Review: Biolite’s Firepit+ Is a Performer But Not Without Faults

biolite review image
Courtesy of REI

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It is honestly quite remarkable how far the venerable campfire has come. While the good ol’ stationary campfire is still a stalwart of many a campsite, there are now so many options for a portable (or at least somewhat portable) fire pit, and many are now integrating more technology into their footprint too.

In addition to the Biolite Firepit+, which uses a fan to pump air into your fire, you can also buy a wide range of smokeless and gas-burning fire pits. I’ve had experience with a few different models, and choosing the right one for you comes down to the amount of work you want to put into your fire — and your experience building them.

At $300, Biolite’s updated Firepit+ costs quite a bit more than the average metal fire pit, but it features an external fan unit to create airflow, which in theory helps get the fire going faster and keeps it blazing longer at a higher quality.

Does it live up to that reputation, and does it justify the price tag?

The short answer? Yes — mostly.

Much like Biolite’s other fire products, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you tackle that, you’re set up for a really nice fire. If you’re making more than the occasional campfire or cookout, and you have the suitable backyard space, the BioLite Firepit+ is worth the price of admission.

Below, you can read SPY’s full review of the Biolite Firepit+, including pros and cons, specifications, features we loved (and those we didn’t), overall quality and some alternatives to consider.

biolite firepit+ on truck Courtesy of Biolite


Specifications

  • Size with legs folded: 27” w x 13″ d x 10.5” h (68.6 x 33 x 26.7 cm)
  • Size with legs unfolded: 27” w x 13″ d x 15.8″ h (68.6 x 33 x 40.1 cm)
  • Fuel: firewood or charcoal
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Burn time: 7-30 hours (depending on fan speed)
  • Capacity: fits four standard 16-inch firewood logs
  • Release: 2021

 

 

  

Initial Setup

Limited assembly is required here. The Firepit+ comes about 90% put together — all you’ll need to do is screw in the handles (make sure you have a small, Phillips-head screwdriver) and set up the wood holding rack accordingly. The battery is an easy charge and pop-in, lock the legs into place, then you’re off and running. You’ll probably want to download Biolite’s free app as well, so you can control the fan speed and USB port from your phone. The app is straightforward, and I found it a nice added feature.

Be sure to have the right size of firewood on hand and enough kindling to help get the fire going. If you’re not sure how to create a fire, you will definitely need to Google how to start and maintain one. Starting up a fire in this Biolite isn’t a 100% beginner-friendly experience (more on that in a minute).

Read More: The Best Metal Fire Pits for the Backyard

biolite firepit+ in field Courtesy of Biolite

  

Design

Hands down, the Firepit+ is one of the best-looking portable pits on the market. The entire pit unit is one curved piece of metal, and the angle of the battery/fan pack tucks neatly under one of the handles. The legs offer some clearance from the ground, and an optional fire mat can help with heat reflection. Just be advised that the final layout is relatively close to the ground, so you’re not going to want to stand around this as you won’t feel the heat.

Your best bet is to bring a couple of camping chairs to set up around the pit so you can enjoy the full potential of the fire and adequately reach and control anything you put on the included grill rack.

biolite firepit+ in snow with large flames Courtesy of Biolite

  

Fire Quality & Use

As much as I want to be, I’m not a seasoned fire builder. I’ve made a few, but give me any unfavorable conditions, and all that experience goes to ashes. So with that in mind, I tried to start a fire following most of the directions that come with the Firepit+. Whether it was the slight wind, old wood or generally damp conditions, I had a tough time starting a fire, even with the help of the integrated jets. I eventually succumbed to using a fire starter log. Of course, why should I be embarrassed to use a fire starter? I recommend bringing some with your firewood just in case.

man warming hands with fire from biolite firepit Courtesy of Biolite

Once I got the fire going, the benefits of the added airflow were obvious. Added oxygen helps increase the flame size, and you can literally watch the fire expand with the increased air. Do you want a roaring fire? Crank that fan speed to “high.” Something milder? Keep it lower. It was evident to see the operational differences here and easy to understand how to make a fire that best suits your needs. This creates a real difference in grilling. You get a decent amount of fire control to control the cooking process better. Likewise, if you want to use hot coals for cooking, turn up the airflow so that your logs burn down more quickly.

Another added benefit of the Firepit+? It really is great for cooking, and not just because of the included grill plate. Unlike most fire pits, you can also use the Firepit+ with charcoal, so if you want to skip straight ahead to the cooking (or if you aren’t allowed to have open flames in your area or campsite), this versatility is a great feature for campfire cooks.

The capacity of the pit itself is a bit on the small side, so expect to add wood somewhat often, but for the average fire, you should get a solid hour or so before needing to add more wood. I didn’t find many issues with the capacity overall. Please note that for users looking for a large-capacity fire pit, this isn’t it.

  

Is It Smokeless?

Today, a lot of people are looking for smokeless fire pits specifically, and Biolite promises that the newly updated Firepit+ lets users “[enjoy] the warmth, smell, crackle, and feel of a wood campfire, without any of the smoke.” Some user reviews of this fire pit complain that it’s not as smokeless as advertised, and that really depends on the size of your fire. If the flames are rising above the grill and the rim of the pit, then there will be some degree of smoke (that’s just how physics work, and no amount of engineering can eliminate the potential for smoke entirely). For small to medium-sized fires, the Firepit+ will provide a relatively smokeless fire.

roasting marshmallows over biolite firepit Courtesy of Biolite

  

Ease of Breakdown

With a footprint this practical, it’s easy to forget that this is still active fire, and it’s not easy to just put it out when you’re ready to do so. We’ve also seen complaints of rust from other user reviews, so you can’t simply pour water on the fire when you’re done, which could also damage the battery and integrated air system. That means you should be prepared to wait out the fire or have the appropriate gear to put hot logs in a water source away from the pit to cool them down. In any case, you’ll be waiting for the coals to cool before thoroughly packing the pit up.

If you plan on using it with any regularity, it’s also probably worth getting the Biolite carry bag to avoid ashy fingers.

  

The Verdict: A Solid Fire Pit Once You Get Over the Learning Curve

All in all, the Firepit+ is a solid pit. It looks nice and offers a wide range of control for a fire, and as long as you can get said fire going, you’ll have an excellent and portable fire pit to use time and time again.

As we said above, all of Biolite’s fire and stove products take a bit of upfront knowledge but provide a great experience once you get over that hump. At $300, the Firepit+ is an investment, but if you have the patio space or find yourself off-grid camping often, it’s a great way to stay warm and cook a decent meal.

So Should You Buy It?

Yes. It’s a quality option that has the flexibility to create a solid fire almost anywhere you need it (just, please, follow local fire bans and regulations).

Pros 

  • Unique design and solid construction
  • Great for campfire cooking/grilling
  • Intuitive app lets you control airflow from your phone
  • Crafty airflow technology works well
  • Good capacity
  • Creates generous amount of heat

Cons

  • Mild learning curve for fire newbies
  • Tough to transport without the carry bag (sold separately)
  • Still requires full cool-down time post-fire
  • Prone to rust

Courtesy of REI


  

How Long Will It Last?

The company has a one-year limited warranty on most of its products, including the Firepit+, but we don’t think you’ll need it. Since most of the pit is one solid piece, you should get years and years of use. Perhaps the locks in the legs could fail at some point, but you could also replace them. Based on our testing, we would rate this as a durable product with a couple of caveats. We’ve seen complaints online of the grill color fading and peeling. In addition, this fire pit is prone to rust, so be sure to keep it dry and store it away from the elements.

  

What Are Some of the Alternatives?

The Biolite Firepit+ is a rather unique product. There are a lot of portable fire pits for sale in 2022, but none that match the unique features you’ll find with Biolite. However, not everyone will appreciate the high-tech capabilities of the Firepit+. For everyone else, we would recommend investing in a smokeless fire pit like the Solo Stove or one of the more basic alternatives featured below. In addition, for everyday use and entertaining, you can check out our guide to the best overall fire pits.

Solo Stove Campfire Stove

Courtesy of REI


  

Camp Chef Redwood Propane Fire Pit

If your fire pit never needs to leave the backyard, or if you have enough space to transport as-is, this Camp Chef pit is another good option. It comes with a carrying case and a mix of lava rock (which adds weight but also the appearance of a roaring fire). This option primarily comes down to personal preference, and some may enjoy the ease of propane over the effort of a traditional fire. Plus, Camp Chef comes with a stellar reputation for quality.

Courtesy of Backcountry


  

Primus Kamoto OpenFire Pit

Sure, this pit is more basic, but it’s a suitable choice if you don’t need the bells and whistles. The entire pit folds into a small, compact footprint when not in use (and also has a smaller capacity as a result). However, less technology means less opportunity for something to break.

Courtesy of Moosejaw


 

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