As a follow-up to the compact, safe and efficient CampStove, BioLite has made open-air cooking even easier with its new Portable Grill. Circumventing the dangerous hazards of open-wood fires—not to mention having to use liquid fuel or batteries—the CampStove's ingenious design was developed a few years ago by founders Alexander Drummond and Jonathan Cedar. Once the fuel in the Nalgene-size canister is lit, the stove converts the heat into energy, which powers a small integrated fan as well as various electronic devices that can be plugged into the base via a USB port. The original CampStove uses a pot attachment to support the weight of cooking implements, and attaches seamlessly to the grill with a fuel intake lid that filters fuel directly into the grill's body for cooking. We had the opportunity to test how it performs on a recent spring-like evening, with hamburgers and the season's first asparagus.
As anyone who has ever gone camping knows, open fires require a measure of skill to start, and a tremendous amount of wood to maintain. The CampStove uses much less biomass to generate heat, but operating it still requires rudimentary fire-building knowledge. We collected kindling, tinder and fuel sticks, and lit the kindling and the tinder before starting the fan.
The stove generated an impressive amount of heat almost immediately, and set the asparagus sizzling. Overall, the grill is fun to use and gets the job done, but we needed to refill the fuel chamber continuously to maintain the heat long enough to cook the meal. That said, it's important to collect plenty of kindling in advance so you can keep an eye on your cooking.
Purchases of the CampStove support the cost of testing and eventually distributing the BioLite HomeStove in parts of the world where people lack access to electricity and still cook on open fires. As for the rest of us, the Portable Grill adds an element of convenience to the CampStove, which itself is fun to operate but a little tedious to use on a regular basis. Both would make a great addition to a disaster-preparedness kit, or for long-haul outdoor travel. Find the CampStove and the Portable Grill on BioLite's website.
Images courtesy of CampStove and Adrienne So.