By Jason Herbert

Being a self described “Modern Backwoodsman”- I thrive on opportunities to get out and “unplug,” but I still also depend on a limited amount of technology. I also pride myself on being prepared for emergencies, and I like the peace I have in my heart knowing if something were to happen, my family would be prepared. Plus… I have a strong faith and know that God created us to eat naturally, heat with wood, and live off the land!

So, when I learned of the BioLite CampStove – that not only cooks, but charges electronic devices, I was very curious and started to do a bit of research. I learned that the small CampStove burns biomass and is capable of doing anything a open pit fire could do. With an attachable grill and boiling pot, the possibilities for cooking with this are endless. Also, through an internal thermoelectric generator, the camp stove produces 2 watts of energy to charge a smart-phone, a headlamp, an LED lamp, cameras, etc…

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The concept of the stove is quite simple and very efficiently designed. The stove itself is a solid steel cage with triple collapsing legs stands, and the generator is stored in the cage when not in use. All I had to do was pull out the generator, attach it to the stove, set the legs, and start my fire. Internally, a heat probe captures any waste heat from the fire and is routed to the thermoelectric generator. The generator uses the waste heat in two different ways. First the generator runs a fan to cycle fresh air into the fire improving combustion efficiency. In fact, this stove is so efficient the company claims it is on par with a white gas stove. Second, any surplus energy is ran through a charging cable and attached to whatever electronic device on hand, in my case, my smart-phone.

Fueled by biomass such as sticks, twigs, pine cones, etc… it was east for me to find fuel sources. I used sticks, leftover chunks of wood from my wood pile, and the scattered debris from under my pine trees that my chicken flock so easily spreads.

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The company offers an attachable grill screen, but we chose to go old fashioned and grilled hot dogs with sticks. The kids always LOVE this, and I really appreciated the controlled, small fire versus the traditional raging bonfire that always makes a parent nervous. I also liked the smokeless flame design so my kids and I weren’t getting a face full of thick wood smoke. When they all ate their fill and distracted by bugs to catch, I threw in some more fuel and going out the KettlePot to boil water. I liked the concept of the KettlePot before I even used it. Serving the same purpose as a kettle and a pot, it can boil water, cook food, and do just about anything else someone can think of. I like how the CampStove fits into the KettlePot, for easy of storage and transport. I decided to get back to my humble college roots and cook up a batch of noodles. The Kettle Pot worked like a charm, and with the folding insulated handles, nobody got burned. I’m excited to try making coffee in it next time.

All the while, I had forgotten about my phone being charged. It was dead when I put it on, and after about an hour of burning, it had charged to 15%. I use the bulletproof Casio Commando military grade smart phone. With all of my phone’s bells and whistles, it doesn’t charge fast. But… I already had enough juice to make an emergency call or get a GPS reading.

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I mentioned previously I liked how compact everything packed down to. The KettlePot comes with a storage bag, and with the stove in it, the whole thing doesn’t weigh more than three pounds. I like this setup for several reasons. First and foremost, it relies on a local fuel source that everyone has easy access to: biomass. I do everything in my power to live “off the grid,” and if I do not have to buy petroleum based fuel sources, the happier I am. Second, it’s perfect for just about everyone. Family’s with small kids, campers, hikers, hunters, fishermen, survivalists, etc… Anyone who loves to be outdoors, and for whatever reason, might need to recharge device now and then.

I see myself getting another set of BioLite gear; one for my home and camping/hunting trips, and another for our “bug-out-bag” in case of an emergency. I see the BioLite system as the perfect survival cooking setup. It’s light and easy to carry. It uses a renewable fuel source. It can cook food, boil water, and recharge electronic devices. Also, the BioLite CampStove is smokeless, where if someone were to want a small, discreet fire they could have it.

I’m all about the DIY mentality, and I don’t like to purchase anything unless I have to. However, until I figure out how to make a thermoelectric generator, I think this BioLite setup is a good investment. For more information, please visit www.biolitestove.com.