This year, BioLite took its cooking technology extra large with a fan-assisted FirePit for use in backyards and the greater outdoors. The FirePit’s main innovation is that it cuts down on smoke, because while a little savory fire smell is nice, smoke can quickly become a camper’s worst enemy when a shift in the wind turns a relaxing sit into a teary eyed coughing fit.
Unlike your average campfire pit, BioLite’s FirePit uses a set of battery-powered air jets to pump oxygen into the natural wood fire, making the burn far more efficient and less smoky. You can control the intensity of those jets at the FirePit itself or via a Bluetooth app. So you still get to enjoy the sight, sound, smell and warmth of a real wood fire, only without the aggressive smoke.
The FirePit’s 10,400-mAh battery removes for charging and can also charge mobile devices. A removable hibachi grate and wood/charcoal capability let the FirePit work easily as a grill. All in all it looks like a smart, versatile addition to any campsite.
BioLite launched the US$200 FirePit on Kickstarter in September and is now offering it for pre-order on its website. This one won’t ship in time for the holidays, but it will catch the tail end of Northern Hemisphere summer camping season with an estimated August 2018 ship date.
Rovr Rollr coolers
We quickly tire of writing its e-free name, but we don’t tire of singing the Rovr Rollr cooler’s praises. “Multifunctional cooler,” usually means an awkward, over-engineered icebox loaded with features that you really don’t need (Bluetooth speakers, gadget charging, air conditioning, etc.), but Rovr makes it a more acceptable term. Because the Colorado company focuses on features that help the cooler perform necessary, not peripheral, camping tasks. It keeps food and drinks cold for days on end, rolls said food and drinks, along with other gear, to camp on terrain-chewing pneumatic tires, and works as a food/drink prep station.
The 85-quart (80-L) Rovr Rollr was one of our favorite highlights from this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, and a few days later Rovr launched the 60-quart (57-L) model with successful Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. The latter model isn’t available to purchase directly through Rovr’s online store just yet, but the 85-quart version is available for $449, or $499 when paired with the bike hitch.
Not an all-new gadget, but new to the US and one of the most useful, dual-purpose camping tools we saw all year, Kariba’s stove-shower brings a little South African bush ingenuity to your local campground. The compact unit relies on a dual-fuel single- or dual-burner base to cook and heat water for the included shower, making it the perfect multifunctional companion for extended car camping trips or compact camper vans lacking indoor bathrooms or outdoor showers.
Kariba’s 2-in-1 kits include a bucket that works as a carry case in transit and holds water for the shower at camp. With the 12 V pump, the system draws water in, pushes it through a heat exchanger and sends it cascading out the shower head. When shower time gives way to cooking time, simply swap the heat exchanger for the cooking grate and get to work.