Home & Garden

This portable fire pit doubles as an outdoor stove—but does it work?

We tried this Bluetooth-enabled fire pit just in time for cold weather.

BioLite FirePit review Credit: BioLite

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As the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, people are moving outside to maintain a social life while keeping loved ones safe. Though patio heaters are definitely a hit, they aren’t super portable. Fire pits, an alternative to those patio heaters, have become increasingly popular over the last few months because they can produce more heat as they burn through wood.

However, there’s one caveat—traditional fire pits tend to be smoky and produce odors that may linger on your clothes for days. As more urban-dwelling folks turn to these for warmth, fire pits that use technology to reduce and control the smoke have risen in popularity.

Enter: BioLite FirePit, a smokeless, Bluetooth-enabled fire pit system that can also be converted into a grill. We tested the BioLite FirePit to see if it was the answer to our outdoor gathering woes.

What’s a BioLite FirePit?

Credit: Reviewed / Valerie Li Stack

This fire pit won't take up much space in the back of your car if you go camping with it.

BioLite FirePit is a mesh box with foldable legs and a battery pack attached. The fire pit supports two fuel types: charcoal and firewood. There’s a fan inside the pack that injects cold air through 51 jets within the mesh box, which can dramatically improve combustion and greatly reduce smoke. There are metal handles on either sides of the mesh box that stay cool while a fire is lit, making it possible to move the fire pit around or dump the ashes.

The fan has four modes: Low, Medium, High, and Max. When fully charged, the battery can last 24 hours on Low, 10 hours on Medium, and 5 hours on High. To charge the battery pack, simply plug it in with the included USB cord. When the grill isn’t in use, you can also use the battery pack to charge your phone or other portable, USB devices.

The fire pit can also serve as an outdoor stove—the basic model comes with a removable grate, which turns the fire pit into a hibachi-style grill. Customers have the option to add a cooking kit to their purchase, which includes a cast-iron griddle, a grill lid, and some grilling utensils.

How does the BioLite FirePit work?

Credit: BioLite

You can use either charcoal or firewood to generate heat.

To see whether the fire pit is truly portable, smokeless, and functional as an outdoor grill, we tested the BioLite FirePit for a few weeks. First, we were impressed with how easy it is to start a fire in this fire pit.

The mesh box can hold up to four 16-inch long logs at a time and it produced sufficient heat for a small group of people to stay warm and cozy (while socially distancing). I like the mesh box design that allows the heat to radiate and leave the flame visible, providing gentle ambiance. Unlike the fire pits I’ve used before, the BioLite doesn’t require starter fuel to get the fire going—either kindling or twigs would work.

What we like

Credit: Reviewed / Valerie Li Stack

I like the app connection that allows me to adjust the fan.

Smoke happens when wood or other materials aren’t burnt efficiently. By injecting air into the hot flame, the fan helps the partially combusted wood particles get a second burn. (It’s similar to creating a fire pit in the woods where you stack up logs but leave some room between them to allow oxygen flow.). A friend who’d recently used a patio heater at a restaurant said the BioLite fire pit was much warmer than the heater.

Additionally, BioLite gave me control of the flames through its mobile app, meaning I didn’t have to get up to manually adjust the fan, which can be used to reduce smoke. When the fan is at its maximum capacity, I watched the smoke disappear almost instantly.

To turn the fire pit into a grill, you need to lift up the fuel rack that’s located near the base so you can place the charcoal close to the grate. The hibachi-style grill is large enough to cook six burger patties at once. The shape also makes it perfect for grilling chicken kebabs or root vegetables. The grate is designed to slide on and off, making adding fuel and managing the fire an easy process.

What we don’t like

Credit: Reviewed / Valerie Li Stack

If you're a serious outdoor person, we recommend adding a cover bag that can charge the battery using solar power.

It’s worth noting that if you plan on camping in the woods for days, the battery may die and the fire pit will become much less efficient, as you can no longer run the fan. To maximize fire pit use on trips like this, you’ll need to purchase a solar cover bag or a portable solar panel.

Is BioLite easy to clean and take care of?

Credit: BioLite

As it burns efficiently, there isn't much cleaning to do.

We like how easy it is to clean and pack up the fire pit. Thanks to its compact size, I can dump the ashes and fold up the legs myself. There’s an ash door on the side for easy cleaning. If you can drag your favorite YETI cooler to outdoor gatherings, you can totally carry this fire pit.

The fuel rack, which holds burning material, is detachable and can be cleaned easily. And as the fire pit tends to burn more efficiently than most others, there should be relatively little ash to clean up anyway.

Is the BioLite FirePit worth it?

Credit: BioLite

Overall, we had a pleasant experience with the BioLite FirePit.

If you’re looking for a fire pit that can provide outdoor heating this winter or you’re looking to invest in a fire pit you can take on road trips, you’ll appreciate the convenience of a BioLite FirePit. It’s lightweight and versatile enough to double as an outdoor grill—which means you won’t need to pack a stove in addition next time you go camping.

We love the fan technology that allowed us to control the flame and reduce smoke, which also made burning firewood more efficient and enjoyable. The build quality, compact design, and useful add-on accessories all made this gadget a great tool to keep for years to come.

Get the BioLite FirePit Cooking Kit on BioLite for $373.28

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