The Landmann Big Sky Fire Pit is affordable and fun, with an attractive rustic appearance. But it's not without its flaws, and will require some upkeep. Fundamentally, what you're getting with the Big Sky is a budget-conscious fire pit that delivers good quality in the price range, with basic yet attractive styling, and good safety features. Read this big sky fire pit reviews for more info.
It's large enough to easily warm a back yard party. The cutout shapes in the side have a rustic charm, help illuminate the ground around the pit, and provide a good supply of oxygen to keep the fire blazing. A really nice bonus is that the Big Sky also comes with a grill and can be used to cook meals. This just adds to the fun. Why stop at marshmallows when you can do kebabs and steaks?
Ambiance & Functionality of Landmann USA Big Sky Fire Pit
Easily the best feature of the Landmann USA Big Sky Fire Pit is the decorative cut-outs in the side. They look great when a fire is burning in the pit, and cast a lovely flickering glow onto the surrounding area (they don't cast shadows as they're too close to the fire for that).
This is a truly charming effect, which is hard not to love. The cutouts come in four themes: the most popular is the stars and moons, but there's also a western motif (cactus, horses and horseshoes), tree leaves (maple leaves are my favorite) and wildlife (moose, bison, etc). They also come in two colors: a basic black, and Georgia Clay which is a bronze-ish brown clay color (note that the leaves decoration isn't available in black).
There's also a slightly shallower version of the Stars & Moon in Georgia Clay, for those who want a smaller fire. Honestly, I think they'd still sell plenty if they just made a single stars and moon model in the Georgia Clay color, but it's a real bonus to have these other designs to choose from.
As well as looking great, the cutouts have a functional benefit: they ensure the fire gets plenty of oxygen. This makes it relatively easy to light (I say "relatively" because it's still a wood fire and will take some time to get going). The oxygen supply also means it will burn hot and fast, which is great if you like a blazing fire without building an enormous pile of wood (although it's not so good if you prefer a fire of slowly smoldering coals).
The bowl is fairly broad and deep, and with a good fire going it's the ideal size for a backyard party. You can easily seat eight or more people around it, and it will warm the general surrounds quite nicely.
Another great thing about this fire pit is that it comes with a grill and you can use it for cooking. By "cooking" I don't just mean s'mores and hotdogs on a stick; you can pretty much cook anything that you would cook on a regular open grill (steaks, etc).
The bowl is deep, so the coals will be a greater distance from the food than they would be in a regular charcoal grill, but this isn't much of an issue: the heat still rises directly up to the grill. If you wanted, you could use some bricks and a grate to bring the coals closer to the grill, but it isn't necessary. Just remember to do three burns before cooking any food, so that any manufacturing chemical residue is burned off.
There's a steel rail that encircles the top of the fire bowl. This is useful for moving the pit (preferably when it's cold, to be safe), and resting hot dog and marshmallow sticks on. It doesn't get particularly hot, so you can put your feet up without worrying about your shoes melting (although your feet aren't far from the fire, so be careful).
From a safety point of view, the Landmann Big Sky has a number of benefits. The bowl is deep and you can build a good sized fire without any of the logs poking over the top. The hot coals and burning wood will fall into the pit rather than over the sides.
The mesh that screens each of the cutouts in the side is effective at stopping sparks and embers from escaping, while still letting plenty of air in, and plenty of firelight out. It also comes with a spark guard, which is a mesh dome that fits over the top of the fire to stop sparks from escaping. The encircling rail at the top of the bowl creates a three-inch safety buffer around the fire, and won't burn you if you bump it.
If you follow the instructions, you'll also have a few pounds of sand in the bottom, which will stop the area directly below the fire from getting too hot. With only three legs you may think it looks unstable, but a tripod won't wobble on an uneven surface, and the legs are short enough that the center of gravity is low and stable. All that being said, this is still a steel cauldron with a fire in it, so as with any fire pit, you do need to be careful.
Assembly & Customer Serviceâ€‹
If all goes well, it takes about 10 minutes to assemble. There are only a handful of parts to attach (three legs, and the circular rail which comes in three pieces) with a total of six nuts and six bolts (there are also three screw-in pins to rest the cooking grate on).
You'll need a Phillips Head screwdriver and a 17/32" socket (a wrench will work too, but six of the bolts are on the inside of the bowl, and the height of the socket handle will make it easier to tighten). The fire poker comes in two parts and screws together.
However, assembly may also take longer than expected. Many people find that that the three circular rail pieces don't align properly, and it can take some brute force to make them fit properly so that they form a well fitted circle with all the holes lining up cleanly so they can be securely bolted onto the bowl. A rubber mallet is useful for this. The spark screen may also be a little out of shape when you unpack it, so you may need to un-bend it a little to make it fit the bowl properly.
You'll also need some sand to put in the bottom of the bowl. The manufacturer recommends five pounds, but this makes a very thin layer, so you may want to use more (e.g. 20 pounds). This serves a few functions. Firstly, it protects the metal on the bottom of the bowl from "burning out".
It also provides insulation so that the bottom of the bowl doesn't get too hot and burn anything that's underneath it (which may include people's feet). The sand also gives the pit some added stability in case it's bumped. Some people also add a few stones or bricks and a grate to raise the logs off the sand. This is a nice enhancement, but isn't critical.
If you do receive a broken or defective part, or find a part is missing, just can contact Landmann USA directly at email@example.com, or call their customer service number on 1-800 321 3473 (Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM, Eastern Time). Keep your proof of purchase handy.
Construction Quality & Durability
Given its relatively low price, the Big Sky is sturdy and durable enough. However, it does have its shortcomings, and you'll need to look after it if you want it to last more than a couple of years.
Although it's constructed from steel, it's a thin-gauge sheet metal, which is obviously a cost-cutting measure to keep the price down. It still feels solid, but won't be as durable in the long run as a product made from thicker steel.
If this concerns you, you may want to look at the Sojoe Stars and Moon Fire Pit, which is visually identical to the Big Sky Stars & Moon but is made from much thicker metal (of course, this raises the price, but not unreasonably so).
A bigger concern is the quality of the paint. There are a few issues here. Not only does it scratch easily, but it also flakes off if it gets too hot. Theoretically, if you keep your fires modest, this shouldn't be a problem; but seriously, this is just a shoddy manufacturing decision.
Not only are scratches and flaking paint ugly, but they also expose the steel to rust. The simple fix for this is to re-paint the bowl using high-temperature paint (which thankfully happens to be pretty cheap). You could either do this as maintenance, or do it preemptively when you assemble it.
Of course, if you bought the fire pit because you like the Georgia Clay color, you're going to have trouble color-matching it (although Rust-Oleum High Heat Ultra 1,200°F enamel spray, comes in both black and "aged copper", which might be close enough). While you're at it, you should also paint the insides of the legs, since these aren't painted by the manufacturer and are also vulnerable to rust.
To prevent the bowl "burning out"you should follow the assembly advice and put sand in the bottom. To prevent corrosion in general, you should keep it out of the rain, and cover it when not in use (both the Landmann and Sojoe covers fit well). You should also empty the ashes the day after a fire (i.e. when they've cooled), since they'll absorb moisture and cause rust.
Some people like to drill holes in the bottom of the bowl to help with water drainage. This isn't necessary, and certainly isn't a substitute for keeping the bowl protected from rain. But if you do decide to do this, remember to paint the holes so that they don't have any exposed metal, which will rust.
- Very affordable.
- Attractive, rustic appearance, with four designs and two colors to choose from.
- Good safety features, including a deep bowl, rail around the top of the bowl, and spark-guard mesh in the sides and lid.
- Produces a good sized hot fire.
- Thin sheet metal construction (although not unreasonable for the price).
- Paint flakes off when it gets too hot. As well as being ugly, this also makes it vulnerable to rust. You'll need to repaint it eventually, and may want to just put an extra coat of high-temperature paint on before you first use it.
- Although the assembly is simple, it can require some brute force to make some of the parts align.
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