The weather has started to get cooler, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to head indoors for winter just yet. There’s ample time to enjoy the backyard, porch or balcony before the first snowfall. We’ve rounded up the best outdoor gear for cooking, relaxing and imbibing this fall, from a pizza oven, to a uniquely designed fire pit and a smart outlet for your outdoor lighting.
Solo Stove Pi
Ooni may be the biggest name in at-home pizza ovens these days, and rightfully so: Those products produce outstanding results. If you’re looking for an alternative, fire pit maker Solo Stove has entered the pizza chat. With the Pi, the company has built a dual fuel option (gas burner sold separately) with a stone cooking surface for restaurant quality pizzas on your deck or patio. The Demi-Dome construction and wide opening gives you easy access to launch and rotate pies with ease. Plus, the Pi is made of stainless steel just like Solo Stove’s fire pits so it should last a good long while. Lastly, the company also offers a range of cooking accessories and supplies, including a Neapolitan pizza box with dough, sauce, whole-milk mozz and pepperoni. I’d highly recommend the stand, which can be easily rolled out as needed.
Traeger Timberline (2022)
Traeger completely redesigned its Timberline pellet grills earlier this year, turning them into a full-on outdoor kitchen with the addition of a built-in induction side burner. The company’s changes touch every aspect of the grills, from making assembly and cleaning much easier to creating a more efficient cooking chamber. The new Timberline grills also have an integrated rail system on three sides to accommodate a range of accessories and the new models work with Meater+ wireless food probes (Traeger bought Meater in 2021). Just like before, you can trust these grills with everything from high-heat searing to low-and-slow smoking, and you can monitor all of it on your phone from a comfy seat.
Weber Genesis EPX-335
After initially debuting its smart grilling tech on a standalone device and pellet grills, Weber brought its Weber Connect platform to gas grills. The company has a number of new connected models for 2022 starting at $1,179, but the pricier EPX-335 adds conveniences like an LED-lit grill surface and control knob lighting. This three-burner model has enough cooking space for 20 burgers, a dedicated sear zone for putting the final touches on steaks and a side burner for preparing sauces or sides. The EPX-335 works with Weber’s Crafted line of accessories and ships with a frame kit needed to accommodate some of them. There’s also extra storage space where you can stash those extra items if you choose to purchase them.
Thermoworks Thermapen One
The Thermapen is the grilling tool I use most often. It’s handy for making sure I’m not serving undercooked chicken or overcooking a pricey steak I’ve had in the sous vide for hours. It’s also great to have in the kitchen to instantly check temps of things like bread. Thermoworks unveiled the successor to its wildly popular Thermapen Mk4 earlier this year with the Thermapen One. The device is super fast, giving you a reading in one second. It’s also more accurate and has a brighter display than the previous model. The screen automatically rotates depending on how you hold it, plus an auto-wake and sleep feature and IP67 rating keep things running smoothly.
Meater Plus probe thermometer
I’ll admit it: when I first saw Meater’s wireless food probes I was skeptical that they would work well. The Meater Plus has all of the convenience of the company’s original wireless probe, but with extended Bluetooth range. Each one has two sensors, so it can monitor both internal food temperature and the ambient temp of your grill. All of the info is sent to the company’s app where you can set target temperature, get estimated completion times and follow step-by-step directions if you need them. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about routing wires since the Meater Plus is completely wireless and stays out of your way. Not having to fight food probe cords is a grilling innovation I’m sure a lot of people can get behind.
In 2020, the Thermacell Patio Shield kept us mosquito-free for socially distanced outdoor activities. But the company’s newer E-55 offers a 20-foot coverage area and is fully rechargeable. This slightly larger unit runs on a Li-Ion battery instead of burning fuel to keep the biting bugs at bay for up to 12 hours. If you need more protection for you and the fam, you can buy refills for up to 40 hours of use. Also, like other Thermacell products, the E-55 doesn’t give off any odor, so you’ll barely notice it’s there.
If you’re looking for a much more robust and permanent remedy for your mosquito woes, Thermacell also sells a fixed system called LIV. The setup works like Philips Hue, but for bugs. Repellers connect to a base station via cables and then you can connect other repellers to each other to create a system that’s as large as you need it (up to five). That controller then connects to your home WiFi so you can monitor everything from your phone. Thermacell says each LIV repeller can protect a 20-foot radius and the cartridge inside will last for up to 40 hours. The company sells three-, four- and five-unit setups starting at $699. That’s certainly not cheap, but the LIV system does over the same mosquito protection I’ve enjoyed on the smaller products like the E-55.
Solo Stove 2.0 firepits
As the temperatures drop, a fire pit is a cozy place to spend your time. However, most of the cheap options you’ll find at your local big box store aren’t really designed to channel smoke away from you or to maximize airflow. Solo Stove’s stainless steel fire pits do both, creating a roaring fire that won’t smoke you out. Each of the three models, ranging from $200 to $440, are portable(ish) and burn whatever variety of wood you happen to have. I’ve been testing the Bonfire, the medium-sized option, and the addition of the removable base plate and ash pan makes cleanup a lot easier (all 2.0 models have this). While you can certainly set these right on the ground or a concrete patio, I highly recommend splurging for a stand and a weather-proof cover which adds around $100 to the Bonfire model.
TP-Link Kasa outdoor smart plug and dimmer
I tested the Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug for our first backyard guide and I was immediately hooked. TP-Link recently announced a new model of the smart plug in addition to a dimmable single-outlet version. Both are waterproof and plug into your existing outside outlet to give you one or two spots for lights and other gear. With the two-plug option, you can control each one independently. The Kasa app allows you to set a schedule, timer, runtime and more for each plug, so you can automate when those string lights over the deck turn on. Additionally, they work with Alexa and Google Assistant, so you don’t even need to pick up your phone most of the time. Plus, 300 feet of WiFi range means you shouldn’t have trouble connecting these to your home network for use.
Brumate Toddy and Toddy XL
I’ve been a big fan of Brumate’s beverageware since I bought myself a Hopsulator Trio for a beach vacation a few years ago. I still use it all the time, during both warm and cool months. However, when the temperatures begin to dip, I tend to reach for hot beverages more often, so Brumate’s Toddy insulated mug is a better option. The cup works well to keep drinks hot or cold and the trademark feature is the spill-proof lid. That thing has saved me from massive cleanup more times than I can count. The regular Toddy can hold 16 ounces while the Toddy XL doubles the capacity to 32 ounces.
When you need tunes outside, whether that’s at home or on the go, Sony’s tiny XB13 speaker is a great option. Its small size makes it insanely portable, but it still manages big sound thanks to Sony's Extra Bass feature and Sound Diffusion Processor. It’s rated IP67 for dust- and water-proofing so taking it outside shouldn’t incite anxiety. What’s more, it has a UV coating for protection from the sun. You can use the XB13 for hands-free calls and employ two of them at once for a stereo pair. It lasts up to 16 hours on a charge and will only set you back $60.