There’s nothing like cozying up around a roaring campfire while you’re in the great outdoors. The problem is, sometimes lighting a campfire — and then dealing with the aftermath — turns out to be more troublesome than glamorous.
But what if technology could help make a better bonfire experience? Off-grid-focused brand BioLite, known for its solar-powered gadgets, rechargeable lanterns and fire-powered outdoor gear, aims to do just that.
The battery-powered BioLite FirePit+ gives you the warmth, smell and feel of a classic campfire with a fraction of the frustration, fanning and faces full of smoke. This portable, self-fanning fire pit makes it possible to avoid all of the common setbacks you encounter when making a fire thanks to BioLite’s high-tech approach to an old-school outdoor experience.
We gave the BioLite FirePit+ a test run to see if it’s worth the hype and investment. Spoiler: It is.
The battery-powered BioLite FirePit+ brings all the heat and coziness of a traditional campfire with none of the smoke, fanning and hassle. Best for outdoorsy folks and campers who aren’t opposed to using high-tech gadgets out in nature, this wood- and charcoal-burning fire pit provides a portable and painless campfire experience no matter whether you’re at the campground or in your own backyard.
What we liked about it
From its portability and battery-powered blaze to the ability to its transform into a personal hibachi-style grill, the FirePit+ is way more than your average campfire.
Super easy to make a fire
This fire pit will make a campfire-building guru out of anyone. Between the almost ridiculous amount of air jets and its mesh exterior, there’s tons of airflow to ignite the wood in a matter of seconds. All you need are a couple of pieces of tinder and a piece of paper to get the fire started.
BioLite designed the FirePit+ with a detachable and rechargeable 12,000-mAh battery pack, which powers a built-in internal fan that pushes air through a channel of stainless steel tubes at both the base and top of the fire pit. Four adjustable fan speeds allow you to fine-tune the airflow out of 51 jets (or holes in the tubing) and drastically improve the combustion of the wood inside. Similar to Solo Stove’s technology, the FirePit+ adds more oxygen to the environment, which means a hotter fire, a bigger burn and a lot less smoke. The battery pack also doubles as a charger base for other electronic devices when not using it as a fan for the FirePit+.
When building a traditional fire, it can take a lot of fanning, huffing and puffing to get the kindling to catch. Then, you need to wait for the larger logs to ignite too. With the FirePit+, lighting a fire is drastically easier and faster. The BioLite requires a fraction of the kindling, and the continual airflow from the jets creates a nearly instant flame. Most of the time, I keep the fan setting on low as soon as I light the paper and tinder pile. After the tinder lights, I throw one more log on top and crank up the fan speed to medium or high to help light the larger pieces of wood as I continue to add from there.
I especially like using this fire pit during the winter months. We took our FirePit+ to a Getaway cabin in west Michigan this January in hopes of making an easier fire in the cold. Turns out, it was the right choice. Instead of fussing with wet kindling and the damp fire pit at the site, we painlessly set up the FirePit+ outside our cabin and loaded it with one piece of newspaper and several small pieces of wood. A quick light of the match and the flames took off, with the wood combusting almost immediately after kicking up the fan speed a couple of notches.
Way less smoke and no fanning
No one wants a face full of smoke around the campfire. Thankfully, the beauty of the FirePit+ is how its advanced airflow system — which is complex in technical design but simple in function — burns wood way more efficiently than a traditional campfire. The result: less smoke, bigger flames and absolutely no fanning required.
You can control the fan using the buttons on the side of the battery pack or from the palm of your hand using BioLite’s free app. When the fan is turned off, the wood tends to smolder and smoke inside the fire pit. When the fan is on (even at the lowest setting), the smoke starts to disappear. I never had a totally smokeless experience with the BioLite FirePit+, but the wood does burn way more efficiently and with significantly less smoldering. Another big caveat here: You always want to use the driest wood possible. You also want to have the fire built correctly inside, with ample room between the logs so that the wood doesn’t smother the flame. With any combination of wet wood, bad log architecture or insufficient flames to get your fire going, you’re sure to still see smoke. However, after you get the fire going and turn on the fan, I found the fire burns very efficiently inside the FirePit+.
Another perk of the FirePit+ is its unique mesh frame that’s both functional and aesthetic. Constructed of a high-temperature-resistant, enamel-coated stainless steel, the completely transparent frame gives you a 360-degree view of the fire and more surface area to soak up warmth. The extra airflow through the entire body of FirePit+ also contributes to an even more efficient burn. I also love that I can slide my feet underneath the base of the fire pit to warm up my all-too-often freezing toes.
You can bring it anywhere
Regardless of where you’re headed outdoors, the BioLite FirePit+ can come with you (well, maybe everywhere except a deep woods backpacking trip). Four foldable and durable stainless steel legs make it easy to pack up and throw in the back of your trunk or closet. BioLite has also designed many accessories to make transporting and using the FirePit+ easier, like a durable carry bag ($60), a protective ground mat for decks and lawns ($40) and a stainless steel fire poker ($25).
The FirePit+ measures 27 inches by 13 inches by 15.8 inches, weighs in at just under 20 pounds and is much smaller than the average raised metal fire pit you can buy at Lowe’s or The Home Depot. Its rectangular shape also makes it easy to store and its portability makes it easy to bring the FirePit+ with you — especially to places that don’t typically have fire rings.
While the FirePit+ doesn’t let you skirt around fire bans, you can bring the FirePit+ with you to public lands that allow campfires, like Bureau of Land Management campsites, or to public parks and beaches that allow personal grills. Speaking of the beach, plopping the FirePit+ on a sandy shoreline is ideal. This is especially true at state park campgrounds, like one of my favorites, Grand Haven State Park in West Michigan, or at public beaches that don’t usually allow you to burn fires directly on the sand. The FirePit+ is a great workaround because it’s raised off the ground and doesn’t negatively impact the surrounding environment like a traditional fire would.
In addition to being portable, the FirePit+ is fairly easy to clean up. You can remove the inner stainless steel firewood rack and push the ashes out of a small sliding door at the bottom of the FirePit+. Or, even easier, remove the rack and tip the fire pit over to remove everything inside. I estimate you can burn about two to three nights of fires in the FirePit+ before needing to clean it out.
What we didn’t like about it
At $300, the BioLite FirePit+ definitely isn’t a small investment. It also isn’t for everyone. Anyone who’s opposed to bringing technology to the campsite and wants a “true” camping experience will probably scoff at the FirePit+. I also had a few qualms with the product while testing you’ll want to consider before clicking add to cart.
Too small for bigger groups
You can fit up to four pieces of standard cordwood (or two to three larger pieces depending on the size) at a time in this fire pit. The fire you can build in the BioLite is by no means as big as the bonfire you can build in a standard campground fire ring or in a larger, albeit less fancy, standard metal fire pit. However, the problem isn’t the amount of wood you can fit, it’s the number of people who can fit around the fire pit and still enjoy the heat.
The FirePit+ is ideal for a group of about four to five people. Any more, and you’re inching into overcrowded territory. Between a cluster of camping chairs trying to squeeze in around the heat and a much smaller circumference than your standard campfire ring, it’s best to stick with this fire pit for smaller group hangouts rather than raging bonfire bashes.
Noisy battery and fan
Listening to the wood crackle and pop in a quiet forest is one of the best parts of sitting around the campfire. I found the rattle and hum of the FirePit+ fan distracted from this serene moment when using it both in the wilderness and in my own backyard. Even on its lowest setting, you can hear the fan humming inside the battery pack. On its loudest setting, I found the sound almost too distracting to have on for more than a few minutes without starting to ruin the vibe.
Some campers might not mind the noise as much because of the benefit the battery-powered fan provides by keeping the fire going without any hassle. However, if you’re looking for an authentic and ambient experience of crackling wood, crickets chirping in the background and leaves rustling in the wind, you’ll need to turn the FirePit+ off in order to achieve total peace and quiet.
Personally, I appreciate having the option of bringing a campfire with me wherever I go — even if there’s noise involved. I also like that I won’t have to purchase and lug around propane tanks to keep my fire going.
The battery lasts up to 30 hours on low, 14 hours on medium and 7 hours on its highest settings. It took about 4 hours to charge the battery to its full capacity when it was completely drained.
Not a top choice for grilling
The FirePit+ comes with a convenient stainless steel grill grate that rests on the top of the fire pit frame. You can fill this pit with charcoal instead of standard wood for outdoor grilling anywhere and anytime you’d like. And while it’s great that you can convert the FirePit+ into an instant and portable grill, it’s not my first choice for grilling. I’m not a fan of burger grease, charred vegetables or dripping oil dirtying-up my expensive, high-tech fire pit.
How it compares
Honestly, it doesn’t. The BioLite FirePit+ is the only battery-powered fire pit of its kind on the market. Its detachable battery pack with a built-in fan is a unique feature designed by the BioLite brand. I was hard-pressed to find any other fire pit out there that leverages battery power to help your campfire burn stronger and with less smoke.
Other brands in the industry, however, similarly focus on a smokeless (or close to smokeless) campfire experience. Solo Stove sells three different fire pits that aim to create a less-smokey campfire: the Ranger ($200), Bonfire ($255) and Yukon ($450). The Solo Stoves work much like a traditional fire pit, however, their unique design helps the wood burn more efficiently and reduces the amount of smoke let off from the fire.
Solo Stove’s most comparable fire pit is the Ranger, which the brand claims is its most portable fire pit. The Ranger provides a low-smoke experience (without a battery) and its size at 15 pounds and 15 inches in diameter by 12.5 inches in height is similar to the FirePit+. However, the FirePit+’s foldable legs and more rectangular shape could make it easier to pack and store. On top of the battery, it also lacks mesh siding and 360-degree visibility of your bonfire burning inside; however, it is $100 cheaper.
Other fire pits on the market, like the Camp Chef Redwood Fire Pit ($220) and the Ignik FireCan Portable Fire Pit ($200) also market themselves as portable campfire options that go wherever you go outdoors. The biggest difference between these products and the FirePit+ is you’ll need to bring a propane tank along with you. This is great if you’re trying to avoid fire bans, and the propane fuel means these pits are also smokeless. However, if you want to use actual wood to fuel your fire, the FirePit+ hits the sweet spot of being nearly smokeless, portable and wood-powered.
The BioLite FirePit+ isn’t your average campfire. Its built-in battery-powered fan makes fire-making a breeze, with hardly any hassle and a fraction of the smoke. For anyone from the tech-savvy outdoors person who’s open to bringing a campfire gadget into the woods, to tailgaters, backyard party hosts and local parkgoers, the portability and capability of building a fire where you might not have access to a standard fire pit make the FirePit+ a true standout.
With a higher price tag than most other standard fire pits you’ll find, the BioLite FirePit+ is a bigger investment. No matter if you’re heading to the beach or into a rustic campsite in the backwoods, the BioLite FirePit+ puts a modern and convenient spin on the classic campfire experience.