A cynic might call the new BioLite CookStove “a fire that can run out of batteries.” But having used the original CampStove dozens of times since its release, I’d counter that it’s “a camp stove that doesn’t require you bring any fuel.”
With a battery-powered fan on the side creating an air vortex inside the steel burn chamber, the CookStove allows you to use “renewable biomass”—think twigs, tiny chunks of wood, whatever is around—to create a high-temperature, relatively smokeless cooking fire. A scalloped top holds pots or kettles (including BioLite’s own $50 KettlePot, although nearly any cookware will do), leaving just enough room to slip in more twigs to keep the cowboy coffee boiling.
Unlike its bigger brother the CampStove, the CookStove can’t recharge its own battery using heat from the fire (but it does have a 30-hour battery that charges over Micro-USB in a little less than two hours). On the flipside, it’s $30 cheaper, at around $100. So while charging an LED headlamp or your phone with fire–as the CampStove can do–is a neat trick, it’s the ability to leave gas canisters at home and cook over a smokeless wood fire that’s the real draw. If you plan on being out in the wild for longer than a week, use the money you’ll save towards one of BioLite’s new SolarPanel 5+ charging stations with a built-in battery ($80) to charge up both your CookStove and other electric gadgets.