Published: May 15, 2014


Images: BioLite

Matt Hickman

BioLite, Brooklyn-based purveyor of biomass-burning outdoor cookstoves that magically charge your gadgets so that you never have to freak out about the fact that you’re a good 30 miles away from the nearest wall outlet, has taken to Kickstarter to crowdfund a new wood-powered product that offers “advanced off-grid cooking” for groups.

It’s called the BioLite BaseCamp.

If you’re already familiar with the BioLite brand and its mission, you’re probably aware that the company was founded in 2009 not only as a means of making cookin’ up some chili and kabobs more convenient (no need to haul propane tanks or pretending you know how to start a campfire from scratch) while roughing it in the middle woods with your buds.

Shortly following the launch of BioLite’s signature product, a compact off-grid cooking device for REI Nation called the CampStove, the company introduced a similar but larger model specifically tailored for developing nations. Called the HomeStove, the humanitarian-minded unit significantly reduces the health- and climate-compromising emissions generated by open fires used for cooking — a huge issue in developing areas of the world that claims more lives annually than malaria and AIDS combined. Inexpensive and highly efficient, the HomeStove operates with significantly less fuel (read: wood) while generating 91 percent less carbon monoxide and 94 percent less smoke. And, of course, the units are also capable of charging LED lights and mobile devices at the same time.

As BioLite continues to focus on getting HomeStove units into the hands of those who truly need them (thus far, they’ve been introduced in India, Ghana and Uganda via special pilot initiatives but are not available for regular retail purchase), the company has also expanded its technology to new consumer products including a portable grill and now, the BioLite BaseCamp — a lean, mean grilling, boiling, cooking, and gadget-charging machine that’s ideal for group expeditions.

As BioLite explains, the BaseCamp is not only the company’s first crowd-demanded product, but is also its first crowdfunded product. Funds raised during the Kickstarter campaign — as of publication, BioLite’s modest $45,000 goal has been exceeded and then some — will help to finance BaseCamp’s initial production run: “We turn wood into electricity — we need your help to turn our newest product into reality.”

And this brings us to the question: how in the world is an outdoor grill fueled by sticks and twigs able to generate gadget-charging electricity? And how much electricity does a single unit generate?

A brief explainer from the Kickstarter campaign page:

The BaseCamp converts heat from the fire into usable electricity via a thermoelectric generator housed within the orange power pack.

This powers a fan that blows air back into the burn chamber for improved combustion. The surplus electricity is then sent to a USB port, allowing you to charge your devices.

The BioLite BaseCamp puts out 5W of usable electricity via a standard 5V USB port meaning you can charge everyday useful devices like smartphones, GPS, headlamps, your GoPro, or even tablets. We designed the powerpack to house a battery, meaning you now have the option to charge while you are cooking OR whenever is most convenient for you, without the need for a live fire.

Good stuff.

Head on over the BioLite BaseCamp’s Kickstarter campaign page to learn more and to pre-order a unit for yourself starting at $299. Although the BaseCamp won’t be ready to go for any woodsy excursions this summer, it will ship in October — just in time for tailgating season. Current BioLite fans out there: Think you’ll upgrade?