As the days gets colder and daylight hours disappear before our eyes, spending time outdoors gets a bit more difficult. Some of us take winter as a challenge, and delight in layering up before heading out on a ski trip or hitting winter hiking trails. Others retreat indoors, content with a cozy blanket and a book. But wherever you fall on the spectrum, there's one way to spend time outdoors in the colder months that doesn't require much preparation or suffering: a good outdoor fire pit.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fire Pit
We've come a long way from the bowl-shaped fire pits found at the hardware store, and with a range of options comes a few important things to consider. Location is one of the biggest factors--where will you use a fire pit? Will it be a permanent addition to your backyard, or do you envision gathering together at a campsite, a friend's house, or even out on the road? Do you want to avoid smoke, or is a good smoky scent part of the package? Are you planning to grill a meal over a cooking grate, or just stick to roasting marshmallows? Do you have a readily available supply of chopped wood, or is a propane gas fire pit a better fit?
For us, portability is key. You never know when, or where, you'll want to kick back and enjoy a good fire, so having a portable fire pit that travels with you helps solve that problem. And luckily, there's an array of good options available. Here are eight of the best portable fire pits, each with its own take on the age-old classic design.
Our 9 Top Picks for the Best Portable Fire Pit
Nearly a household name in the fire pit world, Solo Stove began in 2010 with the Solo Stove Lite, an ultralight camping stove that weighed just nine ounces, made in one of the founders' garages. Realizing the product on its hands, the company expanded into larger stoves, designed for two to four people, then went even bigger, fueled by three incredibly successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Today, their most popular product, and one of our top picks, is the Bonfire, a 20-pound, 19.5-inch wide fire pit. Recently released in five colors as part of Solo Stove's new Elemental Series, the double-walled, wood burning fire pit uses a ring of vent holes to pull air into the bottom of the pit, ensuring your wood fire is hot and nearly smoke-free. The extra air also makes starting your Solo Stove bonfire incredibly easy (speaking from experience). The whole thing fits neatly into a carrying case, perfect for mess-free transportation and storage.
Price: $350 SHOP NOW
Known for their top notch design, Snow Peak's contribution to the fire pit world is built of collapsible stainless steel. The 12-pound pit folds flat for easy transportation and storage and even comes with a nylon carrying case, making it the perfect campsite addition. Bonus: the fire pit can be converted into a grill using the Takibi Fire & Grill and even a pizza oven with Field Oven, each sold separately.
Price: $110 SHOP NOW
Similar to Snow Peak's design, UCO's Flatpack Firepit & Grill can be assembled in under a minute and transported anywhere, thanks to its ability to fold down to just over an inch thick. As the name suggests, it functions as both a classic firepit and a grill, no extra purchases necessary, though buyers should note its smaller size (just over a foot long) when planning for heat output or grilling space. But at $50, it's hard not to keep one of these in the trunk for whenever inspiration may strike.
Price: $40 SHOP NOW
By the looks of it, Biolite's FirePit+ doesn't scream portability, but at only 19.8 pounds, it's still capable of being moved around. This wood or charcoal-burning pit is for the more tech savvy: it features a large internal battery that controls the fan, which in turn helps control the length and intensity of burn time. The pit can be operated manually or via Bluetooth, for when you're too bundled and comfy to get up. For easy cleaning, Biolite added a trapdoor in the bottom for removing ash and coal—just be sure to have the proper cleaning tools and disposal methods nearby.
Price: $250 SHOP NOW
This portable fire pit and grill from overland specialists Front Runner brings a little South Africa to our list—similar to a barbecue, a "braai" is a social gathering centered around grilling food on an open flame. The flat pack design makes it easy to braai just about anywhere, with both enough surface area to support a proper campfire and a removable surface grill specifically designed for preparing food. Front Runner also makes durable storage containers, which this clever fire pit packs down and fits into, to keep the back of your rig clean during transport.
Price: $222 SHOP NOW
Made in four sizes, the Winnerwell Flatfold fire pit works for a range of groups and uses. Built of stainless steel, its perforated design rethinks airflow to ensure an efficient burn. Beware, though—Winnerwell sells the grilling components, like two grilling grates and an accessory table, separately, so expect to invest if you're planning to use this one for cooking out.
Price: $200 SHOP NOW
Collapsible seems to be the name of the game in modern fire pits—Primus' Kamoto Open Fire Pit, weighing in at 14 pounds for the small size, collapses flat for easy portability. An integrated ashtray helps users follow Leave No Trace principles and the pit can burn both wood or charcoal (if you're taking any fire pit camping, be sure to read the rules on transporting wood from outside locations to your campsite). For those looking to grill out over an open fire, a stainless steel grill grate is included and the pit comes in two sizes to accommodate different sized parties.
Price: $150 SHOP NOW
At only eight pounds, Fireside Outdoor's mini fire pit "table" nails portability and easy set up. The company offers both a base model and a heat shield combo option, which adds a heat shield underneath the fire to protect the ground (think grass or your wooden deck). The outdoor fire pit can hold up to 125 pounds of weight and be used with both firewood and charcoal.
Price: $120 SHOP NOW
Okay, so this isn't the most portable fire pit out there, we know. But the sleek, sculptural design makes for an aesthetic addition to any patio or backyard. Consider it more like a piece of outdoor furniture than a utilitarian fire pit—you move it when you have to, and its presence should complement the outdoor space (at 32 inches across, and $499, it's a bit of a statement piece). Blu Dot also makes a fire poker, dubbed Pokey von Pokerson, which is available separately, and highly reccomended.
Price: $499 SHOP NOW