BioLite FirePit Plus Review: Connected Fan Maximizes Flames for Campfires and Grilling

BioLite FirePit+
Lights on the fan indicate the battery level and fan speed. Scott Tharler

On the one hand, the mention of encircling a campfire elicits warm and tingly visions of hanging out, roasting marshmallows, telling stories, playing music and perhaps even dancing. On the other hand, it also begets thoughts of toil, hassle and smoke. Utilizing a compact design and remote-controlled fan, the BioLite FirePit Plus promises more of the former and way less of the latter.

As Erica Rosen, BioLite's vice president of marketing, told us, "What we wanted to do is give you all of the benefits of a traditional campfire but without any of the smoke. And then again, give you a lot of control around calibrating your energy." Hoping to experience that for ourselves, we requested a review unit of this wonder hearth, and it delivered as promised.

BioLite FirePit+
The BioLite FirePit Plus comes with a cover, two grills (including the fuel rack, front) and the Bluetooth-controlled fan. Scott Tharler

Quick Setup

Upon opening the box, the first thing we did was find the fan unit and charge it using the included USB cord. In terms of the hardware, all we had to do was screw two handles into the unit and fold out the legs. We put the fuel rack (the more forward of the two racks in the image above) in the lower position—resting right on the bottom of the unit, just above the lower airflow pipe—and added a piece of wood. When the fan was fully charged, we hung that on the side of the unit, connected it wirelessly to our phone via the app and lighted up.

Technically, we could have cycled the fan speed manually by directly pressing its power button successively. But the beauty of the app is that not only can it help you control the fan, but it also estimates in real time how long it will last based on the particular speed you choose.

When first starting the fire, the lowest fan speed was helpful, eliminating the barbaric need to blow at the emerging embers. An additional hint offered in the app is that once the fire gets going, a lower fan speed is better for higher flames, whereas a higher fan speed helps maximize the heat generated. This is something to keep in mind when seeking that delicate balance, especially since the "X-ray mesh" body of the firepit not only allows heat to radiate outward but the fire to appear as if it's floating off the ground, a visually stunning and mesmerizing effect.

BioLite FirePit+
The fan easily attaches to one side of the firepit. Scott Tharler

From Cookout to Hangout

It's already cool that such a compact (just 27 inches long) and relatively lightweight (only 20 pounds), portable, remotely controllable firepit is able to handle up to four pieces of standard 16-inch firewood. But it's also able burn charcoal when it's time to grill.

In fact, you can combine both. Rather than place the fuel rack on the bottom of the burn chamber, you hang it on the ends and add charcoal to create a little hibachi. Then, after the food is cooked, while the embers are still nice and hot, you can add a piece or two of wood and you're well on your way to a roaring campfire. (We didn't attempt this in our testing, but it sounded fabulous.)

BioLite FirePit+
The air current comes from holes in a pipe on the bottom and two on each side at the top. Scott Tharler

The Fan's Other Purpose

Even with all that grilling and chilling combined, you may not always want the fire to rage on for 5, 10 or 15 hours. That potentially leaves you with power to spare in the high-capacity battery of the fan unit. You can put that power to good use by either recharging your phone (or other mobile device) or by illuminating your campsite, in each case using the built-in USB outlet on the firepit. Either way, it's a handy feature that reinforces the theme of smartly using fuel.

BioLite FirePit+
The fan speed can be controlled remotely via the app or directly on the device itself. Scott Tharler

Decking It Out

Because the firepit can be used to grill, BioLite offers a couple of sensible kits to get you going in that direction. The Cook Accessory Set includes a:

  • Lid to concentrate the heat and shorten cook times
  • Pre-seasoned cast-iron griddle for camp-side flapjacks
  • Knife, tongs, spatula and storage mat toolkit
  • Poker to manage the fire

And since that kit doesn't include the firepit itself, BioLite offers a bundle that does (and in the process saves you money off buying the items individually).

BioLite FirePit+
Folding the legs back makes transporting and storing the firepit easier. Scott Tharler

Should You Buy the BioLite FirePit Plus?

I like how such a well-designed, portable pit creates a handsome venue for the ambience and cooking power of fire. I like how BioLite has integrated technology to improve upon the traditional experience, using remotely controllable airflow to create an efficient, smoke-free blaze. And I also like how part of BioLite's mission is not only about recreation but enabling folks around the globe to live off the grid. For those whose activities and goals align with any or all of those factors, the recommendation for this fantastic firepit is an emphatic yes.

Buy at BioLite.

Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.