Fire pits are nice, but they can be ashy, smoky messes after a few ragers. So isn’t it about time someone re-invented the fire pit? Enter BioLite, makers of a vast array of camping and outdoor gear that’s also super tech-enabled. They’ve recently released their new BioLite FirePit, and I had a chance to get hands-on with it for a few days of camping and yard use. Here’s what I learned about it.
BioLite FirePit review
What is the BioLite FirePit and what can it do? This compact, portable metal box has collapsible legs so you can pack it down. Weighing about 20 pounds, you wouldn’t want to bring it on a hike, but it’s perfect for your trunk or a day at the beach, campsite or picnic area.
BioLite FirePit has a removable grill top so you can cook on it, or just use it to have a small but roaring fire. You can burn either wood or charcoal in the BioLite FirePit, depending on your needs and what’s available.
Of course, the BioLite FirePit has technology built in. On the side is a large 10,400mAh PowerPack which also houses a fan. This fan can stoke up your flames, when needed. The fan can be controlled by the buttons on the module or by connecting the power pack to your phone via Bluetooth, so you can make small incremental adjustments to the fire from your smartphone, keeping it perfectly in control. And when your phone starts to die, you can connect it to the power pack and you can recharge it right on board.
Recharging the power pack
If you’re familiar with BioLite’s other gadgets like the CampStove, you might be hoping the energy generated by the fire can recharge your power pack. Not this time. To keep it full, you’ll need to bring it in the house, and plug it in to recharge. Or you can get the optional solar carrying case, but that will still take about 4 days to recharge it, so it’s not something I’d opt for.
BioLite’s 10,400 mAh pack can power your fire for up to 24 hours.
What’s In The Box:
- Rain Cover
- Grill Grate
- Fuel Rack
- USB A to Micro USB Cord
You’ll need to attach the two handles before you get going, but it takes just a minute.
BioLite FirePit features
Want to see the flickering flames and dancing embers while you’re gathered round? The BioLite FirePit has 360° viewing via what’s called X-Ray Mesh so you can see through the box on all sides. That also lets heat escape to warn you on cool nights too, and I can attest that it emits a good amount of warmth.
Grill Grate for Barbecue
The BioLite FirePit is actually pretty versatile. It can be a FirePit, of course but you can also cool over it and the included grill grate makes it easy. Underneath it there’s a fuel rack. It can be left in or removed, depending how you want to use the FirePit: put it in and lay charcoal on the rack for a hot sear, or keep it out and build a fire in the bottom of the FirePit.
Keep the smoke down with fan power
We all know camp fires and fire pits can be smoky, but BioLite FirePit has technology which can help with this. You can adjust the fan airflow to fuel the fire and ramp it up if it starts to wane and smoulder. This optimizes the burn, for more heat and flame and less smoke. 51 air jets inject the fire with oxygen at key locations. This creates a more uniform temperature and a more even fire; meaning no hotspots.
Overall Burntime: 24hr on LOW, 10hr on MED, 5hr on HI
I found we did get quite an even burn all across the surface, particularly when using charcoal to grill some food. If anything, I found it was hard to get the right adjustments from the fan, particularly when cooking over it; too low and it was too smoky. Too high and it burned the fuel fast. It was a bit of a dance keeping the fire at optimal levels.
Cooking on BioLite Firepit
Cooking over fire is finicky at the best of times, so despite all the great features of this device, you still need to manage your cook. We took the Fire Pit on a long weekend excursion with friends and cooked chicken, sausage patties, steaks, and hot dogs.
The chicken was a challenge and took a long time to cook, probably because I was still learning how to manage the heat and the fuel.
As an aside, you want to get the right amount of fuel into the Fire Pit if you’re using the grilling rack. While the grill top does slide over to give you access to the fire chamber, you won’t easily be able to get at the area below fuel rack, and even moving that fuel rack is hard, because the handles are inside the fire box. You definitely need fireproof gloves.
When we tried the sausage patties, again it was hard to get the temperature right, even with the fan playing a part. They took about 40 minutes to cook properly. Hot dogs were easier, and by the time we got around to the steak, it was a bit easier to manage.
The bottom line here; cooking over the FirePit is just like grilling on a BBQ or Hibachi: you still need to work at it. Just because this gadget has a bit of technology built in, don’t expect instant miracles.
While you can control that fan using the buttons on the PowerPack, you can also wow your camping friends by whipping out your smartphone and dialling in the best settings for your fire and your conditions using Bluetooth. The app interface is quite easy to use with just 4 speed settings.
In all honesty, while I love me some tech, it does feel a bit redundant to control the fan on the phone when the buttons are right here. It’s not as though I’m getting some kind of burn report from having my phone hooked up to it, but it will tell you hiw much time is left on the power pack. It’s a novelty, sure, and can act as a remote control if you’re bundled up and don’t want to get up, but it’s pretty unnecessary.
How do I clean the BioLite FirePit?
The FirePit has a trap door at the bottom that you can use to clean out ash and coal And you can clean the grate with a standard wire brush you use to clean with other grills. I will say that after the first use it won’t be pristine any more—it’s fire, after all. But it can be kept reasopnbly clean with some basic scrubbing.
Overall review of BioLite Fire Pit
Small size means you don’t need a huge BBQ grill
Fan helps keep the fire going
Not very compact; legs fold, but that’s all
Fire doesn’t recharge battery pack like on CampStove
Needs carrying case to prevent soot getting everywhere (solar case costs $60US)
Overall, I’ve really been enjoying the FirePit experience. It’s cleaner, less smoky and more portable than anything else out there. It is definitely a challenge to cook over it though and requires some practice and finesse. It’s also not as portable as it seems; definitely not as portable as BioLite’s Camp Stove, for example. But if you’re looking for a versatile gadget that can keep you warm on a cool night, cook your food, and that has a bit of tech help, you’ll like this.
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