Ease of Use
A game changer as far as smoke goes (there isn't any).
Summary : If you don't like campfires because of the smoke this is the fire pit you want. It requires a little more TLC than your regular fire pit and should be brought in after each use, but it's worth it.
Is the Solo Stove Bonfire the best fire pit ever made?
The fire pit hasn’t changed much in, well… forever. Sure you might see different designs cut into the side or fancy legs, but the actual design of the pit itself has remained the same. Then in 2013, a company called Solo Stove filed a patent for a tiny wood-burning stove that looked a little different. There were holes in the bottom of the outside and holes around the top of the inside. What made it different though, was that it was double walled. The idea was that you’d get a huge air draw on the bottom, and then as the air in the walls heated up, you’d get a secondary burn on the top, producing a near smokeless fire that was incredibly efficient.
They sent us one and guess what we found? That’s exactly what it did. I gathered every piece of biomass from the forest I could find and it reduced everything to a dusting of white ash. Check out my review of the Solo Stove Lite.
Fast forward a few years…
It seemed like every single year Solo Stove would keep making this design bigger and bigger. They made the Titan, then the Campfire, (which I reviewed here) and finally the Bonfire! After seeing the efficiency of the smaller versions, I was excited at the thought of throwing regular firewood into a larger version. There was never a need to stoke the smaller versions because they were so efficient, and the near smokeless design would be a dream come true in the backyard.
The claim is that the Solo Stove Bonfire can reduce 20 lbs of firewood to 5 ounces of ash. I decided to put this to the test, so I rounded up 25 lbs of wood (kindling included) and nestled into my Adirondack for a lovely evening of field testing (currently my favorite firestarters). Within only a few minutes it was kicking out far more heat than I would have guessed. After the kindling was well underway, I threw a few logs in, and before long the secondary burn was eliminating almost all of the smoke. Sure, there was a wisp here and there, but it’s night and day compared to a regular firepit.
Watching that secondary burn across the top of the pit never gets old. 25 lbs of firewood lasted about three hours and what was left? Not much. There was a small amount of rain early morning, hence the moisture. As you can see below, there is very little unburned wood left. On that note, I’d say that the only con I can think of for the Solo Stove Bonfire is that it’s not meant to be left out in the elements uncovered. If you want it to maintain its great look (it’s pretty), you’ll need to set it in the garage after you use it. It comes with a nice carrying case, so that’s not a huge negative in my book. The positive here is that the case makes it easy to haul around and impress people with the design and lack of smoke.
Is it worth $299? If you have backyard fires several times a week, I’d say yes. Not having to move around and avoid the smoke is something that you won’t even realize is happening until someone mentions it. It just makes for a far more pleasurable experience. If you’re only out there once a month, then you’re probably better off getting a cheapo version from a big box store and letting it rust over the course of two summers (like we’ve all done). Personally, I’ll never go back to the smoke monster. I’m sold on the double-walled design.
Are there any cons? Yes. The firepit is not designed to be left out in the rain, so if it’s going to rain overnight (check your radar) you have to toss it in the garden shed or garage. The reason I don’t find this to be a big deal is that, due to its efficiency, it burns out faster than other firepits. This brings me to the only other con I can think of: it burns wood faster than a regular firepit. Because the airflow is so efficient, you’ll go through more wood than a traditional firepit will. This is absolutely worth the near smokeless experience in my opinion. Almost everyone that comes over for a bonfire comments on the fact that there’s almost no smoke. I’ve even received texts the next day saying “hey, send me a link to that thing. We sat there all night and I didn’t smell like a bonfire!” It’s so efficient that even people with smoke allergies have been able to start enjoying bonfires again. I think that’s pretty incredible.
If you want to purchase one, it helps us keep the lights on if you click this Amazon affiliate link. Field testing is time-consuming, and every little bit helps us out. Thanks 🙂