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Want to enhance the warmth and ambiance of your next camping trip? Your options for portable fires include portable propane fire pits and wood-burning fire pits. With a wide array of portable campfire products on the market, how do you choose the best one for your needs?
In this guide, we will discuss what to look for in a camping fire pit. We will go over the benefits and drawbacks of different fuel sources and explore key buying considerations. We will then introduce you to some of the top portable fires on the market. Let’s get started.
Camping Fire Pit Fuel Source: Propane or Wood?
First of all, let’s talk about fuel sources for a portable fire pit for camping. Most camping fire pits either take propane or firewood as fuel.
The benefits of firewood include convenience and atmosphere. You can use wood you find around your campsite, and do not need a propane tank. A lot of people also enjoy the traditional wood campfire experience and the comfort it invokes.
But firewood has some drawbacks as well. Sometimes there are fire bans in effect, and you cannot burn wood.
With a propane pit, you have no sparks or residue to deal with, and your pit should be acceptable under most fire bans.
For those reasons, we recommend propane fire pits to most users, though you can still consider wood if it is something you prefer.
Important Features in a Portable Campfire
Here are some key buying considerations when you are choosing a portable campfire for camping or backyard use.
- Lightweight: You want it to be as easy as possible to transport your fire pit to your campsite. Look for a product built of strong but lightweight materials and featuring minimal components. Stainless steel is ideal for construction. Natural lava rocks make for an excellent lightweight filler. Some fire pits include carry kits or bags for transport.
- Compact: A compact design also can assist you with carrying the fire pit, and give you more options for setup.
- Sturdy: We recommend stainless steel not only because it is lightweight, but also because it can stand the test of time. If you maintain your steel fire pit properly, it won’t rust, making it suitable for use in any climate. Check for powder coating to ensure longevity, and pay extra close attention to joints, seams and fasteners.
- Safe: Purchase a fire pit that has passed the rigorous testing required to earn a CSA certification.
- Easy to Use: You want your camping experience to be as relaxing as possible, especially if you have been out hitting the trails all day. Pick a fire pit that is easy to light and requires only minimal assembly, like adding the lava rocks.
- Conforms to Fire Ban Regulations: Check with your local fire authority to see what fire bans are in effect in the spot where you are setting up camp. You can contact them over the phone by calling a non-emergency general inquiry line, or check their website or social media feed. Under fire bans, wood-burning pits are most likely to be prohibited. Propane pits are typically permitted under fire bans, but there are exceptions. So, you should always call ahead and ask.
- Stylish: Finally, consider the overall appearance of a fire pit. Your goal, after all, is to enhance the ambiance of your campsite. A beautiful pit with an award-winning design like the Outland Living Cypress can make your entire campsite more appealing.
Top Portable Fire Pits to Consider
Now that we have discussed what features are important to consider when you are choosing a portable fire pit for camping or backyard use, let’s take a look at some top recommended products.
Best Budget Buy: Outland Living Standard Firebowl
If you are on a budget, the Outland Living Standard Fire Pit may be the right option for your campsite. This is Outland’s original fire pit. It features a steel frame with a protective powder coating, an enamel-coated bowl that withstands high heat and moisture, and stainless steel for the burner and screws.
The compact fire bowl measures L 19" x W 19" x H 11", and weighs only 22 pounds. You can adjust the flames with a chrome valve knob. It comes with a pre-attached 10’ propane hose and regulator, a propane tank stabilizer ring, and 4.4 pounds of natural lightweight lava rocks. Like all Outland Living fire pits, it is CSA-approved.
With this and our other propane models, you will need a propane tank.
Standard Fire PitView Product
Best for Portability and Value: Outland Living Deluxe
If you like the Standard model of fire pit from Outland Living, but you are looking for even more value, consider the Outland Living Deluxe.
This product measures L 18.5" x W 18.5" x H 10.5" and weighs 23.3 pounds. In most respects, it is identical to the Standard model. But when you purchase the Outland Living Deluxe, it comes with the Cover + Carry Kit in addition to the rest of the accessories that come with the Standard model.
Campers will find the carry kit to be a very useful feature for portability, so we highly recommend that you consider the Deluxe Outland firebowl for your next adventure.
Deluxe Fire PitView Product
Best for Ease-of-Use: Outland Living Premium
If you have a little more to spend, you may want to consider an upgrade to the Outland Living Premium fire pit. This is one of the best portable fire pits when it comes to ease-of-use.
Measuring L 19" x W 19" x H 11" and weighing 24.5 pounds, this propane fire pit includes the same sturdy steel construction as the others in the Outland Living line. It comes with the same accessories as our Deluxe model, but it has an additional special feature: auto-ignition.
All you have to do once your fire pit is connected to the propane tank is push on the knob and turn it counter-clockwise. This will turn on the ignition.
Premium Fire Pit
Best for Style: Outland Living Cypress
Our very top recommendation overall right now for a fire pit is the Outland Living Cypress model. It features a 21” diameter and a height of 9.2”, and weighs 25.5 pounds.
This model is only marginally higher in price than the Deluxe. It sits low to the ground, and is sleek, streamlined, and exquisitely stylish. In fact, the Cypress design is an award-winner. So, it can really beautify your campground.
Another special advantage of the Cypress fire pit is that it features an H-shaped Helios burner that produces a larger, fuller flame. This is currently the only Outland Living model to feature this type of burner.
Accessories include a 10-foot hose, a regulator, the Cover + Carry Kit, 4.4 pounds of lava rocks, and a propane tank stabilizer ring.
Cypress Fire Pit
Best for Larger Groups: Outland Living Mega
The least portable Outland Living fire pit is the Mega Fire Pit. While most of our pits are compact, this one measures L 24" x W 24" x H 13" and weighs a heftier 34 pounds.
It is not too large or heavy to transport comfortably, especially with the compatible Mega Carry Bag. But you will not want to move it around too much. So, it is ideal if you will be camping in one spot for an extended period of time, or for use in your own backyard or large patio.
This model includes the same basic accessories as the rest along with a UV- and weather-resistant cover.
Mega Fire PitView Product
Best Wood Fire Pit: Outland Living Oakridge Wood Fire Pit
Don’t have to worry about wood-burning restrictions? For a traditional fireside experience, consider the Outland Living Oakridge.
This wood-burning model includes a grill grate, poker tool, and protective mesh lid. Measuring L 31" x W 31" x H 17" and weighing 22.7 pounds, it is portable enough to bring with you to a campsite.
Like our propane models, the Oakridge is made out of high-quality stainless steel. The coating is resistant to heat. Assembly is fast and easy so you can get right to enjoying your campfire.
Oakridge Wood Fire PitView Product
Outland Living’s line of propane fire pits are compatible with a range of optional accessories. These include a cover and carry kit (which some models include already, as discussed), a standard carry bag, and a natural gas conversion kit you can use if you prefer a natural gas fire pit.
The carry bag is a more deluxe option for transport than the carry kit, so if you will be doing a lot of walking with your fire pit to get it to your site, you may want to consider the carry bag upgrade for added comfort and ease.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are going camping or glamping or you just want to enhance the ambiance of your backyard, a portable campfire can bring you the warmth and atmosphere you are looking for.
You now know what features are important in a portable bonfire, and you have some high-quality products to consider. Enjoy the portability, convenience, and comfort of an Outland Living fire pit on your next camping trip!