Sitting around a fire camping or in the backyard is one of my favourite things to do. There’s just something about the fire crackling between family and friends that soothes the soul.
After years of trying to find a good fire pit and just using whatever was there camping, I found the Bonfire, a beautiful stainless steel fire pit from Solo Stove.
Started by Jeff and Spencer Jan making high quality, lightweight backpacking stoves that burned wood. Those got popular and then branched out into premium backyard fire pits which have taken off as well.
The Solo Stove fire pits come in three different sizes: the Ranger, Bonfire and Yukon. The Ranger is the smallest at 15 inches across, 12.5 inches tall, and weighing 15 pounds. The Yukon is the largest size weighing 38 pounds, 27 inches across and 17 inches tall. The Bonfire in this review is in the middle, weighing 20 pounds, 19.5 inches across and 14 inches tall.
The design of the 3 Solo stoves is exactly the same. They’re a minimalist, double-walled metal cylinder with an angled ring around the top. Inside the bottom is full of holes to keep air flowing around the fire. Around the outside of the bottom is a ring of holes that can suck air in the from the outside. Just inside the top of the inside is another ring of holes to let the superheated air out of the walls. More on that below.
Why use a fire pit?
What’s the point of a fire pit? Why not just use a ring of rocks?
In the backyard, having a fire pit makes obvious sense. A ring of rocks doesn’t look very clean and might not be safe if you have kids around. Semi-permanent fire pits are easier to build and look better when you see them every day.
Designated, paid campsites usually have some sort of fire ring or fire pit as well. They have thousands of campers use them every year and it wouldn’t work well or be safe to have people making their fires anywhere they wanted. Sometimes these pits aren’t the cleanest, full of others garbage or the random junk the previous campers burnt last.
Overlanding or camping in free camping areas often just have a ring of rocks or pile of coals where the fire was last. These too can be full of garbage and in a free camping area are rarely cleaned up to leave no trace.
Bringing your own fire pit can help with all these problems.
The Solo Stoves fire pits look great so you can have them set up in the backyard without looking like a cheap campsite.
In a campsite or free camping area, using your own fire pit keeps your fire clean of others’ garbage. You know exactly what wood and firestarter went into your fire. You know you aren’t breathing plastic garbage from less caring campers.
When you leave, you can pack up your fire pit and all traces of the fire to take out with you. No one will know you had a fire there. Leave no trace.
- 9 kg (20 pounds)
- 50 cm (19.5 inches) across
- 35 cm (14 inches) tall
- 304 stainless steel
- $449.99 CAD – $324.99 on sale ($349.99 USD, $249.99 on sale)
- less smoke
- easy to clean and move
- looks good
- less heat from the sides
- can’t douse with water
Tips for Lighting a Fire in a Solo Stove
Lighting a fire in the Solo Bonfire is just like a normal fire. Start with dry firestarter or paper and then slowly build up hot embers with dry kindling. Finally, add your dry wood logs.
The Bonfire can fit about 4-6 logs up to 40 cm (15 inches) long or any combination of smaller firewood.
Use the driest wood you can find. It will burn with the least smoke and is easiest to light. Hardwoods like birch, maple, hickory and oak will burn the longest since they are most dense.
To get the least smoke from the Bonfire keep the wood below the ring of holes at the top. The smokeless process works the best when there’s space for superheated air to come out of the holes at the top.
How is it Smokeless?
No fire pit is going to be perfectly smokeless but the Bonfire firepit is pretty close. If you’re using dry wood, there’s almost no smoke that comes out of the top of the fire pit.
The Solo stoves use their Signature 360° Airflow Design.
Hole in the outside of the bottom allow air to flow in between the double walls. That air in between the walls gets heated from the fire in the firepit and rises. It comes out the inside holes at the top and starts a secondary burn of the smoke. What’s left is less smoke and less ash.
If you’re using wet wood then it’s going to be somewhat smokey but still less than a normal fire pit would be. Once the hot coals get going, it’s nearly smokeless.
Less Heat Radiation
Because of the doublewall design, less heat radiates out of the side compared to a regular fire pit. An open fire pit will give you more warmth sitting next to it. A lot of the heat comes out of the top so you can still get some heat if you are close.
The Solo Stoves are great for cooking over and having for ambiance but there are better options if you’re just looking for heat from the side of fire when it’s cold.
Solo sells a bunch of accessories for the Ranger, Bonfire and Yukon. A carrying bag with handles comes with the fire pit.
The kit I got includes the stand that raises it off the ground 2 inches. This keeps the ground or wood below the fire safe from the heat. I like that it doesn’t kill all the grass under it if it’s in one location for a while.
The Backyard Bundle kit includes the fire pit, stand, spark shield that goes on top to prevent sparks from coming out and the Shelter, a weather resistant cover.
You can get the Shelter cover and Shield separate as well. A cooking surface, handles and a solid metal lid are also optional accessories. For the cook tops, you can get a griddle, wok or grill top for it.
Dousing the fire
Since the Solo stoves are made with stainless steel and welded together, any sudden change in temperature might warp the metal or tear the welds so they advise against pouring water on top of the fire to put it out. This changes the temperature too quickly, possibly wrecking the inside of the stove.
Let the fire burn out and then you can move it or put the cover back on. This is one of small downsides with the Solo Stoves. It’s not much of a problem at home when I can just watch the fire from inside and make sure it goes out but when you’re out camping and need to leave or go to bed, it might be a bigger inconvenience.
“Create good” is Solo’s motto. They try to make good products, good moments, and good memories. Sitting around a beautiful fire pit in the backyard with friends is an excellent way of doing that.
The Bonfire from Solo Stoves is a beautiful addition to our backyard and we look forward to evening fires more than ever. When we have room, we’ll be taking it camping in the spring and early summer as well to get the fire out of the garbage in the campsite fire pits. It will take a little thinking ahead to make sure we have time for it to cool before we have to move it or pack it up but that’s one small issue with an overall beautiful and very nice-to-use fire pit.
Disclaimer: Solo stove provided this stove for free to review. All opinions of the product are my own.