Biolite Wood Burning CampStove

Priced: $129.95 Rated:   - 4 stars out of 5 by 109 reviews.
Biolite Wood Burning CampStove
Zoom In
Color: Stowed Away
Visit our Daily Deals for great products at low prices.
Biolite Wood Burning CampStove -

The BioLite Wood Burning CampStoveā„¢ combines the benefits of a backpacking stove and an off-grid power charger so you can cook a meal while charging your gadgets at a backcountry campsite.

Specifications based on manufacturer's information

Imported.

Support and Cushioning:

  • During a full burn, the CampStove can boil 1 liter of water in as little as 4 min. 30 sec.; place your pot or pan on the built-in pot support

Sizing:

  • BioLite CampStove weighs about 2 lbs.and is about the same size as a 1-liter Nalgene water bottle; power module stows inside the fuel chamber when the stove is not in use

Features:

  • BioLite CampStove comes with firestarter, stuff sack, USB cord for charging the internal battery and instructions for use; does not include a cable for charging devices
  • Twigs from hardwood trees, like oak, maple and hickory, will burn hottest and cleanest; choose wood that's dry, and avoid burning leaves, as they can be smoky
  • Like a campfire, you can sit around the CampStove and watch the flames dance while you roast marshmallows and spend time with friends
  • For an Apple iPhone® 4S, 20 min. of charging with a strong fire gives you about 60 min. of talk time; charging times vary by device as well as by the strength of the fire
  • There's no need to buy or carry heavy fuel canisters with this stove—simply collect twigs during your journey and burn them when you get to camp
  • Extra electricity can be used to charge small electronics like cell phones, headlamps and rechargeable batteries via the USB port; devices and charging cables sold separately
  • Anodized-aluminum legs create a stable platform for cooking; legs fold in for compact storage when you're done making dinner
  • CampStove can also burn wood pellets (available at many home and garden stores) if you're camping in a spot where you're not allowed to collect twigs or trees aren't present
  • CampStove's starter battery helps kick-start the fire before the stove begins generating its own power so it's best to charge the battery for 2 - 4 hrs. before leaving home
  • Using patent-pending thermoelectric technology, the stove converts heat to electricity that charges an internal battery and powers a fan to increase the efficiency of the fire
Want it cheaper? Set your own price.
Enter the price you want to pay and we'll email or text you if we find a store that will sell it for that amount:
Price: $
Your email:
Cell number: (optional, for text message)
Learn how offers work...
Review RatingNumber of Reviews
46
47
9
7
0
Activity:Backpacking
Auto ignition:No
Average boil time:4 min. 30 sec.
Dimensions:5 x 8.25 inches
Fuel:Wood
Fuel type:Wood
Weight:2 lbs. 1 oz.
Compare specifications to related products.

Subcategories of Stoves & Fuel:

Biolite Wood Burning CampStove Reviews:

Positive Reviews:

revolutionary product indepth review

After practicing using the Biolite at home (you must do this), we took it on a 8 day 7 night prim camping, hiking, mountain-biking trip.

1. The park restrictions were using a containerized stove". The Biolite gave us the
real camping experience of making a camp fire in our "containerized stove" with less work, smoke, and wood (see below). It would be difficult,
perhaps impossible, to make a such a small camp fire using so little wood and cook your food. Much of the time we just sat in our "alite" chairs chilling and picking up scraps of wood right under our feet.

2. Because the fuel i.e. wood was everywhere we ended up having luxury camping, making hot coco, hot tea, hot coffee, hot water to desensitize our titanium pot, spoon and spork. We heated our hard boiled eggs and bacon jerky making the
best hot breakfast ever. We sat by it to keep warm. In other words, used it in a way we never EVER would, with snow-peak propane fuel. The weight of the propane + plus stove would have been much heavier than the 2lb Biolite stove.

3. The Biolite gave us security, by knowing we would not run out of fuel, something that's always in the back of your mind when using
propane.

4. The Biolite is nowhere near as smoky as a real camp fire. It was wonderful to not get in the tent with the reek of smoke on my hair and clothes (unless you like that sort of thing). I have long, thick curly hair, so smoke from campfires has been a big downside for me, not to mention allergies from the smoke.

5. The Biolite will turn the outside of your pots black, a downside to using real wood.

6. It charges any usb device as advertised. Be sure to fully charge the battery the first time before using it. Don't just wait till the charge meter turns green thinking it's charged all the way. To clarify, the green indicator lets
you know the battery is ready to charge your devices, it does not mean the battery is fully 100% charged. Remember, it also uses this battery to blow air on your fire. The device must always have enough stored energy to blow the fan, if not fully charged you will have to wait a bit longer burning wood to fully charge the battery. We would always make it our goal to try to insure the biolite battery was nice and green for a long time before ending our fire.

7. If you don't want to charge anything and just want to heat up your water/food quickly, put it on high, get your heated water/food and turn the fan to low and wait for it to turn off on it's own. Do not force a shutdown of the fan, it can damage it. You can heat water this way in a 2 - 3 minutes, using just a few twigs (it's pretty
amazing).

8. The fan does make a blowing noise, it is a fan after all. It's not too loud but just something to keep in mind (You can still hear the birds chirping).

9. On rainy days, when storing the battery/fan separately, under the vestibule to keep it dry (while the ashes cooled down in the stove), I accidentally turned it on a few times. On a windy, rainy day, you could turn it on, while looking for other gear in your tent and not be able to hear you turned it on. So be carful when moving it around to get to other gear. This is not an issue when, after cooling down, the battery is stored inside the stove. But something to watch out for, as you want the
battery as fully charged as possible. It's meant
to be turned on easily while a fire is burning in the stove, otherwise one might tip the whole thing over.

10. On very windy days (got up to 30mph gusts) the three legs held the stove firmly in place, and the deep stove kept little embers from flying away i.e. much safer than a real fire.

11. If you have a smaller pot, a small metal triangle is provided to put on top of the stove. The triangle falls off, gets in the way while adding fire wood and is just not worth the effort. We ended up not using the triangle
at all after two days, without incident. I hope I haven't forgot anything. I know it's 2 lbs., but the benefits, security, warmth and charging ability for long prim camping trips makes it a no brainer. This is a revolutionary product, for a company helping reduce smoke inhalation in 3rd world countries. Thanks Biolite for turning our camping trip into warm luxury adventure.
Geeks vs. Wild at REI on 04/04/2013

revolutionary product

After practicing using the Biolite at home (you must do this), we took it on a 8 day 7 night prim camping, hiking, mountain-biking trip.

1. The park restrictions were using a containerized stove". The Biolite gave us the real camping experience of making a camp fire in our "containerized stove" with less work, smoke, and wood (see below). It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to make a such a small camp fire using so little wood and cook your food. Much of the time we just sat in our "alite" chairs chilling and picking up scraps of wood right under our feet.

2. Because the fuel i.e. wood was everywhere we ended up having luxury camping, making hot coco, hot tea, hot coffee, hot water to desensitize our titanium pot, spoon and spork. We heated our hard boiled eggs and bacon jerky making the best hot breakfast ever. We sat by it to keep warm. In other words, used it in a way we never EVER would, with snow-peak propane fuel. The weight of the propane + plus stove would have been much heavier than the 2lb Biolite stove.

3. The Biolite gave us security, by knowing we would not run out of fuel, something that's always in the back of your mind when using propane.

4. The Biolite is nowhere near as smoky as a real camp fire. It was wonderful to not get in the tent with the reek of smoke on my hair and clothes (unless you like that sort of thing). I have long, thick curly hair, so smoke from campfires has been a big downside for me, not to mention allergies from the smoke.

5. The Biolite will turn the outside of your pots black, a downside to using real wood.

6. It charges any usb device as advertised. Be sure to fully charge the battery the first time before using it. Don't just wait till the charge meter turns green thinking it's charged all the way. To clarify, the green indicator lets you know the battery is ready to charge your devices, it does not mean the battery is fully 100% charged. Remember, it also uses this battery to blow air on your fire. The device must always have enough stored energy to blow the fan, if not fully charged you will have to wait a bit longer burning wood to fully charge the battery. We would always make it our goal to try to insure the bio- lite battery was nice and green for a long time before ending our fire.

7. If you don't want to charge anything and just want to heat up your water/food quickly, put it on high, get your heated water/food and turn the fan to low and wait for it to turn off on it's own. Do not force a shutdown of the fan, it can damage it. You can heat water this way in a 2 - 3 minutes, using just a few twigs (it's pretty amazing).

8. The fan does make a blowing noise, it is a fan after all. It's not too loud but just something to keep in mind (You can still hear the birds chirping).

9. On rainy days, when storing the battery/fan separately, under the vestibule to keep it dry (while the ashes cooled down in the stove), I accidentally turned it on a few times. On a windy, rainy day, you could turn it on, while looking for other gear in your tent and not be able to hear you turned it on. So be carful when moving it around to get to other gear. This is not an issue when, after cooling down, the battery is stored inside the stove. But something to watch out for, as you want the battery as fully charged as possible. It's meant to be turned on easily while a fire is burning in the stove, otherwise one might tip the whole thing over.

10. On very windy days (got up to 30mph gusts) the three legs held the stove firmly in place, and the deep stove kept little embers from flying away i.e. much safer than a real fire.

11. If you have a smaller pot, a small metal triangle is provided to put on top of the stove. The triangle falls off, gets in the way while adding fire wood and is just not worth the effort. We ended up not using the triangle at all after two days, without incident.

I hope I haven't forgot anything. I know it's 2 lbs., but the benefits, security, warmth and charging ability for long prim camping trips makes it a no brainer. This is a revolutionary product, for a company helping reduce smoke inhalation in 3rd world countries. Thanks Biolite for turning our camping trip into warm luxury adventure.
Geeks vs. Wild at REI on 04/04/2013

BioLite does what it's intended to do

After using this device a couple of times on multi day outings, this device does what it's advertised to do. I was able to boil water in 3 to 4 minutes and charged my phone to 20%.

When you purchase any piece of equipment that is going to support your sustainment out in austere environments you need to make sure it's going perform for the situation at hand. This piece of equipment was designed to be used in wooded areas that can provide a constant fuel source. If you're going up at altitude or mountainous regions, then you'll a gas burning stove. The BioLite is also meant to be used for multi day trips (more than your weekend warrior versions of 2-3 days excursion). I read a lot of reviews stating this was to heavy a piece of equipment and people had issues burning wet material. Well, when you plan for a trip longer than 3 days you may want to consider where you're going and the logistics support your plan ensuring you've implemented all the necessary precautions to have a successful hike. Let's get one thing clear first, If you're trying to be a true minimalist a stove is not required for your packing list, just an ignition device to start a fire. But if you had a choice to bring a device that could support you for more than 3 days that uses the available resources at hand(i.e. wood and other organic materials that burn) or pack additional flammable fuels (which can weigh quite more than two pounds depending on duration of hike) and eventually run out, then the BioLite is the device for you. Also, in wet conditions some of you need to relook starting a fire in this type of environment. Fire-starters work well in these conditions, can help you out with getting a fire stated in a wet environment, and pack easy. As a matter of fact, the Biolite comes with a fire-starter material which was meant to be used in this device. There is nothing wrong with using a fire-starters.

The last thing I want to comment on is the charging unit on this piece of equipment. Again, I conducted a dead phone situation test and the BioLite was able to charge my phone to about 20% after fueling it for 6 hours. Let's get one thing straight about hiking or camping, you should never use your phone constantly while you're camping, especially if this is going to be your primary means for contacting someone in an emergency. The BioLite was not meant to fully charge your devices, it was only meant to partially charge your device. A 20% charge on your smartphone device is good enough to make a call, if you have good satellite reception in the area you're at. If you're depending on your cell phone as your primary means of communication (which is poor planning anyway)then you're wrong in the first place. I recommend you bringing your phone fully charged out with you and leave it off during your hike/camping event and only use it when you need to if this is the case. This will be very hard for you techies to do. Get a SPOT or other personal emergency beacon (ACR) and share your hiking plan with a friend or family member during your adventure.

Overall the biolite does what it is advertised to do and is very useful in multiday excursions. Plan accordingly to the environment you intend to enter. For all you spoiled techies, leave your gadgets at home and enjoy nature as it was intended for.
SF7Dragon at REI on 01/01/2014

Useful but still working out the kinks

I was intrigued by this product when REI first starting selling it, especially by the grill attachment. We have had a Whisperlite for years and it has been great for our needs but it has been giving us problems that last couple of times we have been out and it isn't easy to fix fish on. My husband loves to fish in the back country -- it is the main reason we backpack, so having a easy and more reliable way to cook fish with that great smokey flavor (without all the hassle of trying to cook over a campfire) was a reason to look at the Biolite for us. I decided to get it and the grill and tried it a couple of times at home cooking chicken and other foods to see how it would work backpacking. Worked great but was a lot of work to keep the fire going. I was afraid this would be a problem backpacking and we brought our Whisperlite as back up for those times we needed to do something quickly. So we just returned from our maiden voyage with it and this is what we learned:

- It is a bit harder to light than other stoves. I ended up bringing homemade fire starter in the form of cotton balls with vaseline on them. I stuck it on the end of a twig to get it into the fuel area since it isn't exposed like on other stoves. This with some small twigs lit a good fire.

- It does take some work to keep this fire going but it cooked fish, boiled water and earned it's keep. When our Whisperlite stopped working well we were very glad for this backup.

- It does smoke, especially if you put in the wrong fuel or over stuff it. This got irritating.

- Older kids with a facination with fire will love it and can be your fire feeders and fuel collectors

- We had a very hard time keeping a hot enough fire going to charge our phones. This wasn't a priority but it took a very hot fire maintained for a very long time (about 2 hours) with the fan at HI to get any kind of decent charge. Once we got it going to a high enough temp it charged great but we just couldn't seem to get it up to charging temp very often. We found pine cones mixed with twigs work the best to maintain a hot even fire.

- Buy the grill if you want to cook fish or any other larger item in the back country. It is worth the weight and effort. We used it a lot. We cooked tortillas with butter, sugar and cinnamon over it for a yummy treat.

- It is a little unstable, especially for larger pots. You need to keep a handle on your pots for stability. But since you are always feeding the fire it is not that big of a deal.
Blue Vale at REI on 08/08/2013

Great for charging devices on the trail

My girlfriend and I recently bought this for our first backpacking trip. We tested it at home before leaving (I ALWAYS put new gear through testing before taking it anywhere) and it worked great, but needed fuel added every few minutes.

Out on the trail at our campsite, we gathered up a large pile of sticks and twigs, and got this thing going. It took us awhile to get it going due to damp wood, but once going it produced enough heat to dry out damp sticks shortly after adding. We even managed to find dry sticks to add later on, and worried less about wet wood. The only problem is that it still needed to be "fed" every 5 minutes, and our pile of sticks ran out quickly. It took more fuel to keep going because it had to dry out wet stuff before it would burn. I think we ended up scavenging most of the sticks around our campsite inside an hour. This stove was not ideal with damp sticks (no fire is...), and I ended up naming it Garfield on the trip due to its voracious appetite.

The heat coming off of the stove (once the fire was well established) was more than enough to heat up 4 cups of water to boiling for our freeze-dried meals. Unfortunately, that took longer than it should have (and longer than it did in testing) due to constantly having to add fuel and re-position the pot support ring. We bought a JetBoil Sol system as a backup in case of wet wood again. It worked great when testing it, as we had a plentiful supply of bone dry sticks. We still had the same pot support ring issue. You have to use the pot support ring, otherwise you end up all but snuffing out the fire.

All in all, this is a great little device. Once you get it lit, the fan really helps things take off. If you have a lot of smoke and heat, but no flame, just carefully blow into the top of the chamber to displace the smoke. After a few blows, the smoke cleared out and flames took over. The fan kept it blazing from there. Make sure you have a large supply of fuel (larger sticks) to keep the fire going. Keep in mind that the high fan setting gives you more heat, but burns through fuel faster. It takes longer to boil water than backpacking stoves, but it's cheaper in the long run when you don't have to buy fuel cans.

We're keeping this stove and plan to use it when conditions are ideal and dry fuel is plentiful. Also, it's great to have along to recharge our phones, radios, and flashlights. We like how it's useful for cooking, heat, and charging. However, we're going to take along the JetBoil as a backup in case of wet wood again.
EchoNovember at REI on 07/07/2013

Great for Cooking, Not for Charging

Let me just get this over with up front - I would not buy this if my primary purpose were to charge my iPhone or iPad. You need a good 5-10 watts of electricity to solidly charge an iPhone or iPad, and this puts out about 2-3 watts with a good fire.

So, why 4 stars?

I was really impressed at how efficiently this little device will turn anything combustible into a super hot fire. I have used it on the back porch for cooking, making coffee, etc. and it will burn just about anything (including garbage). I took it on a recent kayaking trip to the Ten Thousand islands in Florida and we cooked fish, breakfast, soup, made coffee, and boiled rain water for drinking. I thought it would be a backup to my Snow Peak gas stove, but I ended up relegating the Snow Peak as my backup. I loved not having to worry about running out of fuel, because it is limitless and you can cook a meal with a few handfuls of twigs. If I were an ultralight backpacker, it might be a tough decision, but 33 oz isn't a big deal to me.

We live in the woods in a cabin and I love having it around in case of power failure. If you follow the instructions and dispense with how you think a fire should be lit, it is relatively easy to light. I lit it one afternoon using a magnifying glass in less than 1 minute.

Some things that could be improved:
1) Just one more (larger) thermoelectric generator would provide about enough power to reliably charge an iPhone. Unfortunately, much of the hype for this device centers on its charging capability, which is not its strong suite, leaving many disappointed. For me it's not a big deal because when I'm outdoors, I almost welcome a dead phone.
2) Even if sold as an accessory, a fold-up stand that would hold a heavy pot and that the biolite would slide under to give about 6" of clearance would be a welcome addition. With this, you could feed fuel in without lifting the pot and could heat something really heavy without worrying about breaking the legs. Many (as I) have ended up building something to perform that function.
3) I wish there were a way to easily get rid of ashes without having to dump them and restart the fire. If you stoke the fire some, it will burn up most of them, but they still build up over time, limiting its efficiency.

I am so fascinated by the efficiency of the biolite (especially the potential ability of it to turn rubbish into convenient heat energy) that I'd love to read up on creative ways to use it. I think future iterations have promise for more than just a campstove.
wmart1u at REI on 10/10/2013

The best save for OCD gram weenies

I am a gear junkie. I have well over a dozen backpacking stoves and cook systems. I've tried white gas, isobutane, alcohol, fuel tablets, and other even other biomass stoves. This is my favorite stove to date.

I am weight conscious, but am able to see past the "extremely heavy" weight of 2 pounds. There are many skeptics online, some of the better ones admit they actually haven't used it. The chief complaint is the heavy weight so that it can charge USB devices.

The biolite is the best biomass fuel stove to date. The first generation ones didn't have the USB port - it was designed to be an efficient powerful biomass stove. The power system was added to allow for the high speed fan that burns the wood gas - this allows it to boil FAST (5 minutes by a stopwatch for me). The USB charging function is just frosting. Even if you never use the charging function, this stove is an excellent choice.

Gram weenies swear by their 6 ounce alcohol cooking system made from a cat food can. I tied 5 different alcohol burners (1 homemade, 2 grassroots industry, 2 commercial). I hated waiting 15 minutes for that anemic flame to boil while constantly optimizing the windscreen position.

I tried several different butane stoves - 2.5 ounce titanium, soto fuel regulator, jetboil, pocket rocket, etc. The 8 ounce can for 4 ounces of fuel adds up to that "heavy" 2 pounds very quickly. I found myself carrying 2 partial and one full can most trips - that is 12 ounces just for the empty canisters plus the fuel weight. I found the Brunton FuelTool at REI to get use some of the extra fuel to fill up my lighters. But my lighters didn't go through the gas fast enough to avoid accumulating partials. The cost of these cans add up at $5 a pop. It adds up soo quickly that 25 canisters account for the price of this stove. What other backpacking equipment pays for itself in savings?

Now, for the charging function. The stove will not charge any faster than your car charger. Why all the critics exclaim "It takes 6 hours to charge a battery" is beyond me. The stove will charge at 400 mah; I tested this with a dgital multimeter. It was a constant 400 mah - the company claims faster "peak" but I never saw anything above the rated constant, but conversely nothing below the rated constant either. If your battery is completely depleted, you can get about 30 minutes of talk time with the charge from cooking dinner.

If you're the type of person who shortens toothbrush handles and removes the framsheet from your backpack, this stove is not for you. For most backpackers, I suspect you will not regret the "added weight".
mattblick at REI on 03/03/2013

Product Delivers

I bought this for cycle-camping and overnight hikes (4 or 5 days), weight is always a concern, fuel bottles of any type add weight and as far as I can see the difference between this stove and my white gas or propane stoves including fuel, is about equal. I've heard the argument, as you go the fuel weight decreases but that's a reduction in ounces. I,lose more body weight after a multi day excursion.

But I truly wanted this stove for charging electronics. When cycling I have my Garmin and bike light, and of course, the ubiquitous iPhone, they all charge via USB. I Have a goal zero solar charger and it charges well tooling down the lane in full sun. On the trail, eh? Not so good. So like the good techno geek I am, I bring a charging pack that uses 4 AA's,.....works, but on the iPhone it never holds up to the manufacture's claim, by only charging 60% so I'm stuck lugging around 4 AA's for each day, and carrying them in out.

So does this product hold up to the manufacture's claims? I tested it at home before I took it on a walk..... Ever take a new tent camping only to find the stakes were missing? Me either, I check.

Test:
Per manufactures suggestion I charged the pack (overnight).
I split and cut a piece of 1/2" x 8"x 18" oak board. I dropped a lighted cotton ball coated with a little Vaseline and immediately followed that with some wood shavings. As soon as I could see that the flame took 5-10 seconds, I turned the fan on to low.
Within 5 minutes the flames were strong producing little smoke. At this point (5 mins.) I put on 1 cup of water, it took less that 3 minutes to boil. Perfect.

Now the power module.....
I charged my iPhone 5, 15% in 30 minutes. (From 70 to 85%). Before the fire cooled down and the charging stopped (the green light goes out).
All the wood was consumed in 40 minutes (coals were still hot) at 50 minutes the fuel chamber was cool to the touch, the fan turned off by itself. After an hour I was able to dump the coals. The fire had reduced the wood to pure ash which fit in the palm of my hand.
Today it's a rarity when a product does exactly what it claims it will do. I'm satisfied with the BioLite and this summer it's back on the AT, for a little section hiking. And this time I won't be carrying out empty propane bottles or spent battery's.

Kermit said; it's not easy being green' , he never used this stove.
~o
_'\<,_
( / )/. ( \ )
See you on two wheels!
Bretonman at REI on 03/03/2013

Awesome product, great for kayak camping

I saw this and read some reviews and watched some videos. I recently got into kayaking and was ready to do some overnight stays off my kayak. For those of you who have never camped off of a kayak, you need to pack smart. Weight is not the biggest issue, but space is.

I considered some of the can topper stoves, however I am more interested in being able to grill more than just cook in a pot. The grill attachment is what sold me on this.

I purchased this, along with the grill attachment. This morning, while at home I wanted to test it out for breakfast. Coffee and steel cut oatmeal. I went to the edge of my woods and grabbed a fallen branch of a pine tree and a handful of pine needles. Stuffed the pine needles in the bottom of this, then broke up the twig in 3-5" lengths. Put some small twigs on top. I plugged my iPhone 5 in (it was at 20% battery) and then lit the fire. It comes with fire starter logs, however I find that pine needles work just fine for starting it. It was a bit smoky at first, however it clears up pretty quick once you turn the fan on.
3 minutes after lighting it, I added some more small twigs and a larger piece with a knot in it and then added my water for coffee to the fire.
6 minutes my phone started charging.
7 minutes my water was boiling. Brewed my coffee (AeroPress)
10 minutes added 1.75 cups of water to boil for oatmeal
13 minutes water boiling, added oatmeal
38 minutes oatmeal done
43 minutes charging stopped (30%)

I only used the low fan setting the entire time.

It does get some pretty bad carbon build up on your pots/pans. You have to re-stoke the fire about every 5 minutes or less to keep constant temperature. It is quite stable, and does charge my iPhone, however it is going to take about 6 hours for a full charge from 20%.

I also like that it has a fan to keep the fire going and it is self sustaining as far as recharging the fan. Theoretically if you are in a woods environment you have an unlimited source of fuel and not have to bring fuel with you.

I used the grill attachment tonight to grill 3 burgers and cook some corn. I used a small pot to heat some frozen corn. Grilled them quite well and the extra 1-2" of height on the burn chamber is much nicer with the grill attached.
frederuco at REI on 10/10/2013

A little different but...

Like a few of the others on here - I bought this more as a bit of a gimmick but with a view on hoping it really worked. I'm very very pleased to say that it isn't a gimmick and that it really does work.

First though - this is different. If you are used to more traditional gas or liquid fuel stoves then you will need to change mindset. If you are used to cooking over an open fire, the transition _may_ be easier.

It requires gathering of fuel, it requires lighting and it requires feeding and monitoring. If you are not prepared to do this then don't get it. That said - the above tasks are actually quite relaxing to do in a camping situation. (sort of "back to basics"). It also it a little bit dirty from the smoke that you sometimes get and the little sparks that can blow off. Maybe your pans need extra cleaning?

Now - using the thing:)

Lighting is surprisingly easy. Just throw in some paper or a lighter stick, put on top some small bits wood and light. Leave a few seconds, put on fan and relax - it will light. And that is maybe the point...

Relax...

If you are hyper and wanting everything now - this is not the stove for you.

In use - just keep adding bits of wood, vary the fan speed and enjoy the shiny. It cooks fairly fast. Temperature control is not the easiest but then again - it isn't always that easier with a Trangia or a Whisperlite.

And now the special that really makes this stove stand out - the charging...

What can I say - it just works. Within a few minutes the stove is hot enough to charge with. It's a bit like a bbq in that you need to get the coal hot first. If you rush it - be prepared for sub-standard results. Does it need extra wood to generate the charge? Not really in my experience - but I like a fire. If you do the minimalist fire thing, then no.

Would I recommend this - absolutely with a few caveats...

Be prepared to take your time (and this is not such a bad thing - after all we are going outside for a reason)

Be prepared to change your perspective on camp cooking.

Other situations for this stove?

Anywhere where you have fuel available and you need heat/charging facilities. Survivalist will love it. So will gear freaks. So will many other people:)
Chris Mellor at REI on 06/06/2013

Negative Reviews:

Too much time and fuel

I am very disappointed in this product! First off, the chamber for burning the fuel is very small, so only twigs can be used. After wasting three matches and trying to shove bits of burning tinder down to the bottom I cheated and dropped a cotton ball soaked in Vaseline into the chamber which kept it lit so I could add the twigs. The product comes with a package of solid fire-starter. I didn't use that. I hate the idea of needing to rely on stocking and carrying yet another consumable item. Once it's was burning, I turned on the fan. The fan creates a vortex of flame and really ramps up the temp. Pretty cool to see this tornado of fire! Four minutes after I got it hot the green light came on indicated it was ready to use as a charger. Except it wouldn't change my phone. After wiggling both ends of the connection I switched to another cord which still didn't work. However, eleven minutes after getting that green light the charging indicator on my phone flickered and then held. Cool. My phone was at 27% Six minutes later it was at 28% Another three minutes got it to 29% Then two minutes to 30% but a longer four minutes later 31% then stopped charging. Ten minutes more and many twigs later still did not resume charging so I gave up. Keep in mind this whole time I am feeding twigs into this voracious fire. I had a pot of water to test the amount of time to boil but never got there because I had to keep removing the pot to add more twigs. Because of the intense heat I had the impression that it would have boiled very quickly. The sticks burn completely to ash. I had very little to dump out when I cleaned up later.
Another issue with the twigs. They have to be short. I have boxes of pre-cut finger size twigs as fuel for my kelly kettle and even they were too long. You CAN use longer twigs with the biolite ... just keep shoving them down as they burn. However with twigs sticking out of the top you can't put a pot on top to do any cooking. I spent a lot of time feeding the fire in an attempt to use the charging system. In a camping or down grid situation you would have to dedicate one person to this task, using it at the same time to cook would not be an option, and large amounts of fuel would get used up quickly. The fact that it quit charging tells me it's not a viable product to count on. I'm going to return this product to REI.
I have a solar/crank radio/charger which still remains as my go-to system (and apocalypse bicep work-out).
MouseGirl at REI on 08/08/2013

Doesn't live up to the hype

This stove was hyped for at least two years prior to its release and was delayed several times due to technical issues. And while the final product does seems to do as advertised, it doesn't excel.

The main selling point of this stove was that it can charge your electronic devices while out in the woods using fuel that you can find on the forest floor. While it does this, I do not expect most people to find it useful in this regard once the novelty wears off.

The main drawback is that the power output of the stove seems to be around 400mA. That is less than half of what a generic USB charger puts out, and considering that this stove will be in use for less than 20 minutes while doing most camp cooking, you can imagine that not much power is generated in that amount of time.

I found that if I limited my charging to only the time I was using the stove for cooking, it did not produce enough power to keep my phone running, in airplane mode (which is the lowest power draw), for more than 8 hours. In order to have enough power, I would have to keep the stove running for several hours at a time, and since this stove requires constant tending and a large supply of small sticks, this ends up being a very tedious task.

To add to that, this stove weighs over two pounds. One of the nice ideas with a wood fueled backpacking stove is that you can save carrying the weight of fuel. When compared to other woodstoves, some that are 1/4 of the weight, the performance of this stove does not make up for the added weight. The powered fan might shave 60 to 120 seconds off of your water boiling times, but I find saving pounds of weight in my pack than the one or two extra minutes spent enjoying the nature around me while my food cooks.

I think this stove is great for people who are car camping and want to reduce their fossil fuel consumption or don't like generating lots of empty fuel canisters while camping but don't care all that much about the weight. If you need extra power for electronic devices you are better off carrying a dedicated external battery for charging.
woodlandmonk at REI on 01/01/2014

Almost there

We bought the BioLite after doing a bit of homework on the unit and feeling like we could deal with the weight issue for the charging benefits. Boy were we wrong! First, if it's an option, just buy an extra battery or two. We have Android devices so we've been able to order 3 extra batteries, along with the charging dock, online for about $11. The BioLite was SUPER heavy for what it was. We did all the preliminary charging at home and gave the stove it's first trial run on our back deck. It seemed to work okay. What I didn't figure on was how quickly the battery would go out of charge mode and have to be charged back up. This became apparent on our 1st night. I tried firing up the stove and, once it turned green, I plugged in my phone to charge. The charging lasted about 1 minute and then I had to unplug my phone and feed the fire. This soon became a tedious job. In order to get the a 4% increase on my charge I had to plant myself at the stove and feed it non stop for over an hour. I get the idea and I am really impressed with the work these guys are doing. I just believe that the tech isn't there yet. Kind of like when solar panels came out. Great idea but they still needed some tweaking. I returned the BioLite and bought a MSR Pocket Rocket. REI is great about returning stuff and logging my feedback on the stove. Good people. If you are a car camper and you don't mind having a full time job feeding this little beast to get the smallest of charges, then this is the stove for you.
Karfunkal at REI on 05/05/2013

I really wanted to love this stove!

I followed this stove during prototype and was on the preorder list to buy one when they first hit production but something told me to wait. then when i saw REI carrying them i felt i could now buy with confidence that if it didn't work i would not be stuck with a cool gadget. I have used a few different wood burning stoves, some with a fan and some without. this particular stove burns wood great, nice clean flames and is pretty cool looking. if it was only designed to burn wood i would have given it a higher rating but its suppose to charge your device as well. it does charge intermittently, it cycles between charging its internal battery and your device. ok i just have to keep it going for an hour or so... but the burn chamber is so small that it fills up with ash and you have to dump it out and restart your fire. in the end its just not practical to rely on this stove to charge your device, get a battery storage device you can charge from and maybe go with solar.
AlpineClimber247 at REI on 05/05/2013

Great For Extremely Extended Trips

I bought this product and took it car camping as a trial run. First of all, it's a great concept, but it's heavy. Since weight savings matters, a multi-functional stove could be a great thing. However, I found that if operating on high, you have to constantly add fuel(sticks, etc) which can be a hassle - especially when you're cooking on it. As for battery charging, you had to keep a fire going for a long time, for instance; I ran it for 1.5 hours, bringing my IPad charge up only 5%. If I were backpacking with this stove I couldn't justify it's weight. For the same weight, you could carry a liquid fuel stove, fuel, and solar panel or battery pack, all performing better at their tasks than the BioLite stove. It is sturdy, so it seems as though it may last a long time.
If you found yourself on an extended trip where you might burn through 100-200 minutes of fuel, than this is the stove for you.
Ncolonna at REI on 08/08/2013

Falls well short of being useful

I bought this as a gift for someone and they tried to use it on a camping trip. While it does work, the charging is extremely slow. Worse, it only charged when it had a roaring fire, but the smallness of the chamber meant one had to feed sticks into it almost continuously. This meant that there is no way you can cook anything while charging. Also seemed environmentally unfriendly to keep this tiny wood burning furnace roaring along to very slowly charge an iPhone. After watching my friend give up, I took it back and returned it. An interesting concept, but falls well short of being useful.
2chow at REI on 06/06/2013

Fire restrictions

This is a great stove if there's ever a power outage and for car camping. I would not recommend this stove for backpacking. I live in California and wood burning of any kind is prohibited above 10k feet. This thing weights 2 LBS people, so that automatically eliminated this from any form of backpacking for me, tie that with the fire restrictions and it pretty much makes this stove a novelty. Even for car camping this stove is pretty much a novelty too because you have your car there to charge your things. But if you can spend the money do as you will.
Mons Montis at REI on 02/02/2013

Neutral Reviews:

Great in concept, just isn't for me.

I made a couple of test burns with this stove prior to taking it on a trip. It worked well enough in the backyard that I took it along on a short trip to Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest. At the last minute I decided to take my trusty Brunton Raptor and a can of fuel, just in case... Good thing I did.

I think this stove is excellent in concept, and had the claims NOT been made in regard to utilizing excess generated electricity to recharge devices, I may have actually kept the stove, but only to have around as a back-up at home. The unit would not charge any of my devices.

The stove was a bit more difficult to light in the forest than at home, however things were still a little damp at GPNF, I expect it would have been easier to light had conditions been drier.

Once going, it boiled water fairly quickly, 4 minutes or so, which was fine, I'm not in a rush when I set up camp, but I was cooking for 3 and was interupted continuously to refuel the stove. In the end, the Brunton Raptor was used to augment the cooking.

Our group travels via motorcycles, and even though we can carry a lot of gear and equipment, we still try and keep it compact and light, and this unit is neither.

The stove kept a very strong, pungent smoke odor that permeated everything in the pannier I stowed it in. That might not bother some people, but it bothered me. I don't make a campfire simply because I don't want myself and everything else to smell like smoke.

I also found it difficult to control the temperature. It pretty much has two settings, low and high, which can be interpreted as hot and really hot. It would have been much nicer if the fan speed was variable.

All in all, as I said before, the concept is excellent, and from an environmental standpoint, what Biolite is doing is extraordinary. If they manage to successfully introduce the "cooker" and distrubute it as planned, not only will it have a huge impact on the environment, but also on millions of people who struggle on a daily basis to simply cook what meager meal they may have for the day.

I say above that I'll recommend this to a friend, (overall, it's a very good product) only because even though it's not for me, it could very well be for you!
ReynVann at REI on 06/06/2013

It works, but not very useful.

I've had a Biolite campstove for a little over 4 months now, glad to see REI carrying them finally.

The stove, like all the other reviewers here claims, works perfectly. Its a wood burning stove that produces very little smoke and can charge your usb device while the fire is going.

However, while it works, it's too heavy and bulky to actually be a good backpacking stove. Unlike a modern camp cooking system, say a MSR Reactor or a Jetboil, the Biolite is not an all-in-one system, you need to carry cooking pots and/or cups separately, adding even more mass and weight. Over all, the Biolite (2 lb plus)stove by itself is already more than twice as heavy as a Jetboil system (0.9 lb), and you need to haul cooking pots on top of that weight.

Of course, the up side to all that weight is if you go off the grid for a month, the Biolite can keep on going since all it needs are twigs. It can also charge some of your electronics if you can find enough fuel - and here's the other rub: The Biolite uses the fire's energy to power its fan first, then the left-over current goes to the USB port. This means unless the stove is burning at full capacity, it won't charge anything. Considering a typical phone takes about 4 hours to charge, you'll go through something like 2 trash bag full of twigs. Not very practical. Even in emergency it's easier to just bring spare batteries, that way you don't need to scavenge for twigs and start a fire just so you can charge your phone.

Over all, the Biolite is too small for car camping, too heavy for back packing. It is however a great attention getter, and does lead to some interesting conversations the first time you whip it out at camp. I wouldn't call it gimmicky, and if you need to go off the grid for a long time it's actually a valid choice; but for most normal uses, it's just not practical enough.
ingus at REI on 03/03/2013

nice idea low amperage charging

One must consider how well a device performs the tasks it was created to do in order to appropriately rate the item. As a charger it fails to perform most tasks at all. The reason for this is the low amperage power output. Power output from this device is comparable to the tiny solar panel on an outdoor light - more than you would see from a calculator solar panel, but much less than a portable flexible recharging panel that would fit inside the stove portion of the device. You would spend a LOT of time finding fuel to keep your power hungry smartphone and idevices going for any length of time. Regarding the stove portion: VERY NEAT - the fan blower really makes it more effective than a traditional swiss volcano stove. I'd compare the stove portion to upgrade to that of taking a wood burning stove and converting it to wood pellets - the air mix really does help it to burn more efficiently. BUT BEWARE - you'll occasionally get hot embers that blow out of the stove - so clear where you intend to burn before lighting it.
renaissanceredneck at REI on 05/05/2013

Great Stove, Poor Charger

This works amazing as a stove! Only downside is you have to take off your pots to add more wood. I found it works best to cut 1" diameter sticks about 5 inches long once the fire gets going they will fit perfect.

People say the stove is big but it's about the size of a nalgene bottle and you don't have to carry fuel which is a huge plus! Boiled a liter of water in about 3 minutes once the stove was heated up and burning ( by the way takes little effort to get it going hot)

This did not charge my phone at all. I have a Nexus 4 while the phone was on the charging symbol would go on and off every second so it wasn't putting out a constant charge. I had my phone off and kept the stove burning strong for at least an hour and didn't charge it at all. Once the phone was dead completely the charger wouldn't put out enough charge for the phone to turn on. It may work with other devices but wouldn't charge my phone.
Uncledeege at REI on 04/04/2013

Wet wood, no good.

We were excited to try out the BioLite after getting it as part of the Kickstarter campaign. After going through the information on the BioLite website we tested it and our firemaking abilities in a local park. It worked great, and added a 15 percent charge to an Android phone in about 20 minutes, simultaneously helping us make s'mores.

We took the stove on a longer car camping trip. We arrived after a few days of rain, so most of the wood around was wet, and did not catch fire. Admitedly, we probably should have brushed up on our fire making skills before leaving, but found it frustrating to scurry around the campsite looking for dry wood after a long day, only for the fire not to start.

We'll try it again during warmer weather, but are carrying another stove as a backup, along with a battery pack to charge our phones.
Cody - Bike Touring at REI on 03/03/2013

Good, Bad or Ugly?

I saw it used before I bought so few surprises. USB charger is a gimmick but does not detract from utility of burner itself. Main problem is achieving and maintaining a clean/efficient/hot burn. As far as I have established so far a good burn requires a very low fuel mositure content. I know two other owners, both of them collect, dry & carry their fuel from home. This detracts from the supposed advantage of a stove you can fuel on the go (unless you operate in very arid areas). Nevertheless I like it - but you need to have it burn with a blue (gas) flame before it becomes efficient, not dancing yellow flames; this can be hard to achieve without really dry wood.
BioShite at REI on 04/04/2013

Interesting but prohibitively heavy

I saw this online and thought it was such a great idea, so I bought one. I liked the idea of not having to use fuel cans and of having a minicamp fire to create ambience and warmth on a cool night while backpack camping, and, of course, being able to charge my phone from it. The problem is that the unit is just so darn heavy and bulky. It's roughly twice the size of 220 g fuel canister and 3 times the combined weight of the MSR Microrocket stove and 22O gram cannister. So in the end I returned it for the Microrocket wishing somehow it weren't so heavy and bulky. Great idea but just not practical.
jupiter122 at REI on 04/04/2013

It's ok

It does what it advertises. After using it on a 3 day backpacking trip, I feel like it did everything I needed. I was able to boil water really fast, I was able to charge an apple iphone phone 20% (it took 6 hours of buring wood to get a 20% charge). It is a little heavy for my taste, but I want to give it another try in the winter and see what happends. After charging for 6 hours only for 20% battery life it may not be worth the weight for me personally. Also it rained on our trip and finding dry wood to get this thing going was pretty tough.
ChrisM987 at REI on 08/08/2013

Great little stove to boil water

Used this stove at a high altitude. The stove was easy to light and fire was very hot. I was able to boil water in about ten minutes. The stove also did recharge my iPhone. I did however have to collect a lot of wood to keep it running.
Ed the angler at REI on 09/09/2013