Being a romantic couple, me and Luke decided to treat ourselves to a Biolite stove and grill as a joint Christmas present. If I’m honest, although I loved the idea, it was an extravagant purchase (altogether set us back about £180) and this was the only way I could justify the cost.
In essence it is a wood burning stove that you can use for all of your cooking needs, but also, and here I refer to the guys themselves, ‘the heat from the fire generates electricity via a thermoelectric generator to power a fan creating airflow for improved combustion. Surplus electricity is sent to the USB port for charging devices’. Basically it burns very efficiently and charges your phone through a USB connection.
We weren’t sure how it would perform in the field, but it cooked amazingly well. I should point out at this point that the grill is sold separately. I was worried that as it burned so hotly it would char everything and leave the middle raw, how wrong I was. Everything we cooked was done to perfection. It also boils a kettle in a matter of minutes. It adequately fed 3 of us for a weekend, and I reckon it would manage one more.
Camping in March it also provided enough warmth to keep us all toasty in the evenings. We also purchased a USB LED light which demonstrated the versatility of the Biolite. The USB port provides a plethora of options, although the output is limited.
On the charging front, we found that it is never going to fully charge your phone for the duration of your trip. It takes a couple of hours to get to 50% from nothing but tends to slow down over time. It is useful though to keep things topped up enough to use.
It does have some drawbacks (depending on your point of view). Although compact it weighs 935g, which isn’t an issue for us car campers but more so for the backpackers. Also, it burns through wood very quickly and so needs a lot of attention. As it uses small bits you need to constantly keep topping it up. We used very dry kindling wood which we brought with us and which burnt very efficiently with very little smoke. Clearly the idea behind this is that you use foraged wood, obviously this depends on being able to find enough suitable (dry) wood, which can be easier said than done. As I say it depends on your point of view. Not to be sexist, but it seems to be a male thing to be totally amazed by fire and unable to stop poking and playing with it, therefore this isn’t a problem at all as Luke loves, and I mean LOVES, tending the Biolite.
All in all a very successful first outing, the Biolite provided our heat, light, cooked our food and charged our phones. I’m sure it will feature in many future posts as we get to grips with getting the most out of it.
Categories: Campsite Cookery