Gather ‘round the campfire because it’s time for my detailed and unbiased Solo Stove review!
From childhood camping trips with family to my young adulthood sitting around backyard bonfires in Brooklyn, my life has been full of campfires.
There’s something so primal about staring into the mesmerizing flames of a fire pit, poking them with a stick, feeding them logs. But I think we can all agree that there are downsides as well.
First and foremost: smoke.
When a fire decides to blow its smoke in your direction, you stop being able to think, tears stream down your face, and your teeth clench in a grimace. You don’t know whether to move or wait it out.
A few years ago, I was at one of those aforementioned Brooklyn backyard bonfires and noticed something curious.
The backyard fire pit was delivering a virtually smokeless fire. It was burning hot with very little ash–we ran through two bundles of firewood. But it was comfortable for everyone who huddled around it.
This was my first run-in with a Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
As it turns out, Solo Stove fire pits are pretty expensive. Still, I decided it was time to spring for one.
But was it as good as I imagined it would be? Was the Bonfire 2.0 fire pit, specifically, worth the steep price tag?
The answers to these, and all of your other burning questions, lie ahead in my in-depth Solo Stove review.
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Table of Contents
What is Solo Stove and How Does it Work?
Although Solo Stove makes everything from pizza ovens to grills, their star product is a portable, smokeless fire pit.
These stainless steel fire pits give off very little smoke and ash by creating an environment where the fire burns super hot.
This creates a secondary burn that eliminates much of the ash and most of the smoke before reaching you.
The lack of smoke also reduces the amount of campfire smell that will cling to your hair and clothes.
A ring of small vent holes at the base sucks cold air into the double-wall chamber, where it warms up, rises, and escapes through a row of vent holes around the top.
That rising hot air adds oxygen to the burn chamber, making the fire burn hotter and eliminating the smoke. Science!
There are several Solo Stove fire pit models, but the most popular (and the one that I decided to test out) is the Bonfire 2.0.
All 2.0 fire pit models now include a removable ash pan for easy cleaning.
A Quick Look at Solo Stove as a Company
Two brothers named Spencer and Jeff Jan founded Solo Stove in 2010, originally producing an ultralight backpacking stove primarily used to boil water.
In 2014, the Dallas-based company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to finance its new line of fire pits. Today, the acting CEO is John Merris.
Solo Stove’s popularity grew steadily over the years, then experienced a considerable boom during COVID-19, as friends and families searched for ways to safely spend outdoor time together, even in chilly weather.
Solo Stove is a member of 1% for the Planet, a program where businesses donate 1% of their revenue to organizations that help the environment.
Some of the initiatives that Solo Stove supports are One Tree Planted and the National Forest Foundation.
So, not only do they provide products that help you enjoy the great outdoors, but in doing so, they ensure that we can keep enjoying nature for a long time.
Solo Stove Review: My Experience With Solo Stove Bonfire + Stand 2.0
I opted for the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0, bundled with a stand.
There are four Solo Stove sizes, and the Bonfire fire pit is Solo Stove’s second largest campfire pit. It measures 19.5” wide, 14” tall (without the stand), and weighs 20 pounds.
I tested it out for the first time on a crisp fall afternoon in the woods of upstate New York.
As with most weekend getaways, we were a little short on time. Luckily, assembly was extremely simple, with just three parts to contend with: the bonfire, the stand, and the fire ring that goes on top.
The instructions told me to set the Bonfire 2.0 onto the base, light the fire, and then place the fire ring on top.
The tapered metal fire rings are crucial for directing heat back towards the flames, creating the secondary burn.
I should have read through FAQs thoroughly beforehand, but unfortunately, that’s not my style. As such, I missed the part where it said not to use any lighter fluid or accelerant in your Solo Stove.
In my experience, it takes perseverance to get a good fire going, and lighter fluid is usually a godsend.
As it turns out, the fumes from an accelerant could concentrate in a Solo Stove and cause an explosion, but luckily we didn’t use much anyway–in no time, the campfire was burning and crackling enthusiastically.
I was excited about the Solo Stove because I already understood the joy of a smoke-free fire, so it was easy to satisfy me.
My husband, however, entered the experience dubiously. He is stubbornly frugal and likes doing things the old-fashioned way.
He was skeptical of the Solo Stove (“why do we need it?” he asked) and insisted we dig a permanent fire pit for our wedding two months ago on the upstate land.
So, it’s really saying something that he quickly became a Solo Stove believer.
Our efficient fire burned hot and emitted very little smoke, and we hardly had to use any small twigs and kindling.
The thick firewood logs, which usually need a lot of coaxing before they catch, ignited quickly and burned without maintenance.
We decided to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, washing them down with a carton of fresh apple cider. Here, our Solo Stove Bonfire revealed another advantage.
Because the low-smoke fire burns so hot, it cooks things super evenly at lightning speed. Our hot dogs quickly heated through and acquired a crisp, crackly skin.
The roasted marshmallows were some of the best I’ve ever had.
It took less than two minutes to toast them to a deep, golden-brown perfection, making it very easy to devour five of them in a short span of time.
The one downside was that our roasting sticks started to catch fire, and I lost one marshmallow to the ground after my charred stick snapped. But it was a small price to pay!
After finishing our lunch, we ran into a dilemma. We needed to drive back to the city, but the fire was still burning. How would we get the stove back into the car?
Although Solo Stove cautions against it, we were able to topple the bonfire with our feet and dump the embers on the ground, where we poured water over them.
The directions warn to only try to handle your fire pit once it has entirely burned out and cooled on its own, but once again, I rebelled, and the results were not disastrous.
Once the embers were out, the Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit cooled down surprisingly quickly. It was cool enough to touch and put into its carrying bag within 20 minutes. Success!
Pros of the Solo Stove
Solo Stove claims to offer a smokeless campfire experience, and they deliver on that.
Okay, technically, there’s a little smoke when the fire first gets going, so it’s more accurate to call it a fire with less smoke. But honestly, once the fire gets going, there’s essentially no smoke coming off of it.
A bonus is that extra-hot, smokeless fire also produces very minimal ash.
Easy to light and efficient burn
The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 fire pit creates a chamber where a campfire burns at a higher heat.
That means it’s much easier to get the fire going, even if you’re using wood that would otherwise take a while to catch in other fire pits.
And once lit, that fire will burn hot without much maintenance, letting you spend more time enjoying yourself and less time tending the flames.
Plus, as I mentioned above, this hot fire leaves behind very little ash for minimal clean-up.
Superior roasting power
If you feel like a campfire isn’t complete without a bag of marshmallows, then the Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit is for you.
The high heat does an incredible job of roasting marshmallows (or anything else you want to spear onto a stick) quickly, evenly, and consistently.
The marshmallows I’ve toasted over my Solo Stove Bonfire are some of the best I’ve ever had.
The Solo Stove Bonfire weighs just over 20 pounds and comes with a nylon carrying case.
It’s not like you’d take it backpacking, but it’s the perfect portable fire pit for car camping or bringing over to a friend’s house.
Cons of the Solo Stove
Burns through more wood
The one downside of the Solo Stove Bonfire pit’s efficient burn is that it goes through more wood, and it burns quickly.
If you’re planning to spend a whole evening sitting around the campfire, you’ll need at least two bundles of firewood, if not more.
You can’t use lighter fluid or water on it
Another pitfall of the Solo Stove’s innovative design is that it’s a little finicky.
While the burn chamber makes it easier to get the fire going, it can still be tricky if it’s windy or your wood is slightly damp.
Usually, that’s when I’d turn to lighter fluid, but using liquid fire starters in your Solo Stove can be dangerous. You may need to use fire starter logs to make it easier.
Also, the fact that you can’t just dump water in your Solo Stove means that you have to let the fire burn out.
This can be inconvenient if you’re using it away from home and you need to put it in your car after the bonfire is over.
Yes, when I faced that dilemma, I broke the rules by tipping the ash and embers onto the ground, but you risk burning yourself or starting a fire when you do this.
I was on my own property at the time and I tipped the burning ash onto damp dirt and poured water on it, which reduced the risk factor. However, it’s still something to consider.
There are numerous good reasons to spring for a Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit, but the fact remains that it costs hundreds of dollars, even if you get a discount.
So, that’s also something to think about.
Solo Stove Return & Exchange Policy
Solo Stove offers free returns within 30 days from when it’s shipped. They’ll pay for shipping and issue you a full refund.
If you’d like to return your stove outside the 30-day window, Solo Stove will accept unused fire pits in exchange for store credit.
Solo Stove only accepts returns for purchases directly from their website, not from 3rd party retailers.
They also offer a lifetime warranty and will replace any product that breaks due to a defect.
Solo Stove Discounts & Coupons
Solo Stove offers a hero discount to military members, first responders, medical professionals, and teachers.
Or, if you’re involved in the outdoor industry, you can apply for a discount through their Pro Deal program.
You can also find frequent sales and exclusive coupons via their offers page.
Other Solo Stove Products
The Solo Stove Yukon is the heftiest model if you’re looking for a larger fire pit than the Bonfire 2.0.
In addition to their signature wood-burning fire pits, Solo Stove also makes a range of related outdoor products.
The Pi Pizza Oven is portable and can run on wood fire or propane fuel.
The convenient, pellet-fueled Tower Patio Heater can keep you warm outdoors without needing a cumbersome propane tank.
If you want to spring for the whole experience, Solo Stove offers the Ultimate Bundle, which includes the Bonfire, stand, lid, shelter, handle, tools, and sticks. They’ll even throw in a carrying case.
Where to Buy a Solo Stove
Aside from buying your Solo Stove fire pit directly from their website, they’re also available at many 3rd party retailers.
These include Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ace Hardware, Williams-Sonoma, and even the MoMa Design store.
Just keep in mind that Solo Stove’s return policy is only available for purchases directly from them.
Breeo vs Solo Stove: Which is Better?
Breeo is the leading Solo Stove alternative and their main competitor in the smokeless wood-burning fire pit game.
While I’ve never used a Breeo and can’t give you my firsthand opinion on them, I can tell you how they compare.
The outer wall of a Breeo fire pit is a solid piece of undentable, thick steel.
Breeos are more durable and (subjectively) more stylish, but the flip side is that they’re cumbersome and slightly pricier.
So, if you’re looking for portable fire pits for car camping, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is about half the weight of a comparable Breeo.
If you only want your fire pit to stay stationary in your backyard and are most concerned with the look and durability, you might prefer a Breeo.
FAQs About Solo Stoves
Is the Solo Stove really smokeless?
Yes! The Solo Stove can burn wood at such a high heat that it produces minimal smoke–making it essentially smoke-free.
However, you need to be sure not to pile your wood too high in the burn chamber.
If the wood is above the top row of vent holes that emit heated oxygen, the surrounding cool air may lower the fire temperature, causing it to create smoke.
Do Solo Stoves give off heat?
Yes! The Solo Stove is a wood-burning fire pit designed to produce more heat and less smoke. So, Solo Stove smokeless fire pits radiate heat even more efficiently than a traditional fire.
And for extra heat, you can purchase a heat deflector accessory that will expand the heat radius of your campfire.
Can you burn charcoal in a Solo Stove?
The Solo Stove Bonfire is specifically a wood-burning fire pit. You shouldn’t put charcoal in it because it burns much hotter than wood, which could damage your fire pit.
Why is the Solo Stove so expensive?
The price for any consumer good is a complex balance of the cost to produce it, the quality of the materials, and how much consumers are willing to pay for it.
So, it’s difficult to answer exactly why something costs what it does.
That said, Solo Stove wood-burning fire pits are made of high-quality stainless steel. They feel sturdy, well-made, and durable. There’s no denying that this is a good product.
To me, the original price of $399 does feel quite steep for a fire pit, but the sale price feels more reasonable.
They’re also currently on sale for 40% off, and there was a similar discount available a few months ago when I got mine.
You likely won’t need to pay full price for a Solo Stove wood-burning fire pit if you time your purchase right.
Can you leave a Solo Stove in the rain?
The Solo Stove isn’t like other fire pits; you shouldn’t leave it outside in the rain unless you have a cover. If the drum fills with water, it could damage it.
If you purchase the shelter accessory, you can leave it out and rest assured that it’ll stay safe even in snow.
How far should a Solo Stove be from a house?
You should place your Solo Stove at least six feet away from a building to eliminate the risk of the flames catching your house.
Also, while the stand does raise the fire pit off the ground to protect heat-sensitive surfaces, you should still be cognisant of where you’re placing it.
For instance, you should be wary of putting it on a wooden deck, even with the stand.
How long does a Solo Stove take to cool down?
In my experience, once the fire is entirely out, it shouldn’t take longer than a half hour for the stainless steel to cool down enough to handle.
Why is my Solo Stove smoking so much?
If you’re finding a lot of smoke coming off your Solo Stove fire pit, then you likely have the wood piled too high.
If your fire is too far above the top row of vent holes, the Solo Stove’s smoke-reducing mechanism can’t work.
How do you put out a fire in a Solo Stove?
You should not pour water into your Solo Stove, as it may damage the stainless steel. The only genuinely fire-safe way to put out a Solo Stove fire is to let it burn out on its own.
It’s true that I did not follow the above advice the first time I used it, opting to tip the embers out onto the ground. However, this could be a risky move, and Solo Stove doesn’t recommend it.
You can also purchase a lid accessory to help snuff out the embers when it’s time to clean up and head inside.
How many people can sit around a Solo Stove?
According to Solo Stove, the Bonfire fire pit, which has a diameter of 19.5”, is ideal for groups ranging from three to six people (perhaps more if you’re willing to sit closer together!)
How easy is the Solo Stove Bonfire to assemble?
The Solo Stove Bonfire is extremely easy to assemble. You only need to take it out of the package, set it on the fire pit stand, light your fire, and then place your flame ring on top. That’s it!
Can you cook on a Solo Stove?
You can absolutely cook on a Solo Stove.
You can do what I did and spear your food onto a stick that you hold above the fire to roast, but you can also purchase a hub accessory that you can place a skillet on for open-fire cooking.
Also, Solo Stove offers stainless steel sticks if you’d rather not go foraging for a natural one.
Up your outdoor cooking game with one of our picks for the best camping mess kits.
Is the Solo Stove any good? Is it legit?
The Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit is a high-quality product that delivers on its promises. It is legit!
Conclusion: So, is a Solo Stove Worth the Money?
If you’ve read through this Solo Stove Bonfire review, you already know I’m a fan of this fire pit.
The main question is: why pay hundreds of dollars for a Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit when you can literally dig a hole and make a fire ring out of rocks?
At least, that was my husband’s question.
And it only took one afternoon to show him the answer. It’s worth it because it produces a smoke-free burn, makes it easy to get the fire started and keep it going, and it’s portable.
Personally, the un-discounted price of a Solo Stove seems too steep for me.
Not because anything is lacking in the product but because I’m not likely to spend that much on any outdoor gear.
But that’s just me! With the sale price or a Solo Stove coupon, however, it’s in a more reasonable range.
So, if you’re considering a Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 and you have the cash for it, I absolutely recommend going for it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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