Solo Range assessment 2023: Is it truly smokeless?

A few of my most nostalgic childhood reminiscences have been evenings spent across the hearth pit in my household’s yard, a humble ring of slate slabs hand-stacked round a shallow gap. When picked clear of leaves and capsule bugs and piled excessive with logs, it will burn a crackling golden blaze that may gild marshmallows, toast our shins, and depart us with piles of smoky laundry on the finish of the evening.

The Solo Range Bonfire 2.0 is a conveyable wood-burning hearth pit that guarantees to resolve this problem with ultra-clean, smokeless flames. It’s not the primary or solely hearth pit to make such claims, however a wildly profitable Kickstarter marketing campaign, a pandemic bump, compelling social adverts, and phrase of mouth have stoked its recognition.


The best hearth pits of 2023

My household was skeptical concerning the Solo Range the primary time I introduced out the mid-sized Bonfire 2.0 mannequin for testing on a visit to the Northwoods: At face worth, it’s a reasonably unremarkable chrome steel drum. (My dad went off on a tangent about some man from YouTube who supposedly replicated it with a rubbish can — “it labored completely!”) However whereas none of us would pay full value for it, we have been all gained over earlier than its coals had cooled.

How the Solo Range works

The Solo Range has a double-walled design with two units of vent holes: one across the exterior of its base and one encircling its internal rim. There’s a perforated base plate the place wooden sits and a metallic ash pan to catch embers inside its most important burn chamber, and an angled metallic flame ring on its higher rim to guard the fireplace from wind gusts. 

Meeting takes a minute tops.
Credit score: Haley Henschel / Mashable

The detachable ash pan and base plate are new additions for the Solo Range 2.0 fashions from late 2022; the 1.0 variations wanted to be Store-Vacced or tipped over and dumped out with the intention to be cleaned between fires.

side by side images of a solo stove after use and a person holding its base plate filled with ashes

The detachable elements make cleanup a breeze. I didn’t even have to take away the ash pan after considered one of my fires (proper) — the entire leftovers got here out with the bottom plate.
Credit score: Haley Henschel / Mashable

When a fireplace kindles inside a Solo Range, the warmth and lack of oxygen from the preliminary combustion course of produce a vacuum that sucks air up by these exterior vent holes into the burn chamber beneath the ash pan. The air between the pit’s metallic partitions then heats up and rises as the fireplace will get fed from under, including extra heat oxygen to the flames from above when it leaves the within vent holes. This “secondary combustion” makes the fireplace so sizzling that it burns up its personal smoke — in idea.

What makes the Solo Range so particular?

This design isn’t distinctive or particular to the Solo Range model in 2023. Breeo, a Pennsylvania-based purveyor of premium smokeless hearth pits, claims to have launched its first double-walled prototype again in 2011 — 5 years earlier than Solo Range’s Kickstarter went up. Manufacturers like Cuisinart and Tiki (as in, the torches) have additionally hit the market with competitors lately. 

BioLite’s FirePit+, which has a manger-shaped mesh design outfitted with Bluetooth help, a chargeable battery, and 51 airjets that pump its hearth with oxygen, is the one really completely different smokeless hearth pit I’ve come throughout.

side by side images of a solo stove bonfire 2.0 with its carrying case

The Solo Range Bonfire 2.0 is constructed from light-weight 304 chrome steel, which is fairly in particular person (although it does maintain onto fingerprints). Its carrying case is constituted of sturdy nylon.
Credit score: Haley Henschel / Mashable

Nonetheless, there are a number of elements that set the Solo Range other than its friends:

I might additionally add {that a} good chunk of the Solo Range’s perceived “specialness” could be credited to the truth that the model is admittedly, actually good at social media. Aesthetic movies of individuals utilizing their Solo Stoves on scenic seashores and cliffs at sundown are foolproof fodder for TikToks and Instagram Reels, and close-up photographs of the cool vortex impact produced by a profitable secondary burn can cease anybody mid-scroll.

Is the Solo Range truly smokeless?

The quantity of smoke a Solo Range can eradicate in follow largely is dependent upon how lengthy its hearth’s been burning and the kind of wooden you’re fueling it with. You’re going to see about 5 to 10 minutes of smoke proper off the bat as your kindling will get going, so mood your preliminary disappointments accordingly.

As quickly as you may have a decent-sized flame, you’ll be able to prime it up recurrently with hardwoods to assist the fireplace burn massive and clear; keep away from softwoods like pine, which can produce smoke. All items of wooden needs to be as bone-dry as attainable and minimize to dimension in order that they don’t protrude from the pit’s rim.

With follow and a pair armfuls of brittle oak and maple, I managed to burn fires with near zero smoke inside the Solo Range Bonfire 2.0. (And any traces of smoke that did materialize have been funneled straight upward as a substitute of in my face.) I by no means obtained a blaze so massive that the secondary burn wafted flaming rays round its edges, however the flickering reflections in its metallic inside have been lovely when it obtained darkish exterior. 

To cite my sister’s fiancé, who oversaw the Bonfire 2.0’s first trial within the Northwoods: “You possibly can sit in a full 360 round this factor and nobody can be in a foul spot.” 

After all, the primary draw back to having a fireplace pit designed to get fires so sizzling that they burn their very own smoke away is that it completely chews by wooden — even the hardwoods I used. It’s virtually too environment friendly, so be sure to have an ample provide of logs readily available for each use.

Lastly, it’s value mentioning that the minimal smoke produced by a Solo Range’s roaring hearth takes most of its warmth with it because it drifts straight upwards. If you wish to use one to heat up on chilly nights, look into including its warmth deflector.

Closing ideas: Is the Solo Range value it?

The Solo Range is an unlimited enchancment over any conventional hearth pit or campfire I, or anybody else in my household, have ever used. (“I believe we have to get considered one of these,” one sister whispered to me as we roasted marshmallows over the Bonfire 2.0.) However its value is a large hangup, particularly once you consider its equipment: “That’s why I haven’t purchased it [yet],” my dad informed me.

I’ve two factors of comfort for attainable consumers, the primary being that Solo Range’s wonderful construct high quality ought to final you for a protracted, very long time. After a number of fires and lots of miles traveled between completely different yards and patios over the course of the previous 12 months, my Bonfire 2.0 hasn’t proven any indicators of wear and tear or tear except for growing an anticipated patina. What’s extra — and I wouldn’t essentially advocate doing this — the stand that got here with my testing unit managed to outlive an hours-long burn contained in the pit after my mother and father confused it for an inside part.

The opposite notable plus is that Solo Stoves are extremely straightforward to seek out on sale year-round for as much as a whole bunch of {dollars} off — not simply on the model’s web site, however at retailers like Amazon, too. Hold an eye fixed out for these reductions, and also you’ll be golden.