My family is full of people who enjoy camping. Sometimes that means hiking the Appalachian Trail for a few days with no tech at all, and sometimes that means renting a few campsites together with a cooler full of tasty drinks and a fire that regularly encourages Park Rangers to come check on us. When I go hiking, the BioLite Camp Stove is usually in my pack. It's great for making a small fire and I like knowing I can charge a phone in an emergency. At a campground you already have grill tops and fire pits, so for me there's never been a need to bring something else for cooking before.
I stand before you a changed camper. This weekend I cooked the perfect pizza while charging my phone on the larger BioLite BaseCamp stove, and I'm unlikely to go family camping without this stove ever again.
For the uninitiated, BioLite's BaseCamp stove is really just a bigger, more capable version of their portable Camp Stove. It holds more wood and offer a larger, sturdier cook surface, but the basic concept is the same. You start a fire in the front opening, and when the orange box on the side of the stove has converted enough heat into electricity a small fan will kick on. That fan keeps the stove hot, which keeps delivering more power to the 2200mAh battery contained within. After 20 minutes or so, you can connect just about anything to the USB port on the side and receive 5 watts of power at five volts. That's enough to power anything you'd need in an emergency situation, but is also means you can charge a phone or tablet if you're inclined to use one of those while camping.
Not only had I made dinner for the family, but my phone had been charged 20% while I was cooking.
All of this has been around for a while already. The new thing here today is the Pizza Stove. This accessory adds a Pizza Stone, heat spreader, and a lid to the Base Camp. This means you can create a small oven to bake a pizza in, which isn't as easy as it sounds when you're camping. I've made more than my fair share of "campfire pizzas" with dutch ovens and disposable foil packs. The end result usually tastes something like a pizza, but is frequently either a greasy mess or at least a little charred. Using a pizza stone offers the promise of pizza you would make at home, only you're outside and using sticks.
Much to my surprise, the end result was amazing. As long as I kept a steady supply of firewood moving into the stove, maintaining a mostly constant temperature was easy. After 11 minutes in the Pizza Dome, I had a flawless wood-fired pizza that was ready to be eaten. The burning wood from the stove added a nice flavor to the crust, and everything cooked evenly. Not only had I made dinner for the family, but my phone had been charged 20% while I was cooking and the battery on the stove had another 50% left to offer. Five minutes of cleanup and wiping down later, and the stove was ready to be used again.
It's rare for camping gear to offer an experience like this, and while this is hardly an accessory for hiking up a mountain it seems perfect for anyone looking to enhance the stereotypical family campout at a local campground or offer a little extra cooking prowess to an actual camping base camp. You don't necessarily need pizza while camping, but everyone around you will be pretty glad the option is there if you have one of these Pizza Domes.