Such is the popularity of the BioLite Camp Stove that I have had to wait six months to get my hands on one to review. First impressions are of a tidy, well thought out design that oozes quality (right). For those of you who are new to this product, the Biolite Camp Stove is a multi-award winning compact cook stove which runs on twigs, fir cones or any other dry bio-mass you can find. It burns very efficiently because the combustion air is provided by a two-speed electric fan. This then is a fan assisted wood gasification/rocket stove which can burn its own smoke with up to 90% efficiency (top and left). The problem with fan assisted wood stoves is that the batteries run down and need recharging or replacing. The BioLite neatly avoids this by generating its own electricity via a thermo-electric generator. This technology is borrowed from its sister product the BioLite Homestove, a rocket stove for use in developing countries, which can also charge mobile phones. Some of the fire's heat is used by the thermo-electric generator to charge the battery running the fan (this battery does require an initial charge via USB to start things off). When the fire is burning strongly the unit will generate more electricity than it needs and this spare capacity can be used to charge your mobile phone, gps, torch, etc.
In our tests we found it lit very easily using some pine cones and, with the fan on 1, quickly developed a strong fire. Twigs were added and the fan switched to 2. After an initial smoky stage the wood gasses ignited, resulting in a very hot and clean burn.
This boiled the water for tea very quickly (1litre in 5mins approx), and I tried recharging my iPhone 4S (right) at the same time. This did work but you would need to keep the fire going for some time for a full charge (officially 20mins charge = 60mins talk time). However as a highly efficient, very portable (below), and environmentally friendly cook stove, it's hard to beat.
The BioLite Camp Stove is available from Green Shopping