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As an open house junkie, I get to see a lot of really cool places. I was recently treated to a lovely scene: a beautiful setting in the country, with comfortable outdoor seats circled around a portable wood-burning fire pit. I enjoyed the entire look of the whole setup on a bunch of levels, not the least of which was admiration on how handsome this thing really was.
Now, whether or not stuff like this is "staged" by realtors isn't the issue. Even if it is, it certainly evoked the right response in me, and it's likely to do the same to other prospective buyers.
- 1 Why Portable Fire Pits?
- 2 My 10 Favorite Pits
- 2.1 Landmann Fire Pits
- 2.2 CobraCo Fire Pits
- 2.3 Sunnydaze Decor
- 2.4 Ultra-Efficient Solo Stoves
- 2.5 Is Stainless Steel good for Fire Pits?
- 2.6 Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Fire Pits
- 2.7 Fire Control Safety Accessory
- 3 How do I protect my grass under the fire pit?
- 4 Final Thoughts
Why Portable Fire Pits?
As I considered this little scenario, I was struck by four thoughts:
- how easy it has become to create what I call "instant ambiance" in almost any yard,
- how practical a portable fire pit can be (especially given my propensity for thinking about ways to make sure I have more than one source of heat in a cold region),
- how much easier yard maintenance can be to use one of these units rather than mowing around a permanent fire ring, and
- wondering why I had never thought about getting one of these before!
To give you an idea of what I mean by this - consider the picture at the left, which is a photo of my old "built in" camp fire area. I'm not sure you can see much of the ground around it, but while it certainly served its purpose during the years we inhabited that property, I often thought, "wouldn't it be nice if there was a little cleaner and tidier way to enjoy a few burning sticks on any given night?"
For some reason I had always had the idea that fire pits had to be "built in" - and in my old neck of the woods, that frequently included "an old rusty tire rim" as the fire ring surround. I am ashamed to admit that I've been WAY behind the times on this!
Anyway, I was so enthralled by this, I decided to research outdoor fire pits when I got back home. I was astounded to see how many options are available to consumers now - including how popular portable fire pits have become. Who knew?
And it makes perfect sense. The way I see it, a good portable unit is likely to come with a mesh/wire cover to help contain sparks (for wood-burning models), a safety feature that is lacking in the great outdoors - and which is a good idea no matter where you are.
In this article, we'll look primarily at some of the better-rated portable wood burning fire pits, and then, in another post, we'll check out some propane fueled models!
Things To Consider Before You Buy
But for right now, let's have a brief look at our top picks for the wood burners. There are a couple of things that I noticed right away when I began my search - maybe these will strike you as well:
- These units are not terribly expensive.
- While skimming the different models, you'll quickly discover which are better suited for backyard relaxation and those which are perfect for tail-gating or camping (or keeping stored with your emergency supplies).
- Because of their relative light-weight nature, they aren't likely to last as long as a more permanent "brick & block" fire ring.
- Some are more "portable" than others - e.g. the Fire Sense Cocktail Table Fire Pit has a rather elegant look to it, with its light scroll design and small log storage shelf, but at 63 pounds may not be quite as easy for some customers to move around as, say the smaller Sunnydaze Rustic Affinity Raised Outdoor Fire Pit Kit, which weighs in at only 15 pounds. See the differences between the two examples via the Amazon links below:
You may also notice as you look at the two examples we just gave you above, that the heavier of the two units (the Fire Sense) was also about $100 higher in price than the lighter Sunnydaze Rustic Affinity model.
With those points in mind, let's have a look at some favorites!
SPOILER! If you want to jump right to my top picks in these categories, click on one of the following choices:
- My #1 Pick Overall for 100% Portability, and Lowest Footprint = The Go Anywhere by Fireside Outdoor
- My #1 Pick for Cleanest Burn = The Solo Stove Bonfire
- My #1 Pick for "Most Attractive" while maintaining Portability = All the Rest! (Sorry, couldn't choose just one!)
- My Favorite Campfire Safety Accessory = The Campfire Defender
My 10 Favorite Pits
Landmann Fire Pits
The Landmann 26364 Savannah Garden is a perennial favorite, which runs about $100. There are a number of Landmann models, some a tad less expensive (like the Landmann Bromley - or, more correctly, the Landmann USA 21860 Bromley Fire Pit - which is only about $70 or so these days), if you can find it (seems to be out of stock).
One of the features that make all the Landmanns so attractive are the little cut-outs in the side (with little safety mesh screens to help keep the sparks contained). The Landmann 28345 Big Sky Stars and Moons is one of the ones that catches my eye because the cut-outs are stars and moon shaped, and I'm a sucker for that design.
But there are even more designs with the Landmann brand. It appears to us that the primary differences between their models is the unique designs in each one:
The Barrone (25282)
The more I looked at this one, the more the square, somewhat modern design began to grow on me. Weighing in 22 pounds, this fits the bill for portability, and is certainly one of the top selling and better rated decorative, portable fire pits on Amazon. It's a fairly decent size, as well, measuring about 26.30" x 26.30" x 25.20".
PRICE POINT: Approximately $160 on Amazon, including shipping (See the Barrone Here)
The Stars and Moon (38345)
This is the one pictured above - and at 26.7 pounds, is one of their most popular designs. The fire bowl is about 12.5" deep, with about 23.5" bowl diameter. NOTE: The Stars and Moon ALSO comes in a smaller model, with a 10" deep bowl and 20.75" diameter. (See the larger Stars and Moons Here) (UPDATE, the larger 38345 was out of stock when I last checked; but it's always possible it will come back in stock. Having said that, at this writing, the smaller, 10" model, #28338, WAS in stock. See it at the same page (it's one of the other options) - but be aware that they state this model as weighing in at 36 pounds.)
PRICE POINT: Approximately $176, including shipping for the 28338, 10" model. (See the Stars and Moon, as well as Wildlife models Here).
The Savannah Garden Light (26364)
With its "lattice" design encircling the bowl, this model boasts a nice easy weight of 22 pounds and a bowl depth of about 11" (according to one customer) and diameter of about 23.5".
This model reminds me a bit of the Barrone, above, only round. Since it weighs the same (22 pounds), I think it's just a matter of whether you prefer a round or a square style. Both are rated pretty much equally high at around 4.5 stars.
PRICE POINT: Approximately $160, including shipping. (See the Savannah Garden Here)
CobraCo Fire Pits
CobraCo FBCOPMISN-C Copper Fire Pit
I'm quite fond of anything with copper accents, even though I'm well aware that at some point the copper finish will get a "patina" and won't look as shiny and bright. That doesn't stop me though!
Weighing in at about 32 pounds, this lovely CobraCo copper model (FBCOPMISN-C, manufactured by Midwest Air Technologies Inc) is probably my favorite among the other CobraCo fire pits.
You can click the image at the right to have a closer look.
Now, to be straightforward here, the reviews on this firepit are NOT stellar. At the time of this writing, I'm seeing just over 3 stars on Amazon. It appears that there may be some issues with quality, as stated by some reviewers, so take a look at those. But I liked the overall LOOK of this one.
PRICE POINT: Just under $225, including shipping on Amazon.
CobraCo FTCOPVINT-C Vintage Copper Fire Pit
Having said that, if you are looking for a more highly rated, little lighter and more portable model, you might also like this one, the FTCOPVINT-C Vintage Copper Fire Pit that's only about 25 pounds.
Even the more recent reviews seem to be a bit kinder to the Vintage model, and as of this writing (April 2020), we're looking at a fairly solid 4-star rating on Amazon (53% 5-star, and 11% 4-star).
Click the image at the right to take a bit better look at this.
I do want to emphasize that copper is not the only highlight for CobraCo fire pits. It's just my personal preference.
PRICE POINT: Just under $300, including shipping on Amazon.
CobraCo Woven Base Cast Iron Fire Pit FBCIWOVEN-BZ
One thing to keep in mind that the higher quality materials used (e.g. cast iron), the more that the fire pit is likely to weigh, making it a little less portable.
For one example of what I mean - the CobraCo Woven Base Cast Iron Fire Pit FBCIWOVEN-BZ, pictured here at the right, gets a fairly solid 4-star rating by customers (more than 150 reviews as I type), AND it's really a handsome looking model - cast iron with a lovely bronze finish - but you need to be prepared to deal with the fact that it weighs more.
This model weighs 38 pounds. That may not be much for some folks, but for others, lifting a 38 pound awkwardly shaped object might cause some issues (I say, as someone who has experienced a fair share of back problems). So, just keep that in mind.
Nonetheless, it's certainly worth your time to have a look!
PRICE POINT: Approx $179 on Amazon, including shipping
Sunnydaze Large Copper Finish Outdoor Fire Pit Bowl
Before I leave my copper preference behind, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't show you this highly rated model by Sunnydaze. This compact model is 30 pounds, which again may be a little heavy for some, but I'd say that overall it's a fairly average weight for this type of design.
The ratings are a solid 4.8 star, with 86% of reviews being 5-star, and 10% being 4-star. That's pretty good, especially given that there are 38 reviews for this model.
One of the things that struck me about the Sunnydaze fire pit is the shape. It's perfect for the beach, and having lived on the beach, I can tell you that the regulations where I lived allowed for having campfires on the beach; however, they MUST be in a contained receptacle. This fits the bill perfectly.
PRICE POINT: Approx $180 on Amazon
Sunnydaze has a number of attractive fire pits - including actual fire RINGS - in its catalog (see it here); however, I am noticing that a good number of their products seem to be "currently unavailable." This concerns me, because I have no way of knowing directly whether or not they are having supply issues (which is highly possible in this time during the Coronavirus pandemic), or if they are simply no longer manufacturing these.
I will keep my ear to the ground on this, because I'm hoping it's just a temporary supply issue.
Ultra-Efficient Solo Stoves
Now things get a littler more interesting! You have likely seen that a running theme here at TruthSurvival.com is emergency preparedness, along with featuring environmentally, eco-friendly products (important no matter what).
Why not enjoy a portable fire pit that not only offers warmth, but also has a lower emissions output than regular fire pits?
Drum roll...Introducing the Solo Stove! We'll show you two models here, the Bonfire and the Yukon.
Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit
This first model, the Solo Stove Bonfire, is extremely well made, using 304 stainless steel, and yet weighs in at only 20 pounds. Yes, it burns wood, but its unique construction allowing for secondary combustion (air flow is directed in through the base) makes it "low smoke."
"Smokeless" Fire Pit?
As much as I love my campfire, I don't really love the "campfire smell" that lingers in my hair and on my clothes into the next day. THIS thing is brilliant!
I don't think we can say it's truly "smokeless" because if you are burning wood, you're going to have some smoke - some emissions. It's not possible to burn something and NOT have emissions.
It's just that with the Solo, once you've got a good burn going, the design of the stove allows for a "secondary" burn - and therefore a more complete burn.
I spoke with a friend who just bought a Solo for his backyard, and he said that the only time he's getting any smoke is when the fire begins to die down, so it's running out of fuel (wood), and isn't burning as hot. Even then, he says, the smoke is minimal.
On Amazon, the Bonfire is getting 4.6-stars (81% 5-star and 8% 4-star) through about 630+ reviews (as of this writing). The company had initially raised well over $1 million via a Kickstarter campaign to fund its development.
PRICE POINT: Approx $300 on Amazon here (including shipping and the carrying case).
As you look at the product photo, keep in mind that it's a bit larger than appears in the picture - but don't worry, it's totally portable! It's 14" high, 19.5" in diameter, and yet weighs only 20 pounds. Your purchase also includes a carrying case.
Take a look at this video that showcases the Solo Stove (Bonfire model) so you can have a little better idea of why we're so impressed with this:
Solo Stove Yukon Fire Pit
At 30" in diameter and 16" tall, the Solo Stove Yukon is definitely the big brother to the Bonfire, weighing in at just over 62 pounds - thereby not QUITE cutting it as being "portable" - and yet Solo still considers it a "portable" unit.
For our purposes in this article, I'd say that if you're really looking for ease and portability, you might want to consider that the Bonfire is just so much lighter.
Now, lighter isn't necessarily a bad thing. According to the folks at Solo, even the Bonfire model is going to crank out some serious heat - so much so that you will likely need to sit a little ways away from the actual fire.
Nonetheless, the Yukon is impressive. Included in the cost (on Amazon, anyway) you get a base that (they say) makes it safe to place on a deck. Would I personally place ANY type of fire pit on a wood deck without some type of fire-resistant pad under it? No. But that's me. I've been accused of being the household "safety monitor" which is a term I'll accept gladly.
PRICE POINT: The Yukon runs approximately $620 on Amazon here, including shipping.
Solo Stove Bonfire vs Yukon
These two fire pits are pretty much the same as far as basic construction is concerned - that is, both are made from 304 stainless steel, and both use the same air flow design.
The Bonfire is lighter (about 20 pounds) and comes with a carrying case. The Yukon is heavier (about 62+ pounds).
The Bonfire is 19.5" in diameter and 14" high, while the Yukon is 30" in diameter and 16" high.
My personal preference? Given the fairly considerable price difference, and the fact that I don't want to have to sit 1/2 mile away from the fire, my choice is the Bonfire.
Finally, when it comes to a stainless steel fire pit design, you might be wondering...
Is Stainless Steel good for Fire Pits?
In general, yes. I know, it's not quite the "look" of those design-heavy other fire pits we've discussed, but stainless in general is going to last just a bit longer than lighter, coated metals. In particular, 304 stainless steel is a bit more corrosion-resistant.
This is not to say that stainless steel will not eventually wear and rot. It will. But maybe not as quickly as another metal.
Another thing to consider is that stainless steels are not all equal. 304 stainless steel is more corrosion resistant than, say, 430 stainless, because 430 has 0% nickel content, while 304 has anywhere from 8-10.5% nickel content.
Will your stainless steel fire pit outlast that heavy duty cast iron ring you use at the campground? Not likely. But, again, you aren't likely to be carting around a heavy piece of cast iron to the beach or your backyard either.
Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Fire Pits
The Go Anywhere Fire Pit
NOW we're talking. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I REALLY want a truly portable and lightweight fire pit that can go pretty much anywhere at any time?
2. Can I be happy with a design that is intended for total practicality and not aesthetics?
3. Do I want to keep my expense on this thing at about $100 (or less)?
4. Do I want to be able to easily use my fire pit for cooking over the fire?
5. Do I like the idea of "leave no trace" when it comes to my portable fire pit?
If you answered "Yes" to these questions, then the Go Anywhere Pop-Up Fire Pit by Fireside Outdoor may be exactly what you are looking for. Frankly, they sold me at "only 8 pounds," and "cools down in 90 seconds" (once you have extinguished your fire, that is).
Let's look at the obvious first: The largest model, the Go Anywhere, which we show just above to the right measures approximately 24" x 24" x 15" (when unfolded), and yet weighs in at only 8 pounds.
How can this be? The answer is that this fire pit is made from aircraft grade aluminum, and the mesh is made from stainless steel.
Even with the heat shield, you are looking at only about $110 for this setup (as of this writing).
About 169 reviewers on Amazon are giving this a 4.5 star rating, 80% of which are 5-star, and 11% of which are 4-star.
PRICE POINT: Approx $110 with Heat Shield, and approx $100 without the Heat Shield, on Amazon.
There is another model, which is even lighter. Let's take a look at the UltraLite model next.
The UltraLite Pop-Up Fire Pit
I'm including this model because I wanted to show you an answer to "how light can you go?" The answer is 3.2 pounds if you go with the UltraLite Pop-Up Fire Pit.
This is truly minimalist. Personally, I'm not that wild about it, primarily because it's not going to meet any type of national forest regulations, but if you need something to use in an emergency type of situation, it might not be a bad piece of equipment to keep on hand.
But, for an additional 5 pounds, I would be inclined to splurge and get the Go Anywhere.
PRICE POINT: Anywhere between $50 and $65 on Amazon
Fire Control Safety Accessory
The Campfire Defender
We are including a paragraph about the Campfire Defender, also by Fireside Outdoor, because of its sheer genius and background story about how the company wanted to figure out a way to help campers safely control and contain their open fires.
Enter "The Campfire Defender," which was their first product. This "blanket" for lack of a better words, is made from a woven glass material that can handle temperatures up to about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. So, how hot is 2,500 degrees F (or approx 1,371 degrees Celsius)?
Well, figure that carbon steel's melting point is somewhere between 2,500 - 2,800 degrees F. And cast iron's melting point is somewhere between 2,060 - 2,200 degrees F. So, that's pretty hot. (Source: Online Metals)
Anyway, The Campfire Defender isn't cheap, coming in at about $150 on Amazon, but when you consider that you can use it to help put out your fire, safely keep your embers hot overnight, along with other uses, it's an accessory you might want to consider regardless of the type of actual fire pit you eventually decide to purchase.
PRICE POINT: Approximately $150 on Amazon.
How do I protect my grass under the fire pit?
One of the nice things about using a portable unit is that you won't have to dig up the lawn in order to use it; however, let's face it folks: If you are going to be building a fire out in the yard - whether it's a portable wood-burning unit or a more permanent fire ring - the grass is likely to be impacted in one way or another.
For example, a burning ember may land on the grass (by the way, keep a hose or other water or fire-extinguishing source handy).
Also, even though your portable unit may be on legs above the grass, the extreme heat from the base of the unit can scorch the grass underneath.
There ARE things you can do, however, to lessen the damage:
Use a fire-resistant pad
You can purchase a fire-resistant pad made for use under a fire pit like the "Fire Shield" heat deflector pad from Muxlor, or the Fireside Outdoor Ember Mat. Note however that these are heat RESISTANT and not fire proof.
Build a platform using bricks or paver stones
This is an easy fix if you have a few bricks or paver stones, which you can easily position under the pit and remove when you are done using the unit.
Relocate your fire pit
Don't always use the fire pit in the same location - relocate it to another spot in the yard (as long as it's not close to something that can ignite).
Soak your lawn before using the pit
Giving your lawn a good soaking can help for a while, but again, the heat of the fire pit can still scorch your grass after a while.
Create a grass-free designated place for your fire pit
I know...I know... one of the reasons you wanted a portable unit to begin with is so you could move it around. But, if you know you want to use your fire pit in the same spot in your yard all the time, you can create a more permanent ground location that you can easily mow around - for example, a small dug out area that has sand in the base rather than grass.
As we look through the dozens if not a hundred models to choose from, what it really comes down to is what experience you are looking for.
Buy the fire pit that suits your taste and budget, set it up, and sit around the open fire while enjoying what we always call "Camper's TV." We have found hanging around the fire to be one of the most relaxing past-times around.
I hope you agree. Thank you for reading! And Enjoy!