Biolite-Review-GearChase

Biolite Product Review

Travis Gneiting Feature, Reviews

BioLite started back in 2006 when founders Alec Drummond and Jon Cedar designed a new camping stove. They were looking for alternates to gas canisters. They were determined to find a way to cook more efficiently with wood and a smarter way was born. After 3 years of R&D they had a stove that worked. This led to the BioLite HomeStove. BioLite has consistantly been trying to improve the global community with a philosophy of applying efficient design to real world problems.

We will take a look at some of the products the BioLite is currently selling on the market and our opinion on them. We will test and use each product let you know our likes and dislikes.

BioLite Power Light and Battery

The BioLite NanoGrid LED Lantern comes with a built in USB charger for your cell phones, GoPro(R), and other USB charged electronics.  It weighs in at just over 9 oz and can be configured with many different lighting options and brightness.  The warm, yet powerful light can be used to light up a tent, or on a night hike to light up the trail with the powerful

In the Box

  • BioLite Powerlight/Lantern
  • USB Charging Cable
  • Instructions (Trust us you will need these)
  • 2 SiteLights

Torch Vs Lantern

The torch refers to the two 250 Luman lights on the front of the PowerLight.  Perfect for finding your way on the trail or in the home.  The Lantern provides 200 Lumans of light in multiple array of options including one side, both sides and a dim-able option as well.

Edge Technology

Edge technology provides a panel that bends light and provides a more ambient light source.  With the unique textured pattern the LED light is directed in a pattern that allows even light from top to bottom and around the edges of the light.  A great reading light or small lantern for a tent.

Charging

The NanoGrid is backed with a 4,400 mAh Lithium-ion battery.  This is usually enough to charge most phones a couple times of course depending on the variables.  BioLite claims that you should be able to use the light and top off your phones a few times.  This seems reasonable enough for a weekend long camping trip or outing away from the home outlet. The unit can be charged from a home outlet or the BioLite Stove.

SiteLights

The light weighs daisy-chained SiteLights plug right into the PowerLight and provide an ambient corded light source for a larger coverage.  The SiteLights are dimable to set the perfect mood.  Each SiteLite has a 10 foot cord that is neatly self contained around the light.  Design has never had to be argued for BioLite products.  The SiteLights store together with a magnet to keep them tangle free in your bag.  For an extra $29.95 we think it’s well worth the addition of 2 more SiteLights for a maximum allowed 4 SiteLights.  Each Light can produce 150 Lumans of light via the 2.5 mm connector.  BioLite claims that after one charge of your cell phone you can still get 36 hours of use on low power, or 8 hours of use on high power with the light (when using 2).

Final Words on the PowerLight and SiteLights

While the BioLiteh SiteLight might not be your first light to grab for your next backpacking trip, it has been a great light/lantern for family camping.  With it’s easy mounting options we drape it from the trees while preparing s’mores and bring it to the tent at night for a dim-able light that lights up any size tent.  The Torch feature is perfect for grabbing some late night goodies out of the cooler or a mid-night potty break.  There are many electric lanterns on the market, but for the compact size, with phone charging capabilities as well as the option to add satellite lights it’s hard to pass up the SiteLight as a great option for an all around do it all light.

We would like to see some minor improvements with a later version.  The buttons are hard to press, especially if your hands are cold.  Additionally, while the SiteLight seems somewhat water resistant, we couldn’t find any claims that the light was OK getting rained on.  I’d with USB Ports, and 2.5 mm connectors on the light, I’d like to know I’m going to be OK with it if it’s hanging in a tree and happens to get rained on.

The price seems a little high when compared to other outdoor electric lanterns, but most Lanterns don’t come close to the features and options of the BioLite.  Not only are you getting a powerful lantern, but also a bright spotlight, additional SiteLights, as well as portable power to charge your electronics, all with plenty of power to get you through the weekend.

  • Fun Ambient light source
  • Many uses outside of camping
  • Lots of Juice to charge electronics
  • Fully adjustable brightness of lantern
  • Satellite lights
  • Hard to push buttons
  • Hard to replace USB cover
  • So many button combinations it gets confusing
  • Hub Cover hard to close

BioLite CampStove

“Don’t buy this stove to charge your electronics”GearChase.com

Overview

A lot has been said about the BioLite stove over the last couple of years, with nearly a hundred reviews of  the stove easily found on line anywhere from Amazon (Currently 4.5 Star Rating) to REI.com (Currently 4 star rating).  There is also a lot of negativity around the BioLite stove in forums and other rants along the way.  Seems you can find someone saying something about the BioLite Camp Stove to support just about any topic you want.  One thing is for sure, BioLite is still around as a company, people are using the stoves so why so much buzz around this little product.

Most of the arguments are around fuel, weight and the charger.  If you can get past these the Camp Stove is a pretty great little outdoor cooker.  There is some truth to the online discussion there is a lot of fuel needed to cook and the stove can be quite smokey, but it’s not a deal breaker for the use of the stove.

Fire

The stove starts up so easy, with just a lighter we had a small flame as we chucked in a few pieces of kindling into the stove.  Hit the power button and the fan kicks on.  It’s like pouring gas on the twigs, they burst into a roar when the fan is running.  We gave the stove a few minutes to warm up, loaded it full of wood and it was ready to cook.  While the heat of the stove felt very hot, it still took longer than expected and multiple refills of wood before we were able to boil water or cook meat on the grill.

Charger

Don’t buy this stove because you want it to charge your electronics.  The charger is clearly a novelty,something to use when your extremely board, or in an emergency situation.  If your serious about charging electronics in the outdoors do yourself a favor and get a portable power bank,  or the or a solar charger.  Of course each device has it’s downfalls (like no sun to charge) but the BioLite stove would be our last choice to charge any electronic, it just takes too long.

With our testing it took about 2 hours to get above half way charge, and consent feeding of wood meant we couldn’t go far.  If you were waiting to boil water, or cook some thing you may be able to get a 5 to 10% bump in your battery which hardly seems worth it.

Build and Design

The stove stores well inside a stuff sack as well as the fan and charging unit store inside the stove itself.  The construction of the stove seems fairly durable with the weight, but could easily be damaged if kicked, packed too tight, or sat on.  The fan and charging unit feels very durable because of the weight.  It would be fairly hard to accidentally damage it.

The overall design is sleek looking, and pairs well with the grill and pot accessory.  It’s was surprisingly stable with the grill and other items attached.

Final Thoughts

A side from the novelty of cooking with a tiny wood stove vs a fire or gas stove the BioLite stove is pretty cool.  It has it’s place in backpacking and family fun.  We wouldn’t recommend a serious backpacking as an ultralight stove.  It would however be great for simple single or dual camping trip.  In some places where campfires are not allowed, the BioLite stove can still be used, however check before you start pulling out your stove at the campgrounds.  The stove earns great style points, and may save you in a survival situation, but as for a go to stove for camping we suggest something more packable.

  • No carrying fuel around with you (Assuming you can find dry wood where you are heading)
  • Convenient and fun to use (I’m not sure if it’s the fire but there is something cool about loading in wood and watching the fan turn it into an oven)
  • Burns wood completely even when covered
  • Covers everything in soot including un-wrapped food
  • Too heavy for serious backpacking (2 lb+)
  • It’s very hungry, contently feeding it wood
  • No battery for power storage (a fire has to be burning for it to produce power)
  • 2 to 3 hours of feeding wood every 10 min for charging a phone, camera, or other electronics

BioLite Grill

The Grill

The grill is a great addition to the BioLite stove. It actually provides some usefulness to the flame other than trying to charge your battery or boil water. It provides a nice stable cooking surface and a range of cooking temperatures.

Cooking

When cooking with the grill, it is hard to keep the flames under control. With the need to constantly add wood to the fire, the grill is pron to major smoking problem depending on the fuel your using, and don’t think of it as hickory smoked bacon, think of it as Marlboro man smoking. The solution we found to keeping our meat and veggies from tasting like ash was to always use foil to wrap the cooking contents and use more dense woods.

Clean-up

Another downside is cleanup, the grill is pretty black after cooking with all that wood. It cleans up easily with soap and water, but not that fun to handle when on the trail. When cooking burgers or other greasy food it can become a real mess.

Usefull

The grill is a great emergency preparedness item that would be great if you had nothing else to use, but don’t plan on using it as your weekend grill. It would however be great for tailgaiting and it’s sure to attract attention.

Conclusion

Overall if you own the BioLite stove the grill is a must have accessory. It’s very stable when on a flat surface and while cooking with it requires a lot of maintenance and babysitting it’s still fun to cook with and pretty cool to think that your grilling with stuff you collected from your yard. It would be nice to have a little griddle that went along with it for some breakfast cooking.

BioLIte KettlePot Review

BioLite KettlePot

We have to say that the BioLite KettlePot is the absolute must have companion to the BioLite stove. We had heard rumors of individuals waiting 45 min to boil water so we were a little sceptical but with our testing we fell in love with the KettlePot, even more so than the grill.

First we started the stove up and let it get up to temperature for a few minutes, stocked the stove with as much wood as we could fit in there and set 5 cups of cold water on in the KettlePot and waited to see what would happen. We were using dried pine, and were surprised at having to only refill the stove with wood once to get the water to boil.

After about five minutes we felt like the water was getting hot so we poured a glass and stuck a thermometer in it, it was about 150 degrees fahrenheit. We waited another 5 minutes and the water was boiling.

We repeated this process a couple times and the water boiled faster the next few times we tried, probably because the BioLite pot has already warmed up.

Even though this is a little large, and a little heavy, the design, functionality, and features outweigh the negatives for us. This will be our goto pot for future outdoor activities.

  • The KettlePot sits nice and secure on the stove, and is a perfect match. The handles are coated in a nice silicone rubber as well as the seal around the top with the cover.
  • The KettlePot lid fits nice and secure and pours very well.
  • BioLite is known for great design, and the KettlePot is no different. It houses the stove perfectly.inside the KettlePot for storage.
  • Some of the things we didn’t like was how hot everything gets.  The lid gets extremely hot with boiling water in it.  When trying to remove the lid with boiling water in it, it’s very easy to get hot flashes from the steam escaping.
  • While everything you need for boiling water on a hike can be taken with you, there are smaller lighter options.  However, this is a larger than average pot for water, it’s still cool to be able to gather some sticks, throw them in the stove and boil water in a few minutes.

Bottom Line

BioLite has some great products that are built with design and functionality while they may not be the first go to choice for everyone the stoves have their place. We think the BioLite stove and charger are a great emergency preparedness item that could benefit any home. If in dire need of charging a cell phone or boiling water the stove is more convenient that trying to start a large camp fire and fairly efficient at cooking food. It would work great for small backpacking outings and just for fun in the back yard.

BioLite is a pretty great company too, doing great things to help less fortunate communities all over the world cook and provide power with their HomeStove. We look forward to more innovative products coming from BioLite in the future.

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