How about a camp stove that cooks food AND charges your smartphone? Please meet the CampStove from BioLite, a company that started out making clean-burning wood stoves for people in developing countries, but has now turned it’s attention to a more affluent, but still resource-constrained population — outdoors enthusiasts.
The $129 CampStove, about the size of a typical Nalgene bottle and weighing 2 pounds, burns twigs, pine cones and other bits of biomass. A fan on the side of the burn chamber makes the stove more efficient by providing more oxygen for the fire. The company claims this reduces smoke by 95 percent, compared to an open fire with no forced air.
A thermoelectric device mounted on the side of the burn chamber coverts heat from the fire into electricity to power the fan. The excess electricity can be used to charge electrical gadgets such as smartphones, lights and GPS devices. The power pack slips inside the burn chamber for storage.
They offer a video demo of the stove on their website.
The catch with the stove is that it requires some form of biomass, which might not be available in more rarefied environments. Mountaineering comes to mind.
The company points out that the stove burns wood pellets, which could be acquired ahead of a backcountry trip, but the bulk and weight of such pellets may not match the efficiency of petroleum fuels.
Then again, in areas where burnable biomass is available, a backpacker would be able to collect fuel as she goes, eliminating the need to carry an entire trip’s worth of fuel at the beginning of an outing.
BioLite is now taking pre-orders for the stove, and plans to ship them before the “2012 camping season.” You don’t have to pay until it ships, according to the website.