I went camping with my daughter this weekend. I don’t go camping very often these days, so when I do it’s fun to take the opportunity to buy a little gear from REI. This time I got myself a BioLite stove.
Most camping stoves use gasoline. You have a bottle of gasoline and there’s this little tube that runs over to an open flame. They’re designed to be safe of course, but I always feel like I’m tinkering with a bomb. Camp stoves make me nervous. Not to mention the fact that you have to carry around heavy bottles of fuel that might leak and turn your backpack into biohazard or a Hindenburg-like ball of flame. The BioLite, though admittedly on the heavy side, lets you replace the bottled white gasoline with the sticks you find around your campsite.
It has a thermo-electric element that runs an electric fan. This fan pumps air into the burn chamber the same way that the blacksmith uses bellows to superheat his coals. And VOOM! those sticks burn like mad! No problem at all to boil water or cook. You just need to keep feeding in the twigs. The fact that the fuel is so low tech does away with my immolation anxiety. It also gives you a convenient way to start a fire if you have access to a fire pit. Finally, assuming naturally occurring fuel is present, it takes away the “range anxiety” of worrying about how many nights your fuel will last.
The BioLite represents all that is great about the marriage of high-tech and common sense. I recommend it.