Best Wood Burning Portable Fire Pits in 2021
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I can't stop staring at it when I am around a wood-burning fire pit.
Can you? Pffft.
It's a strange and almost primal thing to watch.
It's so INTERESTING and so stinking warm and cozy!
Nothing beats a good campfire with friends.
Well, unless it's windy out.
'Cause, you know, the notorious smoke-in-your-face-thing.
No-one likes to be in the smoke zone.
Smoke in your eyes and lungs.
But wait, did you know?
There are portable fire pits that use wood or other similar fuels that produce little to no smoke such as the Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit. (REALLY!)
This page will teach you all about real fires.
You will learn how to build one successfully, what materials to use, what is toxic to burn, and much more.
Let's see what a good campfire looks like, whether it's portable or it's made on the ground, and if you can have one that is 'smokeless'.
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 Wood Fire Pits
Now, why on god's green earth would one use a portable fire pit instead of using a ground fire pit?
It sounds like something for a super type A personality or a clueless camper would do, but we found out that there are a few good reasons:
- No Pit- Some places don't allow fires on the ground and/or don't have pits.
- Leave No Trace- Some places have a leave-no-trace policy, requiring a fire pit to be off of the ground in one way or another so you don't leave ash behind.
- Smoke Issues- Some people have an aversion to smoke. There are portable wood fire pits you can get that are considered 'smokeless' and barely emit any smoke at all.
- Cooking- If you want to grill and there is no grill at your site, you would need a fire pit with a grill top.
- Fire Hazard- If there is no dedicated pit in the area and the fire hazard in the area it very high, it may be safer to use a portable fire pit.
So see? Maybe you CAN use a portable wood fire pit.
Ugh, The SMOKE!
We have to address this- one of the worst offenders of the traditional fire is that smoke has a way of following people, no matter where they sit outside.
Strange as it seems, it happens all the time.
We have heard that to stop it from following you you must say 'I hate white rabbits' fast three times.
Does it work?
It seems to at times, but we're going to go with the idea that a 'smokeless' fire pit is going to be a lot more effective.
Smokeless fire pits are engineered in a way that makes the fuel burn hotter, resulting in almost complete combustion of the materials.
A 'complete combustion' fire only emits water and carbon dioxide, without excess materials floating away.
When all of the particles in a fire are burned, there is barely any smoke.
What is smoke? Smoke is essentially a collection of tiny unburned particles. (No, we didn't know this either.)
Burn almost all of the particles and you have no smoke. Genius!
Location, Location, Location
Another issue with using an existing fire pit is that it might not be in a place where you can or want to use it.
It could be too close to your rig or tent. It could be too far from where you want to sit.
Easiest solution = have a portable fire pit.
What About Propane Fire Pits?
Propane fire pits are great as well.
We have a guide on propane fire pits right here on Camp Addict, and it's what Camp Addict Kelly has.
These are especially great in the event that a regular fire is not allowed.
Oftentimes a campground will allow propane pits but not conventional wood fires.
It could be due to a fire hazard.
A propane pit produces a happier fire.
It doesn't jet out flesh-burning embers and sparks at you (and onto potential forest floor tinder) as a wood fire will.
Therefore the fire hazard is much less.
How To Start A Campfire
You probably have either started a fire before or know how it works.
But if you don't do it often it can still be a little scary.
Or you might fail at it.
Wood burning fire pits can be a little temperamental if you don't know a few tips and tricks.
It's not rocket science, thankfully, so we are going to show you the basics on how to start a fire.
If you're looking for different fire styles to start, HERE is a good and more in-depth guide with on how to build pretty much any type of fire.
- Fire logs- Tree trunks, basically. Don't get them TOO large. They won't burn as well unless you already have a super-hot fire. Get dry stuff for the best results.
- Kindling- Smaller wood pieces that will burn easier than logs.
- Tinder- the super flammable stuff that will START your fire. Twigs, sticks, paper, pine needles, etc.
- Matches- If you don't know what these are, you definitely should not be making a fire.
- Water- To put the fire out afterward, or to control if something gets out of hand.
Why didn't we list lighter fluid?
Listen, people. You don't need lighter fluid. It can be very dangerous to use as well.
As long as your tinder and kindling are fairly dry, you should be fine without that mess.
You can also purchase what is called 'fatwood' for kindling.
If splitting kindling is not your bag, or you don't have something quick to burn, you can simply buy your kindling.
They are quick to ignite and will even ignite if wet.
Call yourself lazy if you want to- but YOUR fire is guaranteed to start if you use fatwood.
The key to a successful fire is great airflow.
It needs plenty of air to get the oxygen to burn the fuel.
Air is everywhere, right?
It needs to get in and around the logs.
So it depends on how you build the fire.
This is where people get stuck.
They put too much tinder and kindling under the logs.
This keeps oxygen from getting underneath.
So you can see, how you structure the fire is a key element in your success.
The fire pit you get may or may not have a setup that allows for air to get underneath the logs and kindling.
You can remedy this by how you structure your kindling and your logs.
A good method for starting the fire is to use either a tipi setup for the logs or a lincoln log type of setup (examples of both below).
The lincoln log setup works well if you want to cook and don't have a grate.
Start with the tinder at the bottom center of the pit.
Then stack your kindling in the manner you choose above the tinder pile.
Get the kindling burning, and once the kindling is burning pretty well, stack your logs on slowly in either formation.
If you already have a very hot fire started, it probably doesn't matter how you stack the logs.
It will burn!
Still, having a structured log pit is your best bet.
How To Easily Start A Wood Fire
Once your fire is going, depending on how hot it is, you will need to periodically add new logs to the fire as the logs burn down.
That's about it!
Not so hard, right?
Roasting Food Over The Fire
Want to cook over the fire but don't have a grate?
Enter the classic method of eating around a fire- the marshmallow stick!
We know that any old stick will do, but there are way better options than eating some bark.
With these colorful sticks, you can cook weenies, marshmallows, skewer some shish kabobs and more.
These are great for kids, fun, and the colors allow you to keep track of who's is who's.
Things That Are Toxic To Burn
All fires burn stuff.
The stuff you burn has particulates in it.
Even if there's little smoke, there are still particulates being released into the air.
Some items, if you burn, will release toxic chemicals that you don't want to be breathing.
Let's take a look at what could be potentially harmful to your health if you burn them...
If you still choose to burn, at the very least, stay out of the smoke zone while you do.
If you choose to bring pressure treated, stained, glued, or painted wood to burn in your fire, just know this.
There are chemicals in that wood that will be released into the air for your breathing pleasure.
Sarcasm aside, this is not a good practice.
Not The DIY Type? Tinder You Can Buy
We showcase, down in the next green box, how you can very inexpensively make your fire starter for your campfire.
If you'd rather just buy something and be done with it, these are effective little chunks that you can pop into your wood-burning fire pit.
They are small, affordable, and non-toxic.
It can be highly satisfying to burn certain bills that come in, yes, we understand.
However, some newspapers, junk mail, gift wraps, and even cardboard can also be treated with toxic chemicals used in the inks and creation process.
No Bueno for your lungs.
Live or dead, some plants wreak havoc and you DON'T want them in your lungs or on your hands.
Think poison ivy and sumac.
Watch what you are putting into your fire.
These are fun to play with and to help start a fire.
Wait, did we just say that out loud?
Well yeah, we did!
Because the truth is, Kelly has done this.
As an adult.
But she has to admit, it has been done by her. (Not anymore and not in a long time. Bad, Bad Kelly!)
Just, DON'T DO IT.
It's just not worth it.
Gasoline and lighter fluid should stay very far away from a campfire.
It only takes one mistake to regret using it for the rest of your life.
Take it from luckily non-burned CA Kelly.
You should only MAYBE use it BEFORE you have put a match to it, but NEVER add it to a lit flame.
Again- this is full of chemicals.
It's not safe to use.
Substitute with cotton balls if you want something that will burn quickly and easily.
What's a really good, inexpensive fire starter?
There are quite a few different methods out there but we liked this simple solution the best.
You simply dunk a cotton ball into denatured or rubbing alcohol and BAM- you have tinder that will last a good while.
Watch the video below to see how long the two alcohols compared to dipping a cotton ball in petroleum.
DIY Fire Starter - Comparing Starting Fuels
Shame On You?
We sure hope you already know this, but aluminum and glass STILL don't burn at campfire temperatures.
Don't throw these in your wood-burning fire pit, because that's just littering.
We know you aren't going to pick them up out of the pit later on.
Regardless of knowing glass doesn't burn, we see this all of the time.
If it's you, cut it out.
Wood fire pits are great, but they are even better when they are portable.
You now have the skills and information you need to start your fire wherever you want it.
Safety is of utmost importance, and the materials you burn are also essential to know about- what is healthy, and what is not healthy to burn.
Be sure to allow plenty of airflow under the logs of your fire for the best burn.
If a wood fire is not for you, consider getting a propane fire pit.
If you are in the market for a portable wood fire pit, keep reading.
Portable Fire Pit Reviews
Wood burning portable fire pits are great if you want to be out in nature and enjoy the snap, crackle, and pop of a real wood fire.
Below we review different categories of wood burning fire pits - smokeless, budget, grilling, and more.
Read on to find out which portable fire pit is right for you.
Best Smoke-Free AND Best All-Around Fire Pit
Solo Stove Bonfire
This is the creme' de la creme' of portable fire pits.
It's a solid construction of stainless steel and is very pleasing to the eye.
Talk about getting fancy at the campsite!
You will be the envy of your neighbors for your gorgeous and pretty much smokeless fire pit. (Awesome!)
Continue Reading Solo Stove Bonfire Review
Best Fire Pit On A Budget
Sunnydaze Portable Fire Pit
This is a basic wood burning fire pit that will work to keep fire off of the ground.
The foldable legs make it ideal for camping situations where storage is at a premium.
Continue Reading Sunnydaze Fire Pit Review
Best Fire Pit For Grilling
UCO Flatpack Grill and Fire Pit
What a neat little grill! Talk about a space saver- this thing folds flat and weighs only 3.2 pounds.
It can double as a fire pit or a grill.
The UCO Flatpack Grill and Fire Pit is available in regular and mini sizes.
Continue Reading UCO Flatpack Grill And Fire Pit Review
Best Disposable Fire Pit
Radiate Portable Campfire
What a concept!
This little campfire in a can is like an all-in-one package.
No need for wood, for kindling, or anything but a match.
This is a disposable fire pit that lasts 3-5 hours.
Continue Reading Radiate Portable Campfire Review
Best Unconventional Off-The-Ground Fire Pit
Steel Mesh Collapsible Fire Pit
This is a very unusual pit style. It looks just like a foldable camping table.
This pit keeps both your fire and ash off of the ground.
Continue Reading Steel Mesh Collapsible Pit Review
Glass aside, campfires are the glue that makes camping camping.
Don't you love the idea that you can have a real wood fire with little to no smoke???
We sure do.
Especially Marshall. (He's NOT a wood-burning fire pit fan because of the smoke.)
We've found the best portable wood-burning fire pits for you and hopefully taught you a little about campfires and how to be safe and enjoy them without incident.
Whichever you decide to get, you should just get out there and enjoy RVing or camping with your new portable fire pit.
Seriously, get out there, be safe, and Camp On, Addict!
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.
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.