When was the last time you got excited about an outdoor camping stove? For me, never but wait till you read about the all new BioLite CampStove 2. It is a marvel of ingenuity, yet such a simple concept. Cook with wood as clean, safe and easy as modern fuels while generating electricity to charge your phone, lights and other electronics off-grid.
Generate electricity from a wood burning stove? Sounds incredible. Read on.
How does the BioLite CampStove 2 work?
Basically a thermoelectric generator captures waste heat from the fire through a heat probe. The probe is attached to the powerpack and supplies power to the on-board powerpack.
The power is used to power an internal fan that injects air back into the burn chamber. Any access power is routed and stored to the internal battery. If a device is plugged into the USB port, it will be charged by this access power.
The internal fan dramatically improves combustion which creates a cleaner and more efficient burn. Interestingly, the fan cannot be turned off. According to the BioLite, it has to be kept on for the fire to burn as well as to keep the electronic components from overheating.
The Power Unit
The orange box attached to the side of the burner cotains the power unit and the associated parts. New in the Campstove 2 is the on-board 2600mAh battery pack. It can charge any USB device with or without a live fire. The output delivers 5V at 2A. Charging the unit from a wall plug is a snap. It is equiped with a micro-USB charge-in socket for any standard wall charger. So for a head start before you head out, pre-charge it first.
According to the manufacturer, the battery cannot be replaced but lasts for 5000 charge and discharge cycles. So depending on how often you go camping, that could mean 3 to 7 years. By which time, the stove itself would probably need replacement.
Compared with the earlier model, the thermoelectrics has been upgraded to provide 50% more power output at 3W of continuous power for a better charging experience.
An updated LED dashboard in this latest model, showing you the strength of the fire, the available power and the speed of the fan.
A Flexlight or a flexible USB LED light is provided which plugs into the USB port. It comes really handy while cooking in the dark.
The ability to charge your devices in the outdoors without a wall plug is arguably one of the best features of this product. Other options for the outdoor camper or hiker would be portable solar chargers.
In the current model, improvements have been made to the designs for the legs as well as the internal chamber to accomodate the new design of the heat probe.
The scalloped pot stand works for most pots. I found that its best to go no more than 10″ in diameter and no more than 8lbs when fully loaded. As long as you can balance one up there, it should be fine. If you want to do grilling, then a portable grill is a must. The BioLite grill is sold separately and can hold up to 4 burgers or 6 hotdogs.
I got my hands on a brand new BioLite CampStove 2 and decided to do a test during one of my recent camping trips. The unit weighs roughly 2lbs so it wasn’t too hard for me to lug it in my backpack to camp. I had my other good old stove that I usually bring just in case the Campstove 2 didn’t really work as plan.
Immediately after making camp, I started to look for anything that I can use to burn. I gathered a large pile of dry grass and as much twigs as I could find around the area of the campsite. Nothing fancy but just a variety of twigs of various thickness and length, but nothing too long that it won’t fit into the Campstove 2.
Lighting the fire was easy with the included firestarter stick and dry grass. Within minutes I was able to start a decent fire. The internal fan was kicking in and it added air to the fire causing it to burn strongly. I set to medium setting. Not too smokey, I suppose the grass and twigs were pretty dry fortunately. Once I got the a nice roaring fire, I started to boil roughly 2 cups of water in my favorite pot. It was done in about 12 minutes. Pretty impressive for my standards.
I have to say that the dried wood burned real quick, so I had to feed it twice during the boiling process. So a good tip would be to gather as much as you can before the starting the fire. So it was a little troublesome to lift off the pot and stuff twigs down the stove twice within the 12 minutes.
TIP: If you are out of firestarter sticks, I found a good tip. Dip cotton balls in vaseline and bring them along in a ziplock. They start real quick and easy.
I continued to feed larger and thicker twigs and turned up the fan setting to high. Whoa, it turned into a raging inferno within seconds. Shortly the USB port light turned green and I tried charging my iPhone 6. I let it charge and continued with the feeding. After about 15 minutes, my phone had gained 10%. Well, nothing much to shout about but yeah it all coming from the burning of the fire. Not too shabby.
After the charging test, I stopped the unit and let it cool. Throughout the testing, the exterior part was just a tad warm thanks to the well insulated material in the design. Surprising the interior of the stove did so rather quickly and what surprised me more was the amount of ash left behind. From the 30 minutes or so of burning which I think I had gone through about 2lbs of wood, the amount of ash was equivalent to 1/2 cup of ash. That’s the beauty of it, it burns so efficiently.
Overall the BioLite CampStove 2 is simply genuis and well designed. Not much negativity that I can think of other than the weight especially during hiking and camping trips. Another option is to have it in your car for road trips. It is more of an emergency stove where you do not need propane fuel to start a fire. All you need is simple biomass that can be found anywhere. And what’s more, free portable charging power anywhere at your disposal.
Don’t forget your BioLite CampStove 2 on next outdoor camping trip. Have fun!
– No need to pack fuel, just use biomass to burn.
– Free power from the fire.
– Extremely well designed and manufactured.
– A little on the heavy side.
– Needs lots of biomass to get a fire going for long.