This season, daydreams of logging off early to spend time outdoors with friends are more prevalent than ever. Beyond backpacking, hiking, biking, etc, one of the easiest and best ways to do so is huddling up around a proper outdoor fire pit, be it in your backyard, at the beach, or a local campground. Add some s’mores and you’re really doing it right.
In this roundup, we'll dive into what to know before investing in a fancy fire pit yourself, and outline our top picks for the best backyard fire pit. Read on and enjoy!
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fire Pit
We've come a long way from the fire ring at the local campground, but we're not talking about the cheap (and often cheesy) fire bowls found at big-box and hardware stores (and on Amazon) either. The best fire pits can get kindling crackling and radiate heat without much fuss, but there are a range of options (wood vs propane tank) and 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? Are fire bans common in your region (often propane fires are still allowed, though please check with your local ranger station and/or fire department to confirm)?Do you want less smoke, or is a good smoky scent part of the package (smoke does seem to deter some bugs, btw)? Are you planning to grill a meal over a cooking grate, or just stick to roasting marshmallows and hot dogs? 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.
Field Mag's Top 11 Picks for Best Portable Fire Pits
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. The company has long since expanded into larger stationary and portable smokeless fire pits, designed for two to four people, then went even bigger, fueled by three incredibly successful Kickstarter campaigns.
Their most popular product, and one of our top picks, is the smokeless Bonfire 2.0, a 23-pound, 14-inch high, 19.5-inch wide fire pit. Recently, in addition to the introduction of five new colors, the Bonfire 2.0 was released to add a removable ash pan to make clean up after a fire easier than ever. 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 (to really crank up the BTUs, burn hardwoods only). 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. (The Solo Stove Ranger is another popular—and more portable—option.)
Known for their top-notch design, Snow Peak's contribution to the fire pit world is built of weather-resistant stainless steel. The 12-pound collapsible pit folds flat for easy transportation and storage and even comes with a nylon carry bag, making it the perfect portable campfire for use in the backyard and at remote campsites. Bonus: the fire pit can be converted into a cast iron-ready grill using the Takibi Fire & Grill, a whole tabletop system with the Jikaro Firering Table, and even a pizza oven with Field Oven, though each are sold separately.
With an ammo-can style design, this compact, propane fire pit from Ignik is a newcomer—and one worth checking out. The steel fire pit features perforated spark screen sides and an open top (when in use), producing a small but powerful open flame fire pit. Fold out legs elevate the portable fire pit off the ground, reducing fire danger. Add a few fire pit approved camp chairs are you’re good to go.
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 fire pit 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. At $40, it's hard not to keep one of these in the trunk for whenever inspiration—or tailgating—may strike.
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 heavy duty 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.
The not-yet-released Howl Campfire earns a spot on our list for it’s sleek design and strong reviews from the few that have tested early iterations. Claiming to be the only propane campfire that feels like a wood fire, the industrial, low-smoke outdoor heater seems to be relatively lightweight and portable (though lugging that propane tank around may be a bit of a hassle). With perforated sides and a coal-like core, the high-quality Howl promises “high-melting heat” and not just pretty flames. Fingers crossed they deliver, and soon.
This steel wood-burning fire pit and grill from overland specialists Front Runner brings a little South African ambiance 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 any camper’s rig clean during transport.
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.
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 and charcoal (if you're taking any fire pit on a camping trip, be sure to check for fire bans and read the rules on transporting wood from outside locations to campgrounds, and what's expected in terms of clean-up after your fire). 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.
At only eight pounds, Fireside Outdoor's mini fire pit "table" nails portability and easy setup. 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 as a fuel source.
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 (with a 32-inch diameter and at $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 recommended.