Is the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit really smokeless? We put the claims to the test

They say there’s no smoke without fire, but can the reverse be true? We tried and tested the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 smokeless firepit to find out

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit on raised decking
(Image credit: Solo Stove)
Ideal Home Verdict

It's an investment, but the compact Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit burns very efficiently, uses precious little fuel whilst producing barely any ash, and is more or less smokeless, all of which means we think it punches way above your regular fire pit

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Mesmerising flame action

  • +

    Less smoky

  • +

    Long-lasting burn

  • +

    Decent heat output

Reasons to avoid
  • -


  • -

    No handle

Why you can trust Ideal Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

If you’ve ever huddled around a firepit long into the night, then you’ll have experienced the clinging, cloying smell of smoke that lingers in your hair and clothing long after the last embers have died down. Billed ‘the fire pit of the future’, there’s been huge hype, both in the media and on social media, over the smokeless powers of Solo Stove’s firepits, but can they really deliver, and how? 

As someone who loves camping and entertaining outdoors but has never been able to stomach the stench of stale smoke, I was excited to put the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 through its paces in my own garden. We’ve had a regular bowl-shaped steel firepit for as long as I can remember, but, living on a fairly exposed site within sight of Dartmoor (and all the strong winds that roll off it), smoke-filled eyeballs have always been a common gripe. 

Testing fire pits in (very) early Spring is not for the faint-hearted but, if it did the job when the temperatures averaged 4-11 degrees, you can safely expect the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 to keep the chill off during the long and far more inclement summer nights. 

I was keen to find out how easy this fire pit was to light and keep burning, and whether or not it produced sufficient heat to keep us cosy in the garden while we roasted marshmallows with the kids, read the Sunday papers, and chatted with friends. Plus, of course, there were those smokeless claims to put to the test to see if the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 really is one of the best fire pits money can buy.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 specifications:

steel fire pit

(Image credit: Solo Stove)
  • Fuel: Wood burning 
  • Size: H35.5cm x Dia. 49.5cm
  • Weight: 10.6kg
  • Construction: 304 stainless steel
  • Accessories: Removable ash pan and carry bag
  • People: Up to 8 people can fit around it
  • Warranty: Lifetime

What’s in the box?

steel fire pit being tested

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit in its box prior to testing

(Image credit: Future)

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 arrived in a substantial box, which included the main bonfire unit plus an initially perplexing array of metal parts and a thick, black carry bag. The packaging is a bit plastic/polystyrene heavy for my liking, but everything arrived safe and damage free.  

First impressions were good; it is clearly well made and looks smart and modern. I was getting Brabantia vibes in terms of its clean, fuss-free lines! Most fire pits are made of some form of metal, and are therefore never feather-light, but this was certainly one of the heavier fire pits I have come across. 

steel fire pit box contents on striped rug

The contents of the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 box

(Image credit: Future)

Setting up the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0

This fire pit was easy enough to put together using the two A4 print-outs supplied (one for the main bonfire and one for the stand), which featured handy pictures. The largest metal ring with holes is the stand, which is designed to protect heat-sensitive surfaces, like decking, and grass from heat damage. It also adds a nice bit of height. 

Next, you need to pop the ash pan in the bottom, with the base plate centred on top. There’s also one more metal ring, the flame ring, to slide into place on the top lip of the Bonfire 2.0. This ring has angled edges that help funnel flames and smoke away from your face. 

The carry bag is substantial and doubles as a cover once the Bonfire 2.0 has fully cooled. I didn’t find it very easy to get the Bonfire 2.0 into the bag without assistance, but once in, it’s definitely easier to carry. Because of its weight, I wouldn’t want to schlep it very far though!

Lighting the Bonfire 2.0 is the same as lighting a woodburner indoors, or any other fire for that matter. Apart from a decade renting in various cities, I’ve always lived in the country, in homes featuring some form of wood fire. This meant I didn’t need Solo Stove’s fire lighting instructions but they’re fairly standard, and I was glad to read I’ve been doing it right all these years. 

The main point to note is that you should not overfill the Bonfire 2.0. If the wood/kindling sits higher than the upper vent holes (inside the rim) you will stuff any hopes of smoke-free burning and it’ll also compromise the airflow burning system, too. 

I started by laying small pieces of kindling in the bottom of the pan, on scrunched up newspaper, then added a couple of smaller pieces of wood. Next, I lit the newspaper and waited for the flames to catch on before adding a log or two. I was impressed how quickly and easily the kindling caught and was pleased I didn’t have to burn any precious (smelly) firelighters to get it going. In mere minutes, there was a very pretty rolling flame effect going on. 

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit being tested

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit alight

(Image credit: Linda Clayton)

What is the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 like to use?

On the first outing of the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0, we all pulled our deckchairs up (the outdoor furniture still being in storage) to get closer to the heat. Our little family of four huddled around and the heat output was sufficient to keep us cosy, even in early March. Admittedly with our coats firmly on. 

On a summer’s evening, I would imagine Solo’s claim that eight people can enjoy its warming glow is accurate as we could sit further back. If you regularly entertain bigger crowds, you may be better off considering the brand's bigger fire pit, the Solo Stove Yukon 2.0

Alternatively, there is also the option of buying a Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 heat deflector to increase the heat radius. This added extra is designed to push the heat out and down (rather than up into the ether) to warm more bodies and/or make it more suitable in colder seasons, however, it retails at a rather staggering £209.99. Refuelling the fire doesn’t look as easy when the deflector is on as you’ll need to push kindling through the gaps, but I didn’t test one so I can’t vouch for whether it's worth the extra investment. 

Once lit, the rolling flame action i superb. It reminded me of the air-wash secondary combustion thing that goes on inside our indoor woodburner, to keep the glass clean. Everyone who saw our Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 in action ooohed and ahhhed at the pretty flames, which are snake-charmer-grade mesmerising. Whether it translated to heat output is harder to prove or quantify but as mentioned earlier, we were indeed heartily warmed by the Bonfire 2.0 and it certainly didn’t appear to be lacking on the heat front.

Once it was up and running, keeping the fire burning was very easy and it didn’t burn through the fuel too speedily either, which was a huge bonus given how much the price of logs has increased this year. Because the fuel sits deep inside, it doesn’t spit or flare as some bowl-shaped pits can, and the fire pit stand, which is vented, should prevent any heat damage to surfaces like decking and grass. 

In terms of safety, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 requires the usual precautions you’d take with any fire pit. Pets need to be kept well away ­– our spaniel very nearly burnt his nose on it ­– and children must also be taught to keep clear.Because the fuel sits deep inside, it doesn’t spit or flare like some bowl-shaped pits can. The fire pit stand, which is vented, should prevent any heat damage to surfaces like decking and grass. 

steel fire pit being tested

Check out the rolling flames

(Image credit: Future)

Is the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 really smokeless?

But is the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 really smokeless? This has to be the million-dollar question and the answer, from me, is yes. And no. 

First for the science bit. Solo Stove’s smokeless situation works via secondary burn, made possible thanks to its double-skin steel construction with vent holes at the top and bottom. Cool air is pulled through the bottom, heats up within the double cavity, and rises to the top, which invokes secondary combustion as the hot air exits the top vents. 

This continuous supply of air, and rolling flame effect, results in more thorough combustion and a hotter fire with less smoke. The rim at the top of the bonfire is also angled to help control smoke flow. 

When we tested the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 on a more inclement day – when there were mild Spring-time winds but nothing that would dry your sheets in record time – the firepit was more or less smokeless. But, on the days when we tested it when the wind appeared to be coming from three directions – as it often does here on the edge of Dartmoor – its smokeless powers failed somewhat. 

My main – and completely unscientific – test for the presence of smoke basically came down to whether or not I had to wash my hair before bed! I can’t stand the smell of smoke-filled hair, and on those windier days, I did have to take a shower.  

It’s also worth noting that, no matter what the wind was up to, the smokeless action does take a little time to kick in. We found it took at least 10 minutes to die down, Solo Stove says to expect 5-15 minutes of smoke on lighting. So don’t expect to see zero smoke from the first strike of a match even on a calm day, the wood really needs to have caught on properly, and be sitting well under the top vent holes of the bonfire before the smoke emission becomes noticeably reduced.

That said, this firepit definitely produced less smoke than most on a calm day, and if your garden is more sheltered than mine then you're likely to find those billowing clouds of smoke almost entirely eliminated.

steel fire pit being tested

We found the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 released a small amount of smoke for the first 5-15 minutes of burn time

(Image credit: Future)

How portable is the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0?

I’ve already mentioned that the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 is heavy, comparable to about seven bottles of wine or a one-year-old child, but it’s also unwieldy. There is no handle or grip holds so the only way to pick it up is to get your hands right underneath and lift it, or do a hug hold, like you’re carrying a watermelon (Dirty Dancing style). I guess you could also pincer grip it at the rim, if you have crab-like hand strength. But here’s the real rub; there is a handle, you’ll just need to stump up an extra £44.99 to get it. On a fire pit that costs just shy of £250, some form of handle should be included, surely?  

OK, assuming you can manhandle it into the carry bag (that is included) – and you’ll need two people to do so – the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 does become more portable. The carrying straps are very robust and my husband, Nick, could handle the weight of it, as long as he wasn’t expected to carry much else. He said the handles would be better if they were twice as long, so he could put them over his shoulder. The shortness of the handles meant he had to hold it like you would a carrier bag, with the Bonfire smacking into his ankles. We considered taking it to the beach but were put off when we remembered how far the parking is from the sand. 

If portability is key for you then the smaller Solo Stove Ranger 2.0 smokeless firepit could be the solution.

steel fire pit in black bag on terracotta floor

The Solo Stove carry bag also doubles as a cover

(Image credit: Future)

Cleaning the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0

I was pleasantly surprised how little ash was left in the pan, even after several hours of use. To clean the Bonfire 2.0, I just brushed any remaining ashes through the holes on the base plate, then lifted the base plate out and removed the ash pan to empty. It did leave a few patches of ash behind in the base, so I then up-ended the bonfire on the compost heap and shook it out (again, handles would have been handy). 

As the exterior of the bonfire stays clean, you don’t get messy hands when carrying it after use, as long as you avoid the underside of the flame ring that sits on the rim because it gets coated in a layer of black sooty residue during use. I didn’t know to avoid it the first time but soon learnt my lesson.

steel fire pit inside with ash in the bottom

There wasn't much ash to empty after a few hours of burning

(Image credit: Future)

Maintaining and storing the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 

There doesn’t appear to be any maintenance required, but, according to the care guidance, you should expect the steel to discolour and patina over time. I actually quite liked the bronzing effect. You can use the carry bag supplied to protect the Bonfire from the elements when left outside over summer, but it does need to be properly protected from moisture and rain in winter to avoid rust damage. 

steel fire pit with ash pan removed

The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 ash pan lifts out for easy emptying

(Image credit: Future)

How does the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 rate online?

There is a huge fanbase for the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 online, and it’s quite hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about it. The main love is for its smokeless powers, but people also rave about its design and how perfect it is for smaller gardens and patios. On Amazon it gets 4.7 out of five stars, and nearly all the (precious few) negative reviews were about dents presumably made during transit. I was slightly smug to note a couple online customers did share my disbelief over its lack of a handle. 

How does it compare to similar models and its predecessors?

This is the second edition of Solo Stove’s Bonfire, hence the 2.0, and the main improvement was the addition of the removable ash pan. Previously ash-emptying involved picking the fire pit up and tipping it upside down, which sounds messy and muscle-straining. Solo Stove also makes the Ranger, a smaller, more portable model, and the Yukon, which is aimed at larger gatherings. All three bonfires are essentially the same in all but dimensions, and all promise reduced smoke emissions. 

There are a few other fire pits offering low smoke burning, all using a similar double-cavity airflow system, but Solo Stove’s main competitor is probably the TIKI Low Smoke Fire Pit, which is even more expensive but, arguably, better looking. The ash is accessed via a drawer, making it a breeze to empty, and it also comes with a stand and cover but no carry bag. 


The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit being tested

My daughter roasting marshmallows on the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit

(Image credit: Linda Clayton)

Should you buy the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0?

If avoiding smoke is your main priority, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 certainly delivers. 

I can’t decide if I love the design, or find it a bit ‘blah’, but it’s certainly not offensive in any way and there’s no doubt the build quality is good. 

It may not push out quite the same levels of heat that our regular and much bigger, single skin, fire pit does, but I’ve read that’s the payoff when considering any low smoke firepit. The double-cavity required to achieve those mesmerising rolling flames, and the smoke reduction, inadvertently acts as heat insulation. 

Admittedly, the price tag is high, especially considering you can make a fire pit out of a steel shopping basket, dustbin or old washing machine drum! However, the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 burns very efficiently, and uses precious little fuel, while producing barely any ash, and is more or less smokeless, all of which means it punches way above regular fire pits. And, if you do buy into the Solo Stove hype, you should be set for life thanks to its lifetime guarantee. 

Opt for the Ranger if you want proper portability, or the Yukon if you have more than eight friends to keep warm.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 firepit on raised decking

(Image credit: Solo Stove)

About this review and the reviewer

Linda Clayton is a freelance interiors journalist specialising in interior design and home and garden tech. She is a serial renovator, currently on her fourth project, and has tested many home appliances, DIY tools, garden equipment and mattresses in the last 20+ years.

She was sent this product to test in a residential setting for a month to find out whether it is suitable for a busy family who love the great outdoors. Her home on the outskirts of a Devon village sits in half an acre of (mainly exposed) gardens with a decent size patio – making it a great testing space for fire pits.

Linda Clayton

 Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.