Nothing says cozy like gathering around a campfire, especially as temperatures begin to drop. And according to experts, more and more people are turning to fire pits as a way to embrace the great outdoors year-round. “About 60% of our designs now include fire pits," said Allison Messner, an avid fire pit user and co-founder and CEO of Yardzen, a virtual landscape and outdoor design company. "As noted in our annual trend report, we also saw a 40% increase in clients requesting outdoor fireplaces in their yards over the last year.”
Spark your interest? We also talked to campsite directors, along with chefs who regularly use fire pits for grilling (including a James Beard-nominated barbecue king!) about some of the key features to consider when choosing a fire pit, along with the fire pits they rely on at home, at work and on the move. Read on for their pro shopping tips and personal picks, along with more top-rated gas, charcoal- and wood-burning fire pits beloved by outdoor enthusiasts. (We've also rounded up some other outdoor essentials for creating your own backyard, beach or camping oasis.)
Solo Stove’s smokeless fire pits have garnered a cultlike following among campers and beachgoers; the Solo Stove Ranger 2.0 is one of the most popular models. It's compact, intuitive and versatile (plus it's also backed by nearly 3,000 Solo Stove site reviews). Just take it from Carolin Fuller, director of partnerships at Campspot, an online camping resource and directory. “My husband and I enjoy camping and exploring the wilderness in spots off the beaten path, so the size and portability of a fire pit are important to us,” she said. "The Solo Stove Ranger 2.0 is small enough to fit among the rest of our gear but big enough to throw off plenty of heat during cold nights in camp. It comes in a convenient carrying case, the removable ash pan makes for easy cleanups, and the smokeless design means we don’t have to play musical chairs to avoid stinging eyes.”
Fuller noted that many of her Campspot colleagues — and fellow nature lovers — appreciate all the accessories, like "a removable shield to minimize flying embers and a cast iron cooktop that turns your fire pit into a portable griddle — perfect for morning eggs and bacon!”
Breeo is another great option for those who want to re-create the campfire experience without the need for goggles or excessive cleanup. Available in rustic corten steel or sleek stainless, the X Series 19, in particular, is a whiz at filtering out extreme smoke and smells. Bonus: The pit is compatible with Breeo’s Outpost Grill and SearPlate Griddle for cooking up a hearty meal.
“The Breeo creates a smokeless fire, so you get all the benefits of a fire pit without the burning-eye sensation as you watch your marshmallow perfectly roast,” said Michael Scheinman, CEO of Campspot. “And the fire pit is not only beautiful but durable. I like how the thick walls guard it from excess wind and weather. My only word of caution is you will want all of the accessories, which will turn you into a grillmaster as well!”
Dimensions: 22"D x 22"W x 14.75"H | Weight: 47 lbs | Fuel type: Wood
This modern-looking fire pit from Tiki is an Amazon's Choice (meaning it's well priced, ready to ship and comes highly recommended, in this case with over 1,600 perfect reviews). The medium size is versatile; the black-coated steel frame stylish and durable. The pit comes with a stand and weather-resistant cover, along with an instant wood-light pack and removable tray for cleaning up ashes with ease.
“Great quality,” wrote one reviewer. “We assembled this fire pit in no time and used it as soon as we received it. We compared it with a competitive brand, and I am so glad I chose this one instead of the other. It is smokeless as stated. It is attractive and puts out the heat. The starter packs are great too. I highly recommend Tiki! My son is considering getting one now that he has seen ours. Good buy, highly satisfied!”
“Better than expected,” affirmed another. “I was a little hesitant at first to get this since I had not seen it in real life. I’m really impressed. The build quality is good, and the fire is really nice. The wood packs make it really easy to start. I would definitely buy it again. I would recommend getting the grate and the tabletop if you have the means.”
Dimensions: 24.75"D x 24.75"W x 18.75"H | Weight: 43 lbs | Fuel type: Wood
For larger spaces, Messner likes this luxurious fire bowl from Retreat, which brings natural beauty to the backyard and is built to endure. The fire bowl is constructed of weather-, UV- and rust-resistant concrete with a steel inner frame and promises rich, even flames for up to 22 hours (a bed of lava rocks adds to the allure, while a polyester cover offers protection when not in use).
“Its curved silhouette is made from glass-reinforced concrete, making it a durable, weather-resistant option. While gas fire pits don’t usually give off as much heat as wood-burning styles, this model includes eight jets to produce ample flames that will keep your guests or family warm,” said Messner, who noted the Retreat Outdoor Propane Fire Bowl is the third most popular pick among Yardzen’s design clients.
Dimensions: 38"W x 38"D x 14"H | Fuel type: Propane
If you’re seeking a rustic fire pit for grilling up some grub, this top-rated model from Bali Outdoors could be your meal ticket. Over 3,000 outdoor enthusiasts recommend the unit for its sturdy, food-friendly design — composed of FDA-compliant alloy steel — and generous size. It features an adjustable, removable grate for firing up meats and veggies on the fly.
“ .... Fantastic, very adjustable, sturdy cooking rack. Up, down, side to side, easily removed. Fire-cooked food tastes better. Pit itself has a wire rack holding burning wood off the bottom …. ” wrote one reviewer.
“This was fairly easy to assemble and it gives off great heat … enough to keep 6-7 of us warm with one bundle of wood from the grocery store. I love the additional burner for grilling. We’ve cooked corn, burgers and steak on this thing, and so far, so good,” confirmed another five-star fan.
Dimensions: 32"D x 32"W x 25"H | Weight: 27 lbs | Fuel type: Wood
The three-in-one Coleman 1900 is backed by a 4.5-star rating for its durability (cast-iron grates), portability (complete with handle), power (24,000 BTUs) and precision (two adjustable burners allow for added heat control). A removable cast-iron pan and aluminized steel cooktop also make for easy cleaning. While “less of a fire pit and more of a cooktop,” Kirby Farmer, a lauded graduate of the Culinary Institute and executive chef at the Gem, a smokehouse and bar located in Bolton Landing, N.Y., refers to the Coleman 1900 as “a tried-and-true classic.”
“I've used this model since back in the day, when I was a camp counselor and would lead multi-day culinary excursions in the mountains of North Carolina, outward-bound style,” he says. “I've also used it to cook up meats on the deck outside at the bakehouse at the Gem.”
Dimensions: 8.25”H x 25.75”L x 15.25”W | Fuel type: Propane
While it's on the pricier end, experts consider Cowboy Cauldron Co’s selection of handcrafted, steel-suspension fire basins a worthy investment. Or, as Rick Mace (aka "BBQ King"), a camping enthusiast, James Beard-nominated chef and co-owner of the Tropical Smokehouse restaurant located in West Palm Beach, Fla., likes to put it, “a buy once, cry once purchase."
"The Urban Cowboy Cauldron is constructed of thick plate steel that can hold up to many years of backyard fire tending,” said Mace. “Its design is smart and simple, with a heavy, round kettle suspended from a sturdy tripod that elevates the fire, making it more visible and less threatening to the grass. Accessories can turn this into a formidable live-fire cooking setup [that customers can enjoy] in addition to its fireside ambiance.”
Dimensions: 30”D x 72”W x 70”H | Weight: 75-lb basin | Fuel type: Wood
If you’re in the market for something outside the box (ahem, bowl), look no further than this geometric wood-burning chiminea from Terrain. It adds a layer of height and interest to any landscape, and its heat-resistant, pre-oxidized alloy steel develops a cool rustlike finish when exposed to the elements. “A timeless choice,” according to Messner. “It gives you more of a fireplace vibe. Its patina ... adds instant charm.”
She noted the sleek, narrow profile allows for use "in smaller spaces where you might not have room for a fire pit surrounded by a large circle of chairs." And, according to Yardzen’s design director and licensed landscape architect, Kevin Lenhart, the chiminea has remained the top fire pit alternative for the company's design clients over the past year.
Dimensions: 49"H x 17"W x 17"L | Weight: 35 lbs | Fuel type: Wood
When it comes to fire pit tables, more than 1,800 Amazon reviewers recommend this propane-fueled option from Ciays, which is perfect for smaller patios and cooler nights (it reaches 50,000 BTU for ample heat output). Lava rocks lend to the ambiance, while an external knob allows for added control. Out of propane or not in the mood to flame? Secure the lid to create a stylish table for serving or resting drinks and snacks. A “nice product for the money,” according to this verified buyer. “Simple to set up. The flame is adequate in size on low. Nice to have on the patio or deck. Highly recommend it if you're looking for a smokeless option. Propane is the way to go if you’re in the city.”
“Ordered this fire pit because it was an Amazon top pick, and I haven’t been disappointed with my choice,” wrote another. “Directions were very easy to follow, and the parts were well labeled. The unit is very sturdy and there’s some weight to it so it will stay secure …. “
Dimensions: 28"D x 28"W x 25"H | Weight: 57 lbs | Fuel type: Propane
For a more robust option, Messner recommends this top-rated fire pit table from Joss and Main, crafted of lightweight, weather-resistant concrete with an output of 50,000 BTU for keeping larger areas and groups cozy. It boasts an adjustable flame and comes fully assembled for easy setup (cover included; choose from light or dark gray). “If you’re all about simplicity and want a warm fire at the flip of a switch (or the light of a match), I’d recommend going with a gas fire pit,” advised Messner. “The push-button ignition makes this one easy to turn on, and it comes preassembled for an easy setup. The boxy silhouette works especially well in contemporary designs.”
Messner’s clients love it too: “This model is Yardzen’s most requested option among fire pits with an attached propane tank (and the second most used fire pit in Yardzen designs overall). It has a 60-inch fuel hose, providing multiple ways to orient or hide the tank and cover nearby.”
Dimensions: 12''H x 39.9''W x 39.9''D | Weight: 83 lbs | Fuel type: Propane (not included)
Turn any table into a fire pit table with the innovative Solo Stove Mesa, endorsed by over 12,000 site reviews for its signature 360-degree (smokeless!) airflow and compact stainless steel and ceramic design (available in six shades/patterns). Scott Fischer, president and CEO of Happy to Meat You, a provisional meat company and online store delivery service, owns this version and refers to it as “a little ball of contained fire.” “I use the Solo Stove Mesa for atmosphere and heat on my condo balcony," he said. "It's small enough to sit on an outdoor patio table — even a two-seater bistro table — and robust enough to emit a warm flame on cool summer nights, and cold winter nights as well.”
Being a chef and former catering owner, Scott notes that he looks for versatile products that fit into various aspects of his life. "My wife and I take the Mesa with us when we roadtrip to see our daughter and grandchild in Colorado. Camping is a must with our grandchildren, who love using the Mesa to make s’mores (with supervision, of course).” And, as other experts here have pointed out, you don't want to sleep on Solo Stove's accessories, "from chunk wood and fire starters to color packs that add a vibrant multicolor flame experience — really cool!”
Last but not least, this pop-up pit from BioLite comes recommended by adventure seekers and barbecuers (including the Barbecue Lab) for allowing its users to fire up— and, thanks to a compatible griddle, grill — in a flash. A rechargeable battery pack fans your fire for up to 30 hours, while patented airflow technology works to minimize smoke and bluetooth integration enables you to control the flames from the palm of your hand. The intuitive, dual-fuel design also boasts foldable legs for easy carrying — just click and go!
A savvy purchase, according to this satisfied customer: “I love my BioLite fire pit and grill. It is exactly what they claim, a great camping tool. I love the fan for the fire. It keeps the smoke down and the heat up.” Added another: “Smokeless and efficient.“ .... With its app-controlled airflow system, rechargeable battery and sustainable materials, the [BioLite] is a well-designed and reliable option for outdoor enthusiasts who want a hassle-free fire experience.”
Dimensions: 13”W x 27”L x 15.8”H | Weight: 1.24 lbs | Fuel type: Wood or charcoal
When evaluating a fire pit, be realistic about how you'll use it, said Messner. “Wood-burning fire pits are ideal for traditional fires, fire pit tables usually allow room for drinks when entertaining, and gas-powered fire pits offer convenience," she said. "If you plan to move your fire pit around or take it on camping trips, you may benefit from a portable and lightweight option."
Of course, it’s important to factor in safety and space. Messner advises looking for “sturdy construction, a stable base, a spark screen or lid to contain embers (if burning wood) and safety shut-off valves (for gas-powered pits) to help prevent accidents,” accounting for any locally mandated restrictions. “Additionally, you’ll need ample room around and above the fire pit for air to flow, along with a solid, heat-resistant surface such as gravel or concrete below.”
And consider your preferred fuel type and taste (meaning style and, in the case of grilling, flavor). “Wood-burning fire pits provide an authentic campfire experience but require a steady supply of firewood and tend to produce more smoke (meaning more cleanup). Gas fire pits offer cleaner and smokeless options but lend a different look and feel,” noted Messner. “Fire pits also come in a wide range of designs — from rustic fire bowls to sophisticated fire tables — so consider how it will complement your existing furniture or overall backyard aesthetic.”
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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