Review: Biolite BaseCharge

When it comes to portable power, there used to only be a couple options: fiddle around with a car battery and complicated inverters, or lug around a big gas generator. But it’s no shock that the current market is flowing with power-bank options. The Biolite BaseCharge is one of the best, with a seamless blend of performance and features. From its intuitive display to its plethora of plug-in compatibility, you can use it to slow-cook food while you’re on the slopes, or recharge devices and power sound-systems to spark up the afterparty. Connect a solar panel to go completely off-grid.

The BaseCharge comes in two different sizes: 1500 and 600 (the numbers represent watt-hours). I went with the 600 since its smaller shape fit well with my preexisting truck-camping build. Though both models are quite sleek and compact, the smaller 600 option slid right under my sleeping platform. Both are great options for camping, overlanding, powering up an after-ski party, and much more. The larger option can even fill in when home power fails to keep electronics, refrigerators, and other appliances going.

I’ve already used for a tailgate party after skiing with some friends and it was even more handy than I'd envisioned. I was able to power up a crock pot full of hot chili-cheese dip that was waiting for us when we got back to our rigs. If you’re going to try this, I’d recommend a compact cooker—the large cooker I used had the battery’s juice pretty low after a few hours. No matter, hook it up to a solar panel to keep power coming in while you use the battery. Otherwise, the battery can easily power a speaker, charge phones, and if you have the right attachments, can even recharge a car battery after your buddy accidentally left a light on all day.

I’ve found that the battery’s most standout feature is its user-friendly, interactive display. The display may be small, but Biolite designed it to contain all of the data you need to know exactly what’s going on with the battery. Of course, it show’s an easy to read percentage of power remaining in the battery, but also includes how many hours until empty (or full, depending on whether you’re draining or researching the battery more quickly). It has notifications to inform you of warnings, errors, and recommended actions. One more detail worth mentioning is its “digital odometer,” which operates similarly to the one in your car to inform you of watt usage over time, so you can optimize your energy efficiency.

It’s easy to imagine tons of ways to use this battery, from overnight camping to van dwelling. There's no shortage of value the battery can bring to your setup, so get out there and find more creative ways to get the most out of your Biolite Basecharge.

Available at; $700.