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A place to share systematic reviews of bushwalking equipment, services and idea.

Forum rules

Forum rules
This is a place to share fair and systematic reviews of gear. Share the good, bad and ugly as well as including how you tested it and reviewed the gear. This is not the place to carry on about a bit of gear that failed, sometimes good gear has a lemon - this is more about systematic reviews. Although this can be a way to help gear manufactures with feedback, this is not the place to hassle them or ask for money back.

Start each thread with
[tag]Brand, product, RRP in AUD. The tags have two parts the type of gear and type of testing/review. eg
[Sleeping bag | Unboxing] Kmart Summit Hooded $29
[Stove | Field test]Jetboil, flash $150

Suggested review types. Unboxing, field test, 1 year on, stress test, teardown.
If someone else has already reviewed the same product in a similar method then please use the initial thread to include your review. Please note if the gear was provide to you for free, loan, discount or if you paid full RRP.
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S/H Biolite first generation

Thu 22 Mar, 2018 12:13 pm

I recently bought one of these second hand as I thought it might be useful during my winter fixed camp to keep my phone charged up.
A copy of my other post attached
Well I think it finally did charge up and I gave it a quick test in the back yard. Lighting a fire in the tiny firebox is no problem but without a proper test lead I can't tell what the output is.
It only took a minute tho for the output LED to come up Green
Anyway the thing is a bit of a gimmick with some serious design flaws which tell me the designers were geeks and not walkers. The pot supports are far too close to the fire and there isn't enough room for full flame development and complete combustion and you cannot feed the fire without taking the billy off the flame and an army kidney cup will not sit on the supports either, something that some people think important
It just took 12 minutes to boil the billy [ 1500ml - my normal 2 cup size] which is about twice the time it takes using a tin can hobo stove, mostly I assume due to the fact that the A-10 hobo stove has the tin can as an integrated windshield for a half the billys height.
Being a simple 2 layer air path the incoming combustion air isn't preheated so all the fan does is add draft
The only reason I can see for taking this little gadget this winter is the ability to top up my smart phone.
Perhaps the 2nd generation and third generation stoves are better but if you have been thinking of buying a S/H first generation I would spend the money of an empty A-10 tin can and a new titanium billy with bail instead
If you do decide to buy one you will need a rather tall windshield

Re: S/H Biolite first generation

Tue 18 Dec, 2018 8:07 am

Follow up post.
I've used it a few times now, and my initial comments about clearance stand. I could fix that with some fiddling and some screws tho. It does charge my phone tho so I suppose it would also top-up a power bank slowly.
It is very important to start out with a fully charged battery although that is noted in the on-line manual it is important to say it twice
I'll be listing mine for sale soon tho, I think it will suit somebody else better

Re: S/H Biolite first generation

Sat 29 Jun, 2019 11:09 pm

I bought one too, just to see what it was like, and had similar comments. Reading about the Biolite company shows that it's main goal is making stoves for Third World people. In the third world people have problems cooking on smoky fires, getting enough wood for their fires and charging their phones (phones are widespread). So Biolite designed a stove to run on small sticks, burn efficiently with little smoke, and to charge phones. They have a much bigger stove which is similar to their third world stove, and that one lets you feed fuel from the side. Profits from their other activities subsidise the third world side of the company.

So my comments would be:
it does work, heating water and providing electricity
It does burn the wood to ash
It does work on small sticks
You need a large supply of sticks on hand before you start it, because it uses a lot of fuel
You have to remove the pot to put in more sticks, a major design flaw
You wouldn't be able to use it on a fire ban day or in a Park where fires are banned, eg Wilsons Prom in Vic
You couldn't use it in the vestibule of your tent due to the danger of sparks setting your tent afire, bit of a problem in wet weather
If you were somewhere with no sticks, eg a very grassy area, you wouldn't have any fuel

Re: S/H Biolite first generation

Sun 30 Jun, 2019 7:45 am

Obviously I was too critical in my review as it is still for sale.
What I would like to see from Biolite is a flue insert for my big stove and asked the company but they don't seem to be interested in this niche market

Re: S/H Biolite first generation

Wed 03 Jul, 2019 2:49 pm

I owned a first gen Biolite Campstove years ago and found it to be of reasonable use once I got into the nack of fuelling, but wasn't impressed by the charging output or control

I've since upgraded to a gen 2 stove which has tackled a lot of the original problems with both more fan steps and higher output, as well as a much more efficient TEG and a larger inbuilt battery. This allows you to cook as you would, then use the fan module as a power bank when convenient.
I've also been using a jetboil flash 'cup thingy' which perfectly fits into the Biolite's trivets - fits so perfectly in fact that I'm a little suspicious. While not as fast as the jetboil itself, 500ml of water boils in under 3min on the highest setting, and while some soot has appeared on the Flash's 'Flux ring' (heat absorption fins) it doesn't seem to build up or noticeably effect heat transfer.

As the unit heats up the incoming air definitely preheats to some extent, and also manages to keep the outer skin from 'burns-on-contact' temperatures.

I enjoy the flexibility that unlimited fuel (98% of the time) gives you, and the gen2 is all the battery bank I need.
My biggest complaint is the weight and lack of heat fins on the 'Kettlepot' Biolite offer. With some further improvements, it could be a competitive unit.
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