Family Handyman Approved: Blue Sky Ridge Fire Pit
There's no place I'd rather be on a warm summer night then relaxing with family and friends around a crackling bonfire. So why not bring the party on the go with this Family Handyman Approved portable smokeless fire pit?
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I see compact smokeless fire pits everywhere — at the beach, campgrounds, tailgating at sporting events or on neighbors’ decks and patios. These provide a tidy, smoke-free burn in a lightweight, easy to transport package.
Though it’s almost halfway through our short Minnesota summer, I figured it wasn’t too late to try one of these out for myself. So I ordered the Blue Sky Outdoor Living Ridge Smokeless Fire Pit, picked up some S’mores fixings and got ready for the long Fourth of July Weekend.
What is the Blue Sky Ridge Fire Pit?
The Blue Sky Ridge is a 15-pound portable steel fire pit. It stands about 16 inches tall and 12-1/2-inches wide, and supports a decent fire in its 11-1/2-inch-wide burn chamber.
It’s a dual-fuel device, meaning it’s approved to burn standard firewood and wood pellets, or a mixture of both. When the party is winding down, the fire pit breaks down easily. Its pieces neatly nest together and slide into an included carrying bag for easy transport.
The low sheen, solid black design is modern and sleek, reminiscent of something from a 1980’s sci-fi movie. Blue Sky is also an official licensed partner of the NFL, NHL and U.S. Army. So if you’d like to support your favorite team or military branch, there are plenty of customized options for that, too.
The unit feels durable, sturdy and well-made. Plus, all Blue Sky Outdoor Living products come with a three-year limited warranty.
How We Tested it
With clear weather on the horizon and Fourth of July weekend approaching, I gathered our family and packed our vehicle a long weekend at the lake. I figured this would be the perfect setting to test the Blue Sky Ridge Fire Pit.
I was curious to see how well it packed and set up, and whether it was truly a smokeless fire pit. I had wood pellets from our pellet grill already up there, so I planned to test the dual-fuel concept as well.
This fire pit is slick. It’s easy to set up, use, haul and even clean. The included storage bag is handy not only for transport, but for keeping ashes and soot from smudging the inside of your trunk.
The Blue Sky Ridge sets up and breaks down in seconds. The top burn chamber sits on top of the ash-catching base. With some firewood or pellets, you’ll have it raging in minutes.
The Blue Sky website says the Ridge can handle fires up to 1,900 F, and I believe it. This thing gets roaring, expelling flames out of the top and pumping out heat you can feel on your shins a couple of yards away. I sensed a faint smell of something industrial the first few times I used it, but that went away. It was probably just excess paint or the powder coat from the manufacturing process.
When it was time to pack up and head home, the Blue Sky Ridge cleaned up in a snap. I just emptied the ashes from the collection stand, nested the pieces back together and was on my way. Just give yourself ample time to let it cool down before handling or putting it back into its travel bag, because it can take awhile.
The Great Fuel Debate
The dual fuel test was eye-opening, and a learning curve. The wood pellets burned thoroughly but quickly.
I dumped an 1-1/2- to 2-inch pile of grill pellets into the bottom of the burn chamber and set four tiny fires, ignited with torn off chunks of brown-paper bag. Minutes later, the fire was roaring and burned for 20 or 25 minutes.
Once the pellets burned up, the fire extinguished quickly. But that’s the best part — to keep the fire going a few minutes longer, just toss on a handful or two of pellets rather than an entire log.
Using firewood with the Blue Sky Ridge Smokeless Fire Pit is a little different. First, you’ll need to split the firewood into smaller uniform pieces that will fit snugly in the bottom of the fire pit, rather than sticking out of the top. Instead of building a fire that fills the entire burn chamber, work on creating a more intense one in the bottom half.
This reflects how a smokeless fire pit works. Outside air is pulled into the bottom ring of the burn chamber, then moves up the pit’s hollow walls. The heated air is then released into the top of the burn chamber, infusing the fire with an extra burst of oxygen. This vaporizes any wood or moisture particles, creating little or no smoke or embers at all.
If you build a fire with your firewood pieces in a typical teepee design out the top of the fire pit, like I did the first time, expect plenty of smoke and embers — the opposite of what you’re looking for.
After trying pellets alone, then firewood, then a mixture of both, I think wood pellets alone offer the best way to keep a low-profile fire blazing away while minimizing the smoke.
Comparable sized portable smokeless fire pits from market leaders cost nearly double the price of the $160 Blue Sky Ridge, and with fewer features.
Of all its competitors, only the Blue Sky Ridge features an easy-to-clean, ash-catching base and a carrying and storage bag. It’s also the only brand customizable with your favorite sports team’s logo or military branch emblem.
Why You Should Buy This
If you were thinking about getting a smokeless fire pit but weren’t sure which one, give this affordable Blue Sky Ridge fire pit a try. The dual fuel fire pit is easy to use, set up, haul and even clean. It’s compact enough to throw over your shoulder, yet pumps out enough heat to keep family and friends warm year-round.
Where to Buy
The Blue Sky Outdoor Products Ridge Fire Pit is available at Amazon, The Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s and Camping World.