The best fire pits for 2020

The best fire pits for 2020

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For a fire pit in the market? We’re taking a bunch of portable fire pits for a spin to figure out which one is the best.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Whether you are in the woods or in your own backyard, it is difficult to relax in a rough campfire. It is easy that you can think to recreate that coziness. You do not need to create a permanent fixture either from heavy stone or rock. Many retailers, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon, offered a wide selection of portable fire pit products.

These transportable fireplaces are widely included in price, size, and weight. There are inexpensive $ 60 models, and high-performance pits that will set you back as low as $ 350. Additionally, you can spend $ 1,500 or more on fancy propane-burning fire pits.

In this round-up, I focus on real, wood-fueled fire pits. Beyond providing heat, they can also make food in the form of a grill. Most importantly, they are a great way to roast marshmallows for delicious s’mores. The models on this list are either best sellers, highly ranked or qualified challengers from established brands. I personally tested them to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. If you need help in choosing a fire pit that matches your needs, then you have come to the right place.

Brian Bennett / CNET

My favorite fire pit on this list is created by the company Tiki, which started with the familiar Tiki bamboo torch 60 years ago. Now, Tiki offers a large, strong and attractive fire pit. Priced at about $ 300 more than its budget rivals, it is the most expensive fire pit ever in this roundup. Nevertheless, its performance, ease of use and superior style make this pit worth the investment.

The steel and stained wood pit just doesn’t look good. The Tiki brand fire pit has a clever airflow system that recirculates hot smoke in the fire chamber. During my testing, it was easy to ignite, fire in about 5 minutes, and burn completely at 15.

It produces far less smoke than other fire pits I’ve tested, especially after its logs are fully caught, usually at about the 15-minute mark. Only the Solo Stove Ranger burned the wood with low smoke emissions, its fuel burned in 5 minutes. The logs of the tiki fire pit continued to burn efficiently as well as for hours.

Due to its large (16 inch diameter) mouth, it is easy to share a fire with many people. The Solo Stove Ranger is comparatively small, with its metal fire ring 10 inches in diameter. However children who gather to roast s’mores need to be careful. All surfaces of the tiki fire pit, including its metal lips, are heating up after the fire. It also takes time to cool down after the flames die.

I appreciate the Tiki brand pit removable ash tray. It is the only product of this group containing one. This makes for easy cleaning. The pit puts out a generous amount of heat as well. While this is probably not ideal for hot summer nights, it is excellent when temperatures drop during the fall and winter. Tie the scales at 45 pounds, this fire is heavy in the pit. Think twice before applying it and seek help when you do.

Brian Bennett / CNET

The Solo Stove Ranger Fire Pit has gained an avid following in recent years. Made of squat, cylindrical, and stainless steel, the Ranger seems simple at first glance. Tucked inside this pit however, is a sophisticated airflow system. According to the Solo stove, the ranger’s vents help drive a constant supply of oxygen to its fire. They enable the fire in the pit to heat up and consume wood fuel completely.

I can confirm that Ranger is working on these promises. It starts fast, its logs start in just 5 minutes, and it burns for hours. The fire I started in Ranger was also incredibly ignited. The flames inside the pit were concentrated in an impressive rolling vortex. Despite the struggle, the Ranger emitted very little smoke.

Proving its efficiency, it burned continuously from the majority of my test logs, leaving little solid debris behind at the end of the night. In the morning there was a little ash and two or three bits of charcoal (a few inches across) to clean. The Ranger also comes with an easy rain cover. And since the pit weighs 15 pounds, it is easy to bring a fire camp on a car camping trip.

My only complaint is that the Ranger is small. Its 13 inch diameter opening (10 inch with fire ring insert) could not fully accept my test firewood log which was about 15 inches long. I would not recommend the Ranger for larger families or groups. More than two people who marshy marshmallows at once become crowded quickly. And like other high-performance fire pits, children (and adults) need to be careful around the Ranger. In addition to the intense heat from the fire, the steel surface of the Ranger rapidly increases the hot temperature.

Brian Bennett / CNET

This fire pit of the Garden Treasures proves that you do not have to spend huge amount to enjoy the backyard campfire. Despite its low price, these pits are good and wide (with a diameter of 29.5 inches). It also comes with a mesh lid to keep sparks at bay.

However, it lacks an advanced airflow system, so a fire in this pit causes a lot of smoke. And its steel frame is not stainless, so leaving the pit in the elements will invite rust. That said, I was able to get a self-contained fire in about 5 minutes. Its performance is comparable to the timing of ignition of premium fire pits such as the Solo Stove Ranger and the Tiki Brand Fire Pit.

Those products burn their fuel more efficiently, although leaving unburned firewood and ash to clean in the morning. Nevertheless, the Garden Treasurers Pit finds work on a tight budget.

We tested others


The pop-up fire pit is very portable, but creates a lot of smoke.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Pop-up fire pit

The most portable fire pit in this roundup is the pop-up pit. Its collapsible design allows you to assemble and break it quickly. It also uses a heat shield, so it will not lose ground below. The pit provides a large (2 feet square) burning surface for your fire. Since its frame is made of stainless steel, the pop-up pit is corrosion resistant. However, because the pits are so large and the walls are low, it produces a lot of smoke.

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The Kingso 22-inch fire pit is small and has poor airflow.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit (22 Inch)

Although it is a best seller on Amazon, I do not recommend buying Kingso Outdoor Fire Pit. Its small size (22 inch diameter) feels tight. And since the airflow in the entire unit is poor, I had difficulty both keeping a constant fire and keeping it burning inside this pit. It does not come with a protective shield.

A good fire pit will ignite within minutes and burn for hours.

Brian Bennett / CNET

How did we rate them

To test each fire pit, I used the same fuel the ordinary Simon Premium Hardwood sourced from my local Lowe’s hardware store. For the amount, I selected three split log lengths (about 15 inches long). I then folded the logs together, so at least some portion of each was touching the others.

Diamond strike a fire

I used diamond strike-a-fire fire starters to ignite these pits.

Brian Bennett / CNET

To ignite each pit, I used Diamond strike-a-fire Fire start available in my neighborhood Kroger supermarket. One of these starter matches is that I need to burn each pit fire (or it should be). I then logged how long it took to set up the fully built fire.

A well performing fire pit will burn completely in 5 to 10 minutes. A pit with poor airflow and design will take too much time, or even exit after 15 minutes no matter how well you stack your wood. Additionally, I noted how much smoke survived in each pit. Ideally, a fire pit would produce too much flame and little smoke. A quality fire pit will burn the fuel efficiently, leaving little solids remaining naturally once ignited.

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