Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 with Cook Top Review

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Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 with Cook Top Review
Preheating the Cast Iron Grill

Solo Stove sent me their new Bonfire 2.0 firepit that includes a lot of updates from the first generation Bonfire (I explain those differences later). They also sent over their new Cast Iron Grill Grate and Hub attachment so I could see how well this unit can grill. With a nice cast iron top like this, I figured steaks would be a great way for the Bonfire 2.0 christening.

In this review, I’m going to cover how well the firepit itself performs, and the cook top. I live in a cold climate (Saskatchewan, Canada) and I was testing this Bonfire 2.0 on a 5F/-15C day, so I knew these cold ambient temps would effect how hot I can get the cook top. Even with the weather being brutal, the grill top performed well.

How did it perform? Let’s just say I’m adding the cook top to my favorite camp fire grills and grates list.

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Grill Top
  • Heavy Cast Iron Grill
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Wok
  • Heavy Duty Wok
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Griddle
  • Heavy Duty Griddle
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageCast Iron Grill & Hub Cooktop Only
  • Includes Grill and Hub
CHECK PRICE

Solo Stove Company Overview and Bonfire 2.0 Specs

The Solo Stove fire pits grew in popularity for several reasons, but the main factor would have to be the smoke free fire performance. For many, camp fire smoke can be a detriment to ones sinuses. I know when I go camping at a large camp ground, and everyone is burning a fire, I will have massive sinus issues for the next couple days. Most people do not care for the blasts of smoke to their face anyways. The Solo Stove company saw this as an opportunity to innovate and end this problem. The rest is history.

Solo Stove also designed their pits to ease with fire ignition. How did they do it? By adding the right amount of venting to their design.

The Solo Stove Company Explained

Solo Stove is one of the brands under the Solo Brands group and are owned by the Summit Partner company. Back in 2011, two brothers (Jeff and Spencer Jan) worked together with a goal of bringing family together in outdoor settings. They created the Solo Stove Lite which was a backpacking camp fire stove that used twigs and sticks as a fuel source.

Solo Stove Lite
Solo Stove Lite. The stove that started it all.

The company grew the product line and reached massive growth with the larger smoke free, stainless steel stoves we see everywhere today. In 2018 Solo Stove added John Merris to the team as CEO, and the companies growth has been exponential.

In 2021 Solo Brands started acquiring more lifestyle outdoor companies such as Chubbies Shorts, Oru Kayak and ISLE.

Solo Stove is constantly adding to their product list and continue to grow at a rapid rate. Impressive company to say the least.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Specifications

Diameter19.5 inches
Height14 inches
Weight23.3 lbs
Material/Construction304 Stainless Steel
CleanoutRemovable Ash Pan
MiscellaneousCarrying Case Included
WarrantyLifetime

Bonfire Cast Iron Grill Top and Hub Specs

Cast Iron Grill Diameter17.5 inches
Hub Base Diameter18.75 inches
Combined Height9.5 inches
Weight20 lbs
Materials / Construction304 Stainless Steel and Cast Iron
WarrantyLifetime

Bonfire 2.0 and Cook Top Features

For me there are four key features from this bundle that stand out. I’ll be covering the smokeless fire, ease of ignition, the cast iron grill and hub, and the removable ash pan for easy clean up.

How does the Solo Stove Smokeless Fire Work?

How the solo stove works

Solo stove did what many other fire pit manufacturers should have done a long time ago. Engineer their pits so they can burn hot enough to keep a clean burning fire. The way Solo Stove achieved this is quite simple and isn’t as elaborate as you might think.

Venting

Solo stove engineered the venting of the Bonfire to burn extra hot. They include sufficient bottom venting that starts at the base of the stove, which then enters the pit. On the inside bottom where you lay your wood, you’ll notice the vast amount of ports that allow air flow into the bottom. This creates optimal air flow to burn your wood. Solo Stove then added top vent ports on the inside of the pit, which aids in extra combustion on top.

The Bonfire creates a very high heat combustion which eliminates most smoke. It’s still possible to produce smoke from your Solo Stove, so remember to follow these tips to ensure a smoke free fire.

  1. Use Dry Wood and start with small pieces for the beginning of your fire.
  2. Keep the Ash Pan clean. A full ash plan will reduce air flow.
  3. Don’t overfill the solo stove with wood.
  4. Stir the fire once in a while if you’re doing a long burn. This helps keep the vent ports open.

Quick Fire Ignition

Have you ever tried to light a fire in an old tire rim pit or concrete block pit and struggled to get the fire lit? Want to know why? It’s the lack of air flow / venting. Fire needs air flow, but not too much. Trying to light a fire in the wind is a struggle as well. Solo Stoves design allows for fast fire ignition regardless of wind speed.

The quick ignition all comes down to the venting system that Solo Stove created for the smoke free fire. Because you’re building your fire deep in the stove, you won’t have high winds snuff out your fire, and because of the venting that comes from the bottom of the stove, your fire will light quickly.

How to Quickly Start a Fire in the Solo Stove bonfire 2.0

How to start a solo stove bonfire 2.0
Ready to light my Solo Stove

I used the tried and true method of building the little log cabin. Split some dry wood into 1.5-2″ pieces of kindling and start stacking the wood as shown below. I went up a couple layers on this try. Once the little cabin is built, simply stuff some paper in the middle and light. My solo stove was roaring in minutes. It was nice to light a fire so easily, regardless of wind.

I was using birch for this fire only because it was all I had. If you’re going to cook with your fire, you should probably use a hardwood like oak, or maple since they do not emit the same toxins as soft wood.

How the solo stove works

Cast Iron Grill with Hub

Solo Stove has been busy adding numerous accessories and attachments to their fire pits and one of the more recent additions is the Cast Iron Grill (they also have a flat top griddle and wok option as well). Solo Stove was nice enough to send me the cast iron grill to test for this review.

The cast iron grill is high quality and weighs about 20lbs. Solo Stove includes the stainless hub that acts as an intermediary for connecting attachments above the fire pit. It’s a good idea and makes your Bonfire more useful.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 with cast iron grill
Cast Iron Grill Heating Up For Steaks

Removable Base Stand and Ash Pan

One of the big upgrades of the Bonfire 2.0 vs. the first generation Bonfire is the removable ash pan. The first gen had you flip the Bonfire upside down to remove the ash from the bottom of the fire pit, which was a messy job. The 2.0 allows you to simply pick out the ash pan and dump it in a garbage without any awkward or messy lifting.

Solo Stove also provides a base plate to prop up the bottom of the Bonfire in case you want to sit it on a potential flammable surface like a wooden deck. This keeps the heat off the wooden deck and reduces the chance of combustion.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Base Stand
Removable Base Stand

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 and Cast Iron Cooktop Performance

Overall I’m pleased with the performance of the Bonfire and the cooktop system, but there are a couple key things I would like to point out. After doing a couple cooks over the open fire, I have some important findings.

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Grill Top
  • Heavy Cast Iron Grill
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Wok
  • Heavy Duty Wok
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Griddle
  • Heavy Duty Griddle
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageCast Iron Grill & Hub Cooktop Only
  • Includes Grill and Hub
CHECK PRICE

Campfire Ignition

This is probably one of my favorite aspects of the Solo Stove. As I mentioned earlier, starting the fire is easy. The fire pit is designed to provide just enough air flow that makes ignition easy. Windy days do not matter as the fire is protected from the tall walls of the stove.

Literally Smoke Free – Almost

Solo Stove claims a smoke free fire and that is true most of the time. The only time you’ll experience smoke is at initial start up (to be expected), throwing a fresh large log on the fire, burning wet wood, or if too much ash is blocking the bottom air ports. That’s about it and these conditions do not happen very often. If you’re starting to see smoke from dry wood, move the logs and coals around a bit to make sure the bottom vents are not plugged.

My sinuses act up if I’m subjected to a lot of smoke over a long period, and I’m very happy with the idea of having a smoke free fire pit.

Cast Iron Cook Top Performance

When I got the fire going and put the hub and grill in place, I questioned whether the grill would get to a searing temperature. I felt the distance from the fire to the grill was quite substantial, plus it was only 5F when I was doing this cook. I was planning on grilling steaks so I like my grills extremely hot for the cook.

Solo Stove recommends you get the fire going and let the grill heat up for 30 minutes before using, which I followed. I used a ThermoWorks Pro-Surface Thermapen that can measure the temperature of the grill. It’s something I like to use with pizza stones or griddles to know exactly what the temps are. As you can see below after 30 minutes, I got the temps to register high which means it is 572+ degrees Fahrenheit.

Measuring Solo Stove Grill Grate Heat with Thermapen
Thermapen Pro-Surface Reading Hi = 572F+

Obviously you can get the grill to searing high temps, even on a cold winter day.

I threw on some Top Sirloin Cap steaks (Picanha), and started my cook. They seared very quickly and I was able to get some beautiful sear marks showing quickly. Because these steaks were so thick, I had to flip them regularly to get an even cook.

Top Sirloin Cap Steaks on Solo Stove Cast Iron Grill
Top Sirloin Cap Steaks Searing Nicely

One tip to note when using this grill top, is to make sure your fire is not roaring when you put the steaks on. Solo Stove recommends cooking over the coals with no real flame, but I wanted to get my grill hot in short time, so after the flames died down to 50%, I put the steaks on. Well I got flare ups and fire burning off the grease in the grill tracks right away. I had to move the steaks around after this. So make sure you let the flames die down before you throw the steaks on.

Overall the steaks turned out great and I was very pleased with the high temp grilling. If it can reach high temps, then I’m satisfied. Overall the heat was naturally more centered, but there is enough space to manage the cook. Cast iron is a great material to cook and it aids in keeping an even heat surface.

Over the fire cooked steaks.
Steaks turned out amazing. Look at that char and color.

Ash Cleanout

As Solo Stove promised with the Bonfire 2.0, ash cleanout was extremely easy. I never had the original Solo Stove Bonfire, but I’m glad I never had to bother with tipping the stove over to empty the ash. It’s the little things that make ownership of fire pits like this more pleasant.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Ash Cleanout
Ash Pan is easy to remove and clean out

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Portability

Solo Stove includes a carrying case with their fir pit sets. I thought this was a nice touch, until I had to put the Bonfire into the cover. It’s definitely not a one person job. My wife Jannah had to hold the case open as I struggled to get the stove inside. The fitment is tight which makes it challenging. They could have increased the case size to make this easier. Make sure you have help with this task.

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 Carrying Case
A bit hard to get the stove in, but easy to carry after

Overall Fit and Finish

Overall the Bonfire 2.0 is a beautiful piece of art. I love anything stainless, and the Bonfires304 Stainless does not disappoint. Being stainless, there is not a lot of weight to the stove which makes it truly portable if you want to take this on camping trips or beach parties.

The removable base stand is a nice touch, but like the fitment of the hub to the cast iron grill, I felt the base stand did not fit the stove as snug as it should. I want these two pieces to fit tightly together, especially when I have a fire roaring in the stove. This is an area that could be re-engineered. It’s probably not a problem, but I’m somewhat picky when it comes to fitment on devices that contain fires.

Solo Stove made an effort to make sure all the pieces could be stored inside the stove when not in use, including the base stand, optional hub and flame ring. This makes it nice and compact when transporting or storing.

Ownership Experience

I haven’t owned the Bonfire 2.0 for a long time yet, so I’ll keep updating this part of the review over time, or if any challenges arise.

I will point out that the packaging of the Solo Stove was robust and there were no blemishes when I opened the box, even though the outside of the box showed signs of distress from the shipping company.

Warranty

Solo Stove provides a life time warranty on their fire pits, so you’re well covered from the manufacturer. I haven’t heard any complaints from the customer service side of Solo Stove, so I assume most customers are happy and a lifetime warranty free from manufacturer defects makes you feel better spending this kind of coin on a fire pit.

Would I recommend the Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 with cook Top?

Simple answer is yes. I’ll explain.

What Makes Me Happy……

  • Quick Fire Up: I hate taking 20-30 minutes trying to start a fire with lame firewood or in the wind. Solo Stove makes this easy with the wind protection and well engineered venting.
  • Smoke Free: This is important to me, as I have sinus problems with too much smoke for too long. Who likes smoke in their eyes all the time?
  • Cook Top: There is something about cooking over top of a live fire. I have every BBQ/Grill/Smoker a man should ever need, but cooking over a live fire adds another dimension to the actual cook and flavor profile.

What Makes Me Angry……

  • Fitment: Solo Stove could work on their fitment of the base stand and hub/cook top interface. There is some play for movement which is concerning when you’re cooking with a live fire and a heavy cast iron grill.
  • Price: The price might be high for the average buyer. You need to love camp fires, or really hate smoke to pay the premium for this fire pit.

Final Verdict

Overall it’s a buy in my eyes. My family loves a camp fire, and I love cooking over fire. It gives you another reason to be outside, even in the dead of winter. Who doesn’t love an open fire cook, without smoke pounding into your eyes. This fire pit makes for a great holiday, birthday or Father’s day gift. You’ll be using it more than you think, and you won’t regret it. Plus, Solo Stove keeps coming out with accessories to make your Bonfire more versatile. They’ve got it figure out. I’m won over.

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Grill Top
  • Heavy Cast Iron Grill
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Wok
  • Heavy Duty Wok
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageBundle DealBundle DealBonfire 2.0 with Griddle
  • Heavy Duty Griddle
  • Smoke Free
  • 304 Stainless
CHECK PRICE
byb2-table__imageCast Iron Grill & Hub Cooktop Only
  • Includes Grill and Hub
CHECK PRICE

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