Instead, I’d recommend that you simply carry extra batteries or a power brick charger if you can’t absolutely live without your electronic devices in the wilderness. This product has novelty value only.

How does the BioLite CampStove Work?

The BioLite CampStove is a top loading wood stove suspended on a fold-out stand. It comes with an orange battery pack and power converter which 1) converts the heat from a fire into electric power and 2) powers an integrated fan that is used to intensify the heat produced bythe wood stove.

Contrary to what you’d expect, the battery is not used to store energy for recharging electronic devices. It is only used to power the fan. If you want to charge external USB devices, you can only do so when the fire is burning and generating more heat and electricity than the amount required to run the fan. This means you can only recharge USB enabled devices when a fire is burning.

How long does it take to recharge a cell phone?

The BioLite takes a long time to recharge a cell phone battery that has zero remaining power. It depends on the phone, but expect to sit around for HOURS to recharge a dead battery. This is much longer than the time needed to cook dinner. My advice would be to use the BioLite to top of batteries instead of relying on it for a complete recharge unless you have a lot of free time on your hands and a lot of dry wood. Even then, you’d need to burn a lot of wood for an incremental top-off.

For example, it took me 2 hours of burning wood in the BioLite to bring a empty Samsung GalaxyS Smartphone battery up to 50% power. The stove only holds a small amount of fuel and I had to constantly add more wood to the fire to keep the heat level high enough to keep it charging.

If you don’t keep the fire hot and let it die down due to lack of fuel, it won’t generate enough extra energy to continue charging your devices. In fact, it will completely stop charging them, even though they’re still connected to the power converter/battery pack, because powering the fan has priority over recharging. Even more annoying, the charger starts and stops flowing current by itself; so your device may stop charging if it’s not hot enough, even if the fire is still burning.

Recharging a Cell Phone with the BioLite CampStove

Recharging a Cell Phone with the BioLite CampStove

How long does the wood in BioLite Stove take to burn?

If you fill a BioLite Stove with wood, it will take 5-10 minutes for all of the wood to be consumed depending on the type of wood used and its thickness (if using small sticks). If you plan on recharging a dead cell phone battery, I’d recommend you gather about two paper shopping bags worth of small sticks because you’ll need a lot of wood to keep the fire burning for the 4-5 hours required to recharge a cell phone. I shudder to think of the damage that our forests would suffer if everyone camping in them gathered this much wood every night to recharge their cell phones. The damage would be equally worse in developing countries.

Further, be advised that you will need to empty the accumulated ashed from the stove after each hour of use. Despite the efficiency of the burn, the growing ash pile increasingly limits the amount of fuel you can get into the stove and the resulting heat produced by the flame.  Hot ashes alone do not generate enough heat and a raging flame is required to generate the extra energy required for recharging.

Conclusion

If you want to cook with wood in the backcountry, get yourself a decent wood stove or make your own. If you’re looking for a way to recharge USB enabled devices, I’d recommend you use batteries or a rechargeable power brick instead of the BioLite wood burning CampStove. This product is a gimmick that will be shelved in your basement after a single outing.

Likes

  • Burns wood fuel completely to ash making it easy to bury in a Leave No Trace cat hole
  • Fuel box is suspended above ground on a stand so heat from fire does not sterilize soil

Dislikes

  • Burns wood very quickly requiring constant wood replenishment
  • Requires multiple hours of burning to charge a cell phone
  • No power storage; can only charge USB devices when a fire is burning
  • Heavy at 33.5 ounces; best for car camping entertainment, not cooking or backpacking

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a complementary Biolite CampStove for this review. 

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78 Responses to BioLite CampStove – The Substance Beyond the Hype

  1. R.Ruff August 29, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    Good review. I like the honesty in it.

    • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      The people who read this blog are my friends. Friends don’t let friends buy “inferior products.”.

    • Martin October 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      I did my research on this stove prior to buying it. I knew what I was getting. This stove is not that heavy, but heavy enough that if you are trying to keep your pack weight down that you’ll have to think about other essential and not essential items that you may be bringing along. For cooking — you’ll to be feeding it fuel every few minutes — but if you put in larger pieces of wood (thicker) once you have a good base of coals, then its not that inconvenient. Honestly, I don’t find throwing a few sticks of wood into the fire inconvenient – its enjoyable — so I don’t actually consider that a con. As for the charging aspect of this stove — its NOT a replacement for plugging your devices/gadgets into a wall charger — BUT what it does do well is give you enough power to make that emergency phone call, for example. I have yet to test the charging aspect completely, but when I do I will certainly post my results. Would I recommend this stove — YES, but you must understand what you are buying. I personally like the fact that I don’t have to bring fuel with me. Even if its raining you can always find dry sticks to burn. I like that if I need to charge something I can —- it may take a long time to do so, but at least I can — And since I have lots of free time on my hands while out in the woods, I really don’t mind feeing the stove wood to keep it charging.

      • Les Behonest January 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

        Well said. It is all about efficiency and portability in cooking, boiling water, as well as light to carry for backpackers; charging is secondary. If you buy this just for charging, might as well buy yourself a solar penal. It seems like the person who did the review is totally missing the point of this tool.

  2. Guthook August 29, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    Gimmickry isn’t limited to outdoor products, but it seems a lot sillier in outdoorsy gear than in things you’d see sitting around someone’s house. And the bio lite seems like a good example of just that– a big ol’ gimmick. Given a few hours and some very entertaining conversation around a campfire, and I bet we could come up with a nice list of silly items that have been marketed to hikers over the years. ;-)

    The media blitzes for these things is what confuses me the most. Is it just over zealous marketing by manufacturers who try to get every magazine and blog on the planet to review a product? Or does the outdoor community really want to believe in things like this?

    • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      Those aren’t reviews. They’re regurgitated press releases. Content is so difficult for most writers to write that they gladly cut and paste to avoid doing any work. I thinks that’s why so many “reviews” say exactly the same thing and why were’e flooded with this junk.

      • Guthook August 29, 2012 at 8:58 am #

        Spoken like a true cynic, or longtime denizen of the Internet ;-)

        It is kind of crazy how many emails I’ve gotten from companies wanting me to advertise their stuff on my blog– mostly generic content that has nothing to do with outdoorsy stuff, but some semi-generic outdoorsy things that have nothing to do with my blog (books about how to be a Bear Grylls type, car camping gear, MREs, etc.). I can’t even imagine how much of this spam you must get!

        I don’t want to name any names, but I see a lot of these semi-regurgitated press releases on the blog of a very prominent outdoor organization. Especially annoying because some of the blog’s gear info is actually quite thoroughly researched and well written, so when I happen upon silly gimmicks, I have to wonder why the writers felt the need to advertise the new products.

        • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 9:04 am #

          I’ve been wondering about that myself. I used to read his column religiously, but it’s been diminished by “fluffy marketing hype.”

        • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 9:16 am #

          I am bombarded with the stuff, but I reply to every inquiry in a civil manner even though I want to hack the senders up with an axe. LOL! The range of inquiries is inane – everything from camping coolers and bottled water dispensers to T-shirts and hotel reviews!

    • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      Let me add – campers want to be entertained. The Biolite is camper TV. Most backpackers, including this one, would rather just go to sleep when it gets dark.

  3. Rob August 29, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    I had a quick look at their website – a “thermal generator” (thermopile). Not exactly efficient. To make things worse, the thermal coupling between the heat source ant the “thermal generator” is a small tab of metal that sticks into the fire. A back of the envelope calculation gives about 5% thermal capture as a generous upper bound and 1-2% efficiency of the thermopile (typical values for non-exotic materials). (0.05*0.02 = 0.001 or 0.1%) Basically almost all the heat goes into the very pretty flame. They could kerjigger things to get a better efficiency – like more tines for heat coupling (as in the pot you reviewed yesterday)- and maybe put the thermopile on the outside so that the temperature difference was as large as possible – but that wouldn’t be as pretty and would be even a bit more fragile.

    • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Exactly! Thanks for the more detailed engineering analysis.Very helpful, as always.

    • Abbi November 21, 2012 at 1:52 am #

      Hey Rob

      Not sure if you’re still reading this thread, but if you do, care to comment on the battery-life based on your knowledge?

      It’s just I can’t find any Biolite Campstove reviews where the reviewer’s used it over a period of months. My group of cyclists want one each, BUT before we fork out we want to have an idea of how it operates in the longer term and whether the battery that operates the fan degrades significantly (as batteries do when exposed to heat). It’s a great concept and it’s for a fantastic cause, but I’m quite concerned about the battery as it isn’t easily replaceable as it’s reportedly taped in/ soldered, I’m not tech savvy and so really have no idea what happens if the battery dies and the fan no longer works. So far no one has comments on this or other review sites…

      Any input appreciated!

      • Jack November 22, 2012 at 12:50 am #

        I have been wondering the same thing. But mainly about cold weather affecting the battery. Stove will run the fan many minutes after it has been disconnected from the heat source – probable to protect it. But what happens when the weather is cold and battery runs out because they do not work very well in cold – bad input and output.

        But then again, I can always make real fire if need, because my fire making ability is not connected to the stove. So the whole system is dependable even if the stove fails.

        • Brian November 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

          There is NO battery…the fire powers the fan and the charging with a “thermopile.” Google the term for more information.

          • Rob December 27, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

            Yes there is, a small Li Ion battery

            http://biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/tech-specs/#sub

            If you had bothered to read about the product you would have known. The internal battery can be charged by lighting a fire or by USB before use, and ensures there is enough power to run the fan just after startup to increase efficiency.

            Where I live in Tasmania, there are no campfires allowed in national parks, only fuel stoves. Leave the phone and technology at home and enjoy the serenity of nature

            • TheGuy August 27, 2013 at 4:34 am #

              I’ve read the technical specs… I don’t think there is any battery… I think the internal battery being mentioned is the device to be charged.

              • Philip Werner August 27, 2013 at 7:38 am #

                I had one and there IS a battery. It’s self-charging. What do you think runs the fan?

  4. Liz August 29, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Great review, Philip. I think negative reviews are far more helpful than positive ones, and boy, after reading your review I think, “What a stupid piece of junk.” I hope no one actually pays money for this thing. Actual campfires are far more entertaining while car camping than this dopey stove would be.

  5. Merkweb August 29, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    I was just wondering if anyone noticed te true purpose behind the biolite company.while i tend to agree with philips assement on the camping version of the stove.Its the home version thats should grap ur attention wich was designed to provide third world countrys eith a cleaner more efficient way to cook and as an of shoot provide a renuable energy source.

    • Earlylite August 29, 2012 at 10:10 am #

      The true purpose of most companies is to make a profit for the shareholders. Do you actually believe that IBM’s mission is to make a “Smarter Planet”? I’m all for socially responsible companies, but let’s not be naive. It also doesn’t excuse selling crappy products to american consumers. If you want to raise charity, start a non profit. If you want to raise capital, get a business plan and investors.

  6. Merkweb August 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    True it doesnt excuse the horrible camping version they make and sell ar an insane price.But one cam hope they make a difference to people who only cook over wood fires cause it the only resource avialable.

  7. Adventurer August 29, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    After a long day on the trail, when I stop to camp the last thing I want to do is scrounge for fuel so I can cook. The second to the last thing I want to do is become a slave to the stove by having to keep feeding it fuel.

    Clearly, I’ll stick with my MSR Reactor!!

  8. anwar August 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    my friends here actually want to import and buy this stove. So I just inform them about this review and yes they now have changing their plan :)

  9. TAG August 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Ditto to the previous comments. I appreciate the honesty. I’ve seen “reviews” of this stove everywhere and I could never understand why anyone who actually left pavement would be interested in something like this. IMHO, this is a novelty.
    If you want to cook over wood, support Devin and buy a backcountry boiler. The new ones weigh less than 7 ounces and I have never heard any negative feedback. Mine works great and
    If you need to charge your phone, get a solar panel.

  10. John B. Abela August 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    You pretty much nailed this article. And huge props to you for actually pushing out an article on a piece of gear you were comped. Most guys these days if they think something sucks, would either write something nice about it or just not publish anything at all.

    Here is the unfortunate thing, concerning the Biolite. The original concept of the Biolite is what they call their “HomeStove”. The aspects of the HomeStove are pretty amazing. That being, a stove that produces very very little smoke – smoke that attributes some early deaths in many third-world nations. That is unbelievably admirable and the fact that they have used this technology to bring to market a “campers” version in order to seed their funds in order to produce their larger version, is unfortunate.

    Lastly, you are the first person I have come across who actually sat around for the 2+ hours feeding one of these things just to test it as you did. Huge props to you for that!! Pretty sure I would not have done that.

  11. Pablo S August 29, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Carry solar chargers. I didn’t wee you offer that, and I think it’s a better option than power bricks. Better yet a solar backpack like the Voltaic.

  12. Ranchez August 30, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I must say I’m not surprised by the poor performance. Looks like a decent prototype, but they have a lot of work to do yet. Other than the SPOT and GPS, leave the electronics behind. I’ve also reduced the batteries I carry by switching to a high-lumen LED single AAA flashlight, which also serves as headlamp and tent light.

  13. Andrew Skurka August 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I wrote a negative review of this stove two weeks ago without even testing it – a bit presumptive on my end but I have spent enough time around cookfires and other wood stoves to know how it would perform in the field. And I also know what 2.5 lbs (31 oz stove plus pot and fire-starting supplies) feels like in my pack.

    Wood stoves are very romantic. When I take one on a guided trip the group is momentarily enthralled by it. But then they watch how much time it takes to start the stove and to feed it fuel, and suddenly everyone is pretty content with their Fancy Feast alcohol stove. I don’t blame them!

  14. Shawn A August 30, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Although the technology behind the functionality is very cool, I can’t see this being practical. I just bring an extra cell phone battery along. That only weighs in at like 2 ounces (I haven’t weighed it just an estimate) That would annoy me having to refuel the thing after 10 minutes. I feel like an alcohol stove would be way better. Not to mention much lighter!

  15. Glenn August 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    A better option might be a wood stove with a self powered fan to improve performance without the recharging feature.

    It is still going to be heavy though.

    • chris December 2, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      The first one had no charger. The peltier junction transister thermocouple was there JUST to run the fan.

      Fan driven devices burn cleaner more smoke free. The actual intended user is someone in say Africa or rural India who burns cow poo. This eliminates the smoke. Smoke fires are ,very quaint to we American’s/Canadians/Europeans, (and others), but it is a hard fact among peoples in many parts of the world.

      Cow dung fire makes a sooty smoke, believed to induce blindness, as well as respiratory disease.

      From the campng perspective it is fine for the car or after a nasty disaster, (sandy hint hint). When lights are out gas is off and you want anything warm this lets you take the acres of 2X4’s chop them and reheat stuff or boil smal bits of water.

      I have a number of alky stoves a couple of prope single burners and a coleman. I live on LI my parents and in laws live in Howard Beach. Look up some pictures of the place. Virtually every first floor, basement and many 2nd floors needed gutting (I helped in 2 houses). A large version of this (i think you would need two or three) had plenty of fuel and raw ingredients.

      You would not want to do this in your house, but in front of garage or the yard is where people were living off bar-B-cues, some for over 14 days.

      I wanted to make one of these gizmo’s as I had seen the protoype. I was considering buying one but these reviews plus another few convnced me it was not worth the price of admission.

      I would like to thank all who posted and I must admit negative reviews are needed to show the real issues.

      I may now build a couple of home ower units using computer fansmall battery (the junction MUST be fan cooled or like an uncooled Microprocessor chip, will fry)

      If you check out you can find plans for a fan driven unit that predates this. These are gassifier stoves (woodgas stoves) that use a fan to make a hotter sootfree(ish) burn.

      I may buy a back country boiler, if it is not too expensive. I did not buy a biolite as I thought it too expensive, then I saw the addition of the charger station and felt it might be worth it. Apparently it is not! At least until it is improved enough to not take 4 hours to 1/4 charge a phone.

      thanks thanks thanks

      chris

      ps has anyone tried a bundt pan as a pot boiler? Flue is in the middle, bend out a spout use a camp pot handle to pour??

  16. Harrison August 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Ouch. Great review as always. Nobody can accuse you of not giving the biolite a fair shot!

  17. Dennis Blanchard September 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I’m assuming this stove uses Peltier devices to do the generating. These devices depend on the “difference” in temperature to generate power. That said, if you had ice on one side and fire on the other, you would get a maximum power generation situation. I suspect in summer weather the efficiency will even be worse.

    I agree with Philip, I can’t imagine using this thing either, other than for the entertainment value. However, it might be useful at political events for charging things, although it might end up overcharging things. :>)

    When I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2008, I discussed an idea that I had been playing around with for about 20+ years with another hiker, “Walkie-Talkie,” . I’m an electrical engineer and one of the products I designed one time used a piezoelectric plastic film as a microphone/speaker. This material, if bent or impacted, will generate electricity and if electricity is applied to it, it can be used as a loudspeaker. I fantasized that one could make a sole for hiking shoes and then the pounding on it all day could generate power for charging things. (then the shoe could also tell you when you’ve had enough for the day :>)

    If we could come up with a device that could generate power based on bad odor, the hiking community would have the ultimate power source!

    Walkie-Talkie and I ultimately agreed that I was truly nuts. Recently, I’ve been reading that people are seriously looking into this, so maybe I’ve been vindicated?

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2010/03/piezo-rubber-creates-potential-for-wearable-energy-system/

  18. Caz September 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    i own one of these and I see it at about 18oz over my primus stove and canister… so bit around a pound. I’m not UL and while I watch weight an extra pound + gives me a few things.

    A way to top off my smartphone as yes I listen to music, monkey with GPS maps, kindle books, and text/call while on trail or camp.

    Next I like having a fire and instead of lighting a larger one I started just having a small one and only burn twigs and such debri. Maybe I burn a little less focusing on the smaller stove then a larger fire ring? Especially solo I like a fire at night for something todo and this one is easy to maintain.

    Then I like the fact that I can open my pack and if I realize I left my phone/headlamp/LCD light on and instead of worrying about it … just simply toss some charge back into it the next time I cook or want a fire.

    Fully charging a smartphone? Nope, that simply is too much work, but putting 10-15% back isn’t hard. Too heavy? … sure but I never go that light. Too expensive? again probably yeah but I’m not sweating the cost all that much. I’m sure I don’t backpack as much as most of you and when I do I try to avoid worrying too much about weight or cost so a extra few dollars for some entertainment isn’t that big of deal. I’m honestly looking forward to messing with this stove during next weekends hike. Now to just do see about some dremel hacking on it and see if I can get some weight back :-)

    • Earlylite September 2, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      I bet you can save some ounces if you cut off the legs and outer safety screen. :-)

  19. Brian Green September 3, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Honesty in a gear review is a beautiful thing. However, for me this is one of your most disappointing reviews. Baloney you say? Is there another wood burning stove that generates electricity to charge USB devices that I haven’t heard about? No! This is the first of its kinda and deserves to be recognized as such, so the media attention is very well deserved.

    Now, is it the best wood burning stove or USB charging option out there – heck no, but you neglect to mention that this is the first production model to come out of a Kickstarter project and is new to the market. It’s not perfect, it’s crazy heavy for one thing, but many of us (myself included) funded this project because we believe that this technology will become more efficient in the not too distant future and will get lighter – that is if people don’t just dismiss it as a novelty for the sake of sensationalism.

    I doubt that anyone would realistically expect to fully charge a small electronic device via a stove like this because it will obviously take far too long. As you mention there are far more efficient and lightweight options. Yet, if you need to send a quick text message or check for an update via a depleted phone, you will probably get enough of a charge to do that during the time it takes to cook dinner for two on the stove.

    As a wood burning stove the BioLite is among the cleanest of any that I have ever used, due largely to the built-in fan that helps it burn efficiently and reduce the smoke/soot output. That’s a definite plus compared to any other wood gasification stove but you don’t mention that, why?

    Finally the heat output from this stove is far more intense than other wood burning stoves, it’s like an inferno so cooking and boil times are significantly reduced. Sure it consumes wood at a pretty quick rate, but it’s easy to have that ready before hand and anyone who has used a wood burning stove should already be prepared for that with a good supply of fuel to feed the stove.

    There’s a lot of good information that you didn’t include as part of this review, or deliberately chose not to in order to drive home your dislikes. Definitely not one of your better or more comprehensive reviews.

    • Item October 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Agree. The product is very well designed and its built quality is amazing. There are some issues that might be upgraded. For example feeding wood with a full pot installed on it must be made easier. They could make a higher “crown” to lift up the pot installment. This way it will be possible to add wood without touching the pot. Also I don’t get why the bottom is solid. It would be nice to have it perforated so all the ash will drop naturally.

    • Jon M September 1, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      I totally agree with Brian Green. This stove is a great innovation for technology. You must think though, when there is no electricity at all, are you really going to sit around your biolite and complain because it takes 4 hours to charge an i phone?

      If there was no power and your ‘superior’ battery pack runs out of electricity, then what? It takes a solar charger just as long if not longer to recharge a battery pack as well.

      This stove shows support for a larger vision in third world countries. This stove may require a little attention while it runs, but you do waste less on fuel canisters and petro based products.

    • Patrick K Turner March 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      I would have to agree with your point of view. Most of the reviews here are biased at best. They seem to reflect a self-important I’m way too cool for anything new attitude. Seriously, one person was proud of the fact that he wrote a review without even trying out the stove. That defines arrogance. I like the idea and am going to try it out this summer in Alaska. We run a tent camp on a river and I think the best way for us to use it is to stoke it with hot coals from the camp fire through the evening. What does it matter if it doesn’t charge a battery in twenty minuets? . I’ll try to cook with it also and when I do I’ll write an honest review after four months use. We have guest that bring cameras, cell phone-cameras, spot locators, etc… If it works well, we’ll get one per tent. I hope this kind of product is a first step of a trend. By the way, how well did the Wright brothers plane work? Or the first camera? It’s a cool idea worth developing.

  20. Earlylite September 3, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Brian – people have been making wood stoves with fans for eons.You can even buy them on amazon for a fraction of the price. Where is the innovation?

    http://amzn.to/RcTPjO
    Sierra Zip stove – http://youtu.be/2mO3bfGrbso – available on ebay for $70
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQJjZsFflQY
    http://zenstoves.net/Wood.htm

    There is nothing new here except a PR firm and a bunch of web sites that run sensational press releases without ever trying the products they write about. Sadly, that’s not so new, either.

    As for Kickstarter, I’m pretty disappointed with the “Backpacking” products that have been funded through it. There is a tendency for them to be copycat products that already exist and/or could never fund the creation of a sustainable company. While creating copycat knock-offs is a good business model (generic drugs for instance), it’s hardly product innovation.

  21. novak September 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    The False Premises you all are starting from to explain why you dislike the Biolite stove
    are funny. If you have a dead cell phone and need to make a call the Biolite will
    enable you to make that call. Period.
    Why pretend you need to be fully charged? You can makes calls
    everyday from your ‘dead phone’ by plugging it into the Biolite as you heat
    coffee and oatmeal for breakfast in under 10 minutes. And then continue hiking.
    As for the Biolite’s 2lb weight being a back-breaker for a weekend trip with your
    buddies hiking in the mountains..you can’t be serious. The stove has 2 parts that can
    be carried separately by hiking partners, an idea some may not have thought of.
    Solo hikers might not like it but for 2, 3 or 4 people it is the perfect stove.

  22. BAMA HIKER September 17, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I’ll make this short. I bought a Biolite for the novelty of the thing. I tried it a few times. Pretty much everything Mr Werner (and most of the other commenters) said, are absolutely true. The Biolite is an OK biomass stove. It requires a LOT of fuel (and time stuffing fuel in it) for any appreciable charging. The fire must be INTENSE to charge anything. I’ll stick to my Jetboil for boiling water and a solar charger for charging my battery.

    • Earlylite September 17, 2012 at 12:16 am #

      Common sense rules. Thanks BAMA.

  23. Michael September 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Would this be appropriate on a 2+ month canoe trip into remote Canada? I’ll probably also have a small solar panel, but this seems like a good duel purpose piece of gear. I don’t know what electronics I’ll be taking with me but it will include GPS, some sort of communication device (sat phone?) camera, and maybe an e-reader or tablet.
    What do you think?

    • Earlylite September 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      I wouldn’t, but if you do and you survive your trip, please let us know how the stove worked out.

    • elleninedmonton August 28, 2013 at 1:11 am #

      I’ve purchased a Biolite, and I think that it’s great for canoe-camping. Possibly a bit heavy for backpacking, but a big selling feature is the fact that you don’t need to haul petro-fuels in and out of your camping area. Cooking with it requires a bit more attention, since the fire needs to be fuelled. I collect wood chips and twigs whenever I spot them, and save them so that they’re ready when I want to cook. It’s not very effective to completely charge a phone, but it’s good to know that one can restore some function in their device, which doesn’t need to be on for a full backcountry trip anyway, just for short spurts. Charging while cooking can keep the phone from going completely dead. The unit is very compact, and it cooks my meals and boils my water quickly, as long as I keep it fed with dry fuel.

  24. Solar my A** October 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Nice to know that almost all of You hike in areas with high levels sun shine. Here in Finland there is no use for Solar chargers. They are stupid gimmicks. Big ones that weight more than this “huge and heavy” stove could be used some very sunny days but usually they are still nothing more than dead weight.

    But we have sticks everywhere. And it is also funny that some like to put up real fire instead Biolite stove and still say that burning sticks will destroy nature as we know it.

    And yes there are wood burning stoves with fans, but they need you to bring batteries with You.

    I use wood burning stoves but mainly summer time, Emberlite and Element 2.0. They are great. But to my knowledge wood burners with fan can burn moist wood cleaner and faster – and that makes those more dependable in bad weather. And with Biolite there is no need to hassle with batteries and cords. Simple as that – nothing more nothing less!

  25. Bob Saget October 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    I use this stove and it is great. True, I dont use it as a primary means to charge my phone, or my gps (i charge them at home and leave them turned off in the backcountry so they are there if I need them), but it does what it is primarily designed to do- boil water. I was carrying more weight with my old stove and fuel bottles combined that with only the BioLite. Sure, it could be better, but its at least a refreshing new way of doing the same mundane task. Plus, the fire is a nice touch after a chilly day.

    – Peace

    • Earlylite October 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Check out the solostove at solostove.com. Weighs 9 ounces and costs $69 bucks.

  26. Earnest December 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Nice, a stove review that doesn’t mention anything about boiling time or ease/difficulty of cooking.

    Basically, you set it up in your backyard and are upset that it doesn’t charge your phone as quickly as a wall socket.

    Your observations on fuel consumption and charging time are usefull and honest. However if you want to write a review for other backpackers I suggest you actually take it on a trek and cook with it.

    • Earlylite December 8, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      I’d normally agree with you, but I make a point to test products at home before I waste my time testing them on a real trip. I’ve used enough wood stoves to know that this is a crock – it didn’t even make it out the back yard. If you want a lightweight stove, try the solostove. http://www.solostove.com/ If you want to recharge your cell phone batteries, bring a solar recharger or a battery pack.

  27. Kevin December 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I appreciate all the positive and negative comments. To me the Biolite looks like a good stove. I have seen several videos of it now and while the charger is a bit gimmicky, I think the stove itself is a very good design. There was very little smoke and waste ash. While it was burning it seemed to burn cleaner and with less risk of creating a fire hazard compared with many I have used and seen.

    I often backpack in areas where the rangers don’t like open fires or any kind of wood burning. The Biolite seems like it would be acceptable, unlike most wood burning stoves I have seen.

    I think the charger will be nice to top off my phone, or maybe provide enough charge to make an emergency phone call. I rarely use my phone when backpacking anyway, though I do sometimes read ebooks.

    I will buy it because I think it is a good design and worth a try. The 2.1 lbs. doesn’t bother me much, My alcohol stove with fuel doesn’t weigh as much, but I think the advantages of endless fuel are probably worth carrying an extra pound. We shall see…

    Regards,

    Kevin

  28. Keith Rayeski December 14, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    As always…..saved my Scottish arse from humping junk through the woods! I just last week got a smart phone….we’ll see how “smart” that was! It has a compass and light and I downloaded trail apps so I thought….hey, maybe this technology is a good thing to start embracing. Well, you snapped me back to my senses Phil! Thank you. I can find a lot better use of my 120 bucks for USEFUL gear!! One less shelf sitter!!

  29. some internet dude December 26, 2012 at 4:40 am #

    I find it hard to believe that it takes you 4-5 hours to charge you phone, when the BIoLite stove puts out 5V @ 2-5Watts. That makes no sense, the math does not add up. Perhaps you had a defective unit or you barely had enough wood in there.

  30. Dave norwoods July 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    What a great product and seeing it used shows we are in the right direction for free energy and its everywhere. Thanks to tesla and many other scientist who share this knowledge. It’s only goona get better, blessings

  31. Jc Denton August 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I think you left out the emergency power aspect of this stove, which is the main reason I purchased this stove. When the power goes out, you are left with limited options, and a thermoelectric generator can be very useful. Solar power depends on the sun, many times you will encounter clouds or rain, where solar will be useless. Thermoelectric generators will work anytime, and they don’t depend on anything but fire. I’m sure the victims of Katrina were very grateful to be able to charge their phones off the biotlite during that time.

  32. jordan s October 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Hey, good review but you only talked negative about this product. I just bought mine. It took the stove 45m from fresh start ( new out of the box didnt charge the battery for 6 hrs)to charge my GS3 from % 12 to % 78 so I don’t know wth you’re talking about. I think this stove is good for SHTF situations also when you just want a quick fire to boil water or heat up Food, I also boiled a liter of water in just under 9m no chargers connected cause it slows the fan , starting it takes me just under 1m , gathering wood for couple hours takes me 10m , weight is nothing for me, I used to carry 45-55 lbs of gear for 10-12 hrs a day, money is not a problem for me either, so I probably buy their kettlepot and grill too,
    Cheers
    SS

  33. Calibrator December 5, 2013 at 12:13 am #

    What a “baloney” review! This stove isn’t meant for backpacking! This stove isn’t meant to completely charge your devices. Although it can completely charge devices over time, that is not the intent. It is a very efficient little stove that can power a device in an emergency. I have this stove solely for emergency situations when I need to boil water and power a device. That’s it! No gimmicks. Show me another wood powered device in this small of a package that can power a device. I’m waiting….

    • Philip Werner December 5, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      The Power Pot

    • Scott January 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      I saw BioLite demo their stove on the street last year a week after Sandy hit NYC, near their office in Brooklyn. They were charging phones for people and making free coffee. Lots of my friends were without power and heat for a week or more, and some were humping uptown 40 blocks to wait in line at a Starbucks with electricity to charge dead phones to make a single “I’m doing fine” phone call. City disasters is what I bought this for. While it won’t heat my house, it will bring some good cheer, allow me to cook and charge my phone to send some important texts.

      • Les Behonest January 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

        Your comment is wise and legit, The rest are all missing the point of this tool!

  34. Les Behonest January 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    I can see many people who left a comment or remarks is all about the charging issue. It is a portable cooking stove! For it is a device that is light weight, portable and doesn’t require a lot of fuel to cook for CAMPER! “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. People, this device is a STOVE first and formal, it’s priority is not a charger! If you want a portable charger, get yourself a portable solar panel or extra battery!

  35. terriblet January 27, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    This stove is great. I think the reviewer had a case of operator error. It does EXACTLY what it is supposed to do. I live in the mountains of southern Oregon and have use it several times. It cooks good, you don’t really need to add wood all that often, and it literally charged my smart phone almost 50 percent in fifteen min. Works best with hard woods but you can use any dry biomass. And if you are worried about a little weight you are a wuss.

  36. Ken Adler February 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    If you like the biolite or the powerpot you should check out my Kickstarter project. I’m working on a wood stove invention called the Humid-i-Fire. It is an ornamental fountain and humidifier that operates on the top of wood or gas stoves without any power cord or batteries. I’ve just started a 30 day Kickstarter campaign to test the market. I would love to know if you like the product.

  37. David February 28, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    When the reviewer figures out how to cook with wood out doors with out tending the fire or the food every 10 minutes I want to hear about it. When the reviewer figures out how to recharge his power brick with wood, I want to know. When the reviewer weighs his power brick light backpacking stove, fuel canisters and compares it to the biolite, I want to know. This is an amazing stove, it does everything claimed in a very ingenious well designed way. Nothing compares to it over all.

  38. Neil May 8, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    So what if it takes 2 hours to reach 50% charge? What’s your hurry? Game of Thrones on TV? Twig shortage?

  39. dandan May 22, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Haaaaa! Terriblet exactly what I was thinking. I’ve been issued things I’ve NEVER used that weigh a lot more than the biolite. Hell, I got there kettle as well because the stove fits perfectly in it (plus that can take a beating) and if need be I can boil enough water to sustain my family in 30-40 mins. Afterwards you can bury your ash and no one will ever know you were there. What I’m tying to say is, if I had to ditch 2 lbs of ammo in my pack to carry this, I would.

  40. andrew June 13, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Wow, the H8rs are back. Look, if you’re camping for a week how many extra batteries do you think you’ll need? and a power brick can run out too. This is basically free electricity (even if in small amounts) as long as you have wood.

    Hell, they should have one on Walking Dead. Perfect for the end of the world.

    Don’t hate. Do something.

  41. Sarmonster July 25, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    We got a biolite a month ago and we timed it: It takes the same amount of time to boil a kettle of water as our RV’s propane stove, and that includes getting the fire lit. I can take it with me and not have to carry or buy fuel as well, assuming I’m somewhere there’s combustible biomass, and it’s OK for most burn bans here Western Washington. We’ve been using it daily for a month and there’s been no change in performance. No, it’s not stellar for charging stuff, but I charged my nook with STICKS. I mean, come on. Charging and cooking at the same time is out, either the fire won’t be strong enough to charge or you’ll burn your food. Heating water is fine, though. I made an awesome lamb curry on the thing, that little bit of extra smoke flavor is lovely. We’re really happy with it so far.

  42. Michael S. Burg July 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I agree with the review in every way. I purchased my son a stove and grill and it took forever for us to cook a burger. What a huge disappointment. Don’t bother with this expensive biolite stove. Next time I will seek reviews before I purchase an expensive revolutionary product like this stove. These folks a biolite must never spend any time in the bush. The stove is totally over rated and needs a lot of work. Back to the lab it must go.

  43. Steve August 6, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    I used a Colman stove for years and still love that smell in the morning. Hot coffee and naptha. Hmmmm. Anyway, these days I travel with a van and a dog. They won’t let the dog in to everywhere I go so he stays in the van on occasion. I just didn’t want him poisoned with naptha fumes so I bought a Biolite. Extraordinarily pleased. Hot coffee and smoke flavoured steaks on short notice. To be honest last winter I did buy a $6 bag of kindling at a gas station because it was hard to find dry wood, but it has lasted months. I have no problem boiling a cup of water in 5-10 minutes starting with dry wood and it will charge my Rugby flip phone in the time it takes to cook supper. I find wrapping some foil over the grill in cold weather will speed cooking thick things like chicken. On the grill it is important to know your wood for best flavour. Dry hardwood is best for everything but it will boil water on pine cones or cardboard. If I wanted light I would just carry a pocket of hexamine fuel tabs and balance my cup on 3 rocks.

  44. Steve September 23, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    The BioLite is f*ckn awesome and if you haven’t tried it I would give it a chance and not listen completely to this post. I don’t necessarily disagree that it is not the most efficient way to charge your phone or cook. However, in my experience, it has done each of those quite well.

    Another huge bonus is that when you’re not having a campfire, you can use the BioLite as a little mini hearth. In practice, I boiled a pot of water for two dinners in 5 or 10 minutes at 8,000 feet. Maybe it was a little longer but I didn’t notice because it was absolutely f*ckn beautiful with a marbled sunset on the adjoining ridge, some Jack Daniels, and the joy of building a little fire that is not too far from being fully sustainable and renewable.

  45. George October 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    Dear Philip, Thank you for your review. I have carefully considered all your criticisms.

    You wrote:
    “This product has novelty value only.
    That’s a bunch of baloney, in my opinion.
    This product is a gimmick that will be shelved in your basement after a single outing.”

    Notwithstanding your well considered advice, “one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure.” I can see some redeeming value in this device.

    Would you be willing to sell this “novelty,” “baloney,” “gimmick” for say $10? You could perhaps take the proceeds to donate to charity or worthy cause, then all is not lost.

    Thanks.

    George

  46. Two Replies November 26, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I’m cynical of a “review” that starts off with a premade judgment.
    IMO, reviews with any value are the ones that go in UNBIASED, and have done the due diligence of fully researching the product and why it was created.

  47. susanrm8 December 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    I love my Biolite. In areas where there are more woods than sunshine, you get a much better phone charge than with a solar recharger. So it’s great for the Northeast. In other areas of the country, you’re better off with solar.

    I used mine at home to boil sap for maple syrup and clean up my woods at the same time. The grill attachment also makes incredibly delicious food.

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