Solo Stove Bonfire: Reviewed

Who knew that a Bonfire could be improved? One man’s experience with a new way to start a fire. Our hands-on review of the Solo Stove Bonfire.
By Ben Jackson   March 22, 2019 2:44 pm GMT-0700

Summer is coming and we all know what that means. Bonfires! Do you enjoy lovely summer evenings? Do you enjoy burning things? Or, do you simply want to drive home the point to Steve down the street that you are in fact, the master of all backyard innovations?

If you answered no to any of the above, kindly leave. Otherwise feel free to stay and hang out for a while; we’re doing a hands-on review of the Solo Stove Bonfire.

INTRODUCING THE SOLO STOVE BONFIRE

Fact: Dudes have been hanging around fire pits for thousands of years. Also a fact: the process of preparing, and creating fire is essentially engrained in our very DNA. And yet, the recipe has remained largely the same for millennia: find a spot in the ground, gather some wood, and if you’re real fancy perhaps throw together a nice rock border. Sound about right? Thanks to the fine folks over at Solo Stove, the game has changed. Solo Stove wants you to experience their revolutionary line of products made for camping, backpacking, or just sitting around with that pack of hyenas you call friends.

On that note, we recently got our hands on the Bonfire, one of the best products made by Solo Stove. And we’re here to tell you that it absolutely lives up to the hype.

WHAT MAKES THE SOLO STOVE BONFIRE SO AWESOME?

Okay, so what exactly makes the Bonfire leaps and bounds better than the competition? Let’s start with the proprietary double-wall construction that encompasses their fire burning vessels. After what must have been months of endless permutations and quantum mechanics, the masterminds at Solo Stove have perfected delivering air circulation to the soon-to-be raging fire inside, along with introducing a magical secondary combustion of super-heated air near the top of the pit.

Once you get this little guy purring from about 10-15 minutes of startup, the secondary combustion from the upper vents turns into an almost hypnotic tornado of flames that could consume an entire evening of mesmerized stares. Don’t we all deserve to witness a hypnotic tornado of flames? More importantly, by efficiently burning the contents of the stove, the Bonfire produces very little smoke — and results in a more enjoyable experience on all fronts, and one that doesn’t leave you smelling like you just spent weeks crawling around in the woods.

Many of the products from Solo Stove are designed specifically for the adventurous soul who enjoys hiking, camping and backpacking. The Bonfire would certainly be more than a bit cumbersome for a hike (unless you’re Andre the Giant), but really does make backyard fires much more accessible, for those of us working with limited space. Now we certainly don’t recommend breaking any local fire codes, but the self-contained nature of the Bonfire’s pit (combined with its almost non-existent smoke output) provides for an extremely suburban-friendly option to satisfy your inner pyromaniac.

UNBOXING

The Solo Stove team ships your new stove with incredible haste; we only had to wait 2-3 days.. just enough time to giddily build anticipation. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend that time pondering what exactly you’re going to burn in this bad boy (despite than less than ideal weather). Pulling this thing from its well-packaged parcel felt kind of like unwrapping a jet engine. Now, I haven’t exactly unwrapped a jet engine per se, but I’m confident in my assessment and stand by the comparison.

The impressive construction of the Bonfire’s smooth cylindrical 304 stainless steel, punctuated with a series of vent holes to accommodate their proprietary double-wall construction really does bring joy to one’s soul. Upon closer examination, it looks like something you’d try and strap onto some unsuspecting hot rod to set a new land speed record. Please don’t actually do that. But if you do, send us the video.

Inside you’ll find everything you need to get started, less the logs of course – you’ll have to find some of those on your own. Our model came equipped with the optional stand for increased circulation, in addition to a super convenient carrying bag that can double as a short-term cover. That is, if you become too lazy to bring it in after using it. Pro tip: let it cool down first.

MY EXPERIENCE

I have spent many moons around fire pits both camping and in backyard settings and I have to say, this thing is impressive. I scoured every branch, log, and even cardboard box I could find to toss into the flames, and it devoured them with ease. At one point I even packed the Solo-Stove to the brim with newspapers, old mail and magazines, purely for scientific purposes of course.  Packing this fire-enhancing cauldron full of paper is of course, not recommended — as it did somewhat clog up the airflow — but sure enough, it burned its way through it all and happily blazed along as if nothing had ever happened.

I’ll level with you: we all know that one guy who is constantly messing with the fire, striving for that perfect log positioning, in order to create the most efficient burn ever, right? In case you couldn’t tell by now.. I’ll state it plainly. I am, with zero reservations, that guy.

I felt both impressed, and somewhat let down, that my traditional fire-management ritual was rendered virtually irrelevant with the Solo Stove. At one point, I had nothing but a single large log burning as if it were a full-blown fire, which any seasoned fire maker knows, is impressive. It’s this simple: get it started, keep feeding it logs and it will take care of the rest!

With my newly found idle time, I really had the overwhelming urge to cook on this thing. Cooking over the Bonfire model is not entirely recommended, but the amount of heat it put out had me itching to saddle it up with a cast-iron skillet and cook some steaks — the way a real man should. I very likely will be getting one of their smaller backpacking models to do exactly that on an upcoming deep woods adventure, but the urge is there to similarly use the Bonfire as my own personal cook top.

Despite my feelings of fire-management abandonment created by the Solo Stove’s super-efficient burning capabilities, I found myself falling back on what bonfires were really intended for; sitting around and relaxing with friends.

Very seldom did I find myself chased by the super obnoxious clouds of smoke, as there were really none to speak of. The no-hassle, smoke free result of this fire pit really opens up your evening to just sit back, relax and bask in all the fire-blazing glory.

THE SPEC SHEET

Here’s everything you need to know about the Bonfire:

  • 20 lbs.
    You can manage 20 lbs. right?
  • 14” Tall x 19” wide
    I found this to be the perfect size for my use, but Solo Stove does have a larger “Yukon” model on the way.
  • Durable 304 Stainless Steel Construction
    I’m not going to say bulletproof, because too many people would try, but it’s certainly close.
  • Double-wall Construction
    This is the real genius behind the Bonfire. It produces an incredibly efficient, smoke-free burn.
  • Internal Ash Pan
    The internal ash pan catches nearly all of the ash, keeping it squeaky clean – and less likely to damage grass or your driveway.
  • Extremely Transportable
    The size is just right, and with the included carrying case transporting in a car or truck is clean and easy.
  • Lifetime Warranty
    Seriously, they back it up with a full lifetime warranty. Honestly though, given the construction I don’t see how you would need it.

Basically, from a construction and materials perspective, this thing is entirely badass. Not only does it look solid, it’s built to last.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

At the time of this review Solo Stove had the Bonfire model on sale for $299 including the extra stand, however the advertised MSRP is priced at $349. We’re well-aware that this may be a bit pricier than what you can pick up at a big box store, but the innovation alone makes it worth it. Let’s not forget that lifetime guarantee they provide. I can say from experience that many of my past fire pits have made it 1-2 years tops, and a return was entirely out of the question. Good things aren’t cheap, cheap things aren’t good.

SO, SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?

Yes. Enough said.

FEATURES WE’D LIKE TO SEE IN THE NEXT SOLO STOVE BONFIRE

We really had to dig deep to think of ways to potentially improve the design of the Solo Stove, but there were just a couple of things that we’d like to see in future models.

First would be a handle of some sort. Yes, I recognize that a handle would break up its smooth contour, but if the fire needed to be moved in a hurry for whatever reason, it would be rather difficult to grab hold of given its cylindrical shape.

Second would be a way to capitalize on my overwhelming urge to cook on, as previously mentioned. Some type of griddle/grate option to purchase would be an outstanding addition. As it stands I would not cook over the bonfire model (not really what it’s meant for) though they do offer others with cooking specifically in mind.

FINAL THOUGHTS

solo-stove-bonfire-reviewThey often say, “you can’t reinvent the wheel” but it certainly feels like with the Bonfire, Solo Stove has come close. With the double-wall design and super-efficient airflow, they’ve somehow managed to optimize an already amazing line of stoves and fire pits – making a compelling argument that their products are almost a necessity, for any outdoor enthusiast or backyard dweller.

Solo Stove has a full line of gear designed to fit the needs of every pyromaniac, and all the accessories to accommodate. Do yourself a favor, check out the link below to get yourself one of these.

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