Affordable Fire Pits for Safer, Cozier Outside Nights
Curl up around the fire without breaking the bank.
Cozy and nostalgic, warm and romantic, nothing adds atmosphere to an outdoor gathering like a backyard fire. While concerns around stray sparks and the cost of building a permanent outdoor pit may feel like they’re extinguishing your campfire dreams, there are safe, affordable, and portable ways to take the chill out of a winter night.
Taking a few small precautions can make a big difference. Check your local air quality regulations, like sparetheair.org for the San Francisco area, to avoid no-burn days. Keep the flames small and a minimum of 10 feet away from any structure. Build your fire in an uncovered area on a flame-resistant surface like bricks, pavers, or a grill mat. Put out the fire completely with sand or water and dispose of ashes and embers, which could stay active for up to two days, in a metal container. And always use a spark screen to play it safe.
Now that you’ve got your safety tips in, here is a brief list of our favorite small footprint fire pits to use at home or on the road.
Pyro Camp Fire Portable Fire Pit Kit
Designed and built from perforated stainless steel in Kansas City, this small but mighty model is just big enough (18” long and 14” wide) to hold a small bundle of standard wood logs. A removable metal base makes clean up and disposal of ashes a cinch. An optional grill top transforms it into a cooking surface.
Concrete Wood Burning Fire Pit
At 21” in diameter, this fire bowl is large enough to warm a group but small enough for snug city yards, or to pop in the back of a car. The matte gray finish and rounded shape work with any style, from rustic to modern. While the built-in handles mean that it’s easy to transport, at a little over 30 pounds, it might be happier staying put.
Voyager Portable Fire Pit
Where wood fires are banned, or just inconvenient, this retro table-top option in glossy red evokes the airstream heyday of the 1960s. It folds up to the size of a briefcase and transports easily, and an 8’ hose attaches it discreetly to a propane tank.
Novogratz Ceramic Fire Pit
This tomato red number lends a shot of kitschy color, a Novogratz signature, to your camp site or patio.
Cartagena Chiminea Silver Black Hammered Iron Fire Pit
Like a modern day pot belly stove, with an unfinished hammered steel exterior, this is the rare chiminea with a hinged screen to contain sparks and embers without impeding heat flow.
Sunnydaze Northland Outdoor Fire Pit
The hibachi-grill-meets-fireplace is basic in the best possible way. It’s sturdy, no-fuss, and at 36” long, big enough to accommodate a crowd. The spark screen has a hinged door to make adding logs easier.
Budde Outdoor Cast Iron Wood Burning Fire Pit
With its vintage cottage charm and worn iron finish, this rustic fire pit alternative looks right at home at a log cabin in the mountains or a beach campground.
Solo Ranger Stove and Shield
Solo fire pits and camp stoves are popular for a reason. They’re sleek, low-smoke, and lightweight. And while none of them come equipped with a safety shield, they’re available as an a la carte “accessory.” We think the peace of mind is worth the splurge.