Last year, we reviewed the BioLite CampStove which uses some impressive technology to burn wood for cooking so efficiently, extra heat from the combustion process gets turned into electricity for charging small electronics. Improving on the usefulness of the original design, BioLite has designed a portable grill attachment to complement the stove. With apologies to our vegetarian and vegan readers, some folks find that there are very few things better than a nice steak grilled over a wood fire. Of course, we love grilled veggies as well, but that’s for another day.
With a 12″ x 9.5″ grill size, it’s perfect for the backpacker who wants a truly memorable gourmet meal, or car campers with small families. You can fit six hot dogs, four burgers, or one juicy porterhouse on the 55 square inch cooking surface. Careful design has resulted in three distinct heat zones, so you can toast your bread, sear a steak, or cook your food to perfection every time. Flip up the fuel intake lid without disturbing your meal (don’t try that with a charcoal grill), and drop in some more wood or stoke the hot wood coals that get reduced to nothing but fine ash by the clever and effective combustion method. Lightweight folding legs opposite the fan/battery pack keep everything stable, should you not be cooking a “balanced” meal. Even adding a bit under two pounds to the BioLite CampStove, the grill and stove combo still weighs less than a typical portable grill. When you add the convenience of burning wood, and subtract the need for charcoal or gas canisters, any weight penalty is still a fair trade off. There’s even a plastic cover for the grill that protects it while traveling, but is durable enough to be used as a cutting board when preparing meals. BioLite has pretty much thought of everything.
The CampStove currently retails for $129.95, and the Portable Grill for $59.95, so you’re looking at around $200 for the combination. That may not be much for some people, but before I could justify that to Mrs. Outsider, I’d need to do a bit of math. The other stoves we’ve tested usually run $90-$100, and run on compressed gas. While gas stoves certainly have their place, the process of extracting gas, storing it, and transporting it to the retail outlet is hardly environmentally friendly, and the gas itself is an ongoing expense. As long as you’ve got a steady supply of biomass (twigs and small branches), the CampStove will burn with outstanding efficiency, emitting very little smoke at virtually zero cost. We’ve reviewed several solar chargers that retail from under $100 to over $200, and all require a decent amount of sunshine to recharge your devices. That makes them simple and robust, but not always reliable in the winter or even just overcast days. BioLite’s CampStove will charge in the dark, as long as it’s got fuel to burn. Not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but the added features and benefits certainly helps to justify the initial outlay. Whether you’re camping, or using the BioLite for emergencies, you can charge your devices, boil water, or cook a small meal all with one piece of gear. As far as I’m concerned that makes it a big win. Factor in a portion of the profits being used to fund their HomeStove project, which will improve the lives of people around the world, and it’s easy to see why we’re such big fans. Check out bioliteenergy.com for more info.