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BioLite Stove

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BioLite Stove

Postby CO Native » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:44 am

Anyone had the chance to try one of these out?

BioLite Stove
Image

It looks like a very interesting option for carrying both a stove and a charger for long trips. It's heavy for a stove, but not having to carry fuel would offset on longer trips. It does stand to reason that adding the air convection would make using natural fuels much more reasonable for cooking. Being able to charge after dark would be nice too.
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby Oman » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:02 pm

I've been using a Backcountry Boiler, which is cheaper ($79) and lighter (8 oz.). It doesn't power electronics.
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The seller is a young inventor / backpacker from PA who had the boiler financed via crowdfunding at kickstarter.com, where I bought it. He had problems meeting initial production schedules, but seems to be doing better now.

Pros: Weight savings. No need to haul around liquid fuel or cartridges, because the boiler burns grass and twigs. Boils 16 oz of water in five minutes.

Cons: Even small fires are messy, stinky, and not always easy to start. I backpack with the boiler in twin Ziplocs to keep all my stuff from smelling like smoke.

More info here: http://sparkmade.com/backcountryboiler.html#productdescription

Re: BioLite Stove

Postby forbins_mtn » Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:42 pm

it looks awesome, and a great step forward in camping technology. But that thing is the size of a nalgene and weighs 2lbs. I definitely wanna see one in action!

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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby USAKeller » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:25 pm

Image

Yes! I was just given the BioLite stove as a gift actually from a friend (probably to help encourage me to lessen my carbon footprint!) and gave it a trial run. My first impression - it takes awhile to boil water and you do continually have to keep feeding it biomass. I'm not sure why yet, but it didn't charge my iPhone (I think because the HI speed wasn't turned on at the initial part of my fire; and it is required for that). It's heavy too. I think it's great for car camping, but I need to play around with it more to get comfortable enough to take it as a solo stove on a backpack. I also think it's more difficult to take it on a winter trip since most of the kindling you need is wet. However, I do think the more I use it, the more I'll like it. And like forbins_mtn said, it's a great step forward in 'going green' in the camping world by using renewable energy sources.
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby dsunwall » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:42 pm

Bring a little white gas along to get those wet twigs dry in a hurry.

I think burning white gas is greener than burning twigs. :-D Doesn't Denver have a wood burning ban? :-k

When you think about how many gallons of gas you burned getting to the trailhead................the green pitch for the stove seems a little silly.

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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby Brian C » Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:54 pm

I've also been using the Back Country Boiler. I really enjoy it although it can be a bit picky to start. Other than that it's great!
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby RyGuy » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:42 pm

dsunwall wrote:When you think about how many gallons of gas you burned getting to the trailhead................the green pitch for the stove seems a little silly.


Yeah, I have to agree with that. Although using renewable resources is certainly never a bad thing.

The concept is certainly an interesting one. It would seem best suited just for long backpacking trips where time isn't really a big deal, but extra weight is. Not carrying stove fuel certainly makes a lot of sense when you consider you are pretty much surrounded by biomass fuel when out in the mountains. However I'd guess there would be a couple things that would make it un-attractive from a functionality standpoint. USAKeller, I'd be curious for your reaction on these:

1. Being a wood/leaf/grass burning device, it probably puts out a ton of smoke? That usually ends up making all your gear also smell like smoke. Especially if the stove is traveling inside your pack between camp spots

2. Burning biomass usually results in quite a bit of ash and soot. The ash is easy enough to dispose of, but it seems like it would also get all over the stove and thus require fairly regular cleaning to ensure it is running well. (Not unlike a properly maintained woodstove needs to have all the flue build-up cleaned out regularly)

3. You can't just "turn it off". With a normal liquid/gas fueled stove which you can just shut off the fuel, the flame dies right away, and within 5-7 minutes (at most) the stove is totally cooled and ready to be packed away. I am guessing there is a bit more "clean-up and prep" involved when you decide you don't need the stove any longer since you'd have to let the wood burn out, and then let the stove cool down.

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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby CO Native » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:28 am

My thoughts about those points

1)By forcing air into the combustion chamber this usually greatly reduces if not eliminates smoke. Smoke is a sign of incomplete combustion, usually due to the oxygen being consumed before the combustion in complete. Adding more air resolves that. A concept used in many modern wood stove that makes them over 80% efficient. Close to natural gas.

2)I do agree that the ash would be an issue, but since it is contained well it would be easier to dispose of it properly. Also wood that has been burned efficiently usually leaves less ash than an open fire. Still it would be messier than using a gas stove.

3)With such a small burn chamber if you really needed to put it out it wouldn't take much water to just pour on it and put it out.

It is still a wood fire so it would take work tending and fuel gathering. The benefits would only be realized on long trips that would otherwise require carrying a lot of fuel. I do like the idea on longer trips that I don't have to ration fuel, it would only be limited by how much I want to gather. I find on longer trips I'm often skipping a hot drink or not quite boiling the quinoa as long as I'd like to conserve my fuel. Plus I'm a big fan of being able to charge batteries after dark. It would limit camping options too if it's all you had. It's certainly not the greatest stove ever, but it presents an interesting option.
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby Alpineair » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:05 pm

I'm not anti-social, I'm anti-stupid!

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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:13 pm

dsunwall wrote:I think burning white gas is greener than burning twigs. :-D Doesn't Denver have a wood burning ban? :-k

When you think about how many gallons of gas you burned getting to the trailhead................the green pitch for the stove seems a little silly.

I agree
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby USAKeller » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:14 pm

ACERyGuy007 wrote:USAKeller, I'd be curious for your reaction on these:

1. Being a wood/leaf/grass burning device, it probably puts out a ton of smoke? That usually ends up making all your gear also smell like smoke. Especially if the stove is traveling inside your pack between camp spots

2. Burning biomass usually results in quite a bit of ash and soot. The ash is easy enough to dispose of, but it seems like it would also get all over the stove and thus require fairly regular cleaning to ensure it is running well. (Not unlike a properly maintained woodstove needs to have all the flue build-up cleaned out regularly)

3. You can't just "turn it off". With a normal liquid/gas fueled stove which you can just shut off the fuel, the flame dies right away, and within 5-7 minutes (at most) the stove is totally cooled and ready to be packed away. I am guessing there is a bit more "clean-up and prep" involved when you decide you don't need the stove any longer since you'd have to let the wood burn out, and then let the stove cool down.

-Ryan

Ryan - here's my opinions...

1) It actually did put out a lot of smoke and my partners that trip made fun of me for sending out smoke signals for rescue! Just kidding - CO Native is right. You're supposed to wait 10 seconds to push the power button on after lighting it to start oxygen flow. And the stove certainly does have that strong smoke smell afterwards that seemed to linger in the car for awhile and everywhere I put it afterwards.

2) Burning biomass does indeed result in quite a bit of ash and soot. And yes, the ash is easy to dispose of but the resulting soot stuck well to the insides and lip of the combustion chamber. I'm lazy with unpacking/cleaning my gear after trips so I let it stay for a few weeks before I took a stainless steel scrubber to it. The chamber is small enough I had a hard time getting my hand in the bottom to scrub well. I took this photo on my phone last night of what it looked like after I cleaned it - not the perfect silver color any more:

Image

3) Like CO Native said, just pouring a little water on it puts it out. It did take longer than I wanted for it to cool down. Yes, the overall prep and clean-up outweighs that from a regular gas stove.

I guess right now it's not my first choice for a camp stove, but it was gift and I cannot complain about testing out new gear!

BillMiddlebrook wrote:
dsunwall wrote:I think burning white gas is greener than burning twigs. :-D Doesn't Denver have a wood burning ban? :-k

When you think about how many gallons of gas you burned getting to the trailhead................the green pitch for the stove seems a little silly.

I agree

I agree also.
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Re: BioLite Stove

Postby RyGuy » Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:56 am

Interesting. Thanks for the info!

Good to get some real world feedback about the stove. I really like the idea, but it doesn't seem to be ready for prime time yet.
After looking at BioLite's website, I think their bigger stove has much more promise. I'd see it as a great thing to have in case of natural diaster or perhaps it also could work well on a week long hunting trip or something.

-Ryan
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