Review: Solo Stove’s Fire Pit 2.0 Addresses a Persistent Customer Complaint
It’s the first update to the brand’s smokeless, stainless steel model since 2016
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I finally did it, everyone. After a year and a half of living in the suburbs, I’m finally king of the neighborhood. How did I — a 30-something man amongst neighborhood lifers who have seen first-time home buyers come and go — do it? It’s all thanks to the new Solo Stove.
I’m not the only one in my neighborhood who owns one of the company’s so-called “smokeless” stainless steel fire pits. One of my neighbors owns the medium-sized Bonfire Pit, which I can see glowing on their patio on summer nights, and another kitty-corner from me has one of the absurdly large Yukon Fire Pits, which fits with his bigger-is-better mentality as he’s also the two-time winner of my town’s annual pumpkin-growing contest.
You’ve likely seen these ingenious silver drums everywhere these last couple years, too, as they became a pandemic must-have alongside Peloton bikes and Nintendo Switches. Even beyond backyards, I’ve seen them on patios at breweries, outside at museum restaurants and on high-rise rooftops. If you don’t already own one, you’ve seen them around. Which is why my Solo Stove-less neighbor immediately commented on mine when I set it up this weekend.
“You know Ben has one of those,” he said, hands on hips in my backyard. “And I think Steve has one over there too.”
Except the thing is, they don’t. At least, they don’t have the brand spanking new Fire Pit 2.0, the first update to Solo Stove’s now signature product since it was first released on Kickstarter way back in 2016. The upgraded model was just officially released on August 1, but I had it in my possession a few days early to test it out. Ergo: King of the neighborhood.
Suburban braggadocio aside, the new Fire Pit 2.0 isn’t a complete overhaul of the company’s design, but it does feature one specific upgrade that Solo Stove says customers have been requesting for a long time. In the original models, when you wanted to remove the ash from the metal drum, you had to either shovel it out or tip the entire thing over (a sufficiently awkward task for my neighbor with the Yukon). Now, the fire pit includes a removable ash pan that makes clean-up a five-second endeavor. It’s an incredibly simple upgrade, sure, but there’s a reason Solo Stove owners have been asking for it for years.
How the Solo Stove Fire Pit works
Before getting my own Fire Pit 2.0 in the mail (in the Bonfire size), I had never personally been in charge of building and maintaining a fire in one of these before. I was merely a beneficiary of the ambience in summer, or focused on warming my hands when huddled around one in the freezing Minnesota winter. And I must say, experiencing first-hand the difference of making a bonfire in one of these barrels, compared to the $50 open fire pit I got at a local hardware store, was pretty eye-opening.
Setup was a non-issue. All it takes to go from box to bonfire is to remove the pieces from the packaging and stack them on top of each other (one accessory you may want to add in is a metal stand if you don’t want the bottom of the fire pit sitting directly on — and thus scorching — your grass or patio).
If you’re worried about your abilities in the fire-building department (maybe you missed the lessons on teepee vs. log cabin), that’s also a non-issue with the Solo Stove. The company says its Fire Pit features something called “360° Signature Airflow Technology” that helps cut down on smoke and also allows the wood to burn faster and hotter, and I supremely underestimated this claim. I added a bunch of crumpled up paper and a dozen small pieces of wood to make sure the flames caught, and they went up like the Santa Fe Zozobra. The photos of the Fire Pit on the Solo Stove website with flames shooting out of the top? That’s no joke. This thing is a quick-start flame-spitter, and stoking it throughout the night is just as easy.
While the Fire Pit isn’t 100% smokeless, it does certainly cut down on smoke compared to your run-of-the-mill hole in the ground. It helps that the fire is contained in the steel drum, which unfortunately means you don’t have direct side access to the coals for roasting s’mores and the like, and the flames are hotter and taller than a standard bonfire, but it’s tradeoff that’s proved popular with my neighbors, and probably yours too.
Now that Solo Stove has perfected the design even further, I don’t see any reason for the popularity of these ingenious fire pits to cool anytime soon.
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