The 12 Best Fire Pits of 2023
Dec 12, 2023
Take your backyard party game to the next level.
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Better Homes & Gardens / Reese Herrington
Fire pits make great places to gather as the weather cools down and the sun sets at the end of a long day (maybe with some drinks and s’mores, too). When shopping for a fire pit, you’ll find there are plenty of options—including propane or wood-burning, large bowl or small, smokeless or not—and you’re left with a lot of choices. So how do you find the best fire pit for you?
Ryan Cunningham, outdoor expert and founder of the website Beyond The Tent, breaks down the different options. “If you will be using the fire pit in your backyard mainly, I would opt for wood or a 20-pound propane tank. If you will be taking it car camping, then a fire pit that runs off a 16-ounce propane tank is an ideal choice. For RVing, you could go either way depending on how much space you have.”
Plan out where you want to place your fire pit ahead of time, because that will help determine certain key details like the size you’ll need and possibly even the fuel type. With all of that in mind, we tested 18 fire pits and researched other popular choices, evaluating details such as set-up time, fire warmth, and how easy it is to clean out ash, to determine the best fire pits on the market.
This propane-powered, smokeless, and easy-to-use fire pit gives off a great amount of heat. Plus, it’s easy to control and takes less than two minutes to light.
The propane hose could be longer to keep the tank out of sight, and it would be even better if the flame went a little higher.
The Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega is a great pick, striking the right balance of performance, budget, size, and looks, which is why it’s our top pick for the best fire pit.
We love how incredibly easy this fire pit is to set up and use. It arrives pretty much assembled—all you need to do is add the lava rocks and hook it up to a propane tank, which took us around five minutes total. The simple instructions were very clear and easy to follow.
Once assembled, it took us less than two minutes to start the fire, which is easily controllable with a knob that adjusts the height and intensity of the flame. This was particularly appreciated while roasting marshmallows as we could turn down the flame to ensure we didn’t end up with a burnt mess. Although we’d like it if the flame could go a little higher for those really chilly nights, the fire pit gives off plenty of heat. We could still feel the warmth on our faces while sitting 3.5 feet away. Plus, the heat is consistent around the whole fire pit so no one will go cold, even in larger groups.
We were incredibly impressed during our tests that this model seems to be truly smokeless. We found this especially helpful when there was a breeze, and no one needed to reposition their chair to avoid plumes of smoke—there really is no excuse not to sit out by the fire!
As this is a propane model, there was no ash produced, and the only residue we found in the fire pit was from adding the lava rocks. This fire pit also appears incredibly durable. After testing, the only wear we found were jst a couple of small scratches in the bottom from initially adding the lava rocks, and some of the rocks were discolored from the heat.
One small improvement we’d like is a longer propane connector so the attached gas tank could stay completely out of sight while using the fire pit, but it’s not at all a deal breaker. Weighing 34 pounds, this isn’t the lightest fire pit on our list, but two people could move it easily. The only accessories available are the Mega carry bag for easier transportation and a natural gas conversion kit.
Overall, we’re impressed with the Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega fire pit. It’s easy to set up and use, gives out an impressive amount of heat to warm up to eight people, and has a flame you can control. Plus, it’s completely smokeless, which is a huge bonus.
Price at time of publish: $210
Product Details: Dimensions: 24 x 13 x 24 inches | Fuel type: Propane | Material: Steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Cathy Fallone
Better Homes & Gardens / Cathy Fallone
This no-frills option wins extra points for being the lightest pick on our list—only 15 pounds.
It produces a heavy amount of smoke, like most wood-burning fire pits.
This fire pit comes in at under $100 and stands out in two ways that the other budget options we tested didn’t: It’s quick to assemble and weighs just over 15 pounds, making it our lightest option on this list by far. The wood-burning model holds 5 pounds of wood thanks to its deep bowl. We were able to produce a fire that lasted for over an hour and was easy to tend to—the extra space allowed us to move the logs around and make adjustments.
Another reason this ended up being one of the best fire pits we tried is its included accessories. It shouldn’t stay outside in inclement weather, so we appreciate that it came with a cover. It also includes a mesh screen to control sparks (we didn’t feel unsafe without it, though, due to the deep bowl design) and comes with a poker to allow the user to safely adjust the burning wood at a distance.
We also liked the simple aesthetic of the fire pit, which isn’t too ornate or decorative and would fit well in most backyards. If you’re looking for a simple model, don’t mind taking it in and out of a garage or basement when you want a fire, and like the idea of an affordable wood-burning option, this is a great pick.
Price at time of publish: $97
Product Details: Dimensions: 26 x 26 x 21.06 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Laura Miller
Better Homes & Gardens / Laura Miller
Better Homes & Gardens / Laura Miller
Better Homes & Gardens / Laura Miller
A corrosion-resistant patina that forms with use will prevent rusting over time.
It’s fairly heavy, making it difficult to move around to different locations.
Through our testing, we determined that the Breeo X Series Wood Burning Campfire is the best fire pit for people that host guests in their backyard all summer long. If that’s you, it’s well worth the price. Made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this smokeless option uses double-walled construction to trap hot air in the gap between the walls and pressurized oxygen to essentially reburn it, creating a hotter and stronger fire.
The double-wall and the reburn that comes from it produce added oxygen, which allows the pit to burn its own smoke before it reaches you. While the brand doesn’t claim to be 100% smokeless, it does give extensive tips on how to burn a fire with considerably less smoke than the average fire pit, like using shredded newspaper, cardboard, or resin-soaked pine at its base.
A special aspect of the Breeo is the use of Corten steel, which starts as a steel finish and, with use, forms a patina. The patina is a corrosion-resistant coating that prevents rusting and turns the fire pit a beautiful bronze color. To clean the Breeo and ensure consistently low-smoke fires, you’ll need to clear the ashes every four to five burns. We found setup to be incredibly easy without requiring any tools. The 62-pound pit can be left outside, so it requires very little upkeep.
Another nice bonus: This can work as a grill if you choose to buy the campfire grate. Keep in mind that the fire pit’s accessories (like a cover or spark screen) do require additional purchases.
Price at time of publish: $599
Product Details: Dimensions: 27.5 x 27.5 x 14.75 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Corten and alloy steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Katie McDonald
The copper basin is extremely weather resistant and can be kept outside year-round.
It’s on the pricier side for a fire pit that isn’t smokeless.
We found this classic copper fire pit by Frontgate to be an all-around winner when it comes to performance, design, and value. If you have a spacious backyard or patio and love to entertain, this gorgeous wood-burning fire pit will be your best bet. The construction is part of the reason it's so pricey: Its heavy copper basin is made to handle both extreme heat and extreme weather, so you can keep it out all year long.
It also features a sturdy iron grate that makes for a well-ventilated and thriving fire. The basin holds logs up to 2 feet long; we opted to use five logs during testing for a medium-sized fire, but felt like we could have easily fit twice as many. We like how the large size means it’s great for parties and entertaining; it can easily accommodate five or more people, with plenty of space for everyone.
The setup took us mere minutes and required no tools, but it’s heavy enough that you’ll likely need to do it with two people. Finally, there’s an option to add a spark guard made of powder-coated iron if you have children or pets around, too. While we were impressed with this fire pit, it’s worth noting that it’s pretty expensive for one that is not considered smokeless.
Price at time of publish: $552
Product Details: Dimensions: 40 x 39.78 x 14 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Copper and iron
Better Homes & Gardens / Jodi Espinosa
The Home Depot
The stylish fire pit doubles as a table for drinks or snacks.
While easy, the setup was more time-consuming than other options we tested.
For those looking for a backyard fire pit without the hassle of wood, consider a propane-fueled model like this one from Hampton Bay. The unit doubles as a table to rest drinks or small snack plates on, and the antique design is stylish enough to live on your patio alongside existing patio furniture.
Setting up the fire pit for the first time took us just under 30 minutes, which was much longer than most of the other pits we tested. This is because many other pits were fully assembled straight out of the box, while this option requires assembly, including screwing the sides together. However, we found the setup easy to complete with detailed instructions and well-marked pieces. After assembling the fire pit, we connected our own 20-pound propane tank (which nests out of sight under the table), and it was ready to go.
The initial setup time was worth it, since getting the fire started took no time at all; just remove the cover, open the propane tank, switch a knob, and push a button to light. It’s the perfect option for busy weeknights when you don’t have time to spend waiting for a fire to start. And when you’re ready to go back inside, turning off the fire is as simple as turning the knob off and closing the propane tank.
We appreciated the even heating on all sides of the pit, which we could feel up to three feet from the unit. While using the fire pit, we didn’t see or smell smoke, which we appreciated as no scent lingered on our clothes or in our hair. After turning off the fire pit and letting it cool, a lid slides over the lava rocks and heating unit to protect them and provide more table surface—a feature we found especially useful when the fire pit wasn’t in use.
Price at time of publish: $249
Product Details: Dimensions: 30 x 25 x 30 inches | Fuel Type: Propane | Material: Steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Jodi Espinosa
This larger smokeless fire pit, perfect for a family or backyard party, can fit six large logs.
It burns logs pretty quickly, so you may need to reload it several times.
This Solo Stove model is over 6 inches wider and 6 inches taller in diameter than our pick for best fire pit overall, making it great for longer burn times and larger gatherings. We especially liked the construction of this piece: Setup is quick and easy, and it features a ring on the bottom to protect the grass from the extreme heat below and a ring on the top to encourage ventilation.
It has all of the features that Solo Stove has become so well-known for: The two-walled construction traps air between the walls to burn up smoke before it reaches your hair and clothes, its durable stainless steel will handle the elements and the intense heat while remaining relatively light for the size of the model, and it can easily be cleaned with the removable ash pan.
We could fit six large logs in the pit, but they did burn fairly quickly. We were impressed with how evenly the fire burned as well. Still, the biggest draw of the Solo Stove is that, when properly cleaned and maintained, it’s a relatively smokeless and smell-free fire pit.
Price at time of publish: $460
Product Details: Dimensions: 27 x 27 x 17 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Stainless steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Jennifer May
The handles and rectangular construction make this a great option to bring to the beach, a friend’s house, or tailgating.
You’ll probably need another person to help you carry it.
This rectangular-shaped option from Tiki is one of the best fire pits to take on the road with you thanks to its size, shape, and built-in carry handles. It also has a removable ash tray pan that you can easily slide out and dump into a trash can, so cleanup is both minimal and convenient.
It comes equipped with a few useful add-ons, like a Tiki-brand wood pack that helps you create an instant fire (in under 5 minutes) that produces a flame with a 4-foot radius. Those specs contribute to it being great to travel with. It’s quick to get a fire going, and when it starts, it won’t bother neighbors with a large flame or a ton of smoke (it’s a smokeless model).
It also comes with a stand and a weather-resistant cover, which means you’ll have everything you need to get started. Of course, you can continue purchasing the wood packs or use regular wood and kindling to similar effects. The smooth, powder-coated steel will keep the fire pit looking brand new for a long time, and while it weighs 41 pounds, it should be easy enough to load in and out of a car with another person helping.
Price at time of publish: $246
Product Details: Dimensions: 21.50 x 14.50 x 16.70 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Powder-coated stainless steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Emma Tollefson
This model comes with a grilling plate and other accessories that allow you to cook up a quick meal.
This does not hold a lot of wood, so expect short burn times.
This fun, decorative model we tried from Novogratz will look great all year long with its weather-resistant ceramic outside that comes in colors like persimmon, bright white, and dark green. We loved how attractive it was in comparison to many other fire pits on the market. Due to the small size, it would be a nice option for a patio or poolside area, though we found it too heavy to be truly portable.
The bowl that holds the wood is quite small, which only allowed us to add a few logs at a time during testing, and also meant we had to fill the bowl up every 30 minutes or so. However, this also made the fire pit burn evenly and without a ton of smoke, so there are upsides to the smaller size.
Additionally, this fire pit has a less common accessory included: a grill grate, which will allow you to cook up some poolside treats whenever you want. We grilled some hot dogs on the grate and noted it took around 45 minutes for the bowl to be hot enough and the embers to be small enough for it to be safe to do so.
You won’t be able to cook a gourmet meal on this fire pit, but it would be great for things like hot dogs, burgers, or other light and easy fare. The complete set comes with a rain cover, grill grate, fire pit dome, fire pit lid, and a grilling tool.
Price at time of publish: $194
Product Details: Dimensions: 27 x 27 x 14.5 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Metal
Better Homes & Gardens / Ashley Craiger
At only 6 inches tall, it fits just about anywhere, including small balconies and patios.
This fire pit is more for aesthetics than significant warmth due to the size.
The best fire pit for someone who doesn’t have a backyard is definitely this Solo Stove Mesa option we tested, as it’s perfect for a small balcony or patio, given that it only stands 6 inches tall and takes up hardly any space. If you want a little ambience but don’t have a large area outside to sit in, it’s a great, affordable option that also comes in a bunch of interesting colors like deep olive, mulberry, and bone.
While we don’t recommend relying on this fire pit alone for significant warmth due to the size, we were still impressed with the heat it created. You can use small pieces of firewood to make this work, but might be better off using wood pellets or Solo Stove’s own mini oak pieces since they won’t have to be cut down to size. It comes with a stand and a carry bag—and because the fire pit only weighs a little over a pound, it’s definitely an easy option to take anywhere and store in a closet.
Best of all, the Solo Stove Mesa has all of the specs the larger sizes have, including the stainless steel,double-walled construction and smokeless design. You can even roast marshmallows with the flame, allowing you to have the experience of a real fire pit even if you live in an area with limited outdoor space.
Price at time of publish: $105
Product Details: Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 6 inches | Fuel Type: Pellet, wood | Material: Stainless steel and ceramic
Better Homes & Gardens / Hannah Freedman
If you love the idea of a stone fire pit but don’t want to shell out the money to hire a landscaper to create one, this is a nice option.
We wish it came with a protective cover, considering the price.
This stone, wood-burning fire pit has three main pros we found during testing: It’s aesthetically pleasing, generously sized, and easy to assemble. The classic stone base mimics the much more expensive option of hiring a landscaper to build a fire pit on your patio, which would certainly run you much more than this option from Arlmont & Co.
Other than that, it checks all the boxes of what the best fire pits should do, without adding anything extra: It features a steel bowl that will withstand the high heat of wood burning, it’s sturdy and won’t break in inclement weather or windy conditions, and it comes with a poker and a mesh screen, though no protective cover.
We found that you could use a sizable amount of logs in this (it should fit around six), but using half that allowed us to have a strong fire that burned with even heat. This isn’t a smokeless pit, so expect a hefty smoke output, but the real star of this fire pit is the rustic stone placement on the outside. It’s a beautifully crafted piece.
Price at time of publish: $320
Product Details: Dimensions: 35 x 35 x 20.27 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Stone and steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Allison Vancura
Better Homes & Gardens / Allison Vancura
Better Homes & Gardens / Allison Vancura
The propane fuel means you may be able to use it in places with fire bans (but check the rules of your campsite first).
This isn’t meant to be a cooking surface; it’s better used as an area to warm up at night and for ambiance.
If you’re camping, backpacking, or RVing this summer, this Outland Living Firecube is one of the best options to add to your gear list. At a little over 22 pounds and 14 inches in diameter, it’s both easy to store and to pack.
It’s CSA-approved (which means it has passed a series of safety metrics) and uses a 20-pound propane tank cylinder (not included, but available at most hardware stores) rather than wood, which allows it to be used in places that have bans on campfires, although it’s best to check with your campsite before you go.
The kit comes with a pre-attached 10-foot hose, an adjustable regulator with a knob to control flame size, a cover/carry kit, and over 4 pounds of lava rocks to create a more realistic and flickering fire. It delivers a clean, smokeless burn and works quietly and in inclement weather.
While it’s not meant to cook on (besides s’mores or weenies on a stick, of course), there’s a reason we chose one that doesn’t have a grill grate: If you’re camping and are counting on fire as a means to cook your food, propane fire pits generally aren’t made to make elaborate meals for a number of people. They’re great for camping because they produce a more controlled burn, but you’re much better off getting a charcoal grill or a camp stove, in addition to a fire pit, if you want to cook food.
Instead, use this Firecube to provide warmth and a source of flame for nights under the stars. However, if you’re camping in a place that doesn’t have a campfire ban, and you’d rather grill on the pit, check out the option below.
Price at time of publish: $125
Product Details: Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 9 inches | Fuel Type: Propane | Material: Alloy steel
The pole and grill plate allow you to better control the temperature for cooking meals.
It needs to be stored indoors between uses to prevent rust.
This Barebones Living Fire Pit & Grill is a master class in smart design: the bowl is used as the fire pit, and to make it a grill, you attach the included pole and the grill grate to the side of that bowl. During testing, we found this allowed us to move the grill grate up and down, depending on how much direct flame you’re looking to have on your food, and gave us added freedom to control the temperature of the food.
If you’re an outdoors lover who wants to be able to have a backyard campout—complete with dinner and s’mores—at a moment’s notice, this could be the best fire pit for you. It’s absolutely beautiful and the fire burns evenly, but it's slightly tricky to control the temperature as you’re cooking, which is why the pole is such a brilliant add-on. If your flame gets too high, you can move your food up without worrying about burning it.
The Barebones pit is 30 pounds and needs to be taken indoors after use so it won’t rust, but it does come equipped with built-in handles to make that task a bit easier. For the higher price, it’s not a smokeless option, but if you couldn’t imagine creating a campfire without cooking up a meal on it, then this fire pit is worth the investment. It’s truly the best of both worlds and functions well as both a grill and a fire pit.
Price at time of publish: $400
Product Details: Dimensions: 23.75 x 23.75 x 8.15 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Steel
Better Homes & Gardens / Donna Freydkin
If you’re using a fire pit in your backyard, you can’t beat the Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega; it’s quick to light, easy to use, completely smokeless, good value for money, and gives off plenty of heat for six to eight people. If you’re looking for a wood-burning option, we like the Frontgate Classic Copper Fire Pit.
To find the best fire pits, we spent over 100 hours testing 45 different models across multiple tests in our own backyards. The fire pits we tested included wood-burning, propane-fueled, and smokeless varieties. Some also had cooking accessories.
We recorded a number of data points when testing each model, and used each fire pit at least three times for hour-long durations. We started with timing how long the setup took, recording how clear the instructions were and if we needed any tools from home to build them.
For wood-burning stoves, we built a fire using firewood with an approximate length of 16 inches (if applicable), and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In that hour-long burn time, we noted how easy the flame was to maintain, how even it was, and how smokeless it was. We also removed the ash after each use, and recorded the process and its ease.
For propane fire pits, we tested every setting available and sat on each side of the pit during each setting. For all of the propane fire pits, we tested the usefulness of all included accessories and tested any noted design elements.
While testing, we took into account how many people could comfortably sit around the fire pit, how far the heat extended, how large and bright the flames burned, and how easy it was to cook food over the flame. After testing, we compared the results to determine which models performed the best.
The dimensions of a fire pit are generally only important if you’re looking for a very small or a very large fire pit. Smaller wood-burning models are generally under 30 inches in diameter (like our 27-inch smaller option), while smokeless options range between 20–30 inches. Propane fire pits are usually smaller in diameter, but the median range is generally 20 inches. And of course, tabletop fire pits are incredibly small, with many being 6 inches in height and in diameter.
Fire pits come in a range of sizes. Smaller wood-burning models are generally under 30 inches in diameter, while smokeless options range between 20–30 inches. Propane fire pits are usually smaller in diameter, but the median range is around 20 inches. A 20-inch fire pit should comfortably fit up to four people around it, while a 30-inch fire pit could seat up to 10 people. Tabletop fire pits are a lot smaller—most are 6 inches in height and diameter—and generally provide less heat than standalone models.
Most fire pits are made with steel—and generally, steel is the best pick. It’s incredibly heat-resistant, weather-resistant, strong, and durable. However, there are some interesting exceptions. Our splurge pick, the Breeo X Series 24 Wood Burning Campfire, is made with Corten steel, which develops a patina over time that turns a lovely bronze color and prevents rust. Some bowls are made from copper, like our best wood-burning option, which is another material known for being tolerant for high heat and for its thermal conductivity. And sometimes the bases can be made of different material, like the Arlmont & Co. Koch Stone Fire Pit. However, with any product made of steel, it can corrode and rust over time, so make sure you’re using a waterproof cover if you leave it outside all year long.
There are two types of fuel you’ll usually see for fire pits: wood and propane. They both work well but have a different set of pros and cons. Wood is a classic for a reason—with it, you get the crackling sound and the delicious smell. It’s also more customizable, as you can choose how much firewood you’d like to use to create a smaller or larger flame, and easier to cook with. However, it also takes more time and maintenance to manage a wood-burning fire, the smoke can sometimes get unruly, and the wood chopping and ash cleanup make it far from being a maintenance-free experience.
Propane is instant; you simply turn the dial and you’ll have fire. It often has settings to allow you to choose how high your flame should be, and it’s easier to use when camping since you don’t have to worry as much about campfire bans or gathering enough kindling to keep a fire going all night. However, you have to fill it with propane and, like anything that uses gas, it poses a risk of a leak if not properly used.
“An extremely important safety measure to take when using a fire pit is to always make sure the gas or propane connections are tight and solid,” Chris Putrimas, CEO of Teak Warehouse adds. “If you ever smell gas, except when you light it, turn it off immediately and call a plumber to check your gas line connections.”
If you’re using a smokeless fire pit, it should always have the double-walled construction that allows it to burn its own smoke off before it reaches you. If you’re using a wood-burning fire pit, it’s nice if it comes with a poker or a mesh screen to control the fire and prevent sparks from flying—and if it doesn’t, you may want to buy one. A stand is an important feature that allows a wood-burning pit to hover above the ground, allowing you to place it on surfaces like a deck or fresh grass without worrying about damage. You should also look for a way to remove ash via an ash pan or tray. Propane fire pits should come with a hose to connect the propane tank. Most fire pits also include a carrying case or cover, as you need to protect it from the weather or transport it from your campsite to the car.
Safety is one of the biggest factors to consider when placing a fire pit in your backyard or campsite. You’ll always need to place it in an area at least 20 feet from your house and away from hanging trees or plants. It should never be under an overhang or in a partially-enclosed space. The surface it sits on is equally important. “Instead of placing it directly on a wooden deck or dry grass, opt for a non-flammable surface like stone,” says Anne Puukko, founder of Superdwell. Avoid placing the fire pit on combustible surfaces such as wood, vinyl, stamped concrete, or composite flooring without a stand, and instead opt for level areas made of dirt, gravel or stone.
If you’re buying a propane fire pit, Mitch Brean, founder of Stone Yard advises to “know your fillers and choose safe materials like lava stone or fire glass.” For additional safety, Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal recommends using a spark screen and keeping a fire extinguisher or water nearby. “When you're done, make sure the fire is completely out before you leave,” he says.
Lastly, Puukko recommends considering weather conditions before sitting out by the fire. “While the dancing flames might be mesmerizing, it's also wise to avoid using the pit on very windy days.”
Better Homes & Gardens / Jennifer May
Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0: The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 was our previous “Best Overall” fire pit, but it didn’t perform as well in a new round of testing. It arrived pretty much ready to go and doesn’t require a lot of assembly, plus, it hasn’t rusted after a long period of ownership. The Solo Stove produces barely any smoke; it burns efficiently and cleanly, and you can even wear the same clothes the next day without smelling like a campfire. All big plus points there. However, it doesn’t produce much heat, in any weather—you have to sit very close to feel any warmth or purchase an additional heat shield to feel the effects. Overall, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a portable, cleanly designed, and smokeless fire pit.
Hampton Bay Tipton 34 in. Steel Deep Bowl Fire Pit in Oil Rubbed Bronze: The Hampton Bay Fire PIt did well for a basic wood-burning pit and got extra points for its large bowl that fit a nice amount of firewood. However, it was a bit hard to put together and ended up rusting quickly. Between those factors and the price point, there are better wood-burning fire pits to purchase—unless you particularly like the aesthetic of this one, in which case it would be a fine addition to your backyard.
Arlmont & Co. Gustafson Steel Wood Burning Outdoor Fire Pit: Again, for a basic wood-burning pit, this does the job, but there are a few reasons why it didn’t end up on our list. For one, it’s over $200, which is a higher price than most models with similar specs. Additionally, there were some issues with the construction of the base. The setup was complicated, and it took a few different tries to tighten and secure the different pieces. Finally, one of the tools that takes the mesh base on and off felt cheap and the handle scratched our hands when used.
If you’re using a fire pit to keep yourself warm, wood-burning is most likely the way to go, as wood burns hotter than gas. Propane fire pits are also limited in how big the flame can get, as it's designated to a few settings you choose by turning a knob, while wood can be stacked for flames to go as high as you’d like. Generally, though, they’ll both keep you pretty warm.
This, of course, depends on the way you’re using it. “From a camping perspective, the main factors I consider when looking for a fire pit are size, portability, and fuel source,” Cunningham says. “First, I want a fire pit that feels like I am sitting around a fire; I don't want it too small where I can't feel the heat. At the same time, I want it to be portable. I may pack it in my RV, bring it along car camping, or set it up in my backyard. If it's too big, that simply won't work.” If you’re using a fire pit for your backyard, keep to a wood-burning option. If you’re using a fire pit for camping, choose a propane model that is easy to take with you.
Again, this depends. For non-smokeless fire pits, the diameter of the bowl you stack the wood in tends to be over 30 inches in diameter, as you want to be able to stack wood and keep the fire going. Smokeless fire pits, however, tend to be smaller in diameter, but generally are large enough if they’re around 20 inches, with larger models going up to just under 30 inches. If you’re considering a fire pit for a very large party or want to burn a fire for a long time, it couldn’t hurt to choose a fire pit that’s larger in diameter, but if you’re in these ranges, you’ll be fine.
First things first: “Check with your local fire department to determine the regulations for fire pits in backyards,” says Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery. “It is essential to know the standards and requirements to prevent wasting time, money, and effort building a fire pit that does not comply with regulations.”
Structure and materials are of course key when looking for a safe fire pit, too. “Steer away from anything that feels too light or flimsy as it’ll likely be prone to wobbling, making it unsafe, especially around people and pets,” says Joanna Humphreys, fire and stove expert for Direct Stoves. “When you’re working with real fire and flames, you need your firebase to be as robust as possible to avoid fire spreading and causing unnecessary accidents to others as well as damage to your garden.”
Lastly, make a plan for where the fire pit will sit in your backyard or at a campsite. “Avoid placing fire pits in flammable areas, such as wooden decks or near thick brush,” Kantor says.
Alida Nugent is a commerce expert who has over six years of experience in the space and over 10 years of media experience. Additionally, she has specialized in gear reviews for campers and outdoor spaces. She interviewed Ryan Cunningham from Beyond the Tent for this article.
Rachael Hogg is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience working at food and drink, lifestyle, travel, and automotive publications. To update this article with new testing insights and recommendations, she interviewed Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery; Anne Puukko, founder of Superdwell; Joe Raboine, vice president of design, Belgard; Joanna Humphreys, fire and stove expert for Direct Stoves; Mitch Brean, founder of Stone Yard; Chris Putrimas, CEO of Teak Warehouse; and Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal.
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