BioLite Camp Stove 2+: Tested and Reviewed
After using the BioLite CampStove 2+ for four months living in my van, here are my honest thoughts
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BioLite is a well-known brand dedicated to empowering people and protecting the planet. While they may be best known for their lighting and charging products, they also offer various bio-powered stoves for off-grid cooking setups. What sets the BioLite Camp Stove 2+ apart from other camping stoves is that it runs on biofuel. So, there’s no need to carry around a fuel canister; all you need are some dry twigs, leaves, pine needs, or even some product packaging that is safe for burning.
After using the BioLite Camp Stove 2+ for almost a year (including four months as my primary cook stove while on the road), I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs cooking in snow, wind, and rain. While getting a perfectly consistent boil time on this stove is a bit of a learning curve, my general takeaway is that this stove is not for everyone. Here’s my honest review of the BioLite Camp Stove 2+, including the complete cook kit.
BioLite Camp Stove 2+ Overview and Specifications
- Weight: 3.06 lbs
- Dimensions: 10.20” x 5.20″ (kettle pot)
- Live Power Output: 3 watts peak
- Boil Time: 4.5 minutes, claimed by BioLite
- Battery: 3,200 mAh
The BioLite Camp Stove 2+ uses a patented combustion technology to create a vortex, essentially creating a small portable smokeless campfire. You can burn any biofuel that fits within the stove, including small twigs, tree bark, pinecones, leaves, cardboard, or BioLite wood pellets. When paired with the entire cook set, the camp stove has a pot for boiling water and a grill attachment for cooking other food.
What’s included in the BioLite Camp Stove 2+ Complete Cook Kit:
- Integrated 3,200 mAh battery
- USB Cord
- CampStove 2+
- Portable Grill
- FlexLight 100
- Kettle Pot
- BPA-Free High Temp Top
- Coffee Press
What makes the BioLite stove different than other wood-burning stoves like the Solo Stove is that it captures waste heat through the probe attached to the orange power bank. The heat is converted into electricity through the thermoelectric generator. The internal fan runs off the power generated, and any excess energy can be stored in the internal battery. To get ahead of the charge, the power bank can also be charged ahead of time using the micro USB port on the bottom of the battery. The fan is an essential part of the system since the air it generates injects back into the burn chamber for a more efficient smokeless burn.
How to Use the BioLite Camp Stove 2+
The BioLite Camp Stove 2+ is surprisingly easy to use, but if you’re transitioning from a standard propane, butane, or isobutane camp stove, there may be a learning curve. Luckily, BioLite sends detailed instructions to help you get set up, and they also have numerous resources on their website to ensure the stove is utilized correctly.
The BioLite Camp Stove 2+ is a two-part stove system, including the stainless steel burn chamber and the orange power bank. The complete cook kit includes a kettle that allows the burn chamber to nest inside. If you only have the stove, the power bank still nests inside the burn chamber for easy storage.
For stove setup, all you need to do is insert the power module probe into the designated slot on the burn chamber and lock it into place by extending the legs below. Since this is a wood-burning stove, it is crucial to remove any brush or debris from the area and set up the stove on stable ground or a sturdy table.
To get the first started, seek out quality fuel. I found that using harder wood is ideal—it provides a longer burn time, and can increase heat output. The best results I had with a fire for cooking came from using the BioLite wood pellets in combination with dry hardwood (oak and maple) twigs. The pellets are an excellent option if you’re cooking for longer periods because the burn time is longer than the biofuel you’d find around camp. Avoid using damp or green wood, which will cause excess smoking and may snuff out a fire you already have. Note: The BioLite stove is not compatible with charcoal or liquid fuels.
Once you’ve gathered the biofuel you’ll be using, lightly pack the chamber. Avoid overstuffing or packing the sticks too tightly in the stove because this restricts the airflow from the fan and prevents proper combustion necessary to allow the stove to function. The fuel should also stay below the last row of air jets (about 3/4 of the way up) because cook accessories won’t fit atop the stove and can be a hazard for the user. Utilize the fire started included with your stove or one you’ve purchased. Light the fire started and place it inside the stove or use a long-stemmed lighter to light the fire started inside the chamber (this works best for windy conditions).
The fan automatically kicks in when the fire is hot enough, but you can also press the power button twice to turn the fan on manually. If the fire is too small, turning the fan on prematurely may put the flame out. As the fire starts to heat up, you can add larger pieces of fuel for a hotter fire and to reduce the amount of refueling needed during cooking.
Be cautious not to have too big of a flame—keeping the fan on the first or second setting is typically enough to maintain a healthy flame, especially if you’re using the grill for cooking. The stove may overheat if the flames shoot out of the top, or the fire becomes too hot. If the fire is too hot, stop refueling and lower the fan speed to reduce airflow to the fire. You’ll know the stove is beginning to overheat when the LED heat lights begin flashing to warn that the battery needs time to cool down. The fan also automatically turns to the highest setting to assist in a speedy cool-down process. If the stove can’t cool down fast enough, it shuts off.
Using the fan at the highest setting is often the fastest way to reach a boil for boiling water. At its hottest, it can bring a liter of water to a boil in under five minutes.
When you’re done using the stove for cooking, the shutdown time can be rather long. The nice thing is that the stove can be left alone while you eat to burn down any leftover fuel to ash. Then, the stove turns off when the inner chamber is cool enough. The fan continually kicks on if you turn it off, and the chamber is still hot, so just let it do its thing. The remaining ash can be dumped in a fire pit, ash ring, or digging a small sump to bury the ash. Ensure no active embers are left by crushing them and pouring water onto the ash. Never pour water into the burn chamber. Only use water outside of the chamber after the cooling process is complete.
The battery can nest inside the burn chamber when the camp stove is cool enough. Since ash is left over inside the chamber, I used the included battery stuff sack to cover the battery before nesting it. If you also have the kettle pot, the burn chamber fits inside to create an easy-to-transport stove kit.
Pros and Cons of the BioLite Camp Stove 2+
|– Uses biofuel|
– Power bank included
– Made from durable materials
– Pieces nest into each other for portability
– Fun to use
– Decent boil time in fair weather
– LED light display is easy to understand
– Well-designed attachments for cooking
|– Too heavy for backpacking|
– Inconsistent cook times with varying weather
– Smokes a lot with wet biofuel
– Takes a long time to cool down
– No temperature control
– Need a safe way to dispose of ash when done
– Requires more attention for use than
other camp stove options
What I Liked About the BioLite Camp Stove 2+
There’s a lot to like about the BioLite Camp Stove 2+, especially if you enjoy cooking with a fire. The experience in and of itself is a fun camp cooking experience with this stove, and if you often camp in areas that require a portable campfire ring, this is an excellent option. Since I used this stove as my primary cooking system for about four months on the road, I quickly learned the most efficient cooking methods. I used the stove to boil water for most of my meals or to heat up leftovers in just 10-15 minutes.
I enjoyed that it only takes a little fuel to get a good heat level on the stove, so long as you have dry hardwood and a decent fire starter to get the flame going. My fuel preference is the BioLite pellets because they offer a long burn time, reducing the amount of refueling while cooking. The boil times varied according to the external temperature and wind conditions, so my average boil time was around eight minutes, with the longest I waited for about one liter of water to boil being close to 15 minutes. When I was camping in the winter, I liked that the stove put off a fair amount of heat while cooking.
I like that the kettle lid has a pour spout because I used the stove often to make tea, allowing me to pour the liquid out of the pot without spilling. I don’t drink coffee, but this is also an excellent feature when utilizing the French press integration. While I appreciated the battery feature as a backup for charging small devices like my phone or headlamp.
Although this camp stove is larger than other butane or propane options, the setup that includes the CampStove 2+ and the kettle nest down together very easily to become a compact travel size.
What I Didn’t Like About the BioLite Camp Stove 2+
The pros and cons of this stove are neck and neck for the average user. I only use this stove for car camping and van camping (I cook outside my van), and the size/weight of the entire system needs to be lighter to justify bringing it with me on a backpacking trip. I could see bringing this for a short overnight backpack venture, but having a smaller, more portable backpacking stove would be a better option.
When it comes to fueling the stove and getting the fire hot enough for cooking, it depends on your access to fuel. I always kept some BioLite pellets on hand for times when I didn’t have readily accessible dry biofuel, and across the board, this is the more efficient fuel option I used. Finding dry sticks around camp can be difficult depending on your location and weather. I tried using damp biofuel with some dry cardboard and a fire starter a few times to see how the fire would start and how long it took to boil water. The moisture created a lot of smoke and made it challenging to keep the fire going. Because of this, if you’re relying solely on the fuel you can find, it’ll be difficult to cook on the stove. I could still use the stove with wet biofuel, but it took much longer.
The cook time varied dramatically depending on the weather conditions and the type of fuel I had available. When winter camping, the boil time almost doubled and the stove required more frequent refueling if there was any wind. When comparing this type of stove to a propane or butane stove, the sheer amount of attention this takes can be a downside. Sometimes I had to build a windshield and continuously refuel to achieve a boil, especially in winter weather. It would be nice if BioLite had a wind guard that paired with this stove, but they don’t have one yet.
The grill attachment in the cook kit is a cool idea, but I failed to get it to function very well, if at all. Granted, during my testing period with the grill attachment, I never used the pellets and opted to use the biofuel I found around camp. With the pellets, you may be able to achieve a hotter fire, making cooking on it more feasible. Still, I think if you’re considering investing in this stove and you like grilling meat, fish, or even vegetables, you’re better off opting to cook over a campfire than on this stove.
Lastly, the stove takes a while to cool down. While any fuel stove that has a hot flame takes time to cool off before packing, this one takes much longer. You must wait for the fire to burn out and allow the fan to turn off. Then, please dispose of the ash safely and pack it all together. The battery pack gets sooty if you nest it inside the fire chamber alone, so I put it inside the included stuff sack to keep it clean.
Q: Is BioLite a reliable brand?
Yes, BioLite is a reliable brand with a range of products, including camp stoves, fire pits, lanterns, and headlamps. They offer a limited warranty and excellent customer service. All of their products are well-designed and made from durable materials.
Q: How long will my BioLite camp stove last?
The BioLite Camp Stove 2+ is intended to last several years of consistent use. The only stove component that may wear out within a few years is the battery bank and fan mechanism. Over time, even when used correctly and well maintained, the power counsel will likely lose battery charge and fan power.
Q: How do I maintain my BioLite camp stove?
If the stove components need to be cleaned, wipe out the fuel chamber with a nylon brush or cloth as needed. The battery bank can be wiped down with a damp cloth, but the best way to prevent it from getting too dirty is to keep it in the storage bag when not in use. The kettle and fuel chapter can be washed in the dishwasher as needed since they are made from stainless steel. The power module should never be submerged in water or get excessively wet.
Q: Does the BioLite camping stove come with accessories?
The BioLite Camp Stove 2+ can be bought alone or as a cooking kit. If you only want one or two of the accessories, those can be purchased separately. Accessories that are available for the stove include a kettle, coffee press, light, and a portable grill attachment.
Q: Does the BioLite camp stove come with a charger?
Yes, the BioLite CampStove 2+ comes with a charger as a part of the stove. Since the charger is necessary to run the stove, the power module and fuel chamber are sold as a unit.
Q: Does the BioLite camp stove have fans built in?
Yes, the BioLite Camp Stove 2+ has a fan built into the power module to help with the combustion within the fuel chamber. You can control the fan’s speed using the power button at the base of the power module and referencing the middle, blue LED light screen. The fan has four levels and turns on automatically when the fire is hot enough.
Final Thoughts on the BioLite Camp Stove 2+
After using the BioLite Camp Stove 2+ in the rain, wind, snow, and nice camping weather, I can confidently say that this stove is not for everyone. While I enjoy the stove for van and car camping, I’d leave it behind for backpacking and bikepacking trips. I could see myself using this stove for paddling trips, especially if I plan to stay in one camp for an extended period. The stove isn’t inherently user-friendly, but it is fun. Once I got the hang of things, gathering my fuel and cooking around a fire was enjoyable.
The variation in cook times in different weather conditions and using only available fuel types, along with the size and amount of attention it takes to keep the fire going, may turn some users away. Ultimately, the kind of camp stove best for you comes down to your intended use. I can see myself using this stove for future van trips, especially in more arid climates.