I’ve been eyeing this BioLite FirePit + for the past few years.
I was intrigued by its unique features. It seemed to have everything I could want in a smokeless, portable, cooking-capable firepit.
I hope it can become my main camping and backyard firepit for years to come.
So, I was excited when BioLite offered to send me this one to test and review.
You should watch the below video; it’ll give you a better experience with lots of video footage of hands-on use of the BioLite Firepit +. But if you can’t, read the transcript below; either way, both cover the same information:
Since its arrival, I’ve taken this unit on 2 separate camping trips and used it in my backyard as well.
First, I took it into the beautiful San Adreas Mountain Range…I was so excited to enjoy the view and warmth of this new firepit in such a wonderful place.
Only to learn that there was a complete FIRE BAN just before heading out.
I support firefighters 100%, and I think Fire bans are an important tool. But I was still disappointed!
But it turned out fine; I just took it out the following weekend to another mountain location without – one without a fire ban.
So, let’s go over some of the key features and some of the pros and cons, and I’ll wrap up by giving you my final recommendation at the end.
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BioLite FirePit + Key Features
First, the BioLite FirePit is a “jack of all trades” firepit solution. What do I mean by that?
- The BioLite FirePit can do lots of things well, BUT it’s made to be a portable firepit, so it’s not made to create a massive bonfire.
- And while it’s extremely lightweight, it’s still too large and heavy for backpacking.
- And while it CAN cook (if you get the cooking accessories kit), it’s NOT a top-of-the-line Trager grill.
But it’s not trying to be all those things. Instead, it attempts to provide a perfect balance between these extremes.
The hope is you’ll gladly take this firepit camping AND use it in your backyard for small gatherings.
AND due to the unique side fan, do so with a lot less smoke.
And that’s the most interesting feature of this BioLite Firepit +. That’s what this orange box hanging off the side is all about.
So, let’s go over all these features in more detail. Specifically, I’ll talk about the firepit itself, the cooking accessories (and how it performs), and then I’ll give you my final assessment.
THE Smokeless Firepit
Ok, first off, I know there’s no such thing as a smokeless fire. I’m an engineer; I took physics, Thermodynamics I and II, and Heat Transfer courses in college.
But while no fire is completely smokeless, a fire starving for oxygen creates a lot MORE smoke than one that’s continuously pumped full of fresh oxygen.
Low-oxygen fires smolder; they struggle to build up flame and heat, and this inefficiency is part of what creates all that thick white cloud of smoke that seems to target you (and only you) wherever you happen to be sitting. Just following you around, making life miserable.
And with a smokey fire, there are two types of people:
1. The Lazy Stoic:
This is the person that refuses to move. They’ll sit in that smoke with their eyes pinched shut, claiming moving is futile because the wind will eventually shift.
This human is pretending to have a good time, but they’re just suffering in silence …
2. The Hyperactive Shuffler:
This person will change the location at any hint of a wisp of smoke heading in their general direction. So, they never really relax and pretend to have a good time. Until they finally give up and head back to their tent.
The bottom line is that thick nasty smoke can ruin a relaxing, enjoyable time around a fire.
And THAT problem is where Biotite comes in. Reducing smoke is the Biolite FirePit’s superpower.
You see, this firepit (unlike other “smokeless” firepits) comes with a large battery pack and fan that clips to the side of this unit. And this fan pushes fresh air down 3 separate perforated pipes and into your burning pile of firewood.
And here’s what’s really cool, YOU control the speed of this magic fan with your phone.
First, you can choose OFF if you’re a sick masochist who enjoys a smokey fire.
Or you can select:
These settings allow you to pump oxygen into your firepit at several different rates (to see this in action, watch the video above).
This oxygen control is how to force the fire to burn more efficiently, significantly reducing the smoke BUT also increasing the amount of heat.
It’s a genius solution to an ancient problem.
Helps With Starting A Fire
This feature also “helps” you get your fires started.
That way, you can stop putting your face 2 inches from cold logs, blowing relentlessly, to get your puny fire to make the leap to your kindling.
We’ve all been there or seen it. If you’ve been there, you know how much THAT sucks, and if you’ve seen it, you feel sad for that frustrated soul.
Now, this BioLite FirePit + cannot overcome physics entirely. What I mean by this is, NO, you can’t put full unsplit logs into the BioLite and hold a Bic lighter to it.
Sorry, but you still need to use dry tinder or some fire-starting material.
You’ll also need to split your firewood into thin, dry kindling. Then once those are lite and hot, you can start adding slightly larger kindling chunks until you finally can start adding full logs.
But the BioLite is not meant to be stuffed completely full of wood. There’s a limit to how much wood you want anyways because of its high-efficiency burn; it will make for a very high flame (to see an example – watch the video above).
This is great because you want your fires to be hot, right? And with less smoke? Correct? But if you put too much wood in, you’re gonna get a 10-foot flame.
That’s too much; remember safety, folks. Let’s not burn your place down by being stupid, ok.
So start small, add more firewood over time but keep it at a reasonable level and keep things under control at all times.
Another feature of the BioLite FirePit worth mentioning is its mesh sides. You can see and feel the fire through the sides of this firepit.
You can’t see through the sides with traditional firepits and rings, only the top.
So not only is this a nice feature that gives off a unique, interesting perspective, but it’ll help keep your toes warm on a cold night without having to hold them over the flame.
I’ve done that and accidently melted the rubber from the soles of my shoe….
Very Portable Due To Low Weight & Compact Size
One final firepit feature I want to highlight is the low weight and the fold-down legs.
I really like how light this unit is, but even though it’s light, it still feels very durable. And that’s the trick, right? You want to be able to carry this thing around without having to visit a chiropractor after, but also not see it crumple like a paper cup if you drop it.
For its lite weight, it’s still very solid.
Now, who knows, perhaps this thing won’t stand up to massive abuse over several years. But I think if you treat it with care, it’ll last a very long time.
And its fold-down legs allow me to fit this unit into the storage compartment of my popup camper. This makes me very happy because I wouldn’t take it if it didn’t fit.
But due to its reasonable size, dimensions, and folding leg features, it stows away just fine (see video above).
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BioLite FirePit Cooking Review
Ok, you CAN cook over most campground firepits; you need the right tools.
Some sites have those flip grates. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring your own; you’ll also want a big skillet and perhaps even a Dutch oven.
And while these tools are ok, they’re hard to use over the open flame of a regular firepit, and they are all heavy as hell to haul.
Instead, the BioLite FirePit is designed to convert into a cooking machine. You can grill, you can bake, and you can skillet on this one device.
Firewood OR Charcoal
Plus, it’s designed to cook over firewood OR charcoal with a wire insert. Just leave it on the bottom for firewood or hang it from the tabs for charcoal.
Honestly, store-bought charcoal makes it easier to control the heat and tends to last longer. But you can also control the heat with the fan.
Need more heat, turn up the fan; need less heat, turn it down or off. Remember, the more air you provide, the faster you burn through your charcoal.
So, you may need to add some more fuel throughout your cooking, especially if you’re cooking for a larger number of people.
I had to do this twice, once when I cooked pork chops for dinner AND when I cooked pancakes and eggs for breakfast.
So how did it go cooking with the BioLite FirePit? It went well, especially for my first attempt.
Of course, cooking on a new device is always comes with a learning curve. And there were a few minor “issues,” but I think those were more operator errors than device issues.
For example, I should have used charcoal instead of firewood to cook the pork chops. Charcoal lasts longer and burns more evenly.
But still, with some finagling and patience, they turned out great (watch the video above for details).
Ok, hold on; I have to pause this review for a second. In the middle of my review at a cabin in the mountains, a freaking moose strolls up and start enjoying a bit of time at the old salt lick.
I mean, come on, how cool is THAT!?! (Again, watch the video above to see the Moose!)
Ok, and with morning pancakes, I wish I had started out with more charcoal. Instead, I had to add a bit of kindling toward the end to finish up. But again, operator error.
Now, I’ll say adding some extra charcoal or firewood is extremely easy, even with the grill grate on. Just slide it out a way, add some fuel and slide it back.
The thing that matters most here is that I felt the BioLite had the proper design and tools to cook an easy campground meal.
And I’m betting I’m going to get much better the more I use it.
Now, with that said, is cooking on a BioLite FirePit + easier than using a propane camping stove – like a Coleman Suitcase Propane Stove? Of course not.
It’s hard to beat the ease and control of a simple propane stove top.
But perhaps you enjoy the process of cooking over a real fire and the feeling of satisfaction it provides. Or maybe you’d prefer to take one device that can cook breakfast, dinner, and dessert (yay, smores!) and keep you warm under the stars well into the cool evening…
I mean, the more one piece of camping gear can do, the better, right?
So, for the right person, I could see the BioLite Firepit + becoming something they cook regularly when camping.
That’s why I’ve added it to my camping essentials list to cook my campground brats, burgers, pork chops, and pancakes on this thing for years to come.
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BioLite FirePit + Final Assessment
I really like the combination of features this BioLite Firepit has to offer. It has the right balance of features to meet many of my firepit and campground cooking needs.
Is this a solution for everyone? No, of course not.
- Some people love smoke in their face…
- Other folks like crunchy eggs and burnt pancakes…
- Some people like to lug around lots of heavy gear…
If you’re one of those people, then the BioLite FirePit + is NOT for you.
For everyone else, it’s a solid portable campfire solution for your backyard and campsites.