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Best Portable Propane Fire Pit for Camping in 2021

(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 to coals glow.

However, not everyone cares for real wood fires.

Marshall and Camco Big Red propane fire pit

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.

And guess what? Portable, wood-less camping fire pits exist!

Here, we help you understand more about portable pits, their options, and more.

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:

  • You don't like smelling like smoke the next day
  • You don't want to have to find a constant supply of firewood
  • The firewood gets too expensive
  • Some states prohibit carrying firewood from state to state
  • If there's a fire ban, you can't have a wood fire
  • Some campgrounds prohibit having wood fires

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.).

This 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

  • Fire ANYWHERE! When a traditional wood fire just isn't in the mix due to a restriction or a lack of wood, the outdoor propane fire pit is the perfect alternative. These portable fire pits are usually compact, lightweight, easy to tote around and carry, easy to assemble and they give you the same benefits of a real fire.
  • Having a Campfire In A Can Is Easy. You can use portable fire pits where you otherwise cannot have a fire in parks and campgrounds that don't have fire pits or don't allow wood fires. You can save your back from lugging around firewood. Finding propane to use for your fuel is usually a very easy thing to find, and it's inexpensive.
  • Total Control. You have immediate control of the flame size and how much heat it puts out. Additionally, you can turn it off with a switch and it's off IMMEDIATELY. No more finding water to put over the flames and coals and trying to make sure it's out before bedtime.
  • Shower Fresh. Outdoor propane fire pits do not put out any smoke, so you don't have the smoky smelling hair and jackets the next day.
  • Location Options. They are so lightweight, you can put your portable propane fire pit anywhere you'd like. You aren't restricted to having your fire at the existing campfire ring at your site.
  • Easy On, Easy Off. Portable fire pits ignite easily and dependably, unlike a real fire. And no worrying about your (real) fire still going after you put it out.  Once you turn off your propane pit, your worries are over. 
  • End The Accidents. You don't have to worry about embers or hot ash getting on your clothes or chairs and burning a hole in them.
  • Home And Camping Use. Some portable fire pits are also safe for home use on your deck or patio area. These portable fake campfires insulate the bottom so that using a pit in these areas is safe. It makes a nice touch to a pool party or evening party in the backyard. S'mores, anyone?

THERE'S MORE?? (Yep!)

  • Just Say No To Roaches/Bugs. No more buying and/or storing wood for a camping fire pit. In southern states, you have roaches who love to make their homes in firewood piles. SO GROSS! No more worrying about breeding roaches/spiders/other bugs or dealing with them with your portable pit.
  • No 'Fireworks'. Sometimes your wood is wet, or just wet enough that it doesn't want to burn, or puts off a lot of sparks. You never have to worry about that with a camping fire pit.
  • Quick Gratification. With a portable propane pit, you get INSTANT HEAT! Now you don't have to wait around while the fire gets hot. These camping fire pits provide instant heat as soon as the burner is lit.
  • Chow Time. Some of the fire pits even come with a cooktop so you can make your dinner over the fire.

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!

Camco Big Red detail

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.

This depends on what flame settings you are running it on.

The higher the flame, the more propane being used, the faster the propane will run out.

Do you 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.

(NOTE: These tanks come empty so you will need to fill them after you receive them.)

Summary

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.

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, they help to disperse the flame, and they radiate heat well. Their main drawback is that they sit loosely 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?

That depends on what you are looking for.

Some think lava rocks radiate heat better and are the most common style available.

Go with a fake log if you 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.

It will keep the lava rocks from going everywhere in case a 'whoops' happens.

Best Overall Portable Fire Pit

Outland Firebowl Premium

Outland Firebowl lit camping fire pit

Pros

  • Automatic ignition
  • Larger size
  • CSA approved

Cons

  • Smaller burner gives off less heat
  • Uses lava rock
  • Carrying bag is separate purchase

There are three different models of the Firebowl, two of which we have reviewed on this page.

They all use the same bowl and burner (they look identical).

The only difference is in how well equipped each camping fire pit is.

Continue Reading Outland Firebowl Premium Review

Runner-Up Portable Fire Pit

Outland Firebowl Standard

Outland Firebowl portable propane fire pit

Pros

  • Larger size
  • CSA approved

Cons

  • Smaller burner gives off less heat
  • Uses lava rock
  • Cover and Carrying bag is separate purchase

This model has the least amount of included features.

This 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 want.

Continue Reading Outland Firebowl Standard Review

Best Budget Portable Fire Pit

Camp Chef Propane Fire Ring

Camp Chef Fire Ring portable propane fire pit

Pros

  • Very low priced
  • Comes with carry bag
  • No-hassle warranty
  • Folding legs for smaller storage

Cons

  • Smaller fire bowl size (15")
  • Uses lava rock

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

Conclusion

Now there are no 'no-fire' excuses.

You now know that the next time you have an outing, 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.

If you have any questions about portable propane fire pits, please read the comments below. If your question isn't answered there, drop yours in the comments! We will be happy to answer reasonable questions that will help you out.

Camp on, Addicts!

Kelly Headshot
Kelly Beasley

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona.


Marshall Headshot
Marshall Wendler

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • Can you use a smaller than 20 lb propane tank for a portable fire pit? I know it will burn less long but any other problem with an 11 pound or less? (Space when camping)

    • Hi Patricia,

      Yes, you can use a smaller propane tank with a propane fire pit. As you mentioned, it will just ‘last’ less time, but otherwise will work just fine.

      One thing to keep in mind is that the smaller propane bottles seem to be more expensive than the standard 20 pound size. But if space is a premium, they are definitely a good option.

    • Hi Harv,

      The Camco Little Red fire pit is just under 12 inches in diameter and is a good little unit. Camp Addict Kelly had one of these for a few years and it worked well.

  • Are any portable propane fire pits okay to quick connect directly to the RV propane so we don’t have to carry a 20 pound propane tank with us?

    • Hi Kathy,

      You will want to check with your RV manufacturer to see how they plumb the external propane port, but the normal way to do it is to have that ‘feed’ running on the low pressure side of your propane system.

      In other words, the propane coming out of the external port has already been converted to low pressure by the propane regulator that is used by all the other propane appliances on your rig (the regulator that is most likely right at your propane bottles).

      Problem is that a portable propane fire pit ALSO has a regulator as it’s designed to convert bottle propane to a low pressure it can use. So if you are ‘feeding’ the pit already low pressure propane, it won’t work. You have to take the propane pit’s regulator out of the equation.

      You can replace the hose that comes with the propane fire pit with one that doesn’t have a regulator. But it has to be compatible with both the quick disconnect on your rig and the port on the pit itself.

      You are on your own to figure out what propane hose would work for you. But if you chose to go this route, make sure the hose is long enough so the fire pit is plenty far from your rig. Large, open flames close to an RV sounds like a horrible idea.

      So to answer your question, yes, you can use a portable fire pit with your quick connect port on your RV, but you have to do the necessary modifications. You are on your own to figure out what exactly this is for your particular setup.

    • Hi Shirley,

      You, in theory, could use wood in your propane pit. However, you should remove the propane fire ring first so ash doesn’t fall into the gas holes and clog it up.

    • Hey Krowton,

      Yes, the Big Red and Little Red appear to have been rebranded under the Olympian name (a Camco brand).

      While both are not available via Amazon, they do indeed appear to be available elsewhere. We have it on our schedule to look at re-adding the (now) Olympian Big/Little Red propane campfire to this page, using a different buying source.

      Thanks for the information and Camp On!

  • Can I leave them out in the rain? I have the second place one which doesn’t come with a cover. I’m worried something will short if it gets wet. We bought second hand and I don’t have the instructions. Thank you!

    • Hey Vanessa,

      You didn’t indicate what brand/model you purchased so I cannot speak to your exact unit. However, you should be able to find instructions online for it via a Google search.

      The portable propane fire pits that we discuss on this page do not have any electrical components that might short out.

    • Hey Sheri,

      If the artificial logs are made to be used in this type of situation (heated up by a propane flame), then I don’t see why you couldn’t. As long as you can find artificial logs that fit the propane fire pit you are eyeballing.

      The Camco Big Red used to be featured on this page, but as it isn’t currently available we took it off. This unit uses artificial logs that are specifically made to fit. So, yeah, artificial logs are a ‘thing’ with these fire pits.

      Thanks for the question and Camp On!

    • Hi Barbara,

      Yes, that’s what most people use with fire pits. (If you are talking about the common BBQ pit propane tanks, like a 20 pounder.) If you are talking about the small green tanks, they wouldn’t last long enough to bother with, and you may need an additional adapter to make it work. Thanks and Camp On, Barbara!

    • Hi Rick,

      Great question! You might want to contact the manufacturer, Camco, and ask them since they’ll be able to provide you with this answer and any other related questions you might have regarding the certification.

    • Hi Kathy, sure- we don’t see any reason why not? If you plan to use the Duralog without the propane fire going, there’s a chance that long term use that way could allow the ash to clog the propane gas line outlets. Otherwise, go for it! We do now also have a page on wood fire pits if you haven’t seen it. Camp on, Kathy!

  • Great picks! We use the baby brother version of your top pick, the Little Red Camp Fire. It has the same BTU rating at the Big Red. We’ve been really pleased with it and totally agree with all the benefits you’ve listed.

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