Biolite Basecamp

8.5
8.5 score
[Editors rating (8.5)] = (TheGearHunt) score (8.5)/10


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Biolite Basecamp Review Facts

Rocket stoves, they are great when planning something like a camping trip or maybe a small picnic or even a small cookout. What is a rocket stove? It is a small stove that can also double as a heater, they are purely run by using a small brush to fuel the fire within it.

As was said before, they are great for the job they were designed for. This allows campers and hikers to dig a fire pit or find a pre-made one. But most do not have much other function other than maybe a small light source. That is a big thing about this particular rocket stove, it offers more than just those functions.

This unique design drew our attention and created multiple questions in its wake that needed to be answered. How useful is it really for those going on longer trips? Is this built for use on a single camping area, or would you be able to easily transport it as you move cross-country such as with backpacking trips? We searched for these answers and brought you what we found so that you could make the decision for yourself as to whether or not this is a tool for your next outing.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Cast iron and stainless-steel build

Smokeless design

Thermoelectric generator

LED Flexlight (detachable)

Easily maintained

Cons

Generator’s battery is not very strong

Design

Design

This rocket stove, like almost all the others, is small and can easily be carried by a single person without too much worry. It is not very light in weight, weighing in at 20 pounds but, of course, when a person considers the fact that this particular unit is made of a cast-iron interior and a stainless-steel exterior, it is easily understandable as to why it weighs what it does. Not to mention it’s built-in generator actually adds to that weight as well, but it is exactly for those same reasons that it is worth looking into purchasing.

So, what exactly is in the design that makes us say that? This particular grill takes on several tasks at once and is designed to do more than serve as a cooking station. It’s also built to serve as a heat source, a light source and an actual charging station for your USB charged devices.

The idea of having a portable basecamp, and not just a place to cook is definitely not new, but this particular model definitely raises the bar in many ways. Even the manner in which it can be fueled makes it a much more convenient method than many others. The only downside is the fact it is too cumbersome overall to be used for longer treks.
Performance

Performance

The stove works exceptionally well, cooking and heating an area effortlessly, as long as a person continues to have enough fuel to keep it burning. And, with the fan that is built into the generator pack, it will burn with next to no smoke at all. In fact, there is a 90 percent reduction in the amount of smoke that this rocket stove generates versus that of standard rocket stove models.

Less air pollution, less chance of smoke or ash corrupting the flavor of whatever is being cooked, what else could a person truly ask for? How about a decent method to recharge your portable GPS trackers or phones in case of an emergency? Well, this basecamp can offer that as well as a light to see around camp in the darker hours of the morning.

While the battery for charging does take a long time to bring most devices back to one hundred percent, the fact that its fuel is so easy to come by while out in a forested area makes it worth noting for certain. This is a basecamp that is great for the forest, and any area with trees to get burnable items from. However, it may not be great for those seeking to head into rockier climates or places where wood of any kind is not readily available.

Planning ahead and bringing fuel with you could prove to make it worthwhile, but, in the end, it adds even more weight to your trip.
Flexibility

Flexibility

Whether using this to cook, heat the campsite, or just charge a USB device for aid in navigation or to send for help, this stove can easily do it. With its easy storage and set up, transferring it from place to place is easy as can be. Plus, this rocket stove comes with a USB powered LED flashlight that has an adjustable brightness that allows the ones using it to easily see what they are cooking and potentially see a lot more of the campsite effortlessly, all the while barely losing any power from the generator.

Of course, there is the small problem of losing the only USB port on the generator to the light. But that should pose no real problem in the end, as it takes no real effort to change what is being powered by the generator. This type of versatility in use is not really something many grills are known for and may end up being the best part of your grill when out camping, since finding a way to charge your devices is not likely to be easy.

The foresight to give off even the small amount of light that it does also gives greater flexibility to any semi-portable basecamp. Since it does have a light, there is less drive to leave a fire going like other camps might, which can cause problems. This is worth the extra thought if you know you want a solution to any movement outside after everyone else is asleep, and it makes it less likely that you will attract wildlife with the absence of heat for them to come looking for.
Durability

Durability

Minus the generator pack built into the side of this rocket stove, this little guy is definitely durable. Considering how the external body of it is made of stainless steel, while the top and insides are made of cast iron, it is definitely strong. The thermoelectric generator, though, does have parts made of softer materials, therefore some care in its use is required.

Overall, however, this particular model has proven to be extremely durable in comparison to some other units, and unlike most, you don’t have to worry abut packing enough fuel to keep things going. Because of this, it is not only durable in that it won’t break, its also durable in the area of consistent reliability for use. This is not an easy thing to find, and well worth the extra buck to own.
Ease of Use

Ease of Use

The Biolite Basecamp is pretty easy to use. Once the unit is out of its carrying bag, just unfold the legs, set up the trays and begin feeding in the sticks or small logs intended for fuel and it is ready to go. Of course, to charge the generator, letting the stove heat up for a while is easily recommended. In truth, if someone is looking to cook with this stove, a heating up process is also necessary. One must let the top of the stove get equally hot to cook everything thoroughly.

Obviously, though, a person needs to let the stove cool down completely before packing it up. There is the weight, however, which makes this particular model harder to move, making up the only difficulty in using it.
Portability

Portability

At a weight of twenty pounds, with dimensions of 15 inches by 13 inches by 12 inches, it is pretty easy to move this stove about. One thing to note is that it can be a bit tougher to carry it about through rougher terrain, but that is expected of almost anything. Other than that, this is easily usable in any outdoor setting that a person can imagine.

With the full weight of 18 pounds, this is what we consider more of being a ‘semi-portable’ cooking stove for a campout. It is simply too heavy and doesn’t break down to small enough components to be worth taking on longer hiking journeys or too far backpacking even. Between the weight and the shape/size, you would be hard-pressed to want to carry it over long distances and so this is mainly for a stationary camping trip.

Is it worth it if all you plan to do is head straight for where you plan to spend an entire week? Definitely! This would be great for a family outing or even if you plan to hunt and want to have an easily utilized camping fire without risk of chasing creature off or leaving an obvious fire pit.

Why is this better than your typical fire pit? Well, beyond the fact that you can take it with you, the grill is smokeless and doesn’t take much to fuel. It does require you to be ready to cut some branches down to size, but as long as you don’t mind a little grunt work, it’s better than taking some of the other options out there with you.

Portability and use should come hand in hand, and they do with this basecamp system. You will find its weight causing issues, and likely the size/shape, but the fact is, you won’t need to bring tanks or twenty-pound bags of charcoal just so you can assure its use. Instead, you can find fuel wherever you decide to set it up and thus it cuts down on all the weight added by needing those extra fuel sources.

Of course, clean up requires waiting till it cools down enough to really wipe down and empty so you can pack it back up in its case, and this could be a little bit of a burden to a few campers out there. If you are impatient and don’t like the idea of gathering your own fuel or tending carefully to make sure you don’t start an accidental fire during clean up, this may not be the right grill for you.

However, if having a portable campfire, USB charger and light source are worth extra effort in your book, this is the right tool for your arsenal.
Cooking Area

Cooking Area

The top of this stove has a good-sized cooking surface. With everything we have learned about this stove, it can easily hold large pots or pans to cook on. It is definitely a good buy and will easily do what it is designed for. It can cook everything from slices of bacon to thick-cut steaks and will boil five liters of water in less than twenty minutes.

The choice of what you use to fuel the grill is yours as well, though it is highly recommended that you use wood so that one of its best features can be utilized. Unlike most grills, this one actually prevents the production of smoke as long as you are using fuel that allows it to do so.

You can still choose to use coal on the grill, but it can’t filter the smoke caused by such which makes one of its best features useless.
Key Features

Key Features

- Smokeless wood burning
- Can be fueled by twigs and branches
- Portable
- USB charger
- Light
- Environmentally friendly

Bottom Line

If your goal is to have something you can easily use without leaving a lasting footprint on the environment, or if you want something that easily multi-tasks for your camping experience this is definitely a tool you will want to look at. As long as you don’t mind the extra weight and cleaning time this grill will be one of the best purchases you can make. It will even keep your USB devices charged.

If you are looking for something for a longer trip, however, the Biolite Basecamp may not be what you need. Between the heavier weight and bulkier travel load, it is likely to be too cumbersome to take on deeper treks into nature. This grill is built to last and built to be able to be packed up and taken camping, but it is not truly designed for hiking.