There is little that beats sitting around a campfire, enjoying its radiating warmth and reminiscing on the day’s adventures. In the last year, with the dawn of social distancing and an increased need to socialise outside, we’ve had more campfires than ever. So it’s been the perfect time to test out a bunch of portable fire pits for camping and evenings in the backyard.
If you want to spend more time hanging out with your friends and family, without getting frostbite, then I highly recommend having a fire pit in your life. The more portable it is, the more feasible it is to safely have campfires in far flung places. I can recommend just the one for that sort of thing! But if you’re more into backyard BBQs and ambient evenings on the patio then opt for something slightly less portable but with a greater heat output and efficiency. Yep, there’s a superb fire pit that fits the bill perfectly for that too!
I’ll take you through the portable fire pit options that I’ve loved using, highlighting their stand out features and what they’re best suited to.
- FAQs when choosing the best portable fire pits
- 5 portable fire pits for camping and the backyard
- Things to consider when choosing a portable fire pit
- Propane fire pits
Summary of portable fire pits
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|Product||Best for||Weight||Packed dimensions||Cost|
|Wolf and Grizzly Fire Safe||Backpacking and wilderness campfires||2lbs / 0.91kg||11.2 x 10.9 x 1” / 28.5 x 28 x 2.5cm||$$$ + grill|
|Solo Stove Ranger||Backyard campfires, car camping and glamping||15lbs / 6.8kg||15 x 15 x 12.5” / 38 x 38 x 32cm||$$$$$$$|
|Primus Kamoto Firepit||General use, car camping, beach BBQ’s||13.9lbs / 6.3kg||23.6 x 20.8 x 2.5” / 60 x 53 x 6.5cm||$$$$|
|Portable Fire Pit||Backpacking and wilderness campfires||1.54lbs / 0.7g||9.5 x 3.9 x 3.9" / 24 x 10 x 10cm||$|
|Fire Sense Portable Fire Pit||Backyard campfires, car camping and glamping||7lbs / 3.18kg||22 x 22 x 8" / 56 x 56 x 20cm||$$|
FAQs when choosing portable fire pits for camping
5 portable fire pits for camping and the backyard
If you’re looking for something that is unfathomably lightweight (only 2lbs / 910g) and portable, then look no further than the Wolf and Grizzly Fire Safe. It’s one of the most portable fire pits around and is hands down the best fire pit in this department that we’ve tried.
The Fire Safe is constructed of stainless steel plates that fold down flat and are stored in a heavy duty, recycled polyester, zippered wallet. The wallet is an excellent feature that protects both the Fire Safe and the rest of the stuff in your backpack. It has a small pocket inside to store a fire lighter in and it fits in the side pocket of most backpacks, or sits nicely against the backpack panel of a backpack.
On its own, the Fire Safe is only compatible with cooking on sticks and skewers or if you have a freestanding grill or tripod to place over it. However, Wolf and Grizzly also sell an equally portable and lightweight grill that is compatible with the Fire Safe. This can be used as a standalone grill over any fire. But it also works rather well in combination with the Fire Safe. It’s like they planned it, or something! The grill rolls up into a zippered case (which also fits nicely inside the side pocket of a backpack), and can be set up at three different heights. The combo of the two make this a superbly good option for wilderness campfire cooking.
The main drawback of the Fire Safe is the size of the fire you can create in it. If you intend keeping a group warm with it then you’ll all have to get in real close and cosy! So it’s best for a small group or couple in this regard. However, it’s plenty big enough to create a welcome ambiance at the end of a long day on the trail or on the riverside when canoe camping. And the grill is big enough for a 4 person BBQ.
For more information read my full review of the Wolf and Grizzly Fire Safe and Grill.
|Pros:||Incredibly lightweight. Highly portable. Good airflow. Raised off the ground on small legs. Has excellent carry case.|
|Cons:||Small fire size. Grill is sold separately and is quite pricey.|
A few years ago I tried out the Solo Stove Lite – a lightweight, wood burning, backpacking stove. I loved it immediately, and still do! So when the Ranger came my way I was like a kid at Christmas. I had very high expectations, based on the Lite, and I’ve not been disappointed. This thing has blown me away and carried everyone else who’s encountered it along for the ride!
Is it really possible to get that excited about a fire pit, I hear you ask? Well, when was the last time you chucked wet wood on your fire (repeatedly) and it continued to rage with intensity? I thought so! Not only is it incredibly easy to get a fire going (with dry wood) inside the Ranger, but once it’s going it stays going with very little effort. And yes, it even deals with wet wood incredibly well.
The efficiency with which the Ranger burns is down to the clever double walled construction which draws air through vents in the base. This air is drawn up through the bottom of the fire to fuel the flames, as well as up through the walls of the fire pit. As the air rises through the walls, it heats up and then pops out the top vents to fuel secondary combustion. The result, when burning dry wood, is a practically smokeless fire that is incredibly efficient. Magical!
The Ranger doesn’t come with any cooking accessories. However, when I want to cook stuff over it I just place a grill on top. This works well if you have a mature fire going or are cooking things quickly. But you can’t feed the fire without removing the grill.
From a portability point of view, the Ranger doesn’t score well if you want to carry it far by hand. It does come with a tough, handled carry case which is great for packing it in and out of the car. However, it’s not the easiest to carry if you want to walk far across the beach, for example. Because of this, the Ranger is best suited to car camping and glamping as well as backyard campfires.
For more information read my full review of the Solo Stove Ranger Fire Pit.
|Pros:||Incredibly efficient, practically smoke-free, stylish, comes in a carry case|
|Cons:||Relatively heavy, doesn’t pack down, tricky to carry any distance, not designed to be cooked over (though it is possible)|
Though only a touch lighter than the Solo Stove Ranger, the Kamoto Openfire Pit is in a different league when it comes to portability. First up, it folds down into an easy to carry briefcase-style package, complete with a built-in carry handle. Its folded size and shape means that it’s ideal for carrying short to medium distances of up to a mile or so, depending on how committed you are! This leaves you free to carry a loaded backpack of cooking essentials on your back and you still have a free hand to swap the Kamoto to and from.
Secondly, when folded, its size makes it very easy to pack into a car full of other gear for car camping and glamping trips. This is especially appealing if you have kids or are traveling in a group and your car is already at capacity.
There is also a base plate that sits directly on the ground and catches the ashes as the fire burns. However, this does get hot and is best placed on bricks or rocks if you are worried about the ground below.
Overall, this is my favourite portable fire pit for all round use. It doesn’t compare with the Solo Stove and BioLite in terms of efficiency and heat generation. But its size and versatility make it ideal for BBQ’s at the beach, which is where we use it most. We simply remove the grill after cooking, chuck on some logs and it’s good to go as a fire pit for some post dinner warmth.
For more information read my full review of the Primus Kamoto Openfire Pit.
|Pros:||Highly portable. Versatile. Cooking compatible. A good all rounder.|
|Cons:||Slightly complex to set up and pack away. Cooking heat is a little focused in the centre. Base plate can get hot and leave marks on grass. Too heavy and big for hiking and canoe camping.|
This unbranded portable fire pit can be found far and wide across the internet, with varying labels attached to it. I’m generally pretty resistant to go near this sort of cheaply made outdoor gear. However, there can be a place for it. And if you’re likely to only use a fire pit a couple of times each summer, then there can be sense in not spending a fortune. As it turns out, this highly compact and lightweight fire pit is actually pretty great! Yes, I don’t envisage it lasting for more than a couple of years of frequent use. But for occasional use, you really can’t go wrong.
Firstly, at only 1.54lbs / 700g, it’s the most lightweight fire pit on the list, closely followed by the W&G Fire Safe. Plus, it comes in a small zippered case that is about the size of a Nalgene bottle, fitting well in the side pocket of a backpack. Secondly, it’s the best option on our list if you’re limited to placing it on an uneven surface. The nature of the legs means that they’ll sit at awkward angles without compromising the overall stability of the fire pit too much. A great option for rocky beaches or sloping ground.
This portable fire pit is also easy to set up and cools down very quickly when it comes to packing away. Additionally, and somewhat surprisingly, it sheds barely any ash onto the ground below. But what it does do instead is heat up your toes, when placed carefully below the fire, rather well!
In windy conditions the fire pit provides zero protection. Though it does allow for ample air flow to the base of the fire, it also means that wood burns rather rapidly. The lack of wind protection also means that sparks can easily get lifted away from the fire. Something to consider, depending on when and where you are lighting your fire.
Overall, the Portable Fire Pit is a great option for occasional use both at home or on the trail and is by far the least expensive fire pit option on our list.
|Pros:||Highly portable. Very lightweight. Looks great. Good on uneven ground. Good ground protection. Cheap|
|Cons:||Not cooking compatible. No wind protection. Not very durable.|
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Another relatively low-priced fire pit is the Fire Sense Portable Fire Pit. Like the Portable Fire Pit above, there are many different versions of this fire pit available from a number of retailers. At 7 lbs / 3.18kgs, it is lightweight for its size, though not comparable to the super lightweight W&G Fire Safe or Portable Fire Pit. However, if you’re after a good sized portable fire pit for group campfires at the beach, at camp or in the backyard then the Fire Sense offers good value and versatility.
Unlike the Solo Stove Ranger, this fire pit folds down to a slightly smaller package for portability; the four legs fold down using a simple locking pin mechanism. It comes in a round case with a carry handle which is easy enough to carry a decent distance without it becoming too cumbersome. Plus, the case fits in the shield, grill and lid lifter, plus a few extra accessories, if needed.
This simple bowl fire pit won’t win any prizes for innovation or efficient burning. It also doesn’t offer a great deal of protection in windy conditions. Additionally, although the mesh fire shield is great for preventing big logs from falling out of the pit, it doesn’t protect from sparks breaking through it. All that said, the 22 inch steel fire pit provides a good sized base if you want a bit more of a sizable campfire. It also keeps the heat well off the ground from a damage point of view.
Finally, the addition of a grill adds a degree of versatility for campfire cooking and grilling. However, it’s a little tricky to manage the fire once the grill is on. Something to consider if cooking compatibility is an essential feature.
|Pros:||Lightweight for its size. Good ground protection. Good value. Cooking compatible. Comes with mesh sheild.|
|Cons:||Not much wind protection. Fire is difficult to manage when using the grill.|
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Things to consider when choosing a portable fire pit
Where will you be using it?
One of the first things to consider when choosing a portable fire pit is where you are likely to use it most. Obviously, I may not have your grand fire pit using plans covered. So I’ll just discuss the most common scenarios in which you might light up a fire in your portable pit.
In the backyard
Along with car camping, fire pits are very at home in the backyard or garden or set up on the patio or deck. And unless you have acres of outdoor space, and plan on lighting your fire on the furthest point from your house, portability doesn’t need to be considered too much. Yes, you’ll need to be able to carry it a short distance, in which case a carry bag is always useful. But so long as it’s not too heavy to move from A to B then you can afford to opt for something bigger which will give a greater heat output.
Car camping and glamping
Much like backyard campfires, it’s unlikely you’ll need to carry your portable fire pit very far when car camping and glamping. Therefore, lack of portability isn’t too much of a game-changer. That said, the larger your fire, the less room there is in your car for all your other camping gear. So be sure to consider size and space before you go opting for the biggest fire pit on the market.
At the beach
Campfires at the beach don’t always need to be contained in a fire pit. However, a fire lit inside a fire pit is a much more acceptable way of enjoying the warm ambiance of a flickering fire on certain beaches. Plus, it’s just good practice to minimise your impact on the ground, sandy or not. Consider what sort of beach you are on (how public or remote it is) and how far you need to to set up your fire. With these things in mind, something discrete and packable might be a preferable option than one of the bigger, heavier options.
Nothing beats warming you up (and drying you out) after a day on the water than getting cosy next to a campfire. Having a fire pit to build your fire in is a great option if you don’t know what sort of ground you are likely to encounter. A pit will protect the ground and contain the fire. Though low weight isn’t the be all and end all, portability is crucial. You’ll need something that can easily fit inside your canoe or on top of your SUP, and ideally you’ll want to pack it up in a dry bag to protect it from weathering.
An overnight hiking trip
Much like canoe and SUP camping, a fire pit for overnight hiking trips HAS to be portable. It needs to fit inside a backpack easily. Low weight is also super important. Another thing to consider is whether your fire pit is suitable to cook over. If it is, then you can forego carrying a camping stove which will save some space and weight in your pack.
Portability and weight
How portable a fire pit is, is a slightly subjective thing. A fire pit that needs two people to lift and move is still portable, just not easily portable! So that we’re all on the same page, a portable fire pit is not permanently fixed in one place and can be moved from one place to another by one person, without risk of injury!
The degree of portability you need in your life depends largely on where you are most likely going to be using your fire pit. Read the above section for some advice on this.
Otherwise, consider the following:
Does your portable fire pit come with a case?
- Does the case have carry handles or a shoulder strap?
- If it doesn’t have a case, does it have a carry handle?
- Once you are carrying it, how easy and comfortable is it to hold?
- Does the fire pit fit in a backpack?
- Are there folding parts or legs that make the fire pit more compact when not in use?
Like portability, the weight of a fire pit is only really important if you intend carrying it away from your house or car. Or indeed, over a distance of more than a couple of hundred metres. The lighter the better for overnight hiking trips.
Ease of set up and use
No-one likes things that are complex and complicated to set up. And a fire pit is no different. If you opt for a fire pit that comes in parts then be sure that it’s straightforward to set up with as few parts as possible. Bolts and screws that need adjusting or removing are a big no-no, especially when you’re camping or out in the wild.
As well as easy set up, fire pits really should be easy to use. They should be as simple as lighting the fire inside it then sitting back and enjoying it! However, fire pit designs vary vastly. Some designs are focussed on low weight and portability whilst others are designed with efficiency in mind. Bear this in mind when you are choosing, as you won’t necessarily be able to get everything! What you don’t want, however, is something that is overly complex to use.
Suitability for cooking
A fire pit that is suitable for cooking over is a real plus and adds a load of versatility to its uses. You’ll end up using it more too. Of course, whether they’re designed for cooking or not, all fire pits (and fires) can be cooked over – even if you’re just sizzling sausages on a skewer or baking bannock bread on a stick. It’s also possible to place a grill or grate – that you may already own – over a pit to make it more suitable for cooking. However, when you’re dipping (sometimes rather deeply) into your pockets to invest in a new fire pit, I feel that cooking compatibility is a big selling point.
The best cooking compatible fire pits function completely normally as a fire pit with the added bonus of being able to cook on them.
Ash tray and clean up
An important factor to consider when choosing a portable fire pit is what happens to the ash as the fire burns. Does it just drop onto the ground below? Does it just stay in the fire pit and clog up the burning area? Or is there a dedicated ash tray that collects the ash below where the fire is?
Additionally, once the fire has cooled and you’re left with a pile of ash, how easy is it to deal with the ash? You don’t want to have to take extra equipment (trowel) with you to scoop out the ashes at the end of the evening.
Obviously, the bigger you want your fire, the bigger the fire pit needs to be. But with that also comes extra weight and decreased portability. There’s always a compromise! If you favour evening gatherings in the backyard over intimate sunset campfires at the beach, then there’s no reason why you can’t go bigger. Plus, the larger the fire, the more warmth it will put out.
If you anticipate regularly cooking over your fire pit then it’s also worth considering how much cooking space you might require. So, think about group size and the types of campfire meals you might want to cook. If grilling is your thing, then a larger space will be favourable. Whereas one-pot meals don’t need as much space, depending on the size of your pot!
The efficiency at which fire pits burn wood is another important factor to consider. Some fire pits are designed with efficiency in mind, whilst others are more basic and simple provide a safe place off the ground to light a fire. Look for windshields or high sides to prevent fast burning in breezy conditions. Additionally, fire pits made from thicker metal generally do a better job at conducting and retaining heat, which means you’ll get a greater output of heat. Strategically placed vents and air holes are also key to creating an efficient burn.
Safety and ground protection
One of the main reasons to use a fire pit in the wild is to protect the ground and to minimise the risk of the fire spreading. With this in mind, and if you intend mostly using a fire pit in wild places, it’s key that the one you choose is raised off the ground. Look for fire pits with good clearance in the form of legs or a base. Additionally, high sided fire pits do a much better job at containing the fire and preventing wood from toppling out.
Propane fire pits
We’ve not tested any propane fire pits as we prefer our fire pits to be fuelled with sustainable fuel sources. However, there’s certainly a place for a propane fire pit in your camping gear stash.
- Here are a few reasons why you might opt for a propane fire pit over a wood burning fire pit:
- Those with respiratory issues that are aggravated when around smoky fires can still enjoy an evening campfire by burning propane instead of wood.
- If you want to carry your fire pit some place where there isn’t easy access to wood to burn, then carrying a gas canister is easier and more lightweight than carrying a load of logs.
- Propane fires are often permitted in areas where open fires are not, or during fire bans in dry weather. Whether you’re using gas or not, always be sure to check the regulations before you light your fire.
With that in mind, here are a couple propane fire pits that are relatively portable:
Weight: 24 lbs
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 12 inches
Power: 55,000 BTU
Weight: 22.5 lbs
Dimensions: 19.3in x 19.3in x 12.2in
Power: 52,000 BTU