After talking about the tent, we move on to the second most important piece of camping equipment: the camping stove. Camping stoves are not only used for cooking food but are also handy for boiling water for whatever purpose. And some can even do other stuff, like charging your cell phone.
Biolite Wood Burning Camp Stove
The Biolite Wood Burning Camp stove is a stove manufactured by Biolite, which also makes a variety of other energy-saving devices. Biolite claims that its wood burning camp stove will be able to cook food at the campsite efficiently, while providing you with additional power to charge your electronic gadgets. So does it live to up to its claims>
- Powers most USB-chargeable devices including smartphones
- For 20 min. of charging with a strong fire gives you about 60 min. of talk time on most smartphones.
- During a full burn, the CampStove can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 4 min. 30 sec.
- CampStove weighs about 2 lbs. and is about the same size as a 1-liter Nalgene water bottle
- An internal starter battery helps kick-start the fire before the stove begins generating its own power
How does Biolite work?
The Biolite wood burning stove comprises of a stainless steel canister where the user starts a fire. The carefully placed air channels near the bottom of the canister and its overall shape then helps bring in oxygen to the fire and draw the heat up to the stove top.
One of the major selling points for the Biolite is that it does not use regular camp stove fuel. Instead, you simply burn small twigs and branches that you find around for fuel. This means that not only don’t you need to lug around a whole tank of fuel, decreasing the weight, but you also need not worry about it running out, as you can simply scavenge around for more. What more, the stove is designed such that it lessens the smoke coming out from the fire, which makes cooking in it supposedly more enjoyable.
Another selling feature for the Biolite is its ability to harness excess heat and use it to charge electronic gadgets like cell phones. It does this through the use of a special plastic box that is attached to the side of the main stove. The box then draws heat powering a small thermoelectric generator that charges a battery. The battery can then be used to charge any device plugged in via USB.
So, how do you choose a camping stove?
When shopping for a camping stove, here are the factors that you have to consider:
When talking about the size of a camping stove, the two things you have to take into account is capacity and actual physical dimensions. Capacity is often expressed in terms of “groups of. For small groups of five or less, a compact single- or two-burner stove would be enough for a few day’s worth of cooking needs. on the other hand, if your camping party is going to be larger, then opt for the larger free-standing stoves.
In considering the physical dimensions of the stove you plan to get, take into account how much room you have for storage. As have been said, compact stoves are best suited for short trips where you can stash them more easily. However, you also have to consider the amount of usable space. For instance, the more compact models have the downside3 of not being able to put in anything wider than a 12-inch skillet. So, if you have larger cooking utensils, then you might want to sacrifice compactness and get a larger stove that would suffice.
2. Power and efficiency
Another means of measuring the capacity of a stove is through its power output. This is expressed in British Thermal Units or BTU. Standard camping stoves usually range at around 20,000 to 30,000 BTUs. One thing to note of is that a higher BTU rating might not necessarily be a good thing, as product design and placement can affect the actual power output of the stove when used.
This is where efficiency comes in. Efficiency is determined by how long it takes for you to empty the fuel tank on full blast. A good stove is able to burn for 10 minutes for every ounce of fuel. However, you will be able to find even more efficient burners. On the other hand, there are also camping stoves that don’t use regular fuel, which makes for additional savings.
3. Boiling and simmering
Aside from power, speed is also important when choosing a stove. After all, you don’t want for your to take forever to cook when in the woods. Boiling time is often the common way of measuring the speed of a stove and is closely associated with power.
On the other hand, the stove’s ability to maintain a simmer is especially important if you plan on cooking foods that require this to be done. As is with boiling, the effectiveness of a stove to keep a steady simmer can be affected by external factors like the wind, so pick a model that provides ample protection against this.
How does it fare?
The Biolite certainly lived up to its claim of ease of use, as it starts up quite quickly with just a handful of twigs. From there, it is able to boil two cups of water in less than five minutes. However, do note that your location can affect the stove’s speed and efficiency. If you are at a higher elevation, for instance, the stove has less oxygen to feed on, which can significantly cook time. This also means that you end up using a lot more fuel, as the stove consumes it very fast so you need to feed it more.
It is also worth noting that the type of fuel you use will affect whether or not cooking with the stove will indeed be a smokeless affair. Very dry leaves, in particular, are going to be the best in this category, though they would still create some plumes.
The additional modular kettle and grill expands greatly on the capabilities of the stove. Both readily fit onto the top and work well with the main unit. However, do note that this will cost you an additional $90 on the purchase price. Also, note that these optional items can add some more weight to the already hefty package. And that is despite not having a fuel tank to carry around.
And how about the phone charging ability? This is where the Biolite falls a bit short, as the charging process can be very slow whereas you can get only a 4 percent charge after 30 minutes of charging. As such, this feature is best reserved only for important instances where your device needs a quick top up.
Overall, the Biolite certainly proves that there are more options other than the typical camping stove. However, it might need some getting used to, as this one is certainly a different experience. Also, the charging function needs some more work on the part of the developers, though that is not really a big gripe, as the stove’s overall functionality more than makes up for it.