The BioLite CampStove 2+ is a stove that runs on twigs and sticks. Unlike your traditional stick-powered campfire though, this uses "patented combustion technology" to create "a vortex of smokeless flames". It's probably one of very few camping stoves you can also use to charge your phone as you cook.
It's not a brand new design – the CampStove 2+ is an upgrade on the 2 and the original CampStove before that. The core concept remains the same, but this newest version includes a bigger battery (3,200mAh compared to 2,600mAh on the Campstove 2) and there's also a flexible LED light that plugs in to illuminate your evening cookery efforts.
You can purchase the stove on its own and use it with your own camping cookware, or alternatively BioLite makes a portable grill and kettlepot (with optional cafetiere accessory), which can be used to extend your cooking options. These are sold individually, or you can get them all bundled together as the CampStove Complete Cook Kit, which is what I tried for this review. It's not an especially cheap option, with the stove costing GBP £159.99 / USD $149.95. So how does it compare to the rest of today's best camping stoves? Here's my BioLite CampStove 2+ review.
BioLite CampStove 2+ review: in use
BioLite CampStove 2+ specs
Fuel: Biomass (sticks, twigs, pellets)
Weight: 2.06 lb / 935g
Dimensions (packed): 5.0" x 7.91" / 127 x 201mm
Battery: 3,200 mAh
USB output: 3 watts
To get started with the BioLite CampStove 2+, first of all you'll need to gather a collection of dry wood and twigs of different sizes. It's a great option if you're camping somewhere with a ready supply of said twigs and wood, because theoretically you'll never end up caught short and eating cold beans because you've run out of gas. As a backup, you can also use biofuel wooden pellets (BioLite sells these).
Your general campfire rules apply here: start small, and work your up to bigger twigs and sticks once everything's burning away nicely. BioLite has helpfully added some firestarters into the pack to give you a kick-start. Remember that there's no matchless option here, so you'll need to bring a lighter of some kind. Once you've got your fire burning, you can pop your own pan on top of the integrated pot stand, or use one of BioLite's official accessories (more on those below). There's more skill required that you'd need for a gas-powered stove, but it's by no means difficult, and the kind of thing that you'll get the hang of very quickly.
The CampStove delivers the fun, 'back to nature' vibe of cooking with wood but is a whole lot more controlled, practical, and efficient than creating a full campfire. If you're camping with kids, sending them off to collect fuel could be a fun activity. It also offers impressive fuel efficiency – I was surprised at how relatively little fuel was required to successfully boil water and griddle some dinner.
The integrated battery, which has been upgraded to 3,200 mAh in this 2+ version, is a clever addition. This powers the four-speed fan that keeps the fires alight and ensures a clean burn, and can be controlled via a funky LED dashboard on the side of the unit. Excitingly, this battery also provides a 3W charger to juice up your gadgets as you cook your dinner. It's compatible with pretty much any USB-chargeable devices, from phones to hiking GPS units, and a USB cord is included, in case you somehow do not already own one.
The battery itself charges off the heat of the stove – a satisfyingly efficient setup compared to setting up a solar charger, and one which reinforces the usefulness of the stove for anyone wanting to go off-grid. In my tests everything worked as intended.
A particularly fun addition is the included 100 Lumen light on flexible stand, which that plugs into the USB slot and will illuminate your cooking area if you end up making dinner after dark, and don't want to get out your camping lantern.
Everything feels well-designed, functional and robust, but this is by no means a lightweight or compact option. Coming in at 935g and 127 x 201mm (packed), this is really one for car campers rather than backpackers. However, you do save by not having to carry fuel, and of course you've got an off-grid charger built in, which both help justify that weight.
BioLite CampStove 2+ review: accessories
I tested the BioLite CampStove 2+ with BioLite's Portable Grill and KettlePot with CoffeePress. The KettlePot is a tall, 1.5L stainless steel kettle that can double as a saucepan or be transformed into a cafetiere via that CoffeePress attachment. A plastic top, with a spout, sits snugly on top with a silicone seal. It keeps the heat in for efficient boiling, pours smoothly and doesn't spill. The fold-out, cool-touch handles are well designed for easy handling, and there's a bowl for eating from that slots inside the pot, too.
The CoffeePress addition is a bit of a luxury – although a winner for caffeine fiends – but the pot is much more widely versatile. Genuinely useful and well-designed, I'd recommend purchasing one with your CampStove, if only because the folded stove fits neatly inside, so it's going to be the best space-saving option for transport.
BioLite's Portable Grill is designed to turn your CampStove 2+ into a portable BBQ by adding a lightweight tabletop grill, which sits on fold-out spindly legs that give it a bit of a UFO vibe. It provides 55 square inches of grilling space, which is enough for around four burgers, and you can feed twigs into the burner throughout cooking via a pleasing little hatch.
In my tests, I found it took a while for the whole grill area to heat up properly, which is fair given the cooking surface is wide compared to the stove opening. Although it packs flat-ish, and the grill lid does double up as a platter to eat off, it's still necessarily fairly bulky. A fun addition, but if you're only going to buy one accessory, the KettlePot is probably going to be more useful.
BioLite CampStove 2+ review: verdict
As a stove, the BioLite CampStove 2+ is reliable and relatively straightforward to use, and provided you're somewhere vaguely foresty, it means you'll never run out of fuel. I was impressed with how efficient the burner is; you don't need much natural fuel at all to get cooking. The built-in battery is a winner, keeping your outdoor gadgets juiced up while you make dinner. Of the accessories I tested, my favourite was the KettlePot, which I'd recommend bundling in if you're purchasing one of these stoves. It's not a compact or lightweight option, but it is robust, well designed and tons of fun.