We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (2024)

We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (1)

Fire pits make great places to gather as the weather cools down and the sun sets at the end of a long day (maybe with some drinks and s’mores, too). When shopping for a fire pit, you’ll find there are plenty of options—including propane or wood-burning, large bowl or small, smokeless or not—and you’re left with a lot of choices. So how do you find the best fire pit for you?

Ryan Cunningham, outdoor expert and founder of the website Beyond The Tent, breaks down the options. “If you will be using the fire pit in your backyard mainly, I would opt for wood or a 20-pound propane tank. If you will be taking it car camping, then a fire pit that runs off a 16-ounce propane tank is an ideal choice."

Plan out where you want to place your fire pit ahead of time, because that will help determine certain key details like the size you’ll need and possibly even the fuel type. With all of that in mind, we tested 18 fire pits and researched other popular choices.

What We Tested

To evaluate the performance of the fire pits, we tested wood-burning, propane, and smokeless options in our own backyards. We used them three times for one hour each, noting how easy it was to maintain the fire and remove the ash.

Why You Should Get It

  • This propane-powered, smokeless, and easy-to-use fire pit gives off a great amount of heat. Plus, it’s easy to control and takes less than two minutes to light.

Keep in Mind

  • The propane hose could be longer to keep the tank out of sight, and it would be even better if the flame went a little higher.

The Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega is a great pick, striking the right balance of performance, budget, size, and looks, which is why it’s our top pick for the best fire pit.We love how incredibly easy this fire pit is to set up and use.

It arrives pretty much assembled, all you need to do is add the lava rocks and hook it up to a propane tank, which took us around five minutes. Once assembled, it took us less than two minutes to start the fire, which is easily controllable with a knob that adjusts the height and intensity of the flame.

This was particularly appreciated while roasting marshmallows as we could turn down the flame to ensure we didn’t end up with a burnt mess. Although we’d like it if the flame could go a little higher for those really chilly nights, the fire pit gives off plenty of heat. We could still feel the warmth on our faces sitting 3.5 feet away.

We were incredibly impressed during our tests that this model seems to be truly smokeless. We found this especially helpful when there was a breeze, and no one needed to reposition their chair to avoid plumes of smoke—there really is no excuse not to sit out by the fire!

As this is a propane model, there was no ash produced, and the only residue we found in the fire pit was from adding the lava rocks. This fire pit also appears incredibly durable. After testing, the only wear we found were just a couple of small scratches in the bottom from initially adding the lava rocks, and some of the rocks were discolored from the heat.

One small improvement we’d like is a longer propane connector so the attached gas tank could stay completely out of sight while using the fire pit, but it’s not at all a deal breaker. Weighing 34 pounds, this isn’t the lightest fire pit on our list, but two people could move it easily. The only accessories available are the Mega carry bag for easier transportation and a natural gas conversion kit.

Overall, we’re impressed with the Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega fire pit. It’s easy to set up and use, gives out an impressive amount of heat to warm up to eight people, and has a flame you can control. Plus, it’s completely smokeless, which is a huge bonus.

How It Performed After Six Months

The Outland fire pit is incredibly easy to use and requires basically no maintenance. We love the included protective cover that allows us to leave it outside no matter the weather. While we noticed no change in the performance of the fire pit, we should note that the rocks did become discolored the more we used it.

Product Details: Dimensions: 24 x 13 x 24 inches | Fuel type: Propane | Material: Steel

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (3)

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (4)

Why You Should Get It

  • This no-frills option wins extra points for being the lightest pick on our list—only 15 pounds.

Keep in Mind

  • It produces a heavy amount of smoke, like most wood-burning fire pits.

This fire pit comes in at under $100 and stands out in two ways that the other budget options we tested didn’t: It’s quick to assemble and weighs just over 15 pounds, making it our lightest option on this list by far. The wood-burning model holds 5 pounds of wood thanks to its deep bowl. We were able to produce a fire that lasted for over an hour and was easy to tend to—the extra space allowed us to move the logs around and make adjustments.

Another reason this ended up being one of the best options we tried is its included accessories. It shouldn’t stay outside in inclement weather, so we appreciate that it came with a cover. It also includes a mesh screen to control sparks (we didn’t feel unsafe without it, though, due to the deep bowl design) and comes with a poker to allow the user to safely adjust the burning wood at a distance.

We also liked the simple aesthetic of the fire pit, which isn’t too ornate or decorative and would fit well in most backyards. If you’re looking for a simple model, don’t mind taking it in and out of a garage or basem*nt when you want a fire, and like the idea of an affordable wood-burning option, this is a great pick.

How it Performed After 1 Year

For a basic fire pit, it's very easy to use and maintain. We especially appreciate the wide, deep bowl that gives you plenty of space for moving wood around, and the screen that blocks spitting embers. Our least favorite aspect is that it offers no weather protection and can't be left in the elements—we store it in the garage.

Product Details: Dimensions:
26 x 26 x 21.06 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Steel

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (6)

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (7)

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (8)

  • We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (9)

Why You Should Get It

  • A corrosion-resistant patina that forms with use will prevent rusting over time.

Keep in Mind

  • It’s fairly heavy, making it difficult to move around to different locations.

Through our testing, we determined that the Breeo X Series Wood Burning Campfire is the best choice for people that host guests in their backyard all summer long. If that’s you, it’s well worth the price. Made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this smokeless option uses double-walled construction to trap hot air in the gap between the walls and pressurized oxygen to essentially reburn it, creating a hotter and stronger fire.

The double-wall and the reburn that comes from it produce added oxygen, which allows the pit to burn its own smoke before it reaches you. While the brand doesn’t claim to be 100% smokeless, it does give extensive tips on how to burn a fire with considerably less smoke than the average fire pit, like using shredded newspaper, cardboard, or resin-soaked pine at its base.

A special aspect of the Breeo is the use of Corten steel, which starts as a steel finish and, with use, forms a patina. The patina is a corrosion-resistant coating that prevents rusting and turns the fire pit a beautiful bronze color. To clean the Breeo and ensure consistently low-smoke fires, you’ll need to clear the ashes every four to five burns. We found setup to be incredibly easy without requiring any tools. The 62-pound pit can be left outside, so it requires very little upkeep.

Another nice bonus: This can work as a grill if you choose to buy the campfire grate. Keep in mind that the fire pit’s accessories (like a cover or spark screen) do require additional purchases.

How it Performed After 4 Months

The Breeo X truly does not put out much smoke, which made it a great option for taking on camping trips. We put the corroson-resistant patina to the test by leaving it out in the snow and rain and detected no wear and tear or changes in performance.

Product Details: Dimensions: 27.5 x 27.5 x 14.75 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Corten and alloy steel

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The 7 Best Smokeless Fire Pits of 2024, According to Our Testing

Why You Should Get It

  • The copper basin is extremely weather resistant and can be kept outside year-round.

Keep in Mind

  • It’s on the pricier side for a fire pit that isn’t smokeless.

We found this classic copper fire pit by Frontgate to be an all-around winner when it comes to performance, design, and value. If you have a spacious backyard or patio and love to entertain, this gorgeous wood-burning fire pit will be your best bet. The construction is part of the reason it's so pricey: Its heavy copper basin is made to handle both extreme heat and extreme weather, so you can keep it out all year long.

It also features a sturdy iron grate that makes for a well-ventilated and thriving fire. The basin holds logs up to 2 feet long; we opted to use five logs during testing for a medium-sized fire, but felt like we could have easily fit twice as many. We like how the large size means it’s great for parties and entertaining; it can easily accommodate five or more people, with plenty of space for everyone.

The setup took us mere minutes and required no tools, but it’s heavy enough that you’ll likely need to do it with two people. Finally, there’s an option to add a spark guard made of powder-coated iron if you have children or pets around, too. While we were impressed with this fire pit, it’s worth noting that it’s pretty expensive for one that is not considered smokeless.

How it Performed After 4 Months

Our favorite aspect of the fire pit is the size—we like that we can fit a larger amount of people around it and create a bigger fire. It held up really well for its first few months of use, but we would have appreciated an included cover for additional protection against the elements.

Product Details: Dimensions: 40 x 39.78 x 14 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Copper and iron

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Why You Should Get It

  • The stylish fire pit doubles as a table for drinks or snacks.

Keep in Mind

  • While easy, the setup was more time-consuming than other options we tested.

For those looking for a backyard fire pit without the hassle of wood, consider a propane-fueled model like this one from Hampton Bay. The unit doubles as a table to rest drinks or small snack plates on, and the antique design is stylish enough to live on your patio alongside existing patio furniture.

Setting up the fire pit for the first time took us just under 30 minutes, which was much longer than most of the other pits we tested. This is because many other pits were fully assembled straight out of the box, while this option requires assembly, including screwing the sides together. However, we found the setup easy to complete with detailed instructions and well-marked pieces. After assembling the fire pit, we connected our own 20-pound propane tank (which nests out of sight under the table), and it was ready to go.

The initial setup time was worth it, since getting the fire started took no time at all; just remove the cover, open the propane tank, switch a knob, and push a button to light. It’s the perfect option for busy weeknights when you don’t have time to spend waiting for a fire to start. And when you’re ready to go back inside, turning off the fire is as simple as turning the knob off and closing the propane tank.

We appreciated the even heating on all sides of the pit, which we could feel up to three feet from the unit. While using the fire pit, we didn’t see or smell smoke, which we appreciated as no scent lingered on our clothes or in our hair. After turning off the fire pit and letting it cool, a lid slides over the lava rocks and heating unit to protect them and provide more table surface—a feature we found especially useful when the fire pit wasn’t in use.

How it Performed After 4 Months

This became our go-to fire pit because of ease—just turn it on and you have a fire, no prep or cleanup necessary. Because it's so quick, we found ourselves using it more and more often, sometimes even for just 10 minutes. We would have loved to see another option for the finish, but otherwise we have no complaints.

Product Details: Dimensions: 30 x 25 x 30 inches | Fuel Type: Propane | Material: Steel

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Why You Should Get It

  • This larger smokeless fire pit, perfect for a family or backyard party, can fit six large logs.

Keep in Mind

  • It burns logs pretty quickly, so you may need to reload it several times.

This Solo Stove model is over 6 inches wider and 6 inches taller in diameter than our best overall pick, making it great for longer burn times and larger gatherings. We especially liked the construction of this piece: Setup is quick and easy, and it features a ring on the bottom to protect the grass from the extreme heat below and a ring on the top to encourage ventilation.

It has all of the features that Solo Stove has become so well-known for: The two-walled construction traps air between the walls to burn up smoke before it reaches your hair and clothes, its durable stainless steel will handle the elements and the intense heat while remaining relatively light for the size of the model, and it can easily be cleaned with the removable ash pan.

We could fit six large logs in the pit, but they did burn fairly quickly. We were impressed with how evenly the fire burned as well. Still, the biggest draw of the Solo Stove is that, when properly cleaned and maintained, it’s a relatively smokeless and smell-free fire pit.

How it Performed After 4 Months

We continued to enjoy the smokeless aspect of the fire pit—it funnels any smoke it does produce upward instead of out—as well as the sleek design. It is a bit heavy, so we suggest having someone help you move it.

Product Details: Dimensions:

27 x 27 x 17 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Stainless steel

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Why You Should Get It

  • The handles and rectangular construction make this a great option to bring to the beach, a friend’s house, or tailgating.

Keep in Mind

  • You’ll probably need another person to help you carry it.

This rectangular-shaped option from Tiki is one of the best fire pits to take on the road with you thanks to its size, shape, and built-in carry handles. It also has a removable ash tray pan that you can easily slide out and dump into a trash can, so cleanup is both minimal and convenient.

It comes equipped with a few useful add-ons, like a Tiki-brand wood pack that helps you create an instant fire (in under 5 minutes) that produces a flame with a 4-foot radius. Those specs contribute to it being great to travel with. It’s quick to get a fire going, and when it starts, it won’t bother neighbors with a large flame or a ton of smoke (it’s a smokeless model).

It also comes with a stand and a weather-resistant cover, which means you’ll have everything you need to get started. Of course, you can continue purchasing the wood packs or use regular wood and kindling to similar effects. The smooth, powder-coated steel will keep the fire pit looking brand new for a long time, and while it weighs 41 pounds, it should be easy enough to load in and out of a car with another person helping.

Product Details: Dimensions:

21.50 x 14.50 x 16.70 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Powder-coated stainless steel

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Why You Should Get It

  • This model comes with a grilling plate and other accessories that allow you to cook up a quick meal.

Keep in Mind

  • This does not hold a lot of wood, so expect short burn times.

This fun, decorative model we tried from Novogratz will look great all year long with its weather-resistant ceramic outside that comes in colors like persimmon, bright white, and dark green. We loved how attractive it was in comparison to many other fire pits on the market. Due to the small size, it would be a nice option for a patio or poolside area, though we found it too heavy to be truly portable.

The bowl that holds the wood is quite small, which only allowed us to add a few logs at a time during testing, and also meant we had to fill the bowl up every 30 minutes or so. However, this also made the fire pit burn evenly and without a ton of smoke, so there are upsides to the smaller size.

Additionally, this fire pit has a less common accessory included: a grill grate, which will allow you to cook up some poolside treats whenever you want. We grilled some hot dogs on the grate and noted it took around 45 minutes for the bowl to be hot enough and the embers to be small enough for it to be safe to do so.

You won’t be able to cook a gourmet meal on this fire pit, but it would be great for things like hot dogs, burgers, or other light and easy fare. The complete set comes with a rain cover, grill grate, fire pit dome, fire pit lid, and a grilling tool.

How it Performed After 4 Months

The Novogratz fire pit is very attractive and a nice compact model. It doesn't come with a protective cover and we did notice some rust after we kept it outside during snowy weather, so we'd recommend storing this inside during inclement weather to keep it in tip-top shop.

Product Details: Dimensions:
27 x 27 x 14.5 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Metal

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The 8 Best Propane Patio Heaters of 2024, According to Testing

Why You Should Get It

  • At only 6 inches tall, it fits just about anywhere, including small balconies and patios.

Keep in Mind

  • This fire pit is more for aesthetics than significant warmth due to the size.

The best option for someone who doesn’t have a backyard is definitely this Solo Stove Mesa option we tested, as it’s perfect for a small balcony or patio, given that it only stands 6 inches tall and takes up hardly any space. If you want a little ambience but don’t have a large area outside to sit in, it’s a great, affordable option that also comes in a bunch of interesting colors like deep olive, mulberry, and bone.

While we don’t recommend relying on this fire pit alone for significant warmth due to the size, we were still impressed with the heat it created. You can use small pieces of firewood to make this work, but might be better off using wood pellets or Solo Stove’s own mini oak pieces since they won’t have to be cut down to size. It comes with a stand and a carry bag—and because the fire pit only weighs a little over a pound, it’s definitely an easy option to take anywhere and store in a closet.

Best of all, the Solo Stove Mesa has all of the specs the larger sizes have, including the stainless steel, double-walled construction and smokeless design. You can even roast marshmallows with the flame, allowing you to have the experience of a real fire pit even if you live in an area with limited outdoor space.

How it Performed After 3 Months

While we didn't get to use it too many times before the weather got cold, we continued to appreciate both the size and the amount of warmth it emits. A previous tabletop fire pit we used was just for aesthetics, so we really like being able to use one that actually keeps people cozy when gathered around on chilly nights.

Product Details: Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 6 inches | Fuel Type: Pellet, wood | Material: Stainless steel and ceramic

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Why You Should Get It

  • The propane fuel means you may be able to use it in places with fire bans (but check the rules of your campsite first).

Keep in Mind

  • This isn’t meant to be a cooking surface; it’s better used as an area to warm up at night and for ambiance.

If you’re camping, backpacking, or RVing this summer, this Outland Living Firecube is one of the best options to add to your gear list. At a little over 22 pounds and 14 inches in diameter, it’s both easy to store and to pack.

It’s CSA-approved (which means it has passed a series of safety metrics) and uses a 20-pound propane tank cylinder (not included, but available at most hardware stores) rather than wood, which allows it to be used in places that have bans on campfires, although it’s best to check with your campsite before you go.

The kit comes with a pre-attached 10-foot hose, an adjustable regulator with a knob to control flame size, a cover/carry kit, and over 4 pounds of lava rocks to create a more realistic and flickering fire. It delivers a clean, smokeless burn and works quietly and in inclement weather.

While it’s not meant to cook on (besides s’mores or weenies on a stick, of course), there’s a reason we chose one that doesn’t have a grill grate: If you’re camping and are counting on fire as a means to cook your food, propane fire pits generally aren’t made to make elaborate meals for a number of people. They’re great for camping because they produce a more controlled burn, but you’re much better off getting a charcoal grill or a camp stove, in addition to a fire pit, if you want to cook food.

Instead, use this Firecube to provide warmth and a source of flame for nights under the stars. However, if you’re camping in a place that doesn’t have a campfire ban, and you’d rather grill on the pit, check out the option below.

Product Details: Dimensions:

14 x 14 x 9 inches | Fuel Type: Propane | Material: Alloy steel

Food and Kitchen Reviews

Why You Should Get It

  • The pole and grill plate allow you to better control the temperature for cooking meals.

Keep in Mind

  • It needs to be stored indoors between uses to prevent rust.

This Barebones Living Fire Pit & Grill is a master class in smart design: the bowl is used as the fire pit, and to make it a grill, you attach the included pole and the grill grate to the side of that bowl. During testing, we found this allowed us to move the grill grate up and down, depending on how much direct flame you’re looking to have on your food, and gave us added freedom to control the temperature of the food.

If you’re an outdoors lover who wants to be able to have a backyard campout—complete with dinner and s’mores—at a moment’s notice, this could be the best choice for you. It’s absolutely beautiful and the fire burns evenly, but it's slightly tricky to control the temperature as you’re cooking, which is why the pole is such a brilliant add-on. If your flame gets too high, you can move your food up without worrying about burning it.

The Barebones pit is 30 pounds and needs to be taken indoors after use so it won’t rust, but it does come equipped with built-in handles to make that task a bit easier. For the higher price, it’s not a smokeless option, but if you couldn’t imagine creating a campfire without cooking up a meal on it, then this fire pit is worth the investment. It’s truly the best of both worlds and functions well as both a grill and a fire pit.

How it Performed After Three Months

There's no mistaking that this is a gorgeous fire pit—the design is stunning—but we think it's a bit too complicated and expensive (unless you're truly going to use the grill grate for cooking). That said, the aesthetics can't be beat, and if you're regularly grilling on open fire, you'll probably get use out of it.

Product Details: Dimensions:
23.75 x 23.75 x 8.15 inches | Fuel Type: Wood | Material: Steel

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The Bottom Line

If you’re using a fire pit in your backyard, you can’t beat the Outland Living Firebowl 883 Mega; it’s quick to light, easy to use, completely smokeless, good value for money, and gives off plenty of heat for six to eight people. If you’re looking for a wood-burning option, we like the Frontgate Classic Copper Fire Pit.

Our Testing Process

To find the best fire pits, we spent over 100 hours testing 45 different models across multiple tests in our own backyards. The fire pits we tested included wood-burning, propane-fueled, and smokeless varieties. Some also had cooking accessories.

We recorded a number of data points when testing each model, and used each fire pit at least three times for hour-long durations. We started with timing how long the setup took, recording how clear the instructions were and if we needed any tools from home to build them.

For wood-burning stoves, we built a fire using firewood with an approximate length of 16 inches (if applicable), and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In that hour-long burn time, we noted how easy the flame was to maintain, how even it was, and how smokeless it was. We also removed the ash after each use, and recorded the process and its ease.

For propane fire pits, we tested every setting available and sat on each side of the pit during each setting. For all of the propane fire pits, we tested the usefulness of all included accessories and tested any noted design elements.

While testing, we took into account how many people could comfortably sit around the fire pit, how far the heat extended, how large and bright the flames burned, and how easy it was to cook food over the flame. After testing, we compared the results to determine which models performed the best.

What to Know About Fire Pits Before Shopping


The dimensions of a fire pit are generally only important if you’re looking for a very small or a very large fire pit. Smaller wood-burning models are generally under 30 inches in diameter (like our 27-inch smaller option), while smokeless options range between 20–30 inches. Propane fire pits are usually smaller in diameter, but the median range is generally 20 inches. And of course, tabletop fire pits are incredibly small, with many being 6 inches in height and in diameter.

Fire pits come in a range of sizes. Smaller wood-burning models are generally under 30 inches in diameter, while smokeless options range between 20–30 inches. Propane fire pits are usually smaller in diameter, but the median range is around 20 inches. A 20-inch fire pit should comfortably fit up to four people around it, while a 30-inch fire pit could seat up to 10 people. Tabletop fire pits are a lot smaller—most are 6 inches in height and diameter—and generally provide less heat than standalone models.


Most fire pits are made with steel—and generally, steel is the best pick. It’s incredibly heat-resistant, weather-resistant, strong, and durable. However, there are some interesting exceptions. Our splurge pick, the Breeo X Series 24 Wood Burning Campfire, is made with Corten steel, which develops a patina over time that turns a lovely bronze color and prevents rust. Some bowls are made from copper, like our best wood-burning option, which is another material known for being tolerant for high heat and for its thermal conductivity. And sometimes the bases can be made of different material, like the Arlmont & Co. Koch Stone Fire Pit. However, with any product made of steel, it can corrode and rust over time, so make sure you’re using a waterproof cover if you leave it outside all year long.

Fuel Type

There are two types of fuel you’ll usually see for fire pits: wood and propane. They both work well but have a different set of pros and cons. Wood is a classic for a reason—with it, you get the crackling sound and the delicious smell. It’s also more customizable, as you can choose how much firewood you’d like to use to create a smaller or larger flame, and easier to cook with. However, it also takes more time and maintenance to manage a wood-burning fire, the smoke can sometimes get unruly, and the wood chopping and ash cleanup make it far from being a maintenance-free experience.

Propane is instant; you simply turn the dial and you’ll have fire. It often has settings to allow you to choose how high your flame should be, and it’s easier to use when camping since you don’t have to worry as much about campfire bans or gathering enough kindling to keep a fire going all night. However, you have to fill it with propane and, like anything that uses gas, it poses a risk of a leak if not properly used.

“An extremely important safety measure to take when using a fire pit is to always make sure the gas or propane connections are tight and solid,” Chris Putrimas, CEO of Teak Warehouse adds. “If you ever smell gas, except when you light it, turn it off immediately and call a plumber to check your gas line connections.”

Additional Features

If you’re using a smokeless fire pit, it should always have the double-walled construction that allows it to burn its own smoke off before it reaches you. If you’re using a wood-burning fire pit, it’s nice if it comes with a poker or a mesh screen to control the fire and prevent sparks from flying—and if it doesn’t, you may want to buy one. A stand is an important feature that allows a wood-burning pit to hover above the ground, allowing you to place it on surfaces like a deck or fresh grass without worrying about damage. You should also look for a way to remove ash via an ash pan or tray. Propane fire pits should come with a hose to connect the propane tank. Most fire pits also include a carrying case or cover, as you need to protect it from the weather or transport it from your campsite to the car.


Safety is one of the biggest factors to consider when placing a fire pit in your backyard or campsite. You’ll always need to place it in an area at least 20 feet from your house and away from hanging trees or plants. It should never be under an overhang or in a partially-enclosed space. The surface it sits on is equally important. “Instead of placing it directly on a wooden deck or dry grass, opt for a non-flammable surface like stone,” says Anne Puukko, founder of Superdwell. Avoid placing the fire pit on combustible surfaces such as wood, vinyl, stamped concrete, or composite flooring without a stand, and instead opt for level areas made of dirt, gravel or stone.

If you’re buying a propane fire pit, Mitch Brean, founder of Stone Yard advises to “know your fillers and choose safe materials like lava stone or fire glass.” For additional safety, Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal recommends using a spark screen and keeping a fire extinguisher or water nearby. “When you're done, make sure the fire is completely out before you leave,” he says.

Lastly, Puukko recommends considering weather conditions before sitting out by the fire. “While the dancing flames might be mesmerizing, it's also wise to avoid using the pit on very windy days.”

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Other Fire Pits We Tested

Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0: The Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0 was our previous “Best Overall” fire pit, but it didn’t perform as well in a new round of testing. It arrived pretty much ready to go and doesn’t require a lot of assembly, plus, it hasn’t rusted after a long period of ownership. The Solo Stove produces barely any smoke; it burns efficiently and cleanly, and you can even wear the same clothes the next day without smelling like a campfire. All big plus points there. However, it doesn’t produce much heat, in any weather—you have to sit very close to feel any warmth or purchase an additional heat shield to feel the effects. Overall, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a portable, cleanly designed, and smokeless fire pit.

Hampton Bay Tipton 34 in. Steel Deep Bowl Fire Pit in Oil Rubbed Bronze: The Hampton Bay Fire PIt did well for a basic wood-burning pit and got extra points for its large bowl that fit a nice amount of firewood. However, it was a bit hard to put together and ended up rusting quickly. Between those factors and the price point, there are better wood-burning fire pits to purchase—unless you particularly like the aesthetic of this one, in which case it would be a fine addition to your backyard.

Arlmont & Co. Gustafson Steel Wood Burning Outdoor Fire Pit: Again, for a basic wood-burning pit, this does the job, but there are a few reasons why it didn’t end up on our list. For one, it’s over $200, which is a higher price than most models with similar specs. Additionally, there were some issues with the construction of the base. The setup was complicated, and it took a few different tries to tighten and secure the different pieces. Finally, one of the tools that takes the mesh base on and off felt cheap and the handle scratched our hands when used.

Your Questions, Answered

What type of fire pit gives off the most heat?

If you’re using a fire pit to keep yourself warm, wood-burning is most likely the way to go, as wood burns hotter than gas. Propane fire pits are also limited in how big the flame can get, as it's designated to a few settings you choose by turning a knob, while wood can be stacked for flames to go as high as you’d like. Generally, though, they’ll both keep you pretty warm.

What is the best outdoor fire pit?

This, of course, depends on the way you’re using it. “From a camping perspective, the main factors I consider when looking for a fire pit are size, portability, and fuel source,” Cunningham says. “First, I want a fire pit that feels like I am sitting around a fire; I don't want it too small where I can't feel the heat. At the same time, I want it to be portable. I may pack it in my RV, bring it along car camping, or set it up in my backyard. If it's too big, that simply won't work.” If you’re using a fire pit for your backyard, keep to a wood-burning option. If you’re using a fire pit for camping, choose a propane model that is easy to take with you.

What is a good size fire pit for the backyard?

Again, this depends. For non-smokeless fire pits, the diameter of the bowl you stack the wood in tends to be over 30 inches in diameter, as you want to be able to stack wood and keep the fire going. Smokeless fire pits, however, tend to be smaller in diameter, but generally are large enough if they’re around 20 inches, with larger models going up to just under 30 inches. If you’re considering a fire pit for a very large party or want to burn a fire for a long time, it couldn’t hurt to choose a fire pit that’s larger in diameter, but if you’re in these ranges, you’ll be fine.

What style of fire pit is safest?

First things first: “Check with your local fire department to determine the regulations for fire pits in backyards,” says Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery. “It is essential to know the standards and requirements to prevent wasting time, money, and effort building a fire pit that does not comply with regulations.”

Structure and materials are of course key when looking for a safe fire pit, too. “Steer away from anything that feels too light or flimsy as it’ll likely be prone to wobbling, making it unsafe, especially around people and pets,” says Joanna Humphreys, fire and stove expert for Direct Stoves. “When you’re working with real fire and flames, you need your firebase to be as robust as possible to avoid fire spreading and causing unnecessary accidents to others as well as damage to your garden.”

Lastly, make a plan for where the fire pit will sit in your backyard or at a campsite. “Avoid placing fire pits in flammable areas, such as wooden decks or near thick brush,” Kantor says.

Who We Are

Alida Nugent is a commerce expert who has over six years of experience in the space and over 10 years of media experience. Additionally, she has specialized in gear reviews for campers and outdoor spaces. She interviewed Ryan Cunningham from Beyond the Tent for this article.

Rachael Hogg is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience working at food and drink, lifestyle, travel, and automotive publications. To update this article with new testing insights and recommendations, she interviewed Alex Kantor, owner of Perfect Plants Nursery; Anne Puukko, founder of Superdwell; Joe Raboine, vice president of design, Belgard; Joanna Humphreys, fire and stove expert for Direct Stoves; Mitch Brean, founder of Stone Yard; Chris Putrimas, CEO of Teak Warehouse; and Bryan Clayton, CEO at GreenPal.

What Is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products.

We Spent Over 100 Hours Testing Fire Pits in Our Own Backyards—Here Are the Best Ones for Cozy Summer Nights (2024)


Where is the best place to put a fire pit in your backyard? ›

Keep fire pits at least 10 feet from buildings and trees. Install on a non-flammable surface and away from overhead structures. Check wind patterns to prevent smoke issues. Use services like 811 to locate underground utilities before digging. ]

How far away should a fire pit be from a house? ›

Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches. A 21-foot clearance is standard for most municipalities.

Do people use fire pits in the summer? ›

Fire pits are an ideal addition to any backyard during the summer months. They provide warmth, light, and a focal point for outdoor living spaces, and they also serve as a gathering place for family and friends. They are also a low-maintenance option for backyard entertainment and versatile for any occasion.

What is the best surface around a fire pit? ›

Unlike other materials like concrete or pavers, gravel allows water to pass through easily, preventing the formation of puddles or muddy areas around your fire pit.

Where not to put a fire pit? ›

Fire pits should not be placed too close to a house or other backyard structures; and they should also not be placed too close to trees, shrubs, or other plants.

Is it OK to have a fire pit in my backyard? ›

Most cities and towns allow small recreational fires. A recreational fire is usually defined as a campfire, bonfire, or backyard fire in a fire pit. Many recreational fire regulations are in place to remain courteous to your neighbors, but others exist to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

What size should a fire pit be in the backyard? ›

Small fire pit dimensions should measure 3 feet wide, while a large pit can go up to 6 feet wide. Ideally a fire pit should be between 36 and 44 inches wide (including the width of the walls) in order to comfortably seat multiple people around it whilst still maintaining an intimate setting.

Can I put a fire pit on grass? ›

If you're using a fire pit on grass, it's important to use a fire pit mat. This will help to protect your grass from the heat damage of the fire pit. Using a fire-resistant mat will help to create a barrier between the fire pit and your grass. It will also help to prevent the heat from damaging the roots of your grass.

How windy is too windy for a fire pit? ›

If nearby trees and plants are bending over in the wind, then consider rescheduling your fire pit to keep you and your guests safe. The recommended wind speeds for building a fire pit range from 5 mph to 40 mph. With wind speed greater than this, consider waiting for a better weather forecast.

Are fire pits worth the money? ›

If you're thinking about investing in a permanent fire pit, you want to feel confident that it's something you're going to use a lot and get your money's worth. For a lot of people, a permanent fire pit is absolutely worth it as they spend many nights sitting in front of it.

What fire pit gives off the most heat? ›

What type of fire pit gives off the most heat? Wood fire pits give off more heat than propane pits, as wood burns at a higher temperature. Using dry, dense wood will make the fire hotter.

Do fire pits get hot underneath? ›

The base of the fire pit gets very hot and that is likely to damage any combustible surface it is placed on and may set fire to it! ​​Read our fire pit safety guide here.

How do I choose a good fire pit? ›

The fire pit you choose should strike a balance between quality and cost. Better quality will cost more, so size, style, fuel, and materials will influence the price tag. However, if you plan to use your fire pit often and for years to come, a solid design with durable materials will eventually pay for itself.

What do you put under a backyard fire pit? ›

What Do You Put in the Bottom of a Fire Pit? To create a safe, sturdy foundation for a fire pit, we use a gravel paver base. Other common materials used for the bottom of a fire pit are sand, lava stones, dirt, fire glass and concrete slabs.

Where to put a fire pit in the backyard? ›

Ideally, a fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structures — 20 feet is even better. This includes your house, shed, fence and neighboring yards. Check the area around and above your fire pit. You don't want any plants within 10 feet of the fire pit area.

Where to position a fire pit? ›

Make sure the fire pit is situated at least 10 feet away from any structure. It is best to place the fire pit on a natural surface such as concrete, stone, gravel, brick or slate or on a fire-resistant composite.

Which is better in-ground or above ground fire pit? ›

Sunken fire pits have fewer risks because out-of-control fires are less likely to spread. There are fewer dangers related to nearby combustibles when the fire is below ground. A unique risk of in-ground fire pits, however, is that they can be more dangerous for children and pets.

Does a firepit area add value to your home? ›

Patio extension ideas like fire pits are a great way to add value to your home. So, can adding a fire pit increase your home's value? Yes, a fire pit is an excellent addition to any backyard because it adds value to your home. Also, it creates a beautiful and functional area of your home.


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