Ever since I've first heard about this wondrous stove that can let you cook your food and charge your devices, I have wanted it. Add the fact that they originally make the HomeStove to donate and bring fuel and energy to developing areas, and by purchasing their CampStove™ models help fund that good deed, it added to that "want".
So I researched about it along with information as to where I can procure such a device. I'm usually hesitant of purchasing gear and gadgets that involved big $$$ via online shopping. I would need to physically see it, hold it, feel it.. and maybe even give it a little caress to hear it speak to me before I throw all my money at it.
I was thankful to find out that my local REI store carries it. So, off I went to see if we were meant to be together. My "want" changed into "need", as soon as my eyes set on its catchy orange color and a picture of a phone charging in its packing. However there were 2 factors keeping me from flying to the registers, after studying it: its weight and it's main fuel, the twigs! Go figure, why would I still want it, right? It is called a wood burning stove! Derp moment.
I backpack more often than I car camp, and with weighing slightly more than 2 lbs, there goes the weight issue. And where we usually end up cooking & pitching up tents, camp fires are restricted, which usually also means including word burning stoves. So, snapping back to reality and priorities, I reluctantly left the store empty handed.
A year, almost 2, later, I received one for Christmas! I didn't get to try it out immediately upon receiving it, but finally did during our volunteer clean up in Sequoia National Park when we decided to make it into a car camping trip, as well. Putting it together was a cinch. Attach here to there.. unfold legs.. set up on a flat sturdy area.. put twigs.. light up fire starter.. yadda yadda. What they forgot to mention, and so I'm putting it on here.. is to gather lots and lots and lots of twigs of all sizes (have I said lots, yet?) before ever starting. Otherwise you'd be going for several twig runs while hurrying to come back to your stove to not let the fire burn out, 'cause the flames sure do eat those little twigs fast! Think, Garfield with lasagna.
We mostly heated water with it for our drinks, we didn't really cook that trip (we had free lunch and packed dinner from the volunteer event). But judging from the looks of how it works, it is practically similar to cooking in an open fire; it'll make your pot turn black. This reminded me of my childhood days cooking on one of those iron/steel charcoal/wood burning stoves, as some Filipino dishes are best made on a clay pot atop an open fire. Although with the BioLite Camp Stove, I'm a bit unsure how one will be able to cook a full meal with it since the fuel container is not that big and the twigs get burned faster. We were constantly adding more and more twigs to it as we continue to feed.
It works! We were able to fully charge Kari's iPhone 4. to give gauge, (And sorry, I only took note of the time & percentage once during the whole time it was charging) in 15 minutes, the BioLite Camp Stove was able to charge the phone by 8%.
What's my take?
Although, I wouldn't take this with me backpacking on multi-day trips because of its weight, this is still good for car camping trips for us. Plus, this is also perfect as a backup power if a long power outage ever occurs at home base (preppers anyone?). It sure was useful to some New Yorkers on the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.