Photo Courtesy of Solo Stove
Oct 21, 2021
A fire pit in the summer is a luxury, even an excess. Daylight already stretches past 9:00 pm, and the balmy evenings don’t require a sweater, much less a roaring fire. Yes, roasting s’mores and mixing a Kolsch and wood smoke are pleasures of the season, but the bumper crop of light and heat are, strictly speaking, unnecessary.
But a fire pit in the autumn, especially when you live in Maine, like I do, is a necessity. Suddenly, the light fades well before 6:00pm, crisp beer turns to warm, fortified cider, and a sweater isn’t hardly enough to keep out the resident chill. More than a backyard accessory, a fire pit extends the summer and, at least as long as you huddle around it, staves off the long and lurking winter.
For me, the season-prolonging crown goes to my Solo Stove Bonfire. Sleek, compact, and shockingly efficient, this open-topped stainless steel cylinder beats back the cold, wordlessly invites the neighbors into the yard, and offers one more reason that New England autumn is the best season of the year.
Probably the best feature of the Solo Stove—its clean, modern design aside—is that it gives off so much heat and so much light, without much smoke. Granted, no backyard fire burns truly smoke-free, but I can’t think of a time when I found myself playing the perennial game of fireside musical chairs trying to avoid the eye-stinging black gas.
Solo Stove claims that its 360 Airflow Design allows for the smokeless experience: “Strategically placed holes in the double-wall structure draw in air from the bottom and feed the heated oxygen to the top, resulting in a spectacular secondary burn.” Whatever the science, it works. And the fire pit does indeed burn so efficiently that there’s very little ash at the end of the night.
A word of warning—the Bonfire does get quite hot, so consider investing in a pair of their High Heat Gloves if you need to move it or cook on it.
Which brings me to a few of Solo Stove’s excellent accessories. I usually set my 20-pound, eminently movable fire pit on asphalt or flagstone. But over the summer I had a long family hang at a friend’s lake house and he got a fire going in his Solo Stove Bonfire on his wooden deck. Initially he had me a little worried considering how much heat it puts out, he had just gotten a Bonfire stand, whose elevation off the deck and air holes underneath allow enough cooling air to pass through that you can set the stove on wood and even grass.
My wife got the Cast Iron Grill and Bonfire Hub accessories for the stove, and immediately set to roasting corn and homemade salmon burgers over the open flame. It worked like a charm, and brought a campfire cookout vibe to an otherwise average Saturday night in the backyard.
If I had to pick my next accessory to buy, it would be the s’mores-ready Roasting Sticks. Sturdy, steel, and sharp, they look ideal for skewering a small slice of summer, browning it just so over the open flame, and bringing it deep into November.