The BioLite Portable Grill is an attachment for their compact, portable Campstove. The CampStove efficiently burns small wood fuel including twigs and sticks that can be easily gathered in any forested area. This unique design not only serves as a cooker, but generates enough electricity to charge a small device like a cell phone. We asked our science advisor, Dr. Greg Blonder to test this new grill. Although he had some appreciation for the CampStove, he was not pleased with the performance of the grill. Here is his review:
BioLite is a compact hiking stove, meant to replace the now standard propane canister and wire flame spreader. It’s about twice the size and Weight, but burns almost any wood from pine cones to twigs to branches. So, unlike a propane stove, you never run out of fuel.
The base unit consists of a cylindrical tube in which fuel is burned, and an external fan that blows air over the fuel, assuring complete combustion.
The BioLite “trick” is to generate electricity from the fire’s heat by using a thermoelectric couple. This produces enough power to keep the internal battery charged, operate the fan, and a bit of current is left over to trickle charge a phone through an integrated USB connector. The base unit attaches to other accessories, such as a small grill.
The base unit works very well- burning any wood I could throw in. The pieces should be long and thin (nominally 1/2″ x 3″) to fit the chamber. I was able to boil 2 cups of water in under four minutes. With pine as a fuel, you had to feed the fire every two minutes. With oak, every five. The fan might also increase oxygen levels and therefore combustion temperature at high altitudes, but I didn’t test this directly.
It generates enough electricity to trickle charge a phone or flashlight, but not an ipad. If you planned on using the BioLite for an hour to cook dinner and then marshmallows on the high setting constantly feeding the fire, it might add a half hour of run time to a smart phone. But otherwise it is way too awkward and inefficient- this feature is for desperate situations only.
As to the BBQ grill, I was unimpressed. The grill is small and compact and comes with a detachable cover. But the metal stampings are very sharp, and can easily cut a finger. Subsequent to our tests Biolite claims they improved metal stamping procedures. As the manufacture’s FAQ points out, there is a hot cooking zone near the base unit and it cools rapidly away from the chimney. I measured nearly a 500F difference across the grill, so you need to be VERY attentive to avoid burning. Room for grilling two hot dogs at a time, and maybe par cooking veggies along the edges. The flame also becomes sooty when adding wood or partially burning drippings. These soot particles (visible as gray dust on the zucchinis above) was acrid and bitter. It think the grill needs a redesign.
Pros: Compact Burns all kinds of wood efficiently
A reasonable alternative to a propane stove
Cons: USB powering is more of a gimmick
Grilling not its strong suit.
MSRP for the Portable Grill attachment is $60. The CampStove is $130. Our posted MSRP is $190 for both items.
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Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
55 square inches
Small(about 2 burgers)
Founded in 2009, BioLite designs and manufactures cooking equipment that uses all types of wood while also generating electricity to charge small devices. Their large HomeStove was designed to help the billions of people in third world countries who cook on wood and have little access to electricity. The HomeStove has garnered awards and brought grants and financial backing to this startup company. They also make a small version called CampStove which has an optional Portable Grill attachment.
Published On: 9/9/2013
Last Modified: 2/20/2021
Max Good, Full time grill tester - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.
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