CAMP KITCHEN

BioLite Stove Review: Cooking on Your Trip, the Right Way

biolite stove featured
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Cooking is one of those things that we really have to prepare for before going on a long trip, especially if it stretches over a few days and you are constantly on the move. While there are a few ways in which you could go about handling your cooking needs in nature, the portable cooking stove is your best option, however finding the right one for you can be quite a challenge.

Hopefully, this BioLite stove review will shed some light on the subject and provide you with the information that you need in order to complete this task.

Product specifications 

  • 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.
  • The CampStove can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 4 min. 30 sec.
  • CampStove weighs about 2 lbs.
  • An internal starter battery helps kick-start the fire before the stove begins generating its own power.

Check the price on Amazon

First and foremost, this is not like the vast majority of other stoves on the market simply because of the fact that it relies on wood rather than gas in order to sustain a fire and help you cook your food. Another small detail that you might notice is the fact that it comes with a small side unit that sports a USB port.

While it can be a curious thing to find on a portable stove, it actually serves a good purpose. The side unit in question converts the heat from the fire into electricity which is then transferred through the USB port and used to power different appliances. It can serve as pretty much anything from a phone charger to a portable power source for small lights and various other things.

biolite stove on rock

In regards to portability, it is as big as a water bottle and just as light as one, making it incredibly easy to carry around. A great advantage that this stove brings to the table is the fact that it uses wood for fuel which can be gathered while on your trip. This means that you don’t have to lug a gas canister around and you don’t have to deal with the concerns that come with it.

The stove itself is very easy to use, clean and maintain, using nothing more than a napkin and a bit of water in order to clean. The simple design and modular build make it easy to take apart and clean when you stop for a short rest on your trip and then reassembled in no time at all. It even comes with a small tripod base which helps you balance the stove on any kind of terrain, making it easy to boil your water and cook your food.

biolite stove starting up

Something that is often ignored when looking at these products is the level of safety that they provide when used. Right off the bat because of the fact that it does not use gas makes it a lot safer than other alternatives. While it does use wood, just like your average campfire, the fact that it burns within an enclosed space makes it a lot easier to manage and a lot safer to use in a campsite.

The lip at the top of the burning chamber makes it easy to balance various containers in order to heat them up, from metal cups to pots and pans, without risking tipping them over by accident.

It is also important to note that while it is a small portable stove, accidents can still happen. When dealing with fire, something that we always need to account for is the possibility of losing control over it. Everyone, from the beginners to the most veteran of adventurers, needs to be prepared for this situation, and the BioLite stove has you covered.

fire in biolite stove

If the flame does go out of control, it is very easy to put it out. Anything from tipping it over to pouring a cup of water on it will suffice, as long as you remember to clean it afterward.

Review

Packaging

The stove is delivered to you in a single box, small and compact, a little larger than a solid brick, which when opened reveals the stove itself. It comes split up into 2 parts, the stainless steel stove, and the power module.

There is a little compartment in the box which contains small firelighters and a small double-ended USB cable that you can use to charge your devices by using the stove. Depending on what you have ordered with the stove, it can also include some other small accessories like a stuffing bag.

biolite stove packaging

The stove is well protected inside the box during shipping and the probability of it being dented and knocked is rather low. It is often recommended to hold on to the packaging and use it to store the stove when not on a trip.

Design and durability

The overall design of the stove is simple but at the same time highly technical. First of all, the stove chamber is shaped into a cylinder, making it burn wood in a very efficient manner while giving off the most heat.

The legs extend from underneath, making it easy to carry the stove around without having to worry about the legs and whether or not they get damaged. This also allows the stove to sit firmly on flat surfaces and balance itself out without the risk of being toppled over.

biolite stove with beautiful view

The inside of the stove chamber is littered with jets and holes through which air comes in, oxygenating the fire and allowing it to burn with a stronger flame. The vast majority of the air that flows through the jets is generated by the fan located in the power module. It has 2 settings, low and high, the user being bale to toggle between them using the power button.

There is no actual hole underneath the stove, as one would normally expect, meaning that the stove chamber is dependent on the power module in order to function properly and actually sustain a flame.

While at full blast, with a proper fire, it is able to boil a pot of water in around 5 minutes, which given the size of the stove and the fuel that it runs on, it’s actually quite good.

biolite stove and pocket knife

At the very top of the stove chamber, there is a folded lip which is used to support pots and pans. The shape of the lip allows the pots and pans to sit on top of the fire and warm up, while at the same time allowing air to flow underneath them, preventing the flame from dying.

The second half of the stove consists of an orange power module. It sports a plastic casing, meaning that if there are windy conditions the stove has to be rotated so that the unit is not burned by the flames.

The power unit plugs into the side of the stove chamber and charges itself up by using the immense heat generated by the fire burning inside. At the same time, it powers a fan that feeds air into the stove chamber, fanning the flames and at the same time cooling the power unit.

power module on biolite stove

In regards to the I/O, there is not much to see. You have a power button, 2 LED lights indicative of the fan speed and a LED strip underneath them indicative of the temperature of the chamber. Underneath the LED strip sits a USB port hidden by a small plastic cover.

The idea behind it is that you get to control basically everything with the power button. Simply pop the unit on, start the fire and wait until the LED strip is orange. After it turns orange you press the power button once and the fan kicks in. Press it again to toggle between the Low and High options of the fan. Once the LED strip turns green, you can use the USB port to charge your devices.

frying eggs on biolite stove

If you wish to turn off the unit just hold down the power button for 3 seconds, however, if the stove is still very hot it will turn itself back on in order to engage the fan and cool the unit off.

Value for money and guarantee

At the time this review was written, the unit had a list price of $120 and a retail price of $85, which in all fairness is quite high for a camping stove.

However, considering the fact that you are not pigeonholed into buying fuel canisters and various other extras in order to make it functional and useful, it all evens out. When we factor in the fact that the stove also doubles up as a power source which you can use to recharge your phone, camera, battery pack and various other gadgets you might have on you, all of a sudden it does not seem so steep.

man sitting and using biolite stove

It is able to bring a lot of quality of life improvements to the table, making a trip in nature that much more pleasant and enjoyable. When considering the amount of money saved by not having to buy gas canisters or huge battery packs, the BioLite stove is able to provide a lot of value for money.

In regards to guarantees, if maintained properly and handled with care, it can last a lifetime, provided that it is used at least once every 6 months to prevent the battery from dying. Other than that, it is protected by the standard 2-year warranty, if something goes wrong or a manufacturing defect acts up.

Unique Features

There is no arguing the fact that the BioLite stove is unique and it does manage to bring various features to the table that other stoves simply cannot. The power module, for starters, is one of these features. While it is not the only stove on the market with such a module, it is the only one that allows you to use the module as a charger and a fan controller.

Portability is another feature that it brings to the table because it is the most portable stove out there. Being no larger than a water bottle and easy to carry around, figuring out where to put it in your gear without having to sacrifice space and comfort is no challenge at all.

charging iPhone on biolite stove

Lastly, the overall design of the stove is something that is unique to it. Every single aspect of the design concentrating around making it as simple as possible to be used by even the freshest beginners. Not to mention the fact that it is very simple to take apart and clean without having to deal with lots of small parts and pieces.

Similar models

Solo Stove Lite

Solo Stove Lite

One of the most important things about the Solo Stove Lite is the fact that it is incredibly small and incredibly light. While it is only a fraction of the size of other stoves, it is still able to heat up food and water at the same rate as other stoves do.

It sports a very simple design, with interlocking parts, easy to disassemble and reassemble without much hassle.

It is made out of stainless steel and it can be used reliably in any outdoor setting. It has a wide base on which it sits, without any extensible feet, giving it a stable footing on which to sit.

It does not come with much of anything else other than its ability to contain a fire and heat up food and water. There are no extra units or modules, however, it is great for campers and outdoorsmen that want a basic experience without anything else tacked onto it.

Wolfyok portable stainless steel stove

Wolfyok portable stainless steel stove

What sets this stove apart is the overall design of the unit itself. This is because it was designed in such a way that it allows the user to choose one of two fuel possibilities.

The Wolfyok Stove was designed to work with either wood or solidified alcohol as fuel. This means that you can either use the wood around you or you could use pieces of solidified alcohol if wood is not an option available to you.

Like most other stoves, in order to retain its portability, it has rather small dimensions, making it slightly taller than an average water bottle. When it comes to width, however, things are a bit different. It is as wide as an average pot, making it a bit challenging to pack and haul around. The weight itself is not an issue, it is incredibly light, but the overall volume makes it difficult to pack in with the rest of the gear.

A good workaround is to keep it disassembled while on the move and assemble it when hunkering down at a campsite or stopping for a bit of food. This only adds insult to injury though because it makes it that much easier to misplace parts in the process.

BioLite BaseCamp Stove

BioLiteBaseCamp Stove

This product, just like the one that is being featured in this review, is designed and manufactured by the good people at BioLite, however, unlike that one, it is designed for an entire team.

It features a large grill which can easily fit 8 hamburgers at a time and a stove chamber big enough to fit long burning logs.

It features a power pack with onboard 5-volt batteries and a USB port to recharge your gadgets and devices.

One of the biggest things about the BioLite BaseCamp Stove  is the fact that the stove itself is big. Portability is not something that is attributed to this stove, however, it is understandable seeing that it was designed to be used by a team of outdoorsmen at a campsite.

In regards to the overall weight of the unit, it is still light enough to be carried around with ease, especially when factoring in the fact that it can be disassembled into multiple pieces and sections. This means that the pieces can also be spread out across multiple party members, making it easier to carry around.

Overview

All in all, the BioLite stove serves a couple of purposes that not many other stoves can serve. While on one hand, it is great for providing the user with both comforting warmth and heat necessary for cooking, it is also able to provide a charging option for various gadgets.

The key word here being “user” because it was designed to suit the needs of the individual, not the entire group. It is small enough to be carried by one person without any problems, however, it is small enough to only provide a flame big enough to cover the needs of one person.

fired biolite stove in the dark

Even the fuel that it uses gives it away. Although it uses wood, it only uses small wood like sticks and twigs, not logs or branches. With that in mind, despite its reduced size, it is more than capable of fulfilling its role while at the same time providing a stable recharge point.

And like with everything else on the market, the BioLite stove has its pros and cons.

Pros:

  • It allows you to recharge your gadgets
  • It is as small as a regular water bottle
  • It’s easy to maintain and clean, even while on a trip

Cons:

  • It is specifically designed for the needs of an individual, not a team
  • You have to turn it in such a way that the power module is not downwind
  • It is easy to burn yourself if you’re not careful while handling it

The BioLite stove is a neat little thing to have, especially if you spend a lot of time in nature. You don’t have to worry about fuel because you can use the wood lying around, it is easy to clean and small enough to not even notice while carrying it around.

All this with the added bonus of a portable power source that does not require you to carry batteries around while still being able to recharge your gadgets. So if you are in the market for a portable stove that is not intrusive in the least and you also have gadgets with you that require charging while out in nature, then this might be the best choice for you.

BioLite Stove
  • Packaging
  • Design and Durability
  • Value for Money and Guarantee
  • Unique Features
4.8

Summary

A camp stove can be a wonderful investment that keeps on facilitating your outdoor adventures for years to come. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is one of the most technologically savvy options on the market, and comes in a very clever design.

There are a number of retailers available to choose from, if you decide to investigate purchasing this, all in all a super piece of outdoor fire equipment. At the end of the day you get what you pay for with outdoor equipment and though it’s on the expensive side, this camp stove is well worth it from our perspective.

The technological aspects of it will no doubt make it a fun and useful piece of camping equipment that you’ll use often for years to come. Its fire burning is clearly fantastic too. If you’ve tried the BioLite Campstove before, let us know in the comments below!

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User Review
5 (1 vote)

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Do you have any personal experience with the BioLite stove?  If yes, share your knowledge with us and our readers in the comments section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.