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VitalGrill wood-burning camp stove fans its own flames

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July 26, 2012

The VitalGrill Barbecue (left) and Stove

The VitalGrill Barbecue (left) and Stove

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What do you do when you’re trying to get a reluctant campfire going? You blow on it, of course, to fan the flames. Montreal’s SolHuma Inc. has taken that same idea, and applied it to its VitalGrill camp stove. The portable device burns whatever combustible material can be loaded into it – no special fuels are required – and incorporates a small battery-powered fan that “supercharges” the flames to produce up to 20,000 BTUs of heat.

The US$79 stove consists of the fan, and an adjoining box-like combustion chamber that folds down to about the thickness of the fan when not in use. Both parts together weigh 740 grams (1.6 lbs).

When it’s time to cook, the sides of the chamber are raised, and wood, straw, charcoal or anything else that will burn is put inside and set alight. A separate cable-connected control unit is then used to select the speed at which the fan blows, to determine the intensity of the fire – that unit requires two AA batteries, which should be good for about 35 to 40 hours of run time. An adjustable shutter on the fan likewise allows users to control how much air it draws.

Air from the fan comes up through a matrix of small holes in the base of the chamber, fanning the flames from the bottom up. Four swiveling arms protrude from the top of it (one at each corner), to hold pots or pans. It can support a cooking payload of up to 25 kilograms (50 lbs).

The VitalGrill Barbecue

The VitalGrill Barbecue

Users looking for a larger cooking surface, who don’t care so much about traveling light, might instead be interested in the $170 VitalGrill barbecue. It consists of the same hardware as the basic stove, but with the addition of a 35-centimeter (13.5-inch) circular lidded grill. The stainless steel rig can be disassembled and folded flat, and transported in an included carrying bag.

The use of wood or other biological materials as fuel is certainly a plus for campers who don’t want to purchase and then bring along canisters of potentially dangerous fuels such as propane ... as long as they’re heading somewhere where they’re likely to be able to find combustible materials, that is. If their destination is treeless, on the other hand, they may find that packing along a bulky load of wood or charcoal is more trouble than it’s worth.

Even for those people who wouldn’t have any problem finding fuel on-site, there are other products they might want to consider. The WoodGas line of camp stoves, for instance, operate on a principle quite similar to that of the VitalGrill. However, SolHuma GM Charles Gravel told us that even the largest WoodGas model puts out less heat than the VitalGrill, while at the same time going through batteries quicker. The smallest WoodGas stove sells for $52.50.

There’s also the BioLite stove, that cleverly converts heat from the flames into electricity, which it then uses to run an integrated fan that causes the fire to burn more intensely – that electricity can also be used to charge or run electronic devices. Like the WoodGas stoves, however, it doesn’t fold flat. It’s also pricier, going for $129.

Finally, the VitalGrill barbecue has a competitor in the form of the $199 Cook-Air grill. It’s definitely less portable, though, requiring eight D batteries – or mains power.

More information on the VitalGrill stove and barbecue is available in the video below.

Source: VitalGrill via OhGizmo!

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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9 Comments

Kind of like a worse version of the BioLite stove... It's less portable, requires batteries, and cannot charge devices via USB. I guess it is cheaper.

Jon Smith
27th July, 2012 @ 11:38 am PDT

Oh and I love the slogan "powered by nature" ya and two AA batteries. And technically isn't everything powered by nature ultimately, fossil fuels are natural aren't they, solar power from the Sun is natural isn't it?

Jon Smith
27th July, 2012 @ 11:47 am PDT

I hope Biolite will come up with a portable grill version of their thermoelectric powered fan stove. I'd pay extra if you don't have to lug a battery with exposed wires and no usb charger. They're working on a semiportable home cooking stove as of now.

SpaceBagels
27th July, 2012 @ 12:31 pm PDT

This grill looks awesome. It wouldn't replace my big green egg but sometimes that takes a long time to get going. This looks cool not only for being portable but also for when you just want the grill to get going quick to grill up some hot dogs.

Tech Preps Podcast
28th July, 2012 @ 06:39 pm PDT

I am waiting for Biolite. But I wonder why VitaGrill needs outside power when they could power their fan the same way? And why is Biolite the only stove maker to generate its own electricity? Do these manufactures know their options? Do they read Gizmag? Maybe not.

voluntaryist
28th July, 2012 @ 08:02 pm PDT

The VitalStove has been around for years, so that's why the design may not seem as up to date as BioLite.

Joe F
30th July, 2012 @ 04:51 pm PDT

How about a good, old-fashioned bellows? I'm sure someone can design an ultralight carbon fiber bellows for campers and it could fold flat for easy transport. Put the bellows on the ground, connect it to the stove with a hose and pump it with your foot.

Gadgeteer
30th July, 2012 @ 05:41 pm PDT

The Folding Firebox Stove is like a super-tool for fire, It's a multi-fuel cook stove, grill, boil system, portable campfire and can be converted into a rocket stove, This thing does it all! And folds down to nearly a quarter of an inch thick, Ok it won't charge your gadgets, I think of that as a plus, that's why I go camping, To get away from all that and the Firebox is silent so you can enjoy nature I find the constant buzzing of the Biolight annoying

Horseshoehiker
1st November, 2012 @ 09:04 am PDT

I've been using a the battery powered Zip Stove for backpacking for over 13 years. A simple idea that works.

http://www.zzstove.com/

Steven Evers
21st November, 2013 @ 11:42 am PST
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