A portable fire pit is one of the most essential pieces of camping gear of all.
Why? Because having a roaring campfire is the most essential element of the whole camping experience. It’s the first image that comes to mind when you picture what “having a great time while camping” looks like. It’s people socializing, laughing and relaxing around a hearty fire.
I mean, sure, your tent is important – don’t forget to take that – but what’s also important is to take a portable fire pit. The top picks in this guide are all ones which are virtually smokeless, unlike a regular campfire. That makes a huge difference, as you might imagine.
Armed with a smokeless fire pit, you’ll no longer have to deal with “smelling of campfire” afterwards, as well as all those futile attempts to stop it smoldering so much when the wood’s not perfect. You don’t even need a fire poker either, because the ventilation system of a smokeless fire pit makes it burn evenly already.
And when it’s all over and done with, the wood in a smokeless fire pit will have burned down completely to ash because it was able to burn so hot and with consistently enough oxygen from start to finish. That means a whole lot easier cleanup than you’re used to.
So, let’s take a look at my reviews of the top portable fire pits out there.
The Best Portable Fire Pits Reviewed
To be honest, the top pick in this guide wins by a long shot.
It’s currently the best designed fire pit on the market, so the other mentions are more alternative picks for those with more niche personal preferences or for those on a budget. You’ll see why when we take a closer look at this remarkable piece of kit.
Best Portable Fire Pit: Solo Stove Bonfire
The Solo Stove Bonfire is a hallmark of good design. This is exactly what I like to see in a product: sheer, beautiful simplicity in its design, that makes it ridiculously reliable and able to outperform the living daylights out of the all-too-common “conventional” designs out there, that either break after a year or end up being high maintenance in any case.
That’s what this site is about.
Anyway, rant over. The only way I can put it, is that the sheer simplicity and genius of the Solo Stove Bonfire’s design is the reason why it’s the top pick. Here it is, in picture form:
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to get technical. I promise. That’s simply a diagram of the oxygen coming in through this fire pit’s double wall, and you can see how it gets directed to two places: into the fire from underneath, and directly into the flames up above. This happens automatically because of how physics works. No power needed.
And here’s what makes this genius: This design creates a super-high heat, entirely smokeless fire that boosts the height of its own flames automatically in one and the same motion. It’s beautiful.
Basically, fire smoke happens when you have incomplete combustion, which is the scientific way of saying “you need more oxygen in your fire, son.” Smoldering, smoky bonfires also give off carbon monoxide, which is lethally poisonous, so it’s not just an inconvenience to ignore. It’s genuinely a big deal.
This fire solves all that by automatically sucking in oxygen from the bottom. Hot air rises, as you know, and this fire uses that fact to pull fresh oxygen back in from the bottom. It works a bit like a straw.
The double walls also extend the use of that effect, by sucking some of that oxygen all the way up the inside to be jettisoned right into the start of the flames themselves. That’s the holes you can see on the inside of the rim.
This is what makes the flames so tall.
You see, it would ordinarily be a bit of a downside to have a fire pit with solid sides that obscure the flame, but the Solo Stove Bonfire gets around that by boosting the flames with the oxygen it propels into them using its seemingly magic application of simple physics.
So, basically, just think of the design as a kind of “flame-boosting heat-operated oxygen straw.” Yeah. It’s not exactly catchy, but it’s pretty darn effective.
And, like I said before, the simplicity of its design, its stainless steel construction, and its lack of moving parts means it’s a whole lot more durable than the other options out there. There’s not even any legs on it that can get damaged or break off.
The only thing that can be moved in this fire pit is the stainless steel rim on the top. That’s removable just so it’s easier to pour ash out when you realize your firewood’s all used up after having lost track of time while staring into the flames.
Lastly, I’ll say that it really is nice to be able to have a fire pit without smelling of one afterwards, or having to get your hands all sooty when the time comes to put it away.
It’s something that feels like it just adds to the whole ease of use of the product. It’s just no-fuss, no matter how you look at it. Nothing is a hassle – not even cleaning.
The only downside would be it taking up space wherever you’re storing it. It’s not exactly something you can fold away and carry in a backpack, but you have to remember: it’s empty on the inside. You can just put stuff in it, so it doesn’t waste space at all in your car.
So, in the end, its shape is just something that’s a problem if you’re wanting something to fit right into your backpack.
Need a Way to Protect Your Floor? Here’s the New Bundle Version
There’s now a bundle set that includes a stand. That’s what you’ll need if you’re wanting a fire pit for your patio.
Well, if you care about keeping your patio nice, anyway. Otherwise you can just go ahead and leave scorch marks on the ground without a care in the world.
Or, you know… you could sit the fire pit on something like some spare bricks that you have lying around. Anything that keeps it off the ground, that won’t set on fire will work.
But, that being said, this kit has clear advantages over that option.
First of all, it all packs away neatly, as you can see in the photo on the right. That means the stand doesn’t take up any more space than if you just had the main fire pit.
Then there’s also the waterproof cover you get with it to consider. Now, I don’t think that this is nearly as important, but that really depends upon where you’re thinking of storing your fire pit.
I mean, if it’s going to be sitting in your garage and it’s not too dirty or damp in there, then you don’t really need a cover, do you? But on the flip side, if your garage is swamped with stuff and not exactly fully shielded from the elements, then the cover is going to make the difference in keeping your fire pit looking as good as new.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the Solo Stove Bonfire is not the only size available. If you’re on a patio, you might even prefer a smaller fire that’s still the same quality as what you’d get with the model we’ve been looking at here.
The smaller version is called the Solo Stove Ranger, and it’s… well… patio sized. There’s no other way to put it. It’s just a good size for a patio.
You can see it below.
It’s on the stand you get with the bundle in that picture above too. It’s basically just less wide that the bonfire model.
In the end, it’s just down to personal preference which one you prefer. You could just go with the top pick, which is the bonfire model, if you just want to live it up and have a good sized fire on demand.
Here’s their official unboxing video if you’re interested getting a feel for the size.
What We Like:
- Excellent Design – This fire pit’s design creates a super-high heat, entirely smokeless fire that boosts the height of its own flames automatically in one and the same motion. This way, it doesn’t matter that you can’t see through the sides.
- Easy to Clean – This is, in part, due to it being smokeless and capable of very high temperature fires. Everything gets burned down completely to ash. There’s also that the rim can be lifted off to simply pour out that ash, and then you can just rinse it out with water whenever you want to fully clean it out.
Things to Consider:
- Alternative Sizes – The Solo Stove Bonfire is the best size for most people. The Solo Stove Ranger is a less wide version that’s more suited to patios, especially with the stand that comes with the bundle. Then there’s the Yukon, which is massive. It’s amazing, but impractical for carrying around.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Best Portable Fire Pit With Grill: BioLite FirePit
The ability to have this portable fire pit turn into a hibachi grill is its best feature.
Honestly, the way the heat evenly comes through from below even makes it an ideal pick for if you simply wanted a portable hibachi grill. I guess you can say, it’s a “two in one” kind of product.
But the real reason why the BioLite FirePit is a great pick, is that it doesn’t compromise between being a grill and a fire pit. Instead, it’s designed to be a smokeless fire pit that happens to work perfectly as a grill too, because it burns so efficiently and evenly.
That’s thanks to the mesh side that you can see in the picture below.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see that clearly visible free-standing fire, it makes me feel as though I were looking at a fireplace rather than a fire pit.
So, right there is a defining factor that makes the choice between this one and the Solo Stove Bonfire not quite so simple.
Granted, this one has a much less simple design, but when you look at the quality of the fire alone, this one lets you see the burning logs directly from the side, at the cost of it having a lower flame height than the boosted flames the Solo Stove Bonfire has.
So, take a look at it for yourself in action, and if you really like being able to see through the side above all else, then this is the one to go for:
But, of course, the design is this fire pit isn’t quite as innovate as the Solo Stove Bonfire’s all-in-one, automatic, powerless design.
This one entirely relies on the unit on the side, which propels air through small holes around the fire similar to how the Solo Stove ones work. The difference is though, that it achieves that air flow through a powered fan in that side unit, rather than through the genius use of physics to make it happen automatically.
But, of course, it would be impossible to have an open fire that you can see into from the side with the Solo Stove design, and the fan’s battery lasts for 24 hours of burning. In reality, its design doesn’t negatively impact the user experience at all.
You could only say that it’s not a rain-proof, “leave and forget” fire pit, because of the electronic parts; and it has more potential for damage and rust, because of the mesh, foldable standing legs and so on.
Let me make that clear: this fire pit is not waterproof. You can’t clean it out with water like you can with the Solo Stove Bonfire. You also can’t use it with cookware like pots either, because it’s only intended for grilling food directly.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the electronics of this one have an upside, and that’s the smart features it has. You can control the fan speed from the free BioLite Energy App for Android or iOS. I guess it makes sense that they decided to go with making an app to do that, because it’s better than having to get your fingers close to the fire to flick some kind of fan speed switch.
What We Like:
- Sides You Can See Through – Because of this fire pit’s unique mesh sides, it’s the only one out there that lets you achieve the effect of a free-standing floating fire when it’s dark. It’s also nice being able to see the burning logs.
- Smokeless – The side fan unit’s battery lasts for 24 hours of burning, and it blows air inwards from all angles along the fire, rather than just from that side like you’d expect. That’s why it burns so evenly, and why it’s smokeless.
- The Hibachi Grill – It’s simply just a very good hibachi grill, so when you’re getting this as a fire pit you’re essentially getting a “two in one” deal here.
Things to Consider:
- Not Waterproof – Because of the electronics of course, but also because of the mesh. It’s not exactly rust proof, so it needs to be kept dry.
- Less Damage-Proof – Compared to the Solo Stove’s unibody design, there’s a whole lot more on this one that could end up damaged at some point. I do wish the metal was thicker too.
Check the latest price on Amazon.
Best Cheap Portable Fire Pit: UCO Flatpack Stainless Steel Fire Pit
This fire pit is, surprisingly, the most portable one of the bunch, even though it’s more of a budget option.
Not only is it pretty cheap already, it’s even better value for money when you consider you also get a grill with it. Granted, there’s no airflow system at all in this one, but it opens up wide enough to limit its smokiness to what you’d expect with any normal campfire.
But really, the most interesting thing about this fire pit is that it’s by far the most portable option out there because it folds completely flat. As you can see in the photo on the right, it’ll fit into your backpack no problem.
The metal’s actually not as thin as I thought it would be, considering it’s an inexpensive piece of kit. The whole thing feels like it’s put together in a way that’ll last a good while.
Also, since it’s quite a stable base, you’re able to stack logs in it higher than the sides, so it’s not like the fire is just confined to the bottom of the V-shaped pit. Still, don’t expect it to be smokeless because of it. It’s not.
Like I said before, it’s only as good as normal campfire in terms of smoke output because it has no ventilation system, but the advantage of having this fire pit is safer fire containment, an easier cleanup, and a stable grill rack for cooking whatever you like on.
For the price, it’s absolutely worth it if you’re at all interested in having a fire pit for camping, outdoor grilling, or even social gatherings.
Simply having something like this that’ll keep a nice fire going without any mess while you relax with your friends or family on your patio is worth it alone. Though, if you’re thinking it’d be a more regular thing or if you’re a fire aficionado, then you’d be better off with the Solo Stove Bonfire, which is the top pick in this guide and the one we looked at first.
It’s basically a straight upgrade to this kind of fire pit, because both of them are easy to use and easy to clean, and neither of them use power.
What We Like:
- Value for Money – It’s a really cheap option compared to smokeless fire pits that have a ventilation system. If you don’t mind the usual smokiness you get with campfires, then this is a great money saver – or even an ideal starter kit, you could say.
- Easy to Clean – With no moving parts, electronics or any of that kind of thing, it’s just easy to clean stainless steel. Since it’s not smokeless, it’ll have more residue than the Solo Stove Bonfire, but at least you can still clean it off with water, some soap or detergent, and some scrubbing.
- Folds Completely Flat – In terms of portable campfires, this one wins by a large margin because it’s the only one that folds flat. The others are all portable, but not this portable.
Things to Consider:
- Not Smokeless – Because of there being no ventilation method in its design, it functions like an ordinary campfire. There’s no flame boosting shenanigans or oxygen jetting wizardry with this one. It’s just a good old fashioned fire you’re getting.
Check the latest price on Amazon.