As the temperatures drop and social distancing continues, many of us are looking for ways to hang with friends and family outdoors. Step one: Arm yourself with some proper cold-weather layers (we recommend Uniqlo’s Heattech clothes). Step two: Heat up your outdoor living space.
If you were lucky enough to get a heat lamp for under $600, good for you. If not, a fire pit is your best bet. And while you could go for a standard metal one (Wayfair has a great selection), why not take it up a notch and get one that heats, grills, and come camping with you to boot.
Brooklyn-based BioLite is known for its smokeless, wood-burning camp stove, which is beloved by campers for both its portability and its ability to multitask: The company’s CampStove 2 actually actually generates electricity, so you can charge phones, lights, cameras, and more. For campers with more specific tastes, BioLite also makes a heat-to-electricity outdoor pizza oven, called the PizzaDome.
But the company has found fans far beyond the outdoorsy set, thanks to its three-year-old FirePit, which is smokeless and portable—making it perfect for city dwellers and suburbanites looking to bring a hint of the great outdoors into their backyards. The company intelligently engineered the FirePit, which is currently on sale—down from $250 to $187 on the BioLite website—to allow users to enjoy the cozy, rustic experience of grilling and hanging out next to a campfire without all the smoke that goes along with it.
“The actual aha moment came when the BioLite team was on our annual retreat to Lake George island for four days of camping completely off grid to put our products to the test,” says Erica Rosen, VP of Marketing. “We were sitting around the campfire one night and playing musical chairs to get out of the smoke and chanting all those silly spells that you cast to get the smoke to blow in another direction, and one of our engineers said, ‘I think we can do this better. Let’s fix this.'” Two years later, that “aha” moment came to life with the BioLite FirePit, a portable, multiuse open flame grill and campfire.
“One of the coolest things about the FirePit is that it hardly puts out any smoke, but that leads to a lot of questions—where does the smoke go?” Rosen says. The FirePit, after all, is fed by firewood, sticks, or charcoal, which typically give off smoke. The device, Rosen explains, includes an internal fan, but that’s primarily used to control the intensity of the fire. “The fan does not blow the smoke away,” she says. “The heat of the fire actually burns the smoke before it has the chance to escape.” Smoke, in other words, is simply fuel that escapes the fire—so the more efficiently your fire burns fuel, the less smoke you have.
The FirePit’s fan is powered by a rechargeable battery. The body of the stove is made of what BioLite calls “X-Ray mesh,”—when you look at it from far away, it just looks like a black metal box. But when the fire is lit, the perforations of the mesh take over and all you see is a floating fire.
And although it is a very tech-forward piece of equipment, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the FirePit is that it doesn’t feel too technical. In fact, user experience has been dialed in to allow you to cook over charcoals, Hibachi-style, and then throw a few pieces of firewood on top of your burnt coals, and voila, you have a post-dinner fire with no fire-building skills necessary. “You don’t need to be an Eagle Scout to do this,” Rosen says.
When you’re done with your fire, you can simply open the trap door at the bottom of the stove body (which is lovingly called the “ash-hole” by its designers), dump out the ashes, fold up the legs, and store it away in your closet or garage. But chances are, you are going to want to have it out with you every night in these upcoming spring and summer months.
“My family and I like to camp, which we obviously can’t do right now, so we throw some wood on the Firepit and roast marshmallows in the backyard,” says one FC editor who owns (and loves) the FirePit. “It makes it easy to light a big, cozy fire, without worrying that you’re going to burn down the neighborhood. And though it’s not entirely smokeless, it’s a lot cleaner than a traditional campfire.”
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