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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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101 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.

      • ScoutMedic September 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

        I agree with “MARTIN”….. listen this may not be for backpacking for …HIM … I have a whisperlite but the advantage I see over that my having a BioLite. I live in New Hampshire in the middle of the White Mountain National forrest and in the winter months (5-6mo of cold) Solar is not reliable.

        I have extras of clothing etc. but nothing but powerbars for food, I can’t keep H2O because I have concerns it will leach in the summer I don’t keep bottled water I have plastic leaching concerns. As for food Canned goods are out as for the freezing and in the summer ….I am not comfortable with canned foods with the heat … (possible bulging = Botulism)

        I keep my Biolite in my truck with a few freeze dried meals… 2 small Klean Kanteen food container to store excess hot water ……………along with 2 pair of wool socks, extra black diamond mittens, Face mask ,Wool Hat, Long underwear bottoms. and NorthFace Hyvent 2.5 rain/shell jacket I can fit all of that in my Winter -40 Kamik knee high boots. I also have an RMJ Tomahawk for and wood / steel cutting task.

        As for fuel …. I suspect?? the review used solely twigs…. reason for constant feeding with a lot of ash accumulation and hourly dumping …. if I am in a survival situation I have to keep moving dry and warm … I can cut up larger chunks and use kindling, which i keep in the stove at all times set up as a top to bottom burn oh yeah I stuffed a cotton ball in the blower tube to prevent debris from entering and I use that in the fire starting process.

        MY PROS:
        So… I have in my truck dry extra clothes if i get wet, food and an abundance of H2O (snow) and a wood burning stove for heat/ cooking and keeping my Ham radio charged. I don’t care if it “takes hours to charge” as it could take hours/ days for someone to find me.
        then I don’t have to carry a Whisperlite stove, replacement parts and 2 cans filled with White gas in my truck. oh yeah ….with a gas stove, when you are out of fuel your out ….period.

        IMHO great piece of ” Car Emergency ” necessity.

        ScoutMedic …out

        • Brad March 16, 2016 at 2:47 am #

          A few tips for people who are getting inconsistent charging performance from this stove:

          1. Ideally, there should be a pot on the stove when in use. This traps more heat inside the combustion chamber, making it more efficient, and transferring more energy to the TEG. Leaving it to burn uncovered doesn’t work as well for charging.

          2. Once you have the fire going and/or your water boiling, switch to the low fan speed setting. This burns the wood more slowly so you don’t have to add it as often, and the fan uses less energy, so more can go to your device.

          3. Once the fire is burning well, add thicker pieces of wood; while small twigs, pine cones, bark, etc. will work, thicker pieces of wood will last longer. If you have a camp fire going at the same time, use some nice big hot coals out of the camp fire. This will give you the longest burn times without having to add more wood.

          I have found that this stove is excellent for paddling trips, or any similar situation where the bulk/weight is less of a concern. You may also find it to be an advantage on backpacking trips longer than 3-5 days where you would have to carry more than one fuel bottle for a conventional stove, which would cancel out the weight savings over the BioLite. Plus, if you get stuck longer than anticipated, the BioLite could theoretically continue working indefinitely with scavenged wood.

          I’ve owned the stove for 2 years now, and there are no problems with durability; the stove still works like it did when it was new.

      • Stubbyw April 13, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

        This is exactly what I was going to say. I figured the charging aspect was for emergencies. Even if it only gives you a few minutes on your phone, it could truly make a difference.

  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?

                • John Michael April 19, 2015 at 11:36 am #

                  Phillip, not to waste time arguing. You’re right. Yes, read the instructions and charge up the battery every so often and prior to use. I’m using mine as a teaching tool at Earth Day events as well as a camping stove. I’ve showcased it at my local Library and everyone was amazed. Had to post their website up on the display case next to the solar lanterns/water bottles, etc.

  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?

  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. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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!!

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  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. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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

  45. Prepper Guy January 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    I just got the Biolite Camp Stove Bundle (Stove, Kettle, Grill) for Christmas and I’ve already used it multiple times, and it is absolutely incredible. Some of my friends and I brought it out ice fishing the other day and kept a fire going with debris from a nearby island all day. With it, we were able to make soup in under 15 minutes, keep our hands more than warm enough, as the stove throws off incredible heat, and even cook some of the fish we caught on the grill attachment.

    Using the stove for the above mentioned purposes is what it is intended for. IT IS A STOVE… and then a charger. I’ve had no need to charge a device with it yet, but that could be easy enough to get a usable charge on any device while using the fire for warmth or boiling water. It does exactly what it is intended for!

    I got this stove as I am an avid outdoors man and a practical prepper as well and already, after limited uses, I see that it, and the rest of the bundle will be extremely useful. It not only provides me with unlimited clean energy, but leaves almost no trace as well, as it gives off almost no smoke and very little ash. It is also extremely efficient at cooking just about any food one could want as a camper, backpacker, etc. And for emergency use or bugging out, the little bit of extra weight is excusable, as you don’t need to carry fuel for it (perks of burning biomass) and it can give you life saving heat and electricty, where most other portable stoves can only give you heat.

    I am extremely pleased with it and the idea is ingenious. This guy is one happy Biolite user!

  46. E. Weber March 24, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    I lost faith in the review after comments about how the land would look if others used it, and sterilizing the soil? Like the ice fisherman I’m an OUTDOORSMAN not a whiner over others footprints in the mud. The land is here to be used (not abused). I hunt & fish make no apologies for it. Sterilized soil from the Biolite?! LMAO! Go back to your biodiesel car! LOL

    • ken July 30, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

      I like my biolite all the negative comments are BS. I did not buy it to fully charge a dead phone. IT IS A STOVE! It is fun to use and works great. I think the sterlized ground comment was a compliment as it does not sterilize the ground a campfire on the ground does.

  47. Joseph Muller August 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    Well, I’ve got a solar charger, so don’t need it for the power. I like it in that the heat charges the internal battery. Having had a Sierra Zip stove forever (well, um, 15 years of regular use), I like it, but found it rickety, dent-able, kludgey and a pain to lug around the AA or D batteries (and the wiring/plug contraction). After the Zip stove motor started failing on my last camping trip, I reckoned it was time to replace, and I’ve had my eye on the Biolite (and reviews) for a while.

    Thus far, it’s good, and much simpler/effective to use and pack, and the burn seems a lot cleaner, therefore less sooty pots). The build is much better quality, much more stable in cooking configuration, and it cleans up much better than the Zip. No doubt these are not light, but they don’t require fuel bottles or other similar supplies, and I’ve never had a problem finding twigs (and I’m used to lifting and re-supplying the fire, not finding it a big deal).

    Finally, the Zip and this stove are the _bomb_ for table or rock-top smores: perfect size for toasting the marshmallows on little sticks – a bonus I had never anticipated until my son arrived.

  48. Jason September 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    I’ve been using this camp stove for several years now & honestly would rather use it than any other charcoal / gas grill for cooking. The re-charging feature for devices works great but is not what keeps me using this little stove. This stove cooks steaks, burgers, veggies, like no other outdoor grilling / cooking device I’ve ever used! I’ve cooked steaks for people on this stove who have said often that they were the best steaks they’ve ever eaten, outside of a steakhouse. The only downside I’ve seen is that by using the grill top accessory you can only cook a couple burgers or 1 steak at a time. Buying the much larger base camp this week. This company is excellent, their products are excellent, & customer service goes above & beyond to address issues that may arise. If you are an outdoorsman or camper who likes to cook on your journeys, this stove & company will leave you fully satisfied. If you are just looking for a cool way to charge a device, there are other more affordable options out there. My point is, as previously mentioned in another post, this is FIRST a stove, secondly a charging option, & one of the best outdoor stoves I’ve ever used!

    • Philip Werner September 3, 2015 at 10:02 am #

      I love comments like this. “it’s the best outdoor stove I’ve ever used, although it can only cook one burger at a time.” Seriously? Buy yourself a small Webber grill dude!

      • THE Outdoor GURU September 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

        I have a small Weber Grill. It just doesn’t pack in a backpack and weigh 2 lbs. BTW, it cooks 2 burgers at a time – 2x your incorrectly stated amount.

        You are however, definitely entitled to your own wrong opinion.

  49. maxwell8669 September 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Starting off, I don’t own a Biolite but I think I am going to buy and try one soon. Some of the negative comments on the stove sound, “I think”, a little elitist. I live in the Northeast. If you don’t live here than you can’t know that solar chargers are near useless as the sun rarely shines. Moreover, when i’m hiking, most of my time is spent below tree line. Again, here in the Northeast, the trees have leaves and tend to filter out the sun. Just saying! I like the idea of having a little fire at the end of the day. From oh…..about now until…well about June it gets a little chilly at night here. And in alot of places here you can’t have a ground fire. It seems most reviews I’ve read the weight is a tradeoff with bottles of fuel. Is it for everyone or for everywhere of course not. I do however believe that if used for the right reasons and the right circumstances that this will be a great addition to my gear. One man’s opinion!

  50. xgadjitx October 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    As an owner of a BioLite, that has recently used it while backpacking, I find this review…misleading at best. First of all, we had no problems getting a good fire running for cooking with very minimal addition of wood. It took roughly 10 min from starting the BioLite to having boiling water for hot coco at 9000ft, added a few more pieces of wood and cooked dinner with it. All told, we used maybe a handful of dried aspen and pine – but we used 2 – 1.5 in thick pieces and not a bunch of tiny twigs to keep it going.

    I dunno who the heck would need to have a stove on for an hour or more, unless you’ve severely under packed and are using it for warmth or did a terrible job at meal planning. The charge is okay, it’s not super awesome but if I needed to charge up a usb light or get enough charge to make an emergency call, then it would do fine. Anyone who is buying a camp stove for the main purpose of charging their phones has the wrong things in mind when making purchases.

  51. Johnny October 20, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    Totally agree with you xgadjitx. Some people told that BioLite is not suitable for backpacking because it will make dirty inside backpack. But I think it not a problem.

  52. Jamie Ferrugiaro November 29, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Good review! I like the honesty. However, on the other side I felt it was a tad too negative. I don’t believe the intention of this product was meant to be “gimicky”; I think it’s a company and group of people trying to think outside the box. Whether it works or not, I applaud people attempting to create products like this. Ones that go beyond the traditional and try to bridge new frontiers. Why not step outside the box?

    I can’t attest to the product myself since I have never tried it, and I have very little experience than it appears (at least from this post) you have. I don’t claim to have any immense knowledge over the subject.

    However, I also feel as others have said, that the charging design was not made to fully charge a phone. It was made to give some charge, true, but never really intended to charge 100%. And in reality, if you had this stove why would you wait until your phone was at 0 charge to use it?

    As someone who has purchased many different kinds of charging packs and devices for phones over the years, you don’t wait. I live in NJ, and am often going to NYC to visit friends, etc. What do I do when my phone starts to get a little low? I plug it in. It just makes sense. I don’t often bother so much when camping or outdoors, because it’s can be a pain. It depends on the situation. Mostly I like my phone when outside for 2 reasons: in case of an emergency, and for photos.

    But the world is changing. I love being connected, and I don’t believe there is anything innately wrong with that. People share things they love because they love them. Sharing the outdoors could never be bad–hopefully it encourages more people to love them, as well.

    So the idea of companies beginning to design and create products, which will then allow us to use our phones and do so more easily is great. Maybe it’s not perfect today. But one day, it may be.

    Which brings me to my next point. I love this review a lot, but I would have liked to see you also do multiple tests in a real life situation, and not just with wood you have. I think doing so in the way you did allowed you to fully test its capabilities, which is important. However, the way you use things in a real situation is often so much different then in a staged, controlled one.

    Also, I do believe with experience, most people can give an initial opinion on anything from a first test, but I think a true review is only after having used something for a long period of time.

    That being said, although I at first really loved this stove and considered it, I ended up never buying one. I much rather have a Jetboil. But I won’t give up on the idea, and I’ll keep my eye on Biolite.

    I do have Biolite’s NanoGrid setup, which I love so far. Especially the Powerlite, which incidentally also charges your devices via a USB. Although I agree the CampStove isn’t quite the best option, it’s an interesting concept and could possibly be improved on. I know they have improved other products they sell, like the BaseCamp stove, to be more efficient.

  53. Outdoor Product Designer January 4, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

    I am an industrial engineer (product designer) by trade and an outdoor enthusiast that is bringing a new outdoor device onto the market. So I’m especially interested in other “inventions” in this space. I really hoped BioLite would live up to its promise and impress me with the experience. In fact, before fully testing it on a four day hike I told many people about my excitement with the purchase – as I bought the FULL kit – the stove, the boiling pot, the grill attachment and the “Nano Grid” which combines a power pack, bright flashlight and little LED camplights that connect with power cords (how cool is that?). If there was indeed a stove that could cook your food / boil water, without the need for cans of fuel, AND that could generate power to provide electric lighting, GPS recharging (the basics) then I would be extremely impressed, and the benefits would certainly outweigh the costs and extra weight. Now that I have thoroughly tested the device in the field, I have a somewhat unfavorable opinion (at least with the current model being sold).

    PROS

    The stove delivers on the cooking promise, it produces an oxygen powered, mostly smokeless fuel source that will boil water fast. Not as fast as my isobutane camp stove, but plenty quick enough. If you only want to power a hot flame for cooking, using only bio-material when in the bush, I recommend this product.

    Overall design and manufacturing is impressive across the board, but the component weight is concerning for backpackers – which may not be the primary consumer the product is intended for. However I did notice a little heat damage to the device after a single trip, which leads me to wonder about the longevity of the product.

    The ordering experience was very pleasant and the company was quick to send the items before the holidays. The packaging was nice (something maybe only a designer would appreciate) and the company’s intention to serve third world countries was admirable.

    CONS

    As stated, the stove and components are well made, but maybe to a point that they ended up too heavy in a pack. Even splitting the components up among members of the group proved a little heavy on the straps (considering all the gear collectively). The grill top is especially heavy, but unless they switch to expensive alloys, the added weight is most likely a necessary hindrance to having a grill type cook top when in the bush and off grid.

    It took a considerable amount of fuel to keep the fire raging, it basically requires a handful of sticks or pine cones every 2 minutes, or else the fire will go out and the fan will create a big smoke plume from the hot smoldering ash….lighting newly added sticks / pine cones from the hot ash requires a little help by blowing into the top of the stove…and getting many faces full of eye-stinging billowing smoke. Topping the stove with fuel every 2 minutes didn’t seem a chore, until I tried generating enough power for even a modest amount of electrical charge (a four hour process)….if you do the math…that is feeding the fire 120 times, and yes, THAT is a lot of collecting and work.

    This brings me to the most disappointing part. The BioLite Camp stove simply does not provide enough power to charge your electrical items, even for a modest amount of power. There is a GREEN LED indicator that shows when the unit is powering your device….this cycles on and off in competition for power with the internal fan. It was pleasant at first to see the GREEN CHARGING light come on and provide charging power…but then it became frustrating when you realize the charging would last maybe only a minute, then up to five minutes of “not charging” as the on board fan consumed the power (which you can NOT turn off while the fire is lit presumably for overheating reasons). Hence four hours of trying to get even a 20% charge to the Bio Lite Nano Grid power bank. My hopes were to simply charge the power bank during the daily meals, to provide adequate camp lighting at night…and even with four hours of feeding the fire (there are much better ways to spend time on a hike) it gave me only enough power for about 20-30 minutes of light at night using the camp lights. Which may seem “ok”…but consider we spent much of the day on a marathon burn to generate this power.

    The power producing ability was by far the most disappointing quality of the BioLite, which of course is why you would probably buy one of these products in the first place. I was willing to pay more, and deal with heavier weight if I could get free power from burning twigs in the woods…but the technology simply isn’t there yet. Hopefully the this is a growing pain that BioLite is working on, after realizing that their first generation camp stove isn’t all that efficient…and therefore the promise of power generation is more of a novelty…which comes at a high cost to consumers.

    Although my product experience was mostly good, the lack of power-producing ability leads me to believe that the camp stove was not market-ready for a widespread release…hopefully the next generation products from BioLite will be more advanced. I would like to see at least twice the power output for me to consider using it on a hike, but more importantly, for me to recommend the stove (as a fellow product designer) to others.

    Just being honest.

  54. Susan January 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    I CAN’t ENDORSE THIS PRODCT…just the opposite. I bought one of their packages for my son for Christmas. He wasn’t interested because the online reviews from serious campers were poor…with customer care and support being one of the biggest issues. So in order to get your money back you have to get an “refund authorization code” from the company BEFORE you send your return. Good luck with that. They have an email address for authorization codes that they don’t respond to, and they have NO LISTED PHONE NUMBER ANYWHERE! Not kidding, you can’t get a number for these people anywhere on the web or even the phone company. And trust me…we tried. So now I’m on the very edge of the return window before they will refuse the refund….maybe that’s their whole game. This stuff wasn’t cheap! A hassle, poor product, and bad customer service. STAY AWAY FROM THIS PRODUCT AND THIS COMPANY. Pass this on to any campers you know. Thanks.

    • Scott January 11, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

      Susan – Why didn’t you just take it back to the store you bought it at???

  55. Scott January 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    Phil – You mentioned the PowerPot as an alternative – Heavy & $100 and you still need a stove/fire and the Solostove which has a smaller fuel area than the Biolite would require CONSTANT FEEDING, if that’s a problem. I understand you’ve drawn your line in the sand but… as I have read the comment log you have contradicted yourself a couple of times… Sometimes you need to re-evaluate your opinion because as I have read through this log you have become more rigid against the biolite than when you started and usually the opposite happens once people make countering points! I can only wonder how much of a drag you would be to hike with if I didn’t have the exact same gear as you because you seem self absorbed and would be ragging on me the whole time… Just Saying

    • Philip Werner January 11, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

      I can cook an entire dinner with one load of fuel in a solo stove, and you have no idea what I’m like on the trail.

  56. Campin momma February 24, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    Don’t know what you’re all on about have the whole camping system and this thing is a tank. -15 or lower Cold Alberta winters I’m burning when no one else is..put that in your fancy feast can!!
    If you take the time to learn your machinery there are pros and there are cons… this is true with everything. Do your research, know what you want for performance.
    Biolite didn’t build a gear charger… Biolite found a way to burn clean and practically smoke and ash free on the trail.. the charger is about choosing to use the excess energy efficiently..I only use it for the cooklight…..minimum extra energy.. which is all they promise. If you wanted a charger they have solar panels and the chargekettle.

    Some of you seem to forget that your giving and opinion not writing the bible.
    Do I agree there were some pain in the ass learning curves absolutely! That said once I learned what woods to burn and how to best use the resources at hand I’ll take this little tank everywhere. No questions I love it and think you all pull it out of the box play with it for a weekend and give up.

    Just saying maybe you all are having self-fulfilling prophesies about gear your not familiar with…. perhaps rent one from a gear swap and let’s get some real interesting new opinions out there.. like I’ve never seen anyone review it as a pellet stove in car camping situations…..

    That’s where this baby really shines and if you are hardwood burning instead of that soft wood “insta ash” crap most people seem burn….

    I really don’t know what all this reload every 5 mins is about! Did you try burning on low fan or high?! did you time both for a full chamber? Did you build your fire for a top down burn the first time? ’cause lighting this thing is a dream with the fan doing all the work…

    But you all go ahead and shelf that 350$ worth of free gear you were asked to review cause you don’t actually put in the work to learn what a super tool you were gifted
    …..sigh….

    Opinions are like A@@holes though aren’t they..and everyone’s got one.

  57. Flavor King March 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    I’ve had and been using Biolite gear for a few years now, and love it. The camp stove is by far the best wood fired portable grill I’ve seen. It packs up small so it’s super portable. It’s still heavier than most gas camping stoves, but no gas bottles to worry about, and way better flavor. The onboard fan stokes the fire for you, which means all you have to do is add more fuel when it needs it. It can reach insanely high temps for quickly boiling water, or searing steaks, and lower temps for bacon, sausage, or burgers. The fact that it can charge a usb divice at all is icing on the cake. If you pre load it, and have it burn top down, it becomes a low maintenance enclosed camp fire that burns for at approx 30 with no stoking or adding fuel (this is also the best method for charging). I saw in the comments some questions about an internal battery, it has one. However it’s just for the fan, when your charging a phone it uses excess power from the generator and the battery to get enough juice to charge the phone, that’s why it charges in cycles (something like 10min charging, 5 min resting, 10 min charging). It may not be for everyone, but I think a lot of reviewers never gave it a real chance, they didn’t want to work through a learning curve, and wasn’t as fast as a wall charger, so they dismissed it as a gimmick and went back to what they are accustomed to… That’s just lazy and they are missing out on a truly inovative and awesome product.

    • Outdoor Product Designer March 7, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      These last couple reviews are almost certainly from a company representative…and for the record, no I’m not a competitor to BioLite. Instead, I’m an an outdoor enthusiast who happens to be qualified in product design. Just increase your power efficiency BioLite….and you’ve really got something more than a neat gadget.

      • Scott March 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

        I’m not… I’m just a person who has been camping many times for days at a time and values the ability to have a hot burning stove that will charge electronics along the way. I was involved with the scouts for years and would have loved to had this stove sooner. Like the previous poster touted – the ability to charge is gravy… In fact, some of my trips it was used strictly for charging. As for power efficiency it is not bad if you know what your doing. My question to you is have you ever used one?

        • Outdoor Product Designer March 7, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

          Yes…read my review above yours. I bought their whole package….the Power Grid I think they call it. There’s no doubt about it, unless they sent me a defective unit, the extra and usable power output of the camp stove doesn’t provide even enough power to charge a cell phone to reasonable levels after hours of burning sticks and keeping the fire stoked (which takes a lot more effort than one is led to believe). If you’re goal is to ONLY get one or two emergency text messages out, then yes, the BioLight makes magic power from heat, and that is cool. I think most of the power is being siphoned by the internal fan that the user can not shut off, most likely to avoid internal overheating. BioLight just needs to make a point of this in their sales and hype messaging….so that the user will expect the results. There’s a way to craft this messaging so this aspect of the user experience is not a “let down”. I think if they published a sales message around its true power output they would have less complaints…and happier customers.

      • Neil March 7, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

        *Just increase your power efficiency BioLite….and you’ve really got something more than a neat gadget*

        This is the problem… If clumsy reviewers trash a new product they don’t understand (or that simply doesn’t suit their particular circumstances) they have the power to impact sales and with it future improvements and product evolution.

        This product IS interesting, and even in this first generation has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people. It suits some campers but not others. Any reviewer worth a dime would look for the appropriate context for the product, but this one simply hasn’t bothered. It doesn’t improve his middle-class lifestyle so the product is a piece of junk, nobody should buy it and the whole thing should die and make way for more designer titanium can openers.

        • Philip Werner March 7, 2016 at 7:05 pm #

          This review is written for backpackers. If you want to “improve the lives of millions of people,” I suggest you stop reading blogs and get to work.

      • Flavor King March 8, 2016 at 1:33 am #

        @product designer, I do not work for biolite, or sell their products. My profession is in manufacturing, and I live in the Pacific Northwest, one of the best places in the US to get out and enjoy hiking and the outdoors (biolite is based in New England). As it happens, I am qualified to design products as well. There are definitely some changes that could be made to the camp stove but some things are not realistic when it comes to production costs. As for the improvements, requests for lighter weight (titanium base vs stainless) and higher power output are requests tjat will never go away. But as long as the product see’s adoption with the first gen, a better second gen can be developed address the some of the desires of the public. I stand by the view of “use it and enjoy it for what it is, instead of complaining about what it isn’t”, save that for recommendations for the next gen.

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