Cook your food and charge your phone with sticks and leaves? Tell us more!
Every now and then, I see a product I simply have to have. The BioLite 2 stove is one such product, and so far it has been an absolutely awesome investment. It is light, small, powerful and practical… well, except in a total fire ban. I’ve owned it now for six months, so it is time to do a full review. I’d also like to make it clear, this was purchased by myself (with my own money) and BioLite is not an advertiser. I simply think this is a brilliant product that will come in handy for tourers looking to save a bit of space.
WHAT IS IT?
The BioLite 2 is the big brother to the original BioLite when it comes to features. It is a portable camping stove that has an inbuilt fan powered by a battery pack. This converts heat energy from the fire into energy you can use to charge your phone or devices. So basically, fire charges the fan which makes more fire and heat which can then charge your devices while cooking your breakfast. How cool is that? There’s also a fair few accessories (which I don’t have yet) including a grill and a kettle – for a truly modular piece of camp cookware.
What makes the BioLite 2 even better than the original is a more powerful battery pack. There’s also additional indicators on the front of the unit that show you how much charge the battery has, which fan speed setting you have activated (there are four speeds), and how much heat the fire is producing (the hotter it gets, the more power it produces). Inside the stainless steel centre there are holes drilled throughout – which circulate air and heat something fierce. If you are worried about this being a gimmick, forget that. This thing will happily cook anything it can hold. Being so small and light, you probably wouldn’t be putting a camp oven with a leg of lamb on it; but a few snags etc in a camp frypan presents no problems at all. The BioLite 2 arrived with a USB cable, a carry pouch, some fire starters (which are really good) and an adjustable LED light that is dimmable. So now your cooking, charging and lighting duties can be handled by one product that weighs less than a longneck of beer. What a time to be alive!
DOES IT WORK?
Yep, simply put, as a stove this pumps out an incredible amount of heat once it gets going. Sure, it is a little bit more involved than clicking a gas cooker to ‘on’, but you also don’t have to bring fuel with you. I find small wood chips have been the best thing to use, as well as pine cones. Sticks tend to stand too tall, but they’re a good way to get the fire started. On my last trip I forgot to put the BioLite 2 on charge before leaving, and I used the device to recharge my phone without the fire on. This severely hampered the performance. If the unit is charged, it will recharge your phone rather quickly. We found when it was flat it would take 30 minutes to gain 10-15% charge on a phone battery (as the energy created by the fire was attempting to keep the fan running at the same time as charging the internal battery and charging the phone).
Pro Tip: Charge it fully before leaving home, and you will most likely never need to charge it via the supplied USB cable again.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Quite simply, I have no answer other than… science. After digging around for information, I stumbled across this video made by the BioLite Engineers – which explains things better than I ever could.