This issue of Four Wheeler is dedicated to camping, and things have gone pretty high tech in that industry. We’re talking solar-powered flashlights and solar-powered gadget chargers. Solar-powered shovels and solar-powered insect repellent are on the horizon. We’re assuming.
What’s also available in the solar world is camp stoves. Cool concept, but that would mean waiting eight hours for the sun to heat up a bowl of soup. We’re assuming.
We instead opted for the next best new technology in camp cooking, the BioLite Stove (www.biolitestove.com). It’s super lightweight and compact, making it a seamless addition to your gear, especially if you’re used to throwing a stove in your backpack for a hike to the river for fishing or what not. You probably won’t even notice this in your bag. You also won’t need to deal with carting around fuel; sticks and twigs play that role. You might have noticed the word “bio” in the product name, so you realized there’d be an environmental theme here. We’re assuming.
By using renewable things for fuel—those sticks and twigs—there’s less of a carbon footprint compared to a regular food fire. How it works is, you throw the fuel in the canister (or what they call “fuel chamber”) and use the internal fan to get the fire going. You read that correctly: the stove has a fan, which is powered by a lithium ion starter battery. Think of this as, you can now outsource the job of blowing lightly or really hard on a fire to make it burn and therefore create enough heat and flame to cook food.
That’s not the only advancement made in stoves in this century: The BioStove has a USB slot for charging phones and other petite electronic devices. The more heat generated, the quicker the recharge. It was indeed fast, as long as we kept the fire roaring. BioStove converts fire into electricity, again keeping with the environmentally friendly theme. Think of it as fire = heat = electricity = recharge of battery = fan turns on = extra electricity available for gadget charging. It was kind of freaky to be cooking a meal (small fire in the hole) while a phone rapidly made its way to a full charge. Freaky in that this isn’t your caveman ancestor’s cookery.
Keeping the fire going is simply a matter of adding more dry goods, but trust us, you’ll want to gather plenty of the fuel before you get anywhere near starting the process of cooking a meal. We burned through a lot quickly and it became a scramble to maintain a full fire. However, even with the contents down to a smolder, when we did add the new fuel, throwing the fan on high brought it back to life immediately. If you have access to slower burning woods—like oak—use them. We had to use soft woods, and constant refueling was required.
About food: The kit comes with an attachment for using a pot, and boiling water that way takes mere minutes. We used the open flame for roasting marshmallows. There’s also an optional portable grill, with a pop-top for dropping in fuel, meaning you don’t have to mess with moving the grill or that open flame. We tried various types of food on the grill—stemmed vegetables worked great; shaved corn was a disaster, because only Two Idiots Outside would try that given the grill’s wide slats. Heating solid food took awhile because we were in constant fueling mode, so next time we’ll cut the solids into smaller portions to make for quicker, more even cooking. Mashed salmon and burger looks as good as it sounds.
We were a little surprised by how broken-in the grill looked after only its first use. Then again, most of our go-to camping gear has that worn look because it’s roughed it with us on some of our favorite adventures. The stove let us know it was ready to fit right in with the rest of our regularly used gear. We’re assuming.
At A Glance
Weight: 33 oz
Dimensions: 8.25 x 5 in.
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Dimensions (unfolded): 9.5 x 12 x 10.5 in.