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There’s nothing like sitting around a fire on a nice night. Summer or winter, there’s something soothing about a pale orange light against the shadows. Fire is also useful, of course; cooked food is kind of a big deal.
Building a fire though can be tricky business, and dangerous, especially in certain areas of the world, certain times of year, or certain exceptional conditions. Dry atmosphere and exceptional amounts of dry underbrush are a recipe for disaster, which is why you need a fire pit. And instead of digging one every time, why not bring one along with you?
So let’s take a look at what makes fire pits so good, their various uses, and my favorite options on the market right now.
Here are the best portable fire pits you can buy:
- Outland Firebowl Deluxe Outdoor Portable Propane Fire Pit
- Campfire Defender Protect Preserve Pop Up Pit
- Fire Sense Portable Folding Round 22 inch Fire Pit
- SanSwee Flatpack Portable Fire Pit and Camping Stove
- Rootless Large Portable Outdoor Collapsing Mesh Fire Pit
Wealers Stainless Steel Portable Fire Pit and Grill
- UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill and Fire Pit
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
7 Best Portable Fire Pits (2020 Reviews)
This is an excellent, highly efficient fire pit. Powered by small propane gas canisters, it produces a great amount of clean heat, clocking in at 58, 000 BTUh. This makes it comfortable to huddle around even on fairly cold evenings, and it provides a decent enough amount of light as well.
The size is good, large enough to hold all its components well and fit those nice looking lava rocks, but small enough to be easy to transport, with or without the rocks as the situation demands.
It’s adjustable and small, perfect for camping or RV trips, and has the advantage of being safe and legal to use any time, being rated for use during most campfire bans; perfect if you live in or are visiting a particularly dry area.
Even the price is good, giving you a lot of great value for the money. The only real drawback is that it is not suitable for cooking on; if you want a fire pit that can double as a grill, you’ll need to buy a different model.
Easy to use
Lightweight and portable
Safe for use during most campfire bans
Puts out a lot of heat
High quality steel construction
Not suitable for cooking
Now, if you want a great fire pit for cooking on, this is your natural choice.
It’s made to be sturdy and hold up quite a bit of weight; up to 75 lbs. This means it’s perfect for holding pots and pans to cook whatever you need to on its 380 square inches of primary cooking surface.
Despite the size, the assembly packs up smaller than a tent, and can be easily transported from there. It also converts from grill to campfire mode in under 60 seconds, just by removing the top grate and setting it aside.
It has excellent heat distribution in grill mode; better than some cheaper travel grills, in fact, and is just all around great for travel and camping.
The only real rubs are the price, which is a bit higher than our winner (but not to an insane degree) and the fact that it packs up into two separate bags, which is a bit annoying. Other than that, it makes a great addition to your travel and camping bag of goodies.
Makes an equally great fire pit and grill
Sturdy materials for a long product lifespan
Easy to use
Packs up well
Excellent heat distribution
A bit pricey
Having to pack it into two travel bags instead of one is a bit annoying
This is as simple as it gets, but simple doesn’t mean bad. It’s very well made, with a nice mesh that protects you and everyone around the fire from leaping sparks, and comes with a good hook to snag it or the grates off when needed.
The steel construction is sturdy, and it’s very solid when assembled. However, it also comes apart easily; just pull a pin from each of the legs, fold them up, and it’s ready to go. The included vinyl carrying bag isn’t the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it more than gets the job done.
The pit is sizable; 22 inches across, and can hold a good sized fire without issue, keeping you warm on chilly nights with ease. While not ideal for cooking on, it will work in a pinch, especially for your standard backyard needs like marshmallow roasting and general s’mores making.
The price likewise reflects the simplicity and quality; fairly inexpensive compared to the above fire pits, and very fair for the price asked.
Simple and easy to use
Made from high quality materials
Folds up easily
Comes with an included carrying case
Not really suitable for cooking on
If you need something to bring with you that is an all inclusive experience that adheres to very strict space restriction parameters, I have good news for you: this is your fire pit, and it’s quite a good one from SanSwee Outdoor.
It folds up incredibly small and flat, and the overall package is very lightweight. It clocks in at about 5 and a half pounds, and is only 2 inches thick while folded; it takes up about as much total space as a textbook (and is a bit lighter than some, in fact). It also requires no tools, folding out into its full size in about 10 seconds flat.
As a fire pit its performance is great, with a nice bottom loading tray and a few configurations that let it be used as a grill, campfire, or stove. While you only get 64 inches of cooking space out of it, it’s better than nothing, and if you’re doing something where you want to travel light (like backpacking, or taking a very long hiking trip) it’s the perfect addition to your pack. In terms of sheer portability, this is by far the best fire pit on this list, and it comes in at a very reasonable price as well.
Folds up to an incredibly small and light package; great for situations with tight weight and size restrictions.
Woks for both heat and cooking
Excellent low price point
Very small cooking surface area
This ultra stripped down fire pit still has a lot of charm. It’s very well made, with sturdy legs and a low center of gravity, with excellent weight distribution. It can handle large logs and chunks of wood with ease, for a true bonfire experience.
The fire mesh helps keep sparks from the ground, and makes it easier to clean than a more solidly constructed fire pit would be; you can just take the mesh and run it under water for an easy and instant clean.
The price is low, and while it’s very simple, you get a lot more than what you pay for here. It’s the most lightweight fire pit on this list, and that makes it very easy to justify bringing along, even though you can’t cook over it (the only major flaw in an otherwise great design).
As fire pits go, you can do a whole lot worse (and not much better) for the same price.
Easy to set up and break down
Sturdy and well made
Very easy to clean
Holds a lot of weight
Does not double as a cooking surface
Simple, lightweight, and cheap. It may not look like much, but this is the perfect budget fire pit from Wealers.
It has a lot of depth to it for building campfires to keep warm, and can be scaled down quite well for the largest grilling space featured on this list.
The materials are good, with sturdy stainless steel construction and a low center of gravity. This fire pit is surprisingly well balanced. I wouldn’t purposefully aim a kick at it while it’s going or anything, but I also wouldn’t be too scared if some accident happens and something bumps into it either.
Everything about this fire pit screams efficiency. It has a lot of economy of form, with everything about it serving a purpose and making it better overall. The carrying handles also double as added air flow for the grill portion, as a quick example.
It collapses and is easy to set up with no tools, coming with its own carrying case. While not the most lightweight fire pit on the market, it comes close enough to be well worth mentioning, coming in even under the SanSwee flatpack model above.
For the price you pay for this one, you get a lot out of it, so if you want a larger than average grilling surface for camping in a lightweight, compact package, give this one a shot.
Very sturdy stainless steel construction
Solid, low center of gravity design
Great grilling surface area
A bit of an unwieldy shape for transport, even in the case
Another flatpack design that’s great for travel, this is even more compact and lightweight than SanSwee’s offering.
It makes a solid long grill, and can cook a surprising amount of food on its surface, boasting a quite good 130 square inches of grilling space for you to use. The design is simple but sturdy enough, though I wouldn’t take too many chances walking around it if I were you. It’s serviceable and won’t be knocked over by a light breeze, but its low weight and fairly top heavy nature would make it easy to accidentally nudge over.
In a vacuum I think this flatpack fire pit is quite good, but I don’t think it’s better than SanSwee’s fire pit, which is about the same price. That model is slightly heavier and less compact, and does have less grilling space, but is far more versatile and sturdy in what it can do for you.
Unless you have even more severe space constraints that would preclude bringing that already very light, compact fire pit along, I’d stick with the SanSwee.
Easy to use
Exceptionally lightweight and compact
Solid stainless steel construction
Great cooking surface area for such a compact grill
A bit top heavy; easy to knock over
I like all of these in different ways. UCO’s flatpack model is my least favorite, but even it has its own unique merits in exceptionally niche conditions, so it still makes the cut.
Twisting my arm, Outland’s Firebowl is the best for pure heating, while Campfire Defender’s unit is best for pure grilling, but it’s hard to pick a favorite from those top six since they all fit some unique tradeoffs with each other that would make each good in different situations. I think the top two mentioned are the most versatile overall in a variety of situations, but any of the others are potentially excellent picks depending on your needs and circumstances.
What Should I Look For in a Portable Fire Pit?
The first question you want to ask yourself when buying a new fire pit is: why do I want this?
The Two Kinds of Fire Pits
The two basic varieties of fire pit are ones used for heat, and ones used for cooking. Some can be used for both, of course, but there are specialists.
Any fire pit you can use for cooking can also be used for heat, but don’t tend to direct that heat outward as well; after all, they’re designed to evenly distribute heat around the grates and frame to cook food INSIDE of the pit.
Fire pits for heating are fairly simple, and take a few forms; typically either wood burning or propane varieties.
For propane options, the main factor to look at is their heat output, measured in BTUh (British Thermal Units per hour). Higher is better, to a certain extent.
For all other types of fire pits, they’ll share a few factors.
Steel is king when it comes to fire pits. Steel is a poor conductor, but retains heat well, meaning both for cooking and heating it’s an excellent choice of material.
Look for something with a low, sturdy center of gravity. You don’t want it to be easily knocked over, scattering hot ashes (and potentially your food) all over the ground. Not only is this annoying, it can be dangerous.
If the unit folds up or is collapsible, the construction is even more key. It should be easy to set up with no tools and hold its shape perfectly when in use. It should be collapsible, but only when you WANT it to collapse.
A portable fire pit should be portable, obviously. So, it needs to be compact and lightweight. How compact and how lightweight is up for consideration based on your personal needs. There are options out there that fold up smaller than a book, weigh less than 3 lbs., or both. There are also options that are a bit bulkier, but are still easily man portable.
Which of these is acceptable for you is going to depend on your needs. If you’re going on a long hike or extended camping trip, traveling lighter is always better when possible. If you’re tooling around in an RV, you might have more space to work with.
You shouldn’t look to pay much more than $100 for a fire pit. On average, a decent fire pit costs between $50 and $80, and one should be exceptionally good before you consider going over that price limit.