Best Portable Propane Fire Pit for Camping in 2020
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
You're going camping! Nothing says 'camping' like a good old-fashioned campfire.
The smells, the sounds of the logs popping in the flame, and watching the coals glow.
However, not everyone cares for real wood fires.
Take the founders of this website, Kelly, and Marshall. Kelly loves real wood campfires.
Marshall, not so much. (Spoilsport!) What Marshall needs is a fake campfire 'in a can' so to speak. Luckily, portable, wood-less camping fire pits do exist!
Here, we help you understand more about portable pits, their options, and more.
Sometimes, real campfires are not ideal for a variety of reasons:
There is one perfect solution for each of these scenarios:
A portable fire pit for camping! A campfire in a can, so to speak.
Already know all about this subject? Just looking for the reviews? Click the button below to jump down to the product reviews.
Guide to Portable Propane Fire Pits
For many people, there is nothing like a camping fire pit full of flames when you are out camping.
Campfires are a great place to gather and be social with your family, or get to know new friends.
However, sometimes, real campfires are not ideal for a variety of reasons:
There is one perfect solution for each of these scenarios: A portable fire pit for camping! A campfire in a can, so to speak.
But it isn't always practical to have a real fire (no wood, fire ban, don't like getting covered in smoke, etc.) which makes a small portable fire pit a great item to bring along with you to the campground.
The Benefits of a Portable Fire Pit for Camping
THERE'S MORE?? (Yep!)
Need we say more?
Propane Fire Pit Safety
Don't use indoors. Seriously, don't! A propane fire pit puts off carbon monoxide when burning.
In case you slept through that part of school, carbon monoxide will put you in a deep sleep that you won't recover from. (You could die) Use only in a well-ventilated outdoor area.
Keep the propane gas cylinder as far away from the unit as possible. The outdoor propane fire pit comes with a 10-foot hose. Use it!
Portable Propane Fire Pit Designs and Features
Most of the propane fake campfire pits we have seen are circular in design.
Some, like the Outland Firebowl Premium have a lid that doubles as a carrying case and as a stand to put the campfire on top of to raise its height.
Most of the camping fire pits come with an 8-10 foot propane hose that you can attach to a small portable propane tank.
If they are easily accessible, you can connect your camping fire pit to your RV's tanks, or connect it to your propane outlet for a barbecue pit, but you might need an adapter.
Also, keep in mind that this will limit where you can use the pit due to the length of your hose.
The payoff is that you don't need an extra portable propane tank for your camping fire pit.
The bummer is that you are now limited to where you can put your portable fire pit.
How Long Does A Portable Gas Fire Pit Run?
According to Outland, their Firebowl will run between 7 and 11 hours off one 20-pound propane tank, depending on flame settings.
The higher the flame, the more propane being used, which means the propane tank is going to run out quicker.
Need a propane tank for your shiny new fire pit? Below you can purchase a 20 pound steel propane tank (20 pounds is the standard BBQ size and is recommended by the fire pit manufacturers).
Worthington makes two 20 pound tanks - one with a gas gauge and one without.
The version with the gauge only costs a few dollars more so it might be nice to see the propane level.
(NOTE: These tanks come empty so you will need to fill them after you receive them.)
Tank with Gauge
There. Now you know the difference between having a regular wood fire and a propane fire pit. If these are for you and you are in the market, read our reviews below.
We picked out the best overall, runner-up, and best on a budget.
Portable Fire Pit Reviews
There are lots of good choices for camping fire pits out there!
Some are better than others for certain needs so we reviewed for best overall, runner-up, and best on a budget camping fire pit. (The Big Red campfire used to be our #1 pick, but they no longer sell the product.)
Here you go:
Fake Logs or Lava Rocks?
The below reviewed portable camping fire pits come with either fake logs (made from a ceramic material) or lava rocks (made from, well, lava).
Which is best?
There is (obviously) a bit of personal preference in play here, as well as a few items of practicality to consider.
- Fake Logs - The fake logs that come with some portable propane fire pits give the illusion of a real fire. Logs. Flame. Campfire! They also are often one-piece which means you don't have the possibility of lava rocks spilling out everywhere if you don't have a cover, or if the fake campfire ends up on its side.
- Lava Rocks - Lava rocks are fairly common accessory with propane fire pits They are inexpensive, help to disperse the flame, and they radiate heat well. Their main drawback is that they sit loose in the fire pit and there is a chance that they will end up everywhere if the pit ends up on its side or gets tossed around during transport. Consider purchasing a portable fire pit with a cover to keep the lava rocks under control.
So, which is better? Really depends on what you are looking for.
There are those who think lava rocks radiate heat better and are the most common style available. Go with a fake log if you really need that look.
Choose what you want, but if you go with the lava rocks, we highly recommend you get the Outland Firebowl Premium which comes with a case, to keep the lava rocks from going everywhere in case a 'whoops' happens.
Comparing the Best Portable Fire Pits
Outland Firebowl Premium
There are three different models of the Firebowl, two of which we have reviewed on this page. The all use the exact same bowl and burner (they look identical). The only difference is in how well equipped each camping fire pit is.
Runner-Up Portable Fire Pit
Outland Firebowl Standard
This model has the least amount of included features, which means it has manual flame ignition and no cover. If you want these features, then the Outland Firebowl Premium camping fire pit is what you are looking for.
Continue Reading Outland Firebowl Standard Review
Basic functionality is the same with all Outland Firebowls in that they have the same 58,000 burner, same quality construction and look the same when lit.
It's just a matter of included features and accessories that differentiate the versions.
If you want more protection for your Firebowl, there is an optional vinyl carrying bag available that fully encloses the camping fire pit.
Because the top cover isn't standard, you run the risk of spilling the lava stones during transportation.
If you are going to be carrying a portable fire pit in your RV, you should opt for one of the other choices that come with a cover to keep everything where it's supposed to be, rather than spread throughout your RV's storage compartment.
Optional Carry Bag
There is an optional carry bag for the Outland Firebowl. This vinyl bag has a top load zippered compartment for 19-inch portable propane fire pits and has a pocket on the underside of the lid to store the manual, lighter, etc.
Keep your propane fire pit contained while not getting the area you store it in dirty with this convenient carry bag.
Why would you purchase the Outland Firebowl Standard? Two possible scenarios:
- You aren't going to haul the fire pit around with you, but rather are going to use it in one stationary location (such as your house) so the lack of a cover to keep things put isn't that important.
- You really don't want to spend a few extra bucks and purchase one of the other reviewed portable gas fire pits.
What Does CSA Approved Mean?
All Outland Firebowls are CSA approved which means they are often allowed to be used in fire restricted areas where other portable propane fire pits without the same approval might have use restrictions.
Outland Firebowl Standard Features and Specs:
- Powder coated steel construction
- Lava rocks to disperse propane flame
- Top cover optional. If you want this, opt for the Outland Firebowl Premium which comes with the top cover.
- Optional vinyl carrying bag
- 58,000 BTU burner
- 10-foot hose with gas pressure regulator attached
- Use in campgrounds and forests where there is fire restriction
- Weight: 21 pounds
- Dimensions: 19" Diameter x 11" High
The Outland Firebowl Standard is identical to the Heininger 5995. Depending on which way the wind in blowing, one may be cheaper than the other. If you are looking for a budget portable fire pit, also check out the pricing on the Heininger.
Best Budget Portable Fire Pit
Camp Chef Propane Fire Ring
The Camp Chef portable campfire is the perfect fire pit for the budget minded camper. It may not look quite as fancy-pants as the other two reviewed pits, but that's not why we are buying it, right?
Continue Reading Camp Chef Portable Propane Fire Pit Review
This fire pit is no-frills but it does the job. It is smaller in diameter than the other two (15").
The folding legs make it nice and easy to store- great for RVs with their limited space.
Weight is not too far off from the other two reviewed pits.
The hose comes with it and it allows you to keep your propane tank away from the fire and out of your circle of friends and/or family.
You will have to ignite this portable fire pit manually, there is no ignition switch included.
It's nice that this pit comes with a carry bag. Makes for easier storage and for easier transport.
This fire pit costs about 25% less than our runner-up fire pit, making it our pick for best budget fire pit.
I mean, there's not a lot to them. As long as they are reliable and work, you can hardly go wrong!
Camp Chef Portable Campfire Features and Specs:
- Powder coated fire bowl
- 5 foot hose with adjustable propane regulator attached
- 55,000 BTU burner
- Legs fold in
- Uses lava rocks
- Comes with carrying/storage bag
- Weight: 23 pounds
- Dimensions: 15" Diameter x 7" High
Now there are no 'no-fire' excuses.
You now know that the next time you have an outing, solo or with friends/family, you can have a portable propane fire pit, or a 'fake campfire' if you will, to gather around when 'real' campfire options don't exist or are not your first pick.
Nothing says camping like a good fire. You will never miss out when you have your own portable fire pit.
Camp on, Addicts!
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.