The granddaddy of outdoor fire pits, Solo Stove has been churning out its sleek stainless steel pits for the masses for more than a decade, setting the standard for the wood-burning category. Smoke-free and aesthetically pleasing to boot, the Solo pits are also incredibly easy to spark up, and thus have become the go-to brand for anyone looking to upgrade their alfresco space into a cozy s’mores factory.
Solo Stove has always touted portability as a major selling point — the petite Ranger is 15 pounds, the mid-range Bonfire is 20 and the biggie Yukon clocks in at 38 (more on the Yukon in our full review). The brand is doubling down on that concept today with the launch of its most compact format yet: the Mesa, a tabletop fire pit that weighs just a pound.
Clearly, I had to see for myself just how versatile this thing was, so I gave it a whirl.
Mesa is Solo Stove's smallest fire pit yet. It weighs just 1 pound and is available in classic stainless steel for $89.99 or black, white, red, blue or green for $99.99 — $40 off the list price in honor of the launch. The Mesa is estimated to ship by Sept. 9.
What we liked about the Mesa
When a sample was delivered to my house, I actually burst out laughing — and sort of thought I was being punked. The box was tiny! Typically, Solo Stove fire pits arrive in humongous packages, hence my surprise to discover just how small (and portable) the Mesa actually is. At 6.8 inches tall and 5.1 inches in diameter, the firepit is, in a word, adorable. And it’s small enough to toss in your backpack or tote for a weekend away or an impromptu happy hour on your neighbor’s balcony.
Covered in an exterior ceramic coating that can withstand high heat (this is new for the brand!), the Mesa is available in five colorways, or you can opt for the classic 304 stainless steel. Given that it’s meant to be used on a tabletop, Mesa also comes with a stand that protects your surfaces, allowing you to place the firepit-stand combo directly on wood, wicker, plastic, metal or composite materials with nary a worry about damaging your tables (or worse). I appreciated that the stand was not only collapsible, but that it can also be tucked inside the Mesa when not in use, making for super easy storage. It also comes with a drawstring corded bag for carrying.
When it came time for testing, I had a choice to make. The firepit is dual fuel; you can toss in kindling or twigs gathered from your yard or you can purchase pellets, which can be corralled inside the handy adapter that is placed inside the Mesa and rests atop the grill rack. For my first go-round, I went the traditional wood route and put a fire starter at the bottom of the Mesa, added kindling and lit it up with a long lighter. The whole process was intuitive and relatively easy, and we had a fully burning flame in about three minutes. It was the same drill for the pellets, though that went even faster, lighting up in just under two minutes. Similar to Solo’s bigger pits, the Mesa has a 360-degree airflow design, with a series of circular holes venting the top and bottom of the structure, which allows for less smoke and ultra-fast flame ignition, taking pretty much all of the guesswork out of the wood fire experience.
All of Solo’s pits are pretty much idiot-proof, but the larger formats certainly involve more legwork to get up and running (lugging wood over, setting up chairs at a safe distance, emptying the ash pan from a previous night, etc.). For me, a big selling point of the Mesa is that it takes a fraction of the time and effort of a bigger pit and produces a fraction of the cleanup.
In terms of safety, Mesa’s small size and tabletop format brought me peace of mind when my kids were gathered ’round it. Whereas I’m typically a bit of a helicopter mom around Solo’s bigger firepits, I was much less worried about a kiddo grazing a knee on the firepit’s piping hot exterior or tripping and falling directly into it. Sure, it still got very hot, but with the Mesa, the kids were further away and safely leaning against a table as they roasted their marshmallows.
Mesa’s compact size is truly its biggest selling point, especially in terms of portability. In the past, I have brought a Solo Stove on road trip vacations, but they are admittedly big and bulky and stay hot for a long, long time. The Mesa, however, is a no-brainer, and it will be on my vacation packing list going forward.
What we didn’t like about the Mesa
It’s not often that the main reason I like a product is also my chief complaint. While Mesa’s diminutive size is a win for portability (and adorableness!), finding kindling that fit inside of it was a bit of a bear. The brand recommends never stacking wood above the interior burn holes, which are less than three inches above the interior grate (this would cut off airflow and result in a smoke fest). To manage that, however, I was breaking twigs three or four times to fit them inside the fire pit, and a lot of pre-packaged kindling would be too big — this set from Solo would work, but I didn’t try them out myself. On the whole, pellets were much easier to manage.
Even though fires inside the Mesa were quick to light, the internal cavity felt tight. I was also a little cagey about sticking my lighter inside the stove as it just felt really narrow — which has never been the case when I lit the Ranger, Bonfire or Yukon. If it were even 50% bigger, I think it would still be light and small enough to travel with, but a bit easier to navigate when lighting.
High quality and chock-full of smart design details, the Mesa gets a thumbs up from me. When compared to its family of products, it takes way less effort and time to get up and running than its larger counterparts. And Mesa is city-friendly, allowing apartment dwellers or anyone with a smaller outdoor space the opportunity to finally give a Solo Stove a spin.