My favorite way to wind down a dinner party with friends is to sit around a fire pit, with faces aglow, laughter low, and maybe some marshmallows on sticks for dessert. But the old saucer-shaped steel pit we kept in our small San Francisco backyard produced so much smoke. Despite the regular ocean breeze, we could never really predict which of us would get hit with the next eye-watering gust.
I figured that was just the way things had to be. Until, arriving at a friend’s house one night for drinks, I saw a group of people out back, gathered around a shiny cylindrical object full of flames but emitting not a whiff of smoke. My friend explained that the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0, a double-walled stainless steel fire pit, was designed to create a secondary combustion, essentially burning off most of the smoke before it reached us. I ordered one the next day.
This fire pit’s simple form and stainless steel finish could be exactly the minimalist effect you want, or you may think the pit looks more like a dryer drum. Either way, this is a lightweight fire pit that you can drag out to use and then hide away when it cools off.
I’m the editor of Wirecutter’s outdoors section, and a couple of years later, with the pandemic lingering on and on, I assigned senior staff writer Kit Dillon to look into smokeless fire pits. He researched all of the options, tested the best candidates, and published our guide to the best smokeless fire pits in fall 2021, just in time for cool-weather socializing. And, yes, the Solo Stove Bonfire ended up being one of our two favorites. (The Bonfire pictured in this guide is editor Daniela Gorny’s, from 2018, and she says it’s still holding up great in the high desert.)