EPIC Award: Inventors of BioLite Stove

Today we announce the fourth recipient of our EPIC award, a new industry and outdoor-world prize sponsored by Wenger that highlights adventurers, athletes, gear designers, activists, and artists who affect notable change in the outdoors world.

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Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar invented a new type of camp stove and with it are aiming to change the world. The company is BioLite, and it’s based in the unlikely outdoors locale of Brooklyn, NY. But its namesake BioLite CampStove and its HomeStove product sent waves through the outdoors industry with the announcement of their release last year.

In short, for the outdoors consumer, the BioLite CampStove turns heat from a fire into usable electricity. It can charge an iPhone or a GPS device in the wilds. You stuff wood inside the unit and light it, placing a cooking pot on top to heat water or food.

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BioLite camp stove can charge an iPhone by burning wood

The $130 unit has a small fan to perpetuate the fire. It also steals energy away from the burning wood and converts it to device-friendly power compatible with a USB plug. We tested the stove this past month. (We boiled a pot of water while charging a phone in the outdoors.) It does what the company claims, straight and simple. Very cool!

But the real bonus with the company — and the reason we were prompted to give an award — is its HomeStove model, which is a sister product with which BioLite aims to get its fire-for-power tech into the developing world. The HomeStove will be made for people in the developing world who cook with wood in enclosed places. It burns fuel efficiently, lessening smoke, and it has the extra benefit of providing power to charge up lights or other devices needed in daily life.

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BioLite staffer with HomeStove in India

On multiple test implementations in places like Uganda, Ghana, and India, the BioLite staff has put its HomeStove to use in villages where smoky open fires are a daily part of life and power is hard to come by. Its dedication to improving life in the developing world is admirable. Says the company, “Over the next five years, we are committed to providing clean cooking and electricity access to over one million homes across India and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

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HomeStove in use in Ghana

We were honored to meet Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar last week at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Utah. At a live ceremony at the Wenger booth during the show we congratulated the pair and handed off the EPIC trophy ice axe in front of a large audience. Here’s to Drummond, Cedar, and all the staffers at BioLite! Your ideas and your work, an Epic effort, deserves an award.

—See our Epic Award channel for past winners and a chance to nominate someone “epic” in your sphere.

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EPIC award hand-off: GearJunkie editor Stephen Regenold (top left) holds award trophy up for audience to see at Outdoor Retailer trade show. Top right: Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar from BioLite take the mic. Bottom: Dennis Piretra from Wenger, Regenold, Cedar, and Drummond pose after the award ceremony at trade show in Utah.

Posted by William Chaverri - 08/10/2012 10:59 AM

Great work, here in Costa Rica there is places where people still using wood fire for daily living, I hope see your products here soon.

Posted by Itsatushy - 08/10/2012 11:48 AM

Wow love this. I liked the little one but great use for the large one. I actually would love the large on for family camping.

Posted by treefrog - 08/10/2012 03:03 PM

Awesome project — NB the 3rd photo is probably not in India :)

Posted by Andrew Skurka - 08/11/2012 10:41 PM

BioLite has an admirable social mission, and if GearJunkie feels it is deserving of their EPIC award for that, that seems reasonable.

But I’d argue that the CampStove is not a superior backpacking or car-camping stove. As a backpacking stove, it is much heavier and much less user-friendly (i.e. cleanliness, tending time, skill requirements, etc.) than other types of stoves like alcohol, canister, and liquid fuel. As a car-camping stove, it is less user-friendly than other types of stoves and other types of recharge options.

I’ve shared my full thoughts about the stove here: LinkText

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