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The Solo Stove Bonfire smokeless fire pit claims to solve the age-old problem of getting a face full of smoke from a campfire. It’s a problem that’s plagued humans since the first cavemen rubbed two sticks together to create fire. But could engineering and a metal canister really produce a better experience than a traditional fire pit?
That’s what we set out to find out. We got our hands on Solo Stove’s most popular model and put it to the test to see if it truly is smokeless and more importantly, if it’s worth buying. After hours of testing—which involved a lot of time sitting outside around the fire—these are our unbiased thoughts on the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0.
Solo Stove Bonfire: Overview and Specifications
- Dimensions: 19.5” x 14”
- Weight: 23.3 pounds
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Burns hotter than expected
- Incredibly efficient
- Smoke-free design really works
- Not designed for outside storage
The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is a stainless steel portable fire pit unlike any other I’ve ever tried. It’s essentially a steel cylinder with a few subtle design features that make all the difference in the world. Most notably, it boasts a double outer wall that helps the steel fire pit circulate plenty of oxygen to the fire. The bottom of the pit has an ash pan that collects all the unburned portions of wood. There is also an elevated fire grate base plate that sits above it to filter said ash to the bottom.
However, the biggest selling point of this wood-burning fire pit is the flame ring that sits on top. Not only does this help protect the flames from the wind, it’s also supposed to help reduce clouds of smoke in your face while sitting around it. There’s nothing too fancy about this part of the pit, and I never would have suspected it was such a vital part of the design.
What I Like About the Solo Stove Bonfire
I’ve been hearing about the Bonfire for a long time now, but it wasn’t until I finally had a fire blazing in it that I started to understand the hype. For the sake of testing, we purposely overloaded it with wood past the upper vent holes just to see how it would handle it. To be fair, I was working with some very dry wood, so a good fire was to be expected.
But I was impressed with just how great the bright flames look licking from the top of the cylinder. It really does produce a nice-looking fire, even if you overload it past the angled metal flame ring.
Although I had piled it high, the efficient burn of the pit wasn’t affected. It didn’t take long before the wood level burned down below the upper vent holes. That’s where the pit really shines in performance—it really does produce minimal smoke exactly as advertised. It was nice to go back inside after my fire without the smell of smoke lingering on my clothing and skin. While I don’t entirely understand the engineering that helps the Solo Stove achieve this, I was still impressed.
Additionally, I was slightly concerned about the metal construction and how that would affect heat output. But those fears ended up being for naught. The Bonfire 2.0 nicely radiates heat both above the rim and around the perimeter of the burn chamber. You’ll want to caution small children not to get too close because the sides got very hot. Even after fires burn down, it produces an excellent bed of hot coals that burns for a very long time. In short, the fire felt great on a cold night, and better contained than any other fire pit I’ve used.
Because of the contained nature of this smokeless fire pit’s design, I had serious concerns about cleaning. I was worried the ash and soot would literally cake the inside walls, making everything a grimy ash mess that would require scrubbing. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the walls retained no soot, although it had produced a nice patina over the interior. Just about all the ash fell into the ash pan, which made for an easy clean-up job.
This is probably due to the fact the fire burned so hot,. There was almost nothing left the next morning when I checked it. I didn’t have to do any wiping or scrubbing at all, which makes it much more likely I’ll take the Bonfire along on camping trips. I already have enough cleaning to worry about with my grills and other camp cookware than to want to have to deal with a fire pit, too.
In fact, the ease of care makes it a lot more likely I’ll try the live-fire cooking accessories. I didn’t get the chance to test those this time. But anything that makes the camp cooking experience cleaner and more efficient is a winner in my book.
The Bonfire isn’t the biggest nor the smallest portable fire pit Solo Stove makes. I think it hits that perfect sweet spot for most average campers at 19.5 inches in diameter. When I was finished, I quickly threw it into the carry bag and it fit on a shelf in my garage quite snugly. But more importantly, it only weighs 23.3 pounds. That should make it easy for most people to handle.
I also briefly wanted to mention the fire pit stand (which is sold separately). While I couldn’t test this on my deck because it’s too close to the house, I placed the Bonfire on a bunch of white rocks in the lawn. After my testing, there was no sign at all a fire pit was there. Chalk that up as a win for leave-no-trace principles.
What I Don’t Like About the Solo Stove Bonfire
I only have one complaint with this backyard fire pit: You can’t leave it outside without some sort of protection. Made of stainless steel, it’s plenty rugged and it will resist precipitation and the elements to some degree. However, it’s also not meant to do that indefinitely. Solo Stove confirmed this in their own blog. Even the best stainless steel will eventually rust over time if left unchecked.
Because of that, Solo Stove also sells an outdoor weather cover if you want to your Bonfire outside. However, I hate the fact that this is another $50 investment on top of an already expensive ($300) fire pit. Sure, the costs go down in their frequent sales. And you can save a little money by purchasing one of their backyard bundles. But this is one of those things that I wish was included standard with every model.
It’s more of an annoyance thing than anything else. While I suspect it will be fine left out overnight after it burns down to coals, you can’t dawdle on it. That means you need to clean it up and put it back in storage the next day, especially if it rains. Thus, if you want to keep your stove nice, you cannot forget about it for a week like you might be able to with another fire pit. While I don’t think this is necessarily a deal breaker, it is something to consider if you plan to leave it outside full time.
Q: Does a Solo Stove really reduce smoke?
While every fire is going to produce smoke, the Solo Stove Bonfire produced minimal smoke during our testing. The smoke was visible during fires, but it reduced or even eliminated the usual watery eyes. It also prevented that woody smell of smoke that tends to stick to your clothing afterwards, even after sitting around the fire for hours.
Q: How long does the Solo Bonfire burn for?
During my testing, I only placed four normal-sized logs in the bit during the first fire and let it burn down to ash. This produced a fire that lasted roughly an hour and a half. Subsequently, the stove was surprisingly efficient on wood—you should only need a small bundle for a night around a campfire.
Q: Can I leave a Solo Stove outside?
Solo Stove notes on their website that the fire pit will rust if left exposed to moisture for too long. They recommend keeping your fire pit stored in a dry, cool area when not in use to prolong the life of the product. Alternatively, you can purchase the accessory cover for outdoor protection.
Solo Stove Bonfire: Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 produces an hours-long burn with a decent-sized flame from just a handful of logs. I love the efficiency. And that’s exactly what this fire pit delivered. That’s without considering that there’s almost zero traces of smoke while sitting around it. I’ve always hated that feeling on your skin that sitting around a smoky campfire produces, especially if you head to bed immediately after. The Bonfire solves this problem in a huge way. In fact, it’s given me an excuse to go out and have a fire more often. I cannot wait to take it with me on my next camping trip.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.