Camping isn’t what it used to be. Now, you’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, whozits and whatzits galore, like headlamps, cellphones, and GPS devices to bring along with you. And all of those goodies need to be charged. Sorry, Mother Nature doesn’t have outlets at the ready, but luckily for connected campers, there are companies like BioLite.
For the uninitiated, BioLite is a company that specializes in “self-reliant energy products” such as specialty lighting, power-generation, and cooking products for off-grid adventures. That includes things like miniature solar panels that collect the sun’s energy to power devices, but that’s some well-known stuff. Instead, I want to direct your attention to a seriously cool product I recently tested out on a four-day van camping trip in Central California: The Biolite Campstove 2.
The Campstove 2 is a lightweight and compact stove that’s easily packable for a car, van, or off-grid camping journey. It’s ideal for one or two people looking to heat a kettle of water or charge their devices with the original energy source, fire. Yes, fire.
The stove creates three watts of electricity, all from the heat of your tiny campfire. Simply throw in some wood or starter, light it, and plug in your devices right into its 2600mAh battery. The battery will store any unused energy for use later.
“BioLite’s patented core technology captures waste heat from the fire through a heat probe attached to the orange powerpack,” the company explained on its website. “Heat is converted into electricity via a thermoelectric generator. This powers a fan and sends electricity to a USB charging port…The internal fan injects air back into the burn chamber dramatically improving combustion and creating a cleaner, more efficient burn.”
Oh, you say you want more? How about the fact it can boil a kettle of water while you’re charging your phone. This way, you can brew some coffee for energy for you, while your phone gets charged too. Still not clear on how this science works? Check out this video from one of the company’s engineers.
On my own camping trip, the tiny stove proved impressive in charging up my phone in a snap. The only warning I’d give to others is to gather up enough small pieces of very dry wood to keep it going so you can stay powered up for as long as you need (pro tip: buy pellets for your trip to use instead). I was able to pack it up tightly in my camping bag and use it with ease in the morning to heat up water and in the evening for both a charge and ambient light. It may be a bit bulky for those going on multi-day treks but proved to be an excellent addition to my van.
To level up the stove, you may have to buy some accessories, such as the portable grill attachment, which is large enough to hold about four burger patties at once. Or, simply buy the kit, which comes with the stove, grill, and kettle all in one. Again, worth it as it packs up small and means you can use your Campstove for every meal from breakfast to dinner. And this way, you can stay connected to the rest of the world with a fully charged device while out in the wilderness.
To buy: amazon.com, $150
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