There is something inexplicably attractive about a fire pit. While it can be hard to pinpoint why it draws us in (it’s the crunch, the smell, the s’mores, the glow), there’s no question that a fire pit is the backbone of a cozy outdoor space that keeps friends and toasted relatives. And to stay outside comfortably, you’ll need a roaring fire. But visit the outdoor section of a home center or hardware store and it can be overwhelming to find the right fire pit.
Fire pits are generally classified by the fuel they burn. Wood fire pits can generate a lot of heat, and when made of thick masonry, they become a centerpiece of the garden. Fire pits require some skill to start, the most attention during use, and can sometimes generate smoke, which can make sitting near them uncomfortable.
Gas fire pits burn natural gas or liquid propane, just like your grill, using a burner covered with decorative stones, glass, or faux wood logs. Starting these requires little more than pressing a power button, then turning a knob that controls the height of the flame (although they are generally smaller and the flames are not as vigorous as burning wood). You will need a licensed plumber to lay natural gas lines to a fire pit.
More for ambience than heat output, campfires burning isopropyl alcohol-based boats last a few hours, but not enough BTUs to be a primary heat source on cool nights. Often modern and sleek, they look great on tables scattered around a patio and are easy to light and use, but lack the size and heat to gather or toast marshmallows.
The best fire pits to buy right now
Once you start using a fire pit, it becomes the kind of item you’ll want to bring to any gathering, like a great wireless speaker or a favorite craft beer. The Solo Stove Bonfire’s 14 x 19 ½-inch size means you can fit it in a trunk or the backseat to bring warmth to a friend’s house, the beach, camping, or on an RV trip. The 304 stainless steel frame is maintenance free, unlike flimsy painted metal versions, with a clean, modern design. But there’s a reason the bonfire was in the Men’s Health Outdoor Awards: It tops its 20-pound scan weight with a smart design that burns 17-inch logs more completely, efficiently, and with less smoke.
Read More: The best fire pits to buy right now.
Fire pit table with ceramic balls
We love fire pit tables as they offer a large surface area for our drinks and dishes. This one from AAPI-owned furniture brand Outer is ultra-luxe, with a propane-fueled pit that’s covered in ceramic balls for a mid-century modern vibe.
Best for smokeless wood fires
The knock against log fires is that they can, for anyone sitting downwind, be too smoky for comfort. The trick? Smart engineering. The BioLite FirePit has a fan that draws in air, forcing it through 51 burner-shaped jets into the combustion chamber. That helps the logs burn better and give off less smoke so there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The 10,400 mAh pack that powers the fan is rechargeable via USB (or a solar panel) and has enough juice to keep the fire burning for 24 hours. While the BioLite burns wood, you can control it like a gas flame: the companion app controls the intensity of the fan. Raise to maximize flame or lower to maximize burning time.
Kamoto open fire pit
The smallest version of this pit weighs less than 14 pounds, though it will burn sizable logs at camp. The simple collapsible design sets up faster than any pit you can build in the wild, and at 15 inches tall, it feels intimate. The ashtray makes it easy to dispose of leftovers when you’re done, leaving less of a footprint. The mesh top adds the ability to cook burgers or heat a pot of water to serve coffee, but Primus also offers a large steel skillet that can turn the fire into a giant frying pan.
Best fire pit for small spaces
Blurring the lines between a tiki torch and wood burning pits are gel fuel fire pits that burn alcohol-based gels. It is a technology similar to the cans used by caterers to keep food warm. The fuel comes in canisters that are placed inside a decorative well and then lit. The Southampton Teak Torch combines sleek, polished stainless steel with warm teak in a modern shape that’s at home on outdoor furniture, from coffee to side tables. At 14 inches tall, the design ensures the flames are at eye level, and while the heat from the bowl (which lasts about 2 1/2 hours) doesn’t generate much heat, it also burns clean with no smoke or odor. , so you can sit closer to them.
Modern Adirondack Fire Pit Set
Polywood makes some of the best Adirondack chairs in the game. Paired with this stylish fire pit table, this best-selling set is the ultimate backyard lounge setup.
Round Fire Pit Rumble stone No. 1
If you want some serious bragging rights, roll up your sleeves and build your fire pit, no masonry skill required. This Pavestone kit comes with 72 concrete pavers that you assemble like a giant puzzle, holding it all together with construction adhesive from a caulking gun. The kit’s 10 1/2-inch-tall sidewalls keep fires manageable and contained, while the nearly 4-foot diameter leaves plenty of shelf space to rest drinks, plates, and feet. The tumbled concrete pavers have a weathered stone look that will fit into almost any garden style and the stainless steel insert gives the moat a finished look that will hide any charred sidewalls.
Forest Ridge Fire Table
Gathering around a fire is great, even better if there’s a convenient place to put down a drink or put your feet up. Fire pit tables, like Forest Ridge, run on propane, like your grill, or borrow natural gas from your home, so they’re ready-and-forget-easy to use. The best fire pit tables, like this one, come with an electric starter that’s even easier to use. The 42×42-inch top includes a wide ledge around the fire to place a beer or a tray of soon-to-roast marshmallows. The weathered barn’s wood frame is concrete and steel, so it’s almost maintenance-free, and a door on one side can be removed to hide the standard 20-pound propane tank.