5 Best Smokeless Fire Pits in 2022 That Will Turn Your Backyard into an Outdoor Retreat
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The idea of innovating fire feels like the beginning of a bad Shark Tank pitch. But the best smokeless fire pits take what traditional versions offer—an eye-watering experience that leaves your clothes reeking of charred wood—and eliminate all that excess smokiness for a less noxious outdoor hang and considerably fewer complaints from neighbors. Smokeless varieties have gained a lot of traction over the pandemic in particular as people migrated outside for friendly gatherings. First developed by Breeo back in 2011—and then popularized by Solo Stove—smokeless fire pits peaked in 2020, when Solo Stove reportedly cornered 75% of the wood-burning fire pit market. Apparently, socially distanced friends were gathering together in backyards and soon realized that “smokeless” wasn’t just another marketing word. So, with the proliferation of the smokeless fire pit, we had to see for ourselves if it was really worth playing with this particular type of blaze.
How does a smokeless fire pit work?
Smokeless fire pits are something of a misnomer: They’re not completely smokeless, per se, but the minimal smoke emissions and efficient burning process do make your standard s’mores sessions better for you and the environment than their traditional peers.
Smokeless fire pits use any solid burning fuel—whether it’s wood or charcoal—but each fire pit will be designed and optimized to burn one or the other. The design is disarmingly simple. Unlike typical fire pits that are typically semicircle-shaped drums that let you throw some type of fire starter and fuel in to get a fire going, the smokeless fire pit is a double-walled cylinder with perforations along its top and bottom. Once your fire starter of choice is in the vessel and the cylinder is sufficiently heated, Thermodynamics 101 pulls air up through the bottom holes, superheats it, and then sends it out through the top set of holes, where it collides with the smoke and ignites it for a secondary burn. The double-walled design is what really takes these smokeless fire pits over the top: It improves the airflow system to reduce the amount of smoke despite the elevated temperatures. Smokeless fire pits are also able to reach a high heat with a smaller amount of wood or charcoal, due to a more efficient burning process (which will save you money on supplies in the process).
How we tested
To get a feel for what was worth adding to our outdoor space, we of course took these fire pits outside and lit ’em up, testing them over a number of weeks. We were delighted to find that each of the five smokeless fire pits we tested dramatically reduced smoke in the air, living up to their “smokeless” branding. In fact, they all performed well enough that choosing a model for you will just come down to secondary factors, such as style, ease of use, or the range of accessories available (from grill plates to cooking griddles).
Throughout the testing period, we were impressed by the reduced smoke emissions of the smokeless fire pits compared to the fire pits we were accustomed to. The smokeless variety was a huge improvement for anyone who enjoys hanging outside by a fire while it’s a bit chilly, and is a no-brainer for those with close neighbors or overbearing condo associations. Without further ado, our top picks for the best smokeless fire pits that’ll give you a clean burn every time.
The Best Overall Fire Pit: Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0
Diameter: 19.5 inches
Height: 14 inches
Weight: 23.3 pounds
Material: Stainless steel
If you’ve heard about smokeless fire pits, you’ve probably heard of Solo Stove. These seamless, stainless steel cylinders with a row of perforations along the bottom have become ubiquitous in backyards across America. One look at any of the virtually indistinguishable knockoff brands (looking at you Duraflame) found at your local big box hardware store will show you how much this design has captured the market.
That’s chiefly due to its sleek, lightweight design. Compared to competitors with a similar diameter, the high-quality Bonfire 2.0 is light enough to easily store between uses, making it ideal for people with small or shared backyards. We were also able to get the best visual effect of the secondary burn, with holes along the interior of the rim resembling the gas burner on a stovetop. What complaints there were about its predecessor, the Bonfire 1.0—namely the lack of a removable ash pan—have been remedied in this newer model, although clean-up is a slightly messy affair because the ashtray is only accessed by reaching down from the top opening. Still, for the price, you won’t find a better smokeless fire pit out there.
The Best Fire Pit for Grilling: Breeo X Series
Diameter: 22.13 inches
Height: 14.75 inches
Weight: 47 pounds
Materials: 304 stainless steel and Corten steel
For those who want a rugged, indestructible look to their fire pit, the Breeo mid-sized X Series 26 is our favorite. We tested the more budget-friendly Corten steel model, and after two weeks of sitting outside, the pit developed a nice rust that will evolve into a deep patina over the years. This was actually a big deal in regards to pit maintenance: ash, charcoal, and dirt will show on a stainless steel fire pit and require a quick brush off. For Corten steel, getting dirty and rusty is half the fun. (This pit comes with a five year warranty that protects against rust, which is a real testament to the build quality considering the abuse fire pits take.) The price of this durability is weight (and dollars). This model clocks in at 62 pounds, and, while the rim made for a great handle, required a friend to move. This could be a dealbreaker for those looking to store their fire pit between uses.
While the Solo Stove had a good showing of newly released accessories, the Breeo’s grilling system (sold separately) was our preferred choice during testing. The outpost grill system allows you to swing a grill grate over the fire for hamburgers or hotdogs, and the searplate griddle, for the serious cooks, attaches to the pit’s rim for searing steaks and charring veggies. Combined, the Breeo can serve as a fairly practical backyard grill and reminded us of a luxury glamping experience. The Breeo X Series can also be installed into any stone surround, making it extremely handy for those who have hardscaping in their backyards.
The Best Portable Fire Pit: Solo Stove Mesa
Diameter: 5.1 inches
Height: 6.8 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Materials: Stainless steel and ceramic
Not quite a candle, not quite a fire pit, the Mesa is Solo Stove’s take on tabletop firemaking. Designed as a dinner, picnic, or poolside companion, the stoves are available in five ceramic-coated colors, in addition to classic stainless steel, making this the most aesthetic-driven fire pit on the market.
Despite looking a bit like a novelty you’d see in SkyMall or Sharper Image, the versatile Mesa is a surprisingly useful stove. It’s perfect for evenings when we didn’t want to commit to a large fire, instead opting for a quick meal outdoors (s’mores, anyone?) with a little added heat and ambiance. Burning your choice of traditional mini firewood or wood pellets, the flame gets big enough to toast marshmallows, but we loved it more for its ability to convert any outdoor table into a comfy spot for playing cards, cracking beers, or sharing plates. Plus, with football season in full swing, it’s an excellent tailgating accessory. The Mesa even comes with a helpful carrying bag so you can tote the little thing wherever you need. Note: For people without yards, you’ll need to keep a collection of small sticks nearby, or simply order Solo Stove’s “mini” oak firewood.
The Best Fire Pit for Easy Lighting: Tiki Smokeless Patio Fire Pit
Diameter: 24.75 inches
Height: 18.75 inches
Weight: 47 pounds
Materials: Stainless Steel and powder-coated steel
Known for its bamboo torch, Tiki debuted its fire pit on Kickstarter in 2019. Compared to Solo Stove and Breeo, the offerings are fairly basic: two fire pits (one regular, one portable) with the only attachments being a pit screen and fire poker. But for those who just want an occasional fire, with no intention to cook and no desire to fuss, the Tiki is a one-size-fits all model that we love.
The pit’s matte black conical shape, lifted off the ground on three sturdy but thin legs, was our favorite design right out of the box. And if we’re being practical, using wood packs to get the fire started was the simplest method in our testing—though not the most budget conscious at $36 per four-pack. Combined with the pull out ashtray for easy cleanup, this was the lowest effort per fire of all the pits, and those time-saving elements are a huge boon for entertaining guests.
The Best Fire Pit for Camping: BioLite FirePit+
Dimensions: 27 inches x 13 inches x 15.8 inches
Weight: 19.8 pounds
Material: Stainless steel
We’ve been following BioLite ever since they introduced the original CampStove, a small camp stove designed to use the heat from a small fire to charge your phone. Their take on the smokeless fire pit is equally unique. The FirePit+ uses an attached fan, which runs off of a charged battery pack, to circulate air through perforated tubes at the top and bottom of the fire pit. The fan can be set to three speeds (controllable manually or via app), which controls the burn rate. When paired with the removable Grill Grate, this allows for some temperature control while cooking.
This newest model fixes a few of the problems that impacted the first model: most vitally, a new powder coated enamel was added to combat rust and the fan got a longer battery life. However, due to size limitations, we found the smokeless feature was best achieved burning the smaller sticks and twigs you’d find at a campsite rather than pre-chopped hardwood. Additionally, the attached battery pack shouldn’t be left outside permanently, making this an impractical choice leaving in backyards. But for those looking to toss a fire pit into the back of their truck and go on a camping trip, this was the most fun and portable of any of the fire pits we tested. We also really enjoyed the mesh siding, which allowed us to watch the coals burn and created a unique, floating fire that was fun to tend to.
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