The Solo Stove Mesa XL is different from other camping stoves, which is why it caught my attention. It's not like Jetboil's or Soto's technical stoves that you can use backpacking or bikepacking; Solo Stove is a different beast. Well, it's less of a beast and more like a cute bonfire that lives on the top of your camping or garden table.
T3's best camping stove guide is a place to find top-notch camping equipment for those inclined to spend time in nature, which sometimes also includes cooking food or warming/boiling water.
Solo Stove's Mesa and Mesa XL aren't for this purpose. Much like the gigantic Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0, these dinky wood-fuelled stoves are for fun and not for surviving the Great Outdoors.
There's nothing wrong with that, though. I thoroughly enjoyed our marshmallow-cooking sessions on the balcony and will continue to melt squishy white puffs of joy using the Mesa Xl going forward. Should you get one? Let's find out.
Solo Stove Mesa XL review
Price and availability
The Solo Stove Mesa XL tabletop firepit is available to buy now at Solo Stove UK for a recommended retail price of £125 (approx. $159/ AU$ 241). It's available in five colours: Stainless Steel, Ash, Water, Mulberry and Deep Olive.
Solos Stove doesn't have an Australian website, but you might be able to get hold of its firepits via third-party retailers. For the best prices, see the price widgets at the top and bottom of this Solo Stove Mesa XL review.
- Diameter: 178 mm
- Height: 218 mm
- Weight: 1,04 kg (approx. 2.29 lbs)
- Materials: Stainless steel, ceramic
- Includes: canister, stainless steel stand, flame ring, and a nylon carry bag
- Matchless: no
- Fuel type: wood, pellets
Design and build quality
The Solo Stove Mesa XL has a deceptively simple construction. Made mostly from stainless steel, this portable firepit features a unique construction to enable what the brand calls Signature 360° Airflow, which is said to super-heat air to burn off smoke, helping you and your clothes and hair stay smoke-free.
The canister itself is reassuringly straightforward and requires no assembly. Before lighting the fire, all you have to do is ensure the rim is positioned on the top and the Mesa XL sits on its legs properly. There are no switches, levels or knobs to operate; you only need to put the firestarter and the wood inside the canister, and you're ready to go.
The easy-to-understand instruction manual explains it all, but to get the fire going, you need to place a firestarter cube and the wood into the Solo Stove's canister, light it, and you're ready to go.
One thing to remember is not to stack the wood too high to allow the super-heating process to kick in. The strategically placed holes around the top of the Mesa XL are supposed to help air circulate and reduce smoking, which is one of the USPs of the tabletop firepit.
Once the fire is going, it roars like there is no tomorrow – great for heat, not so much for managing fuel. I found myself almost continuously throwing wood on the insatiable Mesa XL. It's worth noting that due to the tabletop nature and the way you should feed the fire (i.e. not overstack), you can only fill the canister with so many bits of wood.
Smoking was indeed minimal, or, more like, non-existent. Most of the smokey residue settles on the inside of the flame ring, thanks to the air circulation. This also means the ring is covered in soot, which is worth keeping in mind before dismantling the Mesa XL.
As for the experience of roasting marshmallows with the Solo Stove Mesa XL: it's priceless. The fact that you can use a dinky firepit on top of a table to do fireside activities literally anywhere is just astonishing. We used it on our balcony first, and the experience was perfect.
Granted, you won't be able to use the Mesa XL to cook food or boil water; it's more of a novelty thing, really. But a good one at that.
Do you need the Solo Stove Mesa XL in your life? Not necessarily, but it makes long winter nights a bit more bearable. It's simple to use and provides some heat (and fun) while sitting inconspicuously on your table in the garden (or, in my case, on your balcony).
This cute tabletop firepit can be used all year round, and not just in winter, of course. It's especially well-suited for gardens with *cough* annoying *cough* neighbours who might otherwise complain about the smoke coming from a normal firepit.
Thanks to the accessible price point, the Mesa XL (and especially the Mesa) makes an ideal gift for someone who likes spending time in their gardens or is into car camping.
The low-maintenance nature of the Mesa family of tabletop firepits means you can get them out at any time, much to your and your family's/friend's delight. Let's make some s'mores, shall we?
The twig-fuelled BioLite Campstove 2+ is a well-designed, high-quality stove which offers an effective way to cook in the wild, unlike the Mesa XL, which can only be used for warming marshmallows. It'll heat food efficiently and provide a useful charge for your phone while you're at it. It's on the bulky side, but for car campers, it's a winner. Read Ruth's excellent BioLite CampStove 2+ review.
If you need a lightweight, highly functional stove for backpacking, try Soto WindMaster. It can boil water and help you rustle up a feast or a cup of tea, no matter the weather conditions. Read Pat's full Soto WindMaster 4-Flex Stove review.