Best Wood Burning Portable Fire Pits in 2020
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Fire! 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. Stinky clothes. Smoke in your eyes and lungs. Ugh.
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. 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 definitely sounds like something for a super type A personality or a clueless camper would do, but actually 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 really work?
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. Duh. Problem so solved.
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 uses. 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) like a wood fire will.
Therefore the fire hazard is much less.
How To Start A Campfire
You probably generally have either started a fire before or generally 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 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 afterwards, 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 good fire is airflow. The fire needs plenty of air to get the oxygen it needs to burn the fuel.
Air is everywhere, right? Err, not so much under the fire. This is where people get stuck at times.
They put too much tinder and kindling under the logs and basically snuff out the oxygen from underneath.
This is a problem. Therefore, 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 general method for starting the fire is to use either a tipi setup (below left) for the logs or a lincoln log type of setup (below right).
The lincoln log setup works well if you want to cook and don't have a grate.
(Can maybe balance tin foil packs or cookware onto the top)
Start with the tinder at the bottom center of the pit. Then stack your kindling in the manner you choose above the tinder pile.
Start the tinder on fire, and once the kindling is burning pretty well, you can 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, the fire 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.
Well, if you for whatever reason 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 own fire starter for your campfire.
If you'd rather just buy something and be done with it, these are very effective little chunks that you can pop into your wood burning fire pit and not struggle with anything lighting.
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, there are plants that can wreak havoc and you DON'T want 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. Recently? No. 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 make you regret using it for the rest of your life. Just, don't.
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- full of chemicals. Not safe to use. Substitute for cotton balls if you want something that will burn quickly and easily.
What's a really good, inexpensive fire starter? Well 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 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 own 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 no healthy to burn.
Be sure to allow plenty of air flow 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.
Portable Wood Fire Pits Compared
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
This sucker isn't messing around. Behold, the King of the wood burning fire pits.
The Solo Stove Bonfire makes a good fire that's fast, almost smoke-free, and is very HOT.
The double wall construction is what makes it 'special'.
The hidden wall has air holes at the bottom to take in air.
This adds needed oxygen to the base of the fire and results in an almost complete burning of the wood.
The air is heated as it goes up through the outer wall space of the Solo Stove Bonfire.
Then when it comes out at the top through more air holes, it adds heated oxygen to the mix making a hotter fire which produces less smoke.
The one downside to the Solo Stove Bonfire is that it really isn't meant for cooking.
It is a portable fire pit, and a damn good one, but it's a one-trick pony.
There isn't a grill grate available from Solo Stove for the Bonfire, and if you were to buy an aftermarket one, you would have to make sure it is elevated enough above the flame to not burn food.
Solo Stove Bonfire Manufacturer's Overview
Solo Stove does make three smaller Solo Stoves that make an excellent wood burning camp stove, so if your primary goal is to use your portable fire pit for cooking, go with one of the smaller Solo Stoves.
The Solo Stove Bonfire really is the creme' de la creme' of portable fire pits.
You may think it's overkill, but we think it's gorgeous AND sexy.
They also offer smaller Solo Stoves for backpackers and campers looking for a mini wood burning stove.
You can also cook with these smaller versions of the Solo Stove.
(Smaller versions of their wood burning camp stoves pictured below, which are designed to be used as a small wood burning cook stove and somewhat for warmth.)
The three smaller Solo Stoves make excellent backpacking wood stoves due to their efficiency and compact size.
Smaller Solo Stoves
The Solo Stove Bonfire is the big-daddy of Solo Stoves. It's the one for you if you want the full-blown bonfire experience.
If you want a small wood cook stove, then there are three other smaller sizes of Solo Stoves that work great as a cooking wood stove.
The image below shows the relative size difference between the Solo Stove Lite (designed for 1-2 people), the Solo Stove Titan (designed for 2-4 people), and the Solo Stove Campfire (designed for 4+ people).
Any of these work especially great as a wood burning backpacking stove.
Solo Stove Lite
- Weight: 9 ounces
- 5.7" tall by 4.25" diameter
- For 1-2 people
Solo Stove Titan
- Weight: 16.6 ounces
- 7.9" tall by 5.1" diameter
- For 2-4 people
Solo Stove Campfire
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- 9.25" tall by 7" diameter
- For 4+ people
If you are using the smaller solo stoves for cooking, sometimes wind can be an issue.
Windy conditions burn more fuel and don't heat your stuff as quickly.
Using a windscreen can help in these cases.
Solo Stove Alchohol Burner
If you don't want to mess with sticks and such for the smaller sized Solo Stoves when cooking, you can alternately get and use the Solo Stove Alcohol Burner for reliable fuel.
The alcohol burner woks with the Solo Stove Lite and Solo Stove Titan.
Solo Stove Bonfire Independent Review
Solo Stove Bonfire Features and Specs:
- 304 Stainless Steel Construction
- Weight: 20 pounds
- 19.5" wide (diameter) x 14" tall
- Little to no smoke emitted
- Burns more efficiently, resulting in less wood used
- Completely burns wood, leaving just minimal ashes
- No assembly
- Materials and workmanship guaranteed for the life of the Solo Stove
- Different sizes of Solo Stoves available
A Solo Stove Bonfire Alternative - Maybe...
We considered the very similar smokeless fire pit, the Breeo Fire Pit for this category since it was made in America, it has a three-year warranty, and they offer a cooking grate, though the grate is expensive. (As is the pit itself)
However, the Solo Stove won out for its size choices and the lighter weight of the large bonfire model, being 22 pounds less than the prohibitively heavy 42 pound Breeo, pictured below.
Therefore, due to the relatively heavy weight, the Breeo Fire Pit is not ideal if you camp and need to move it often.
So, we put our Solo Stove Bonfire review as #1, but if weight isn't an issue for you, you could consider the Breeo.
Breeo Fire Pit Manufacturer's Introduction
Breeo Fire Pit specs (very similar to Solo Stove Bonfire except heavier and slightly larger):
- 304 Stainless Steel Construction (same as Solo Stove Bonfire)
- Weight: 42 pounds (ouch!)
- Dimensions: 22" wide (diameter) x 16" tall
- Little to no smoke emitted
- Made in the USA
- 3-year warranty
Best Fire Pit On A Budget
Sunnydaze Portable Fire Pit
This is a basic wood burning fire pit that will work to keep a 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
There are not too many frills with the Sunnydaze Fire Pit. So there's not much to report about it here.
Nope, this is not a 'smokeles's fire pit. It simply does what it's supposed to- give you a pit that keeps the fire off of the ground.
The legs will collapse, making this fire pit a little easier to store. The legs are attached to a stand, which the fire bowl sits in. The bowl is steel.
It also comes with a fire poker.
It's not very heavy, considering its size. It weighs about 12 lbs.
A carry bag is included with this wood burning fire pit. Also nice, as it keeps it all together when storing.
If you need a relatively inexpensive way to have a fire pit, this one works just fine.
Otherwise, collect rocks in the area and make your own. But then put the rocks back when you are done. It's part of the 'Leave No Trace' principle.
Sunnydaze Fire Pit Features and Specs:
- Right around 12 pounds
- Painted, heat resistant steel bowl
- Legs fold up for easy storage
- No assembly, really. I mean, come on. Simple.
- Dimensions: 29" Diameter x 24" High
- Carry bag/storage bag included
- 1-year warranty
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
This little portable wood stove and grill is so small and handy you can use it just about anywhere.
It's a great backpacking wood stove that you can take to the beach or to your favorite camping spot.
The handiness of this grill is that it's so lightweight and SUPREMELY compact.
With a very simple design and really no parts that can break, you will love this little tiny wood burning stove.
It folds down to a skinny flat package for easy storage.
At a very light 3.2 lbs, it's not going to weigh your backpack down, nor your RV.
It really is the perfect wood burning backpacking stove that you can cook on.
UCO Flatpack Grill Shown by James of the FitRV
Made of stainless steel, you don't have to worry about it rusting.
The sides of the pit serve as a windbreak.
You can easily use this portable wood stove as a lightweight fire pit or a cooking grill.
They sell two sizes, the regular and the mini.
UCO Flatpack Grill & Fire Pit Easy 30 Second Setup
UCO Flatpack Grill Features and Specs:
- Made from stainless steel
- Folds flat for storage (1.5" thick)
- Weight: Regular 3.2 lbs, Mini 2 lbs
- Grilling area: Regular 13" x 10", Mini 9" x 6.75"
- Folded dimensions: Regular 13.5" x 10" x 1.5", Mini 9.5" x 8" x 1.5"
- Mini grill and tiny wood burning stove
- Easy to store, 30-second setup
- Carrying case included with mini
- 1-year warranty
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 really anything but a match. This is a disposable fire pit that lasts 3-5 hours.
Continue Reading Radiate Portable Campfire Review
If you need a clean, easy way to have a fire, look no further.
The Radiate fire pit is disposable, small, eco-friendly and convenient.
The company took off when they were on the show Shark Tank.
The investors clearly liked the campfire in a can concept.
Additionally, the Radiate fire pit is waterproof. For real.
Seriously, it can rain on it overnight, and in the morning you can pour the water out, light it, and you'll have a fire.
Can't do that with wet firewood.
The Radiate disposable campfire doesn't have the smoky smell associated with regular fires (since it doesn't burn wood), and it is also soot free.
This is an inexpensive way to have a campfire/bonfire you can enjoy without coming away smelling of smoke.
Radiate Portable Campfire Manufacturer Overview
Radiate portable campfire also now sells a bug repellent fire pit as well. Awesome idea for those nasty buggy areas.
Putting this fire out is as simple as putting the lid back on.
This is also how you would store it, so hey, you get to save a step, lazy.
It eliminates the need to hunt for (or buy) firewood, get kindling, stay out of the smoky fire zone, have the right weather, and it doesn't emit any poisonous vapors.
You don't have to get water to put the fire out, which makes a mess of the fire pit.
Nope, it's an easy light, and easy to put out, portable campfire!
One match. No cleanup. We like.
Radiate Portable Campfire Independent Review
Radiate Portable Campfire Features and Specs:
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Dimensions: 3.5" tall x 8" wide
- Environmentally friendly - made from recycled soy wax and recycled paper
- Up to 5 hours of burn time
- No smoky smell and no soot
- Reusable (until the fuel inside the can is gone)
- Simple to extinguish - simply put lid back on
- Easily portable for a hike, beach, or campsite fire
- Made in the USA
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
This is a cool/strange wood burning fire pit, if you will.
The idea is for it to be a leave-no-trace-behind type of pit.
However, it's not much different from having a fire on the ground/in a rock pit, except that it's elevated.
Many of the other pits here are also leave-no-trace behind, but something about this pit, well, we just liked.
It's very easy to store and doesn't take up much room.
The wire mesh bottom does not allow ash to get through it and the ash does not get caught in the mesh.
Weighing a light 2.25 lbs (LESS than Camp Addict Kelly's impossibly tiny chihuahua, by the way...), this wood burning fire pit is not going to put a dent in the total weight of your RV.
It's super easy to set-up and break down.
Steel Mesh Collapsible Pit Features and Specs:
- Anti-heating, stainless steel mesh top
- Weight: 2.25 pounds (including carry bag)
- Assembled dimensions: 16.5" wide (square) x 12.6" tall
- Folded dimensions: 25.6" x 2.5" x 2.5"
- Collapsible legs and mesh can be rolled up
- Stainless steel legs- won't rust
- Comes with a carry bag
- No tools required to assemble
- Unique portable wood stove to have
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!
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.