When you’re camping in the wild, whether in the woods or in the mountains, a fire pit makes for a great gathering point as you settle in after a long day.
Fire pits come in many shapes and sizes, that’ll fit in a backpack or car trunk, and some of them come with grill grates for cooking.
While designated barbecue areas are usually available in parks across the country, it’s a different story as you venture out into the wild, untamed nature, far from any inhabited areas. In order to stay safe and warm, a fire pit grants you a confined space to light a fire without causing harm to the surroundings.
For this buying guide we’ve reviewed some of the best fire pits for camping. Make sure you read on below, all options work great for different purposes.
Portable stainless steel fire pit that folds completely flat
The UCO Flatpack Portable Stainless Steel Grill and Fire Pit is a great buy for those seeking a backpack-sized portable fire pit for their next camping trip. It folds completely flat, and comes with grill grates and a canvas bag for storage.
This is every backpacker’s dream: A fire pit made from stainless steel, that folds completely flat and sets up in a matter of seconds.
It is available in two sizes: Mini (9 x 6.75 inches), and Regular (13 x 10 inches). The smallest one is great for solo trips, while the regular size is perfect for 2-3 persons.
We find this little fire pit super easy to use, and with the canvas bag it packs away nicely in most backpacks, and because it folds completely flat, it doesn’t waste more space than a piece of folded cardboard.
Stainless steel grates are included, so you can use the fire pit for cooking as well.
24″ x 24″ lightweight pop-up fire pit
If you want to set up a nice, large camp fire, the Portable Pop-Up Fire Pit is hands-down a great choice. Its collapsible frame is made from aluminum, and the bottom is made from a stainless steel mesh.
Planning on setting up a camp inside a forest? With this portable fire pit you’ll get an elevated base, tall edges all around, and an allover safe way to add a cozy atmosphere to the camp area.
Measuring 24 by 24 inches, you’ll have plenty of space to set up a decent fire, and if you opt to buy the foldable grilling grates add-on, you can cook literally anything on top of this fire pit.
The frame collapses easily with a single motion, and because it’s made of aluminium it won’t rust if it sits in a wet environment. Weighing only 8 pounds, it can easily be attached to every backpack or carried over the shoulder in the bag included.
Fire pit suitable for camp fire cooking
The Solo Stove Fire Pit is not only a genius addition to any camping trip, it also works great for cooking any type of meal. With the closed sides you’ll have a safe fire with reduced risk of sparks going everywhere.
We’ve seen this type of fire pit being used by one of our favorite YouTube creators, Chad from Living The Van Life, a solo traveller living in a 1991 Westfalia Volkswagen camper van since 2011.
Just like Chad does, we recommend using this fire pit by itself if you want to stay warm and create a cozy atmosphere, but adding a tripod with a cast iron dutch oven will get you a fully functional outdoor kitchen.
Because of the design, you’ll also get a more concentrated fire that burns at a higher temperature and therefore produces less smoke than regular camp fires.
Related: Best Fire Pits for Cooking
Propane gas fire pit that’s safe for wood decks
If you want the coziness of a warm camp fire without having to deal with smoke and sparks getting all over the place, the Aurora Steel Gas Fire Pit is a great option.
With a propane gas fire pit, all you have to do is to attach a propane tank and you’re good to go.
It isn’t the most compact solution, neither is it lightweight, but if you’re camping in a van it will work really well. Especially for road trips, where stops are short and you just want to set up everything as quickly and easily as possible.
Add this type of fire pit for your next camping trip, if you want a nice, cozy atmosphere in a matter of a few minutes, regardless of weather conditions. No need to gather wood and hope it’s dry, simply turn on the gas and get your fire started.
General buying guide
If you’re still unsure what fire pit to choose, here’s the good news: there are plenty of options to choose from, as long as you take a few important factors into consideration.
Below are a few general factors worth considering before making a purchase.
An ideal fire pit for camping should be of a sturdy design. Whether you’re backpacking by foot or car, the material of choice should be stainless steel or aluminum. Both materiales are durable and resist corrosion really well, granting them a longer lifespan than fire pits made of other materials.
Choose a fire pit that fits the purpose. If you’re a solo traveller and want a small fire to keep you warm at night, opt for a compact fire pit sized 10 x 15 inches, approximately. If you travel as a group, a bigger fire pit works great and keeps more people warm and cozy.
A heat shield comes in handy when camping in protected areas. It acts as an isolating layer between the ground and your fire pit, and it’s particularly useful if you’re in a dry area with higher risk of fire.
Ease of use and assembly
Pick a fire pit that assembles and disassembles fast and easy. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of nowhere, fiddling with a fire pit that doesn’t lock together properly and takes you hours to figure out the proper assembly. Some of the best fire pits fold completely flat or collapses with just one motion, so you can move on quickly and easily.
It’s important to practice proper safety standards, when setting up and using a camp fire. Especially during the fire season, where further restrictions might be put into place to prevent wildfires.
Always make sure you check the National Park Service alerts, and follow these recommendations below to stay safe:
- Inform friends and relatives of your trip plan, especially if you travel alone and outside areas of cell coverage.
- Check the forecast before you go. If it gets scolding hot and windy at the same time, lighting a fire could pose a danger to the surroundings. On the other hand, rain could ruin your camping trip if you aren’t prepared.
- Always make sure the fire is fully extinguished and cold, before dumping the ashes. If you’re not using a fire pit, make sure the fire place is fully extinct as well.
- Place your fire pit on sturdy ground, and keep it in a proper distance from grass and plants that are prone to catch fire.
- Always bring a second option, if there’s no safe place to set up a fire pit. A propane campstove could be a good second option, and it doesn’t take up much space either.