Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gear Closet: BioLite's Energy Kit Brings Tech Solutions to Camping Challenges

One of the members of the outdoor industry that I've watched with great interest over the past couple of years is BioLite. The company burst on to the scene a few years back with their awesome CampStove, which uses wood to cook your dinner, while also harnessing the heat to create power that can be used to recharge your favorite mobile devices too. The CampStove caught the attention of many outdoor enthusiasts, and even spawned a bigger version for use at larger campsites, while allowing BioLite to launch a great project to bring clean cookstoves and power to developing parts of the world.

But those wonderful products were just the tip of the iceberg for this innovative company, which looks for technology solutions to make our camping excursions more convenient and fun. Following their initial arrival on the outdoor gear scene, BioLite has continued to release innovative, eco-friendly gear that often leaves me wondering "why didn't someone think of this sooner?" And now, the ingenious team behind the CampStove has created a full energy system that is affordable, well designed, and easy to use. Here's what they have on top for us.

BioLite CookStove ($99.95)
With the new CookStove, BioLite has taken the tried and true design of the classic CampStove, and tweaked it slightly to make it a more affordable product that meets their customers needs. Essentially, the CookStove operates exactly like its predecessor, without the ability to collect power from the heat generated from burning wood or recharge a smartphone.

BioLite discovered that while many of their customers loved the original CampStove, most of them were already carrying a portable battery pack to keep their mobile devices charged while on the go. So, when they were looking to release a streamlined version of their original product, they decided to remove the ability to collect power from heat and share it via a built-in USB port.

That doesn't mean the CookStove has lost any efficiency however. It still contains a battery operated airflow system that allows it to boil water and cook food very quickly. The battery contained in the stove can be recharged via USB as well, so it is possible to keep it running even on longer camping trips.

The original CampStove runs $129.95, but the new CookStove is just $99.95, making it more accessible to customers who are looking for a basic cook system that works well and is good for the environment too.

BioLite SolarPanel 5+ ($79.95)
As part of their commitment to the environment and clean energy sources, BioLite has also developed a portable solar panel that is lightweight, efficient, and easy to use. The SolarPanel 5+ is capable of producing up to 5 Watts of power, which is enough to recharge smartphones, tablets, and other BioLite gear, including the CookStove.

Solar power has become common throughout the outdoor industry in recent years, but in true BioLite style, the SolarPanel has a couple of features that help to set it apart from the crowd. For instance, it has a built-in kickstand that allows you to adjust the panel's angle to get the maximum amount of exposure to the sun. It also has an integrated sundial that helps with that process too. But perhaps most importantly, it comes equipped with a 2200 mAh battery that allows it to collect energy for use later in the day.

Durable and versatile, this solar panel is a great way to keep your important devices charged while in the backcountry, without breaking the bank. At just $80, this is a more affordable option than most of the competition, with some features that you won't necessarily find anywhere else.

BioLite PowerLight Mini ($44.95)
In addition to making clean cookstoves, BioLite has also been focused on making camp lighting systems as well. Their NanoGrid system is a great option for campers who want to illuminate their campsite in a quick, easy, and efficient manner, and the new PowerLight Mini carries on that tradition. This small, lightweight light comes with a rechargeable 1350 mAh battery that keeps it running for up to 52 hours, while providing as soft light that is perfect for use in dark locations.

The PowerLight Mini also features a built-in kickstand that allows it to be propped up on a table, or wear it in a pocket or from a strap. This level of versatility makes it a nice option, while its slim design makes it easy to carry with you anywhere you go.

Much like the SolarPanel 5+, this device can also be used to recharge your smartphone. BioLite has added a USB port to the side of the light that allows it to share some of its battery life with another gadget. This is a great feature of course, but just be aware that recharging your iPhone will dramatically cut down on the life of the lamp too.

Each of these new BioLite products are designed to work with one another in a way that makes camping not only fun, but good for the planet too. The entire line of products from this company continues to impress, and I look forward to see what they have for us next.

No comments: