I’ve often wondered if I were to go on a long distance Appalachian Trail hike, where would I get the power to charge some lightweight batteries so I could operate a QRP rig and a cell phone each night. Of course, I’ve wondered more where I would get the vacation time or money to do such a long trip, but that’s another story. A company called BioLite is offering CampStove, a lightweight hiking stove that burns twigs and anything else you can gather and turns them into heat and electrical energy. The stove has a USB port for plugging in devices.
BioLite manufactures a larger model called the HomeStove that is intended for third world countries and purchases of the smaller CampStove help fund providing HomeStove to needy families. The stove is more efficient at burning wood due to a built in fan which feeds more oxygen to the fire, and the stove produces less pollution than convention wood fires.
The USB port on the CampStove delivers 5 volts at a nominal 2 watts of power, with up to 4 watts power peak. That’s not a whole lot of power especially when talking about 12 volt powered QRP rigs, but it’s definitely up to the task of topping off your phone battery each meal. Undoubtedly for a long hike one would want a small solar panel to charge rig batteries. Perhaps a high efficiency 5 volt to 12 volt converter would allow charging of rig batteries with CampStove during meals or long periods of overcast, solar panel unfriendly skies.
The CampStove is $129 US and can be purchased on the website, though new orders currently aren’t shipping until July. I may get one just to try it out and have another hiking stove option and support BioLite’s efforts in poor countries.