This Spring, Mr Bows and Bentos and I were discussing landscaping ideas for our yard. We knew we wanted more planter boxes, some trees, gravel & paving stones down one side of our house – and he also pitched the idea of a fire pit. He grew up in the country surrounded by space and animals and a relax by the campfire at night was something he was accustomed to. Me? I’m a city girl and admittedly, I wasn’t interested at all.
- I hate the smell of campfire smoke (which permeates every hair and piece of clothing on your body and means constant laundry on my to-do list)
- Fire pits can be expensive and take up so much space in your yard (we live in an urban area and our yard isn’t huge by any means)
- I didn’t want to commit to one spot for a fire pit (a firepit is usually permanent and it is so windy here, how can we know we picked the right spot)?
- Obtaining and storing firewood is one salty pain in the arse (I don’t even know where to buy firewood, embarrassingly enough).
I suggested potentially looking into a natural gas firepit (you know, once of those Costco ones you can put on your deck?) – my husband told me those are ridiculous and not even real fires so he’d rather not even have one, than have one of those. The logic of a country boy….you know. We agreed to shelve the idea for a bit and think about it while we assessed the budget and considered if we wanted to make this work.
Shortly after, I received an email from Erin and Dexter from Coulee Outdoor – a local outdoor company making smoke-less fire pits. WHAT. Fire produces smoke, how are their fire pits smokeless? Needless to say, I had questions. They wanted to work together to market their products to a wider audience, and I wanted to know more – so I began to research.
I learned Dexter had an extensive background in the industry, working over a decade for the exact company we had just bought a smoker from last summer. I learned that a nightly campfire is a Hamilton family household staple to decompress from the day and connect with each other. It’s said that innovation is often ‘sparked’ by what isn’t working and there were a few elements of the traditional campfire that needed some tweaking. On top of all of that, Dexter’s industry experience with wood pellets as a fuel source and a gap in the market made it the perfect opportunity to create Coulee Outdoor. I found out that they lived in my town, and held all the same beliefs I do about sustainability and supporting local. When we were talking about Coulee Outdoor and how it came to fruition, Erin shared she felt all the same things as me about the smell of smoke and the inconvenience and cost of a permanent fire pit, which is why they wanted to create portable smoke-less versions.
This partnership was simply serendipitous.
Coulee Outdoor offers 3 different portable, smokeless, firepit options (size is measured based on the inside pit dimensions, and the outer ring edges are in addition to the measurements listed):
- CouleeCamp – a small little portable “campfire” (4″ or 6″ models) you can literally take anywhere. Weighs just 3 pounds!
- CouleeGo – a good bit larger (12″ or 16″ models) but also super versatile and portable. The best addition to your campsite or cabin. Weighs 15-24 pounds, depending on the size
- CouleeYard – the largest option with two sizes (19″ 2 in 1, or 24″). Weighs about 60 pounds but still very easily moved and transported.
Erin and Dexter offered to gift me one of their CouleeYard™ 19″ 2in1 Smoke-Less Fire Pits and a grill & post in exchange for my honest thoughts and detailed review on the set-up so that is what I am going to share with you folks here! As always, these opinions are 100% authentic, my own, and I do not stand to profit if you buy one after reading my review here.
Our municipality was under a fire ban when we first received our CouleeYard, so the second it was lifted we made a makeshift platform to test it out immediately (just a few paving stones from the side of our house). As it is high quality 304 stainless steel (it won’t rust!), the pit itself will get quite hot and so that should be considered when you decide where to place it (it isn’t suitable to be placed on a deck). This unit weighs about 60 pounds, and was easily transportable by one person (so you can have a driveway fire with neighbours, or a backyard fire, etc). The COOLEST thing about the 19″ 2 in 1 option that I got is that there are 2 fuel options – traditional firewood logs, or wood pellets.
Wood pellets were really intriguing to us. Super economical (approximately $7 for a 40 pound bag from Canadian Tire), it cut out the headache of potentially trying to acquire and store traditional firewood (I’ll mention, the 19″ CouleeYard 2 in 1 that we have CAN use both firewood and wood pellets). You add about 2 inches of pellets to the Coulee, and so each 40 pound bag of pellets provides approximately 6 fires (a little over $1/fire). When using 2″ wood pellets as suggested, we found the fire burnt for 45-50 minutes, which is super reasonable. I love that we have both fuel options.
To ignite the fire, Erin and Dexter taught us a wonderful trick of using really old and destined for the compost beeswax wraps, cut into strips, to sprinkle on top of the wood (or wood pellets) and light those with a striker. This is another example of the sustainability that is at the forefront of Coulee Outdoor’s design and production process – always looking for ways to use the items we already have and ensure as little waste as possible is created.
They also shared that when you choose to light the fire with actual firewood, you reverse the fire starting set up: a few logs in “cabin” formation, then add logs into a “pyramid”, then a few small pieces of kindling and the beeswax wrap strip starters on the very top. Then, light like a candle and sit back and enjoy. They have tested this (next on our list!) and you do not need to stoke the fire at all with the burn lasting about 50 minutes with no need to add additional fuel.
It took about 10 minutes for our fire to begin roaring, and then the magic occurred – NO SMOKE. They have created an innovative airflow system that uses what can only be described and wizard sorcery to suck the smoke back in (much like a vacuum) and where does that smoke go? NOT INTO MY NOSTRILS. As mentioned, we live in a very windy area and it was gusting good when we tested it out and we never experienced any traditional campfire smells whatsoever. True to form, the fire roared for about 45-50 minutes and was the perfect length of time for an evening relax. Can you rig it up to go longer? Of course! This was just our preference.
You can see more videos of this fire (and the smokeless sorcery) in action in my “Coulee Outdoor” Instagram Highlight.
The hole you see on the outer edge of our CouleeYard is for the grill post to attach – so you can cook on top of this fire like any other traditional campfire. The outer ring gets extremely hot so it can be used as a cooktop, and then the grill post attachment (which is adjustable based on how close you want something to the fire) can be used as an additional cooking surface – cook all the burgers and weenies and s’mores your heart desires!
Once the fire died down, we could see the ash remaining on the bottom. Erin and Dexter gave us another hack for sustainability, and that is due to the high levels of lime and potassium in the leftover ash, it makes a great addition to the soil in your garden to boost plant growth. Once cooled, you can scoop the ash out of your Coulee, or use a shopvac to suck it all up if you choose not to reuse it. The ash (once cooled) can be safely put into your municipal organics bin if you have one. The lid can then be put on once the fire has died off to protect it from the elements.
Overall, it was overwhelmingly obvious to us that the Erin and Dexter with Coulee Outdoor had a home run. It did *exactly* what it said it would do – provide a a high-quality portable campfire with NO smoke and ALL the benefits of a traditional fire.
Here are the top reasons we loved it:
- NO SMOKE – we didn’t believe it was possible but it’s true. No more stinky hair, irritated lungs, and annoyed urban neighbours and campers
- Designed, manufactured, and shipped from Canada (supporting local is really important to us)
- All the same benefits of a traditional fire (warmth, cooking ability, etc)
- LOVED the dual-fuel options – not having to collect and store firewood was a huge selling point. The wood pellets are easy and economical!
- Made from high quality stainless steel, it won’t rust, and is covered by 10 year warranty guarantee.
- Really like the add-ons like the lid, the grill and post, etc. Really comprehensive system.
I cannot say enough good things about our new CouleeYard, and I think you’ll love it too. They can ship ALL over Canada and hope to launch into the USA soon. Erin and Dexter are really lovely people, and I know you’ll love Coulee Outdoor as much as I do!