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While we still may not be able to go on an international holiday, party on the beach, or turn up at a tailgate right now, it doesn’t mean there aren’t socially distant ways to bring people together. If you’re going to safely gather with others, one of the best ways is through the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your camping gear, or just want to turn your backyard into a grillmaster’s dream, the best outdoor tech items should bring the fun (and functionality) no matter the season.
Camping brand BioLite makes some of the best portable grills we’ve tested, which make them obvious choice for backpacking and day trips, but their small sizes also makes them convenient for anyone with an apartment balcony or small patio. This includes our favorite choice, the heavy-duty but totally portable BioLite FirePit+, a fully-functioning fire-pit-slash grill that weighs only 20 lbs, letting you enjoy all the warmth, smell, and crackle of a wood-burning campfire wherever you go.
How Does The FirePit+ Work?
This high-tech, above-ground fire pit is completely smokeless, and burns both standard 16-inch firewood or charcoal. BioLite says the fire pit’s “X-Ray Mesh” casts light and warmth in all directions (not just up top). Fill it with logs, and you’ll have a warm bonfire to chill around with others. Lift the fuel rack and toss in charcoal to transform it from a fire pit into a capable hibachi-style grill, complete with included grill grate, anywhere you want.
While it’s not completely smokeless, it does a great job containing any stray embers, and it ventilates the smoke out well enough that you won’t be dodging smoke or feeling your eyes burning all night if you want to sit in close and enjoy the flames.
BioLite vs. Solo Stove Bonfire and Other Portable Fire Pits
One of the FirePit+’s stand out features is an electronic fan that injects oxygen to keep the flame burning hotter, longer, with far less smoke. The fan can be controlled via onboard buttons or through the BioLite app, so you don’t have to calculate how many logs you’ll need to throw in to get a roaring flame.
Unlike other portable fire pits like the Solo Stove Bonfire, which burn for around 10 hours (or as long as you keep throwing logs in), FirePit+ boasts up to 30 hours of battery life. Plus, the sleek mesh design gives you a front row seat to see (and feel) the flame.
Unfortunately the range of heat is not as far-reaching as other portable fire pits, either. The FirePit+ would excel at containing the flaming heat during late-night summer bonfires, but if you’re camping in the cold, it may not exactly warm up your extremities like you want. However, the 2021 version has an updated body design that supposedly radiates heat outwards, but we’ve yet to test it.
How Do You Use The FirePit+?
Just download the BioLite app to your phone and change temperature settings, check the battery status, and set the intensity of the flames while it burns up to four standard firewood logs. A nice bonus: a built-in 12,800 mAh rechargeable battery pack and USB outputs let you use the fire pit for charging your devices. With a remarkably long battery life, you can keep the fire burning for 30 hours on Low, 14 hours on Medium, and seven hours on High heat.
The folding legs also make portability a snap, to easily transport your FirePit+ to the beach, campsite, tailgate party or anywhere else, BioLite also offers an optional carrying bag so you won’t have to worry about ash or leftover charred bits rolling around in your car.
The latest version also has an upgraded, high-temp enamel coating that’s said to improve durability, and also makes for easy cleaning. Once you’re done with your bonfire for the evening, it cools down relatively quickly, and you can simply remove the fuel rack and empty the ash out.
How Do You Grill With The FirePit+?
The grill feature on the FirePit+ is fantastic, and heats up in seconds, while the included grate lets you cook up everything from sausages to kebobs with ease. Our editors have tested it with everything from campsite staples like burgers and hotdogs to flakey fish: all of it was easy and turned out delicious. Once dinner is done, all you need to do is remove the grate and light up the logs for a warm, crackling glow into the night.
If you don’t have room in your living space for a full-sized grill, or want to take your grilling on the go, there’s also a full-blown cooking set you can get with your FirePit+, which includes a prep and grill toolkit, as well as grill lid to concentrate the heat for faster cook times. For experienced camping cooks, this is a must-have addition to an already stellar grill.
Is the FirePit+ Worth It?
Bottom line: the FirePit+ is one of the best portable fire pits, and a great way to enjoy the smokey, woodsy feel of the outdoors no matter where you go—without the irritating smoke. The versatility of features like the grill grate and the Bluetooth-enabled controls make it a worthwhile portable grilling solution too, that everyone from hardcore campers to backyard grill enthusiasts will enjoy thoroughly.