The Best Fire Pit – 2018 4/5 (1)

Solo Bonfire

With winter approaching, perhaps you’d like to enjoy the crisp, cool evenings in the yard, with your very own fire pit? What could be better than socializing around an open fire, with the kids toasting marshmallows?

Fire pits come in many shapes and sizes, from the smallest & simplest steel bowl, to sophisticated gas-fueled tables capable of heating a large area, with many options in between.

There are many things to consider – should you buy a wood- or gas-burning fire pit? Do you need something portable to take camping or tailgating? Will you be cooking over your fire pit, or is it purely for heat & decoration?

Spoiler alert – we think the best fire pit available today is the Solo Stove Bonfire – while expensive, it’s easy to light, puts out lots of heat & very little smoke. As a bonus, it looks great too.

If you’re after something a bit simpler, our favorite budget option is the Landmann Bromley Fire Pit – great value, easy to assemble, but it still has a bit of style.

The best gas fire pit we’ve seen is the Endless Summer GAD1401M – reasonably priced, clean-burning, and it can instantly warm up the largest of patios.

Here are the most popular fire pits on the market today:

The Best Firepit In 2018 - Comparison

#

Make

Model

Type

Cost

#1

Solo Stove

Wood

$$$$

#2

Landmann

Wood

$$

#3

Endless Summer

Gas

$$$

#4

Legacy

Gas

$$$$

#5

Landmann

Wood

$$

#1 - Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit - Our Choice

The Solo Stove Bonfire is, hands down, the best fire pit we have ever seen

Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit - Outdoor Fire Pit for Patio & Backyard. Less Smoke So Clothes Won't Smell. Modern Stainless Steel Design. Great for Outdoor, Backyards, Patio, Camping, Festivals

  • Stainless steel construction
  • Wood burning
  • Height: 14"
  • Depth: 19.5"
  • Weight: 20lb

While it is expensive for a wood-burning fire pit, the Solo Stove Bonfire is a different concept from anything we've seen before.

First seen on Kickstarter in 2016 (though it's designed & manufactured by a company that's been around for a few years), this stove has been designed from the start to be as user-friendly as possible.

It's easier to light than any other wood-burning fire pit we've ever seen. Due to the internal vents which direct airflow to where it's needed, once the fire has started, even if the wood you're using isn't especially dry, it will take hold and burn for as long as you keep the fire pit topped up with wood.

Allowing air into the fire from below as well as above and from the sides contributes to the efficiency of this fire pit.

The precisely designed ventilation holes, and the pre-heating effect of the air travelling within the double walls, mean your firewood burns with the maximum efficiency. There are 4 big benefits of efficient burning:

  • The fire burns hotter, so you can heat a larger area with a smaller fire
  • The fire will burn for longer
  • The wood burns more completely, so there's little mess to clean up once it's burned out (Solo Stove claim 20lb of logs will result in only 5oz of fine ash)
  • There is barely any smoke, so you and your clothes don't smell of smoke after standing near the fire

There's no assembly required - simply take it out of the packaging, place it on the ground or on your patio, and start a fire.

The double walls mean the base of this fire pit doesn't get hot enough to scorch the ground underneath, according to the manufacturer (though most users stand it on a couple of bricks or paving slabs, to be on the safe side).

It's portable, so as well as using it in your backyard, it's easy to take with you for camping trips, or tailgating etc.

Finally, the Solo Stove Bonfire comes with a lifetime warranty.

Be sure to read & follow all the safety instructions in your fire pit's manual, and check any local & state regulations that apply to open fires in your location.

Who Are Solo Stove?

Solo Stove are a US-based company which specializes in high-end wood-burning backpacking & camp stoves and fire pits. Beginning in 2011 with a single stove, their products have been tested in the harshest conditions, and have won several awards.

You can read an interview with the founder here

Minor Issues

A few owners have complained the Solo Bonfire will rust if left outside

Rust

Although technically it's constructed from stainless steel, the grade of steel used (304) is still prone to rust if exposed to the weather for long periods. It's best to keep it in the shed or garage when not in use, inside the (included) protective cover.

Discoloration

The steel will discolor with heat, however (to my eyes at least) this doesn't look bad, or detract from the appearance.

Smoke

Although it's advertised as giving off much less smoke than a traditional open fire, be aware that there is still some smoke emitted, especially during the first 15-20 minutes after the fire is lit.

Cost

Finally, although we love this fire pit, we have to acknowledge it is quite expensive, more expensive than many gas fire pits in fact. We feel the quality & excellent warranty justify the expense.

Manual

Click here to download the user manual.

Warranty

Solo Stove provide one of the best warranties we've seen, on any product. The fire pit has a lifetime warranty covering workmanship and materials. In addition, if they judge any damage is caused by misuse or neglect, they will give you 50% off any replacement product.

Video Demonstration

WE LIKE:

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    Hardly any smoke or smell
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    Easy to light
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    Lifetime warranty

WE DON'T LIKE:

  • Will discolor, especially if left outside
  • Expensive
  • Heavier than it looks

#2 - Landmann USA Bromley - Best Budget Fire Pit

This fire pit is our favourite basic option

  • Mild steel construction
  • Wood burning
  • Height: 8.25"
  • Diameter: 26"
  • Weight: 17lb

The Landmann USA Bromley features unique and stylish cut outs on the fire box and provides 360 degree fire viewing.

Made of steel, this pit includes poker decorative spark screen and is equipped with decorative ring handles for easy transport.

Landmann USA Bromley Fire Pit, Black

Easy to assemble, this bowl of fire cleans up easily and can prove to be a great addition to your backyard or patio.

Minor Issues

Small problems aren't necessarily deal-breakers


Several owners have mentioned that the lid doesn't fit perfectly, and the general build quality is not up to the standard of the Solo Stove.

This fire pit is painted, and as such, the paint surface can easily be scratched, exposing the steel underneath. If you owned this fire pit, it would be a good idea to buy some heat resistant paint (car exhaust paint, available from a hardware store), and regularly touch up any scratches - this will help prolong the life of the fire pit.

Being made of mild steel rather than stainless steel, this fire pit will rust if you leave it outside. If possible, storing it in a shed or garage when not in use would make it last longer.

One last suggestion - as there's no grate for the wood to sit on, if you add sand to the base of the fire pit, it helps keep the heat of the fire away from the base, and project more heat out of the fire pit.

Manual

Click here to download the user manual.

Warranty

Landmann will replace missing or defective parts within 90 days of purchase.

Video Demonstration

Here's a video showing how to assemble a similar Landmann fire pit:

WE LIKE:

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    Excellent value
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    Included mesh cover & poker
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    Easy to assemble

WE DON'T LIKE:

  • Lid doesn't fit well
  • Rusts quickly if left outside
  • No grill included

#3 - Endless Summer GAD1401M LP Gas Outdoor Fireplace

The Endless Summer is great value for an outdoor gas fireplace

Endless Summer 30' Push Button Start All Weather Outdoor Patio LP Gas Fire Pit

  • LP Gas (Propane)
  • Height: 24.5"
  • Width: 30"
  • Depth: 30"
  • Weight: 60lb

If you want to enjoy the warmth of fire outdoors, but don’t want the hassle & mess of burning wood, then the Endless Summer GAD1401M might be just what you’re looking for.

Assembly is easy – it shouldn’t take much longer than 30 minutes (read the instructions carefully before you assemble the fire, as the legs are not all the same).

It seems fairly sturdy, and quality appears excellent given the reasonable price. This fire pit looks good (to our eyes at least), whether lit or not.

There is a cover included, however the cover itself is quite thin and flimsy. In the long term you may be better to buy a heavy duty cover, to extend the life of your fire.

As it is a gas fire, starting is instant, no messing about with logs, fire starters, matches etc, and no waiting for the initial smoke to subside.

It provides a decent amount of heat, certainly more than some of the ethanol table-top fires – it’s not just a “decorative” heater.

Minor Issues

It's not all good news...

The main issue reported with this heater concerns lighting the flame. Even when it's working perfectly, some users report it's not the easiest flame to light.

More concerning, there are a few reports of the ignitor failing altogether. If this should happen, it's still possible to light the flame using a separate ignitor or matches, it's just an inconvenience rather than a show-stopper.

Some users have pointed out there doesn't seem to be much range of adjustment of the flame strength, more or less "on" or "off" rather than being able to finely control the temperature.

Manual

Click here to download the user manual.

Warranty

This heater comes with a 12 month warranty.

WE LIKE:

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    Looks good
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    Easy assembly
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    Gas means no mess to clean up

WE DON'T LIKE:

  • Not the easiest fire to light
  • Many reports of the ignitor failing
  • Not much range of flame adjustment

#4 - Legacy Rectangular Gas Fire Pit Table

If you're looking for the ultimate gas fire pit, this beast might be the one for you

  • LP Gas (Propane)
  • Height: 24"
  • Width: 21.3"
  • Depth: 56.7"
  • Weight: 72lb

The Legacy Fire Pit Table is a great looking outdoor coffee table / fire pit combo, that will add a touch of class to your patio.

We think this heater is great value (though it costs a lot more than a basic wood-burning fire pit) – the aluminium construction means it should withstand a few seasons being exposed to the weather.

Legacy Heating CDFP-S-CB-M fire Table, 56.7'X21.3'X24', Mocha

As it burns gas rather than wood, there’s no mess, no cleaning up, no smoke, or waiting for it to heat up – just light it (using the push-button starter), and it will instantly add heat to your patio.

To our eyes, it looks great whether it’s lit or not. You get a decent amount of heat, it’s certainly not a purely decorative heater.

Minor Issues

Small problems aren't necessarily deal-breakers

The main concern with this heater is a very few reported cases where the fire wouldn't stay lit. If this happens to you, the 12 month warranty gives you protection

The included cover is very thin & light, if you live in a harsh environment you might want to invest in a more heavy-duty cover, to make sure your heater lasts as long as possible.

Finally, access to the propane tank is tight - while a 20lb tank will fit, there's not much clearance to get your hands in, to turn the valve on and off, or connect a replacement tank.

Manual

Click here to download the user manual.

Warranty

This heater comes with a 12 month warranty.

WE LIKE:

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    Looks good whether lit or not
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    Provides plenty of heat
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    Instant on / off

WE DON'T LIKE:

  • The included cover is too thin & lightweight
  • Propane tank access is tight
  • Some reported cases where the fire wouldn't stay lit

#5 - Landmann 28345 Big Sky Stars and Moons Firepit

One of Landmann's most popular models, it's a bit larger than our #2 pick but usually a lot more expensive

Landmann Big Sky Stars and Moons Firepit

  • Mild steel construction
  • Wood burning
  • Height: 12.5"
  • Diameter: 26"
  • Weight: 40lb

The Landmann 28345 Big Sky Stars And Moons Fire Pit, with included spark screen and poker, is a great way to stay warm during the cold chilly nights.

It comes with a full size cooking grate and comes partially assembled - it shouldn't take longer than about 30 minutes from unpacking to lighting your first fire.


This is a bigger fire pit than our #2 choice above (from the same manufacturer). While usually a bit more expensive than the Bromley fire pit, we still feel this is a great choice for the price. Once your fire is lit, the cutouts round the outside of the bowl look great when the sun's gone down.

One suggestion which may add to your enjoyment of this firepit, is to put sand, lava rocks or fire glass in the base. This helps protect the base & your lawn or patio from heat, and makes more of the heat project outwards, where you want it. If you use colored fire glass, it also adds to the look when the fire is lit (as well as draining faster if it does rain overnight after the fire has gone out).

At 40lb, it's just about light enough to be portable, or to take on camping trips.

Minor Issues

Awkward assembly & easily-scratched paint are the main problems

Some owners have mentioned that assembly can be a little awkward – nothing dramatic, but in some cases the holes in the legs & body don’t quite line up as well as they should, needing a bit of persuasion to get the bolts in.

The other issues are similar to our #2 pick – the painted surfaces can easily be scratched, once you’re through to the bare steel underneath, the fire pit will rust quickly when left outside. The lack of drain holes can also contribute to rusting – the usual case is that the fire is too hot to cover or move inside when it goes out, so you leave it outside, and it rains overnight. It’s best to buy some high-temperature enamel to touch up any scratches, and drill some drain holes in the base, so if it does get wet, at least the moisture can drain away, instead of sitting in the bowl.

Manual

Click here to download the user manual.

Warranty

Landmann will replace missing or defective parts within 90 days of purchase.

WE LIKE:

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    Included grill, mesh cover and poker
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    Easy to assemble
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    Light weight

WE DON'T LIKE:

  • Paint can peel
  • Rusts easily if left outside
  • No drain holes

What Makes A Good Fire Pit?

There are many factors to consider when buying a fire pit

Style​​

Fire pits come in many different styles. Here are the main choices:

Bo​w​​​​​l

The traditional round fire pits. Simple metal construction (usually mild steel or cast iron). Wood-burning. Depending on size, these may be portable.

Table

A fire pit table looks like a coffee table or outdoor dining table, but has a built-in fire in the middle. This style is virtually always gas-fueled. There are many variations of fire table available, to complement almost any outdoor furniture & location. Generally these are not portable.

Table Top

Small table-top burners are available, should you wish to keep your existing furniture & add the elegance & warmth of an outdoor fire. Typically these are ethanol-fueled (either in liquid or gel form), rather than burning logs or propane. Usually table-top burners don't provide much heat, but they still look good.

Built-in Brick / Masonry

If you're after something a bit more permanent, there are brick & masonry options (either DIY kits or professionally installed). These are the most expensive fire pits - costs can be well into 4 figures, however if you want your fire pit to make a statement & last for many years, a built-in fire pit may be for you.

Material

Mild steel

This is the material used by the more basic fire pits. Mild steel is strong, heat resistant, and easy to form into whichever shape is desired. The main downside is corrosion - if you leave your fire pit outside permanently, exposed to the elements, it will not take long to rust. Manufacturers use paint or protective coatings to reduce this problem, but the coatings are easily scratched, and the ash & residue left behind after a fire is also corrosive

Stainless steel

Stainless steel has most of the properties of mild steel, but it is far more corrosion-resistant. There are various grades of stainless steel available, the most common grades are 304 and 316. 304 stainless steel is cheaper than 316, but 316 is more rust-resistant. Both grades are far less prone to rusting than mild steel, however mild steel is significantly cheaper, and easier to work with.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a heavy, solid material. It tends to retain heat for long time. Fire pits made from cast iron are unlikely to be portable, however their weight makes them stable & unlikely to be accidentally tipped over, which is good from a safety point of view. Cast iron suffers from the same corrosion issues as mild steel.

Copper

Copper has excellent heat-conducting properties. It does corrode easily, with a green-hued patina forming quickly when exposed to the elements. However, unlike steel, the corrosion only forms on the surface, and it will not affect the structure. Depending on your other outdoor decor & furniture, the look of weathered copper may add to the ambience, or look terrible.

Aluminum

Many fire tables use aluminum in their construction, similar to a lot of modern outdoor furniture. Aluminum is very light weight and corrosion resistant, which makes it ideal for a fire table which will usually be left outdoors in all weathers. If your existing outdoor furniture is aluminum, this may be the best match.

Size

Fire pits are available in many different sizes. Small fire pits may be 18" to 24" in diameter, large fire pits can be over 48" across. Fire tables are available in much the same sizes as the outdoor dining tables & coffee tables they resemble. Custom-made, permanent brick fire pits can be much larger than this.

Choose the size that suits you & the area you plan to use it. Bear in mind the most typical size of fire logs is around 24", and the bigger the pit, generally the more heat you will get from it, and the more fuel it will need.

Fuel type

Wood

Wood is the fuel most people think of, when buying a fire pit. Wood is cheap, widely available, renewable, and for many of us, brings us back to the campfires of our youth.

There is something primal about sitting round a real fire, especially one you've made yourself, that you don't really get from a gas fire.

However, there are some disadvantages:

  • Wood fires are more difficult to start than gas
  • There is always some residue to clean up (mostly ash, but there can also be unburned wood)
  • Smoke can get in your eyes, and make your clothes & hair smell

Propane

If you've decided a wood fire is not for you, gas is your most likely alternative. Most gas fire pits use propane (typically the same 20lb propane tank you'd use for your outdoor grill). A gas fire doesn't have quite the same feel as a wood fire, however it does have a few advantages:

  • Smoke - there is virtually no smoke, and no smoky smell with a gas fire
  • Control - it's a lot easier to turn a gas fire off, than to put out a wood fire
  • Easy to light - usually a gas fire can be lit at the press of a button. In the worst case you'll need to use a match or barbecue igniter. Either way it's a lot easier than lighting a wood fire
  • Options - you can buy gas fires in many more shapes, sizes and styles than wood fires. Often your gas fire will be compatible with fillers such as glass beads or lava rocks, which opens up more ways to tailor the look to your own style.

Natural Gas

Another gas fire pit fuel option is Natural Gas. This requires the fire pit to be connected to the natural gas supply in your house. As such, it will usually require professional installation. Advantages and disadvantages are similar to propane, with a couple of important differences:

  • As your fire pit will be connected to the gas supply instead of a propane tank, it will not be portable
  • Running costs will be lower as natural gas is cheaper than propane tank refills, but initial costs will be higher, as you have to factor in the cost of installation

Safety & Regulations

As with any fire, safety is absolutely paramount when you're considering a fire pit. There are many things to consider, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list.

Be sure to read & follow all the safety instructions in your fire pit's manual, and check any local & state regulations that apply to open fires in your location.

  • Don't place your fire too close to your house, shed, trees, or any other structure.
  • You shouldn't use a wood fire in an enclosed area, such as a patio or porch. Some types of gas or ethanol fires may be suitable for patios, but be sure to check your local regulations & make sure there is plenty of ventilation. Smoke inhalation, suffocation, and carbon monoxide poisoning are just some of the personal risks you could potentially be exposed to. In addition, embers from open fires can cause house fires if they travel up to the ceiling.
  • Open fireplaces are very hot, so make sure children and animals are kept at a safe distance.
  • Check your local ordinances for any rules regarding the age of anyone in charge of a fire.
  • Don't expose a wooden deck or other flammable materials such as dry leaves to the heat from your fire. If you must put the fire pit on your wooden deck, place some stone, masonry or concrete slabs underneath. Be aware that embers from the fire can be discharged some distance away.
  • Check out the EPA's Burn Wise program for more information about wood-burning fires.

Budget

Fire pits can range from under $50 for the simplest option, to many thousands for a custom-made built-in outdoor fireplace.

In most cases, however, they are quite affordable.

Fixed or portable?

Some lighter-weight fire pits are portable, so you can store them indoors, away from the weather when you're not using them, or take them with you on camping trips, to the beach, tailgating etc.

Accessories

Check which accessories your chosen fire pit comes with, and which you'll need to buy separately.

Some of the most common accessories are:

  • Screen (prevents embers from flying out of the fire pit)
  • Grill (if you plan to cook over your fire pit)
  • Poker
  • Weatherproof cover
  • Carry bag

Maintenance / Cleaning

How to look after your fire pit

The maintenance and cleaning requirements will largely depend on whether you buy a wood- or gas-burning fire pit. There are some tasks common to both types though:

General / Common to Wood- and Gas-Fueled Fire Pits

  • Keep your fire pit covered when it's not in use - this will limit the amount of cleaning you have to do, and extend the life of your fire pit. Don't put the cover on until the fire has cooled!
  • Keep surrounding plants & foliage trimmed to a safe distance away from the fire pit

Wood-Fueled Fire Pits

  • Remove the ash when the fire pit is not in use - ash is slightly acidic, and will attack the structure of your fire pit, over a period of time.​
  • You can spread ash from the fire on your lawn or garden, as it contains many of the trace elements required for plant growth - don't do this if your soil is already alkaline though, as it will slightly raise the pH of your soil.

Gas-Fueled Fire Pits

  • Ensure the burners are kept clean
  • Regularly check the gas line to ensure there are no leaks or visible corrosion

Recalls

Occasionally faults are discovered after a product has gone on sale, usually requiring the product to be recalled by the manufacturer.

There were no recalls listed for any of the fire pits mentioned here at the time of writing (November 2018). However, it's always a good idea to check the latest information at the Consumer Product Safety Commission website before buying any large, expensive or potentially dangerous product.

Do you own any of the fire pits mentioned here? Did you choose a different one? Let us know in the comments!

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