We’ve compiled a list of our top five best portable propane fire pit to help you choose an alternative campfire for your next camping trip.
That crackling campfire can be nostalgic and rounds out a day of hiking, fishing, and exploring the great outdoors, but sometimes wood campfires just aren’t practical when camping.
Enter portable propane fire pits as an alternative! Below we take a closer look at some of the best portable propane fire pits. We also answer some common questions on how to use portable fire pits safely so let’s begin!
Propane Campfire – Our Recommendations
- Outland Premium Firebowl Fire Pit
- Camp Chef Propane Fire Pit
- Heininger Propane Outdoor Fire Pit
- Bali Outdoors Fire Pit
- Camco Portable Propane Campfire
Quick Answers: Best Portable Propane Fire Pit
1. Outland Firebowl Fire Pit
Dimensions: 19 x 19 x 11 inches | Output: 58,000 BTU/HR | Weight: 24.5 pounds
Our favorite is the Outland Firebowl Premium Fire Pit. It’s easy to set up and turn on with the matchless auto-ignition. It’s high quality and provides a nice amount of heat.
The Outland Premium Firebowl is made with high-quality steel that’s safe to use all year round and is approved for use during most fire bans. The bowl is pre-attached to a stand which gives it just the right height and makes it stable. It also comes with a secure lid and carrying kit.
With a 19-inch diameter, this fire pit is a great size for campsites and is safe to use during most campfire bans. It may not get as hot as a wood fire pit but it’s still super effective. We could feel the heat all the way to our toes which was just enough to keep us warm until bedtime.
The Outland Premium Firebowl is self-contained, with the lid holding in the included lava rocks and the hose already attached, making it an excellent low-maintenance option that you can set up and pack up quickly.
We really like how the Stainless Steel Burner and the extra Lava Rocks really do give you a roaring fire without the smoke! The flames that flicker over the lava rocks give a nice ambiance and warmth.
Overall, we like the Outland Premium Firebowl because you can use it during most fire bans and best of all, you don’t smell like firewood when you go to bed. It’s a great little fire pit that’s perfect for camping trips, RV travels, tailgating, and even your casual backyard party.
- Fast start-up
- High-quality materials
- Adjustable flame
- None that we found
2. Camp Chef Gas Fire Pit
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 6.5 inches | Output: 55,000 BTU/HR | Weight: 23 pounds
The Camp Chef portable fire pit is designed for cooking. It’s a 15” diameter fire pit which is a good size for roasting hot dogs or marshmallows.
This design will specifically appeal to you if want to use your fire pit not only for staying warm but also for cooking meals. The bowl is made from heavy steel and the safety ring is nickel-coated steel.
This one comes with 2 extendable roasting sticks and 12 pounds of lava rocks, more than enough to keep your fire insulated and distributed for many camping trips.
Its safety features include an emergency shut-off valve and adjustable flame height. The flame tends to be higher than many comparable models and can go up to 14 inches on the high flame setting. Even with such a high flame, it can make a 20lb tank of propane last up to 15 hours.
The Camp Chef also comes with a carry bag. That, with all of the accessories such as the 5 ft hose, and the adjustable roasters, makes this a complete option that’s perfect for families.
Overall, the Camp Chef portable fire pit is basic but gets the job done. We found it surprisingly durable. We’ve used it for 2 years mostly along the coast where there’s a lot of humidity and salt in the air and the burner still looks great with no signs of corrosion.
- Designed for cooking
- High flame mimics
- No lid for containing lava rocks
3. Heininger Outdoor Fire Pit
Dimensions: 19.2 x 19.2 x 11.5 inches | Output: 58,000 BTU/HR | Weight: 22 pounds
The Heininger outdoor fire is very comparable to our Winner, the Outland Firebowl, with its design and features almost identical. A big plus is that this one comes with a premium cover as well.
Setting off 58,000 BTUs of heat the Heininger is another easy-to-use portable propane fire pit option. It’s easy to pack up and carry around with the carrying strap and the cover it comes with.
Overall, the Heininger is a great fire pit. It works perfectly right out of the box. The construction is sturdy and it comes with an extra bag of rocks.
We used it over 6 days for 5-6 hours per night and we used approximately 2/3 of a 20lb propane tank each night. The amount of heat is good enough for about 6 people to sit around and feel comfortable while roasting marshmallows.
- Elegant design
- Very light
- Travel strap isn’t the most comfortable
4. Bali Outdoors Fire Pit
Dimensions: 19 x 19 x 16 inches | Output: 58,000 BTU/HR | Weight: 17.6 pounds
This option from Bali Outdoors is a square-design, powder-coated, stainless steel fire pit with lava rocks and a locking lid for easy transport.
The locking lid is one of the most compelling features of this unit, as it snaps onto the base and keeps those lava rocks from falling out, even if it tips over! Of course, the chance of tipping over is slim, since it also comes attached to a sturdy base.
The flame is lit with the built-in auto-ignition and can be adjusted to produce either low or higher flames.
The Bali Outdoors is square in shape, which makes it take up less space in storage than a round portable fire pit.
This Bali Outdoors Fire Pit model also comes with a propane tank holder and a 10’ gas hose which you attach beneath the base stand. This makes the setup process quick and easy.
We really liked how there is a handle on the lid that allows you to snap it into place to transport the unit, without the need for an additional carrying case.
- Locking lid
- Square shape stores better
- Doesn’t feel as hot as the other models we’ve reviewed here
5. Camco Portable Propane Campfire
Dimensions: 9.81 x 13 x 13 inches | Output: 65,000 BTU/HR | Weight: 15 pounds
The Camco Little Red Campfire comes in with simple features that check most boxes when looking for a small portable propane campfire.
The Camco’s fire tray is just under 12 inches in diameter. It’s the most compact unit of our selection. But compact as it may be, it’s fully functional with auto-ignition and adjustable heat putting out a maximum of 65,000 BTUs/hr.
We liked how small this Camco firepit is. It has a handle on the top of the lid and you can carry it around just like a little suitcase. It’s a no-frills but solid option if you’re a fussless camper who needs something small and easy to store.
- Simple design
- Very Compact for easy storage
- Makes a lot of hissing noises
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The Benefits of Portable Propane Fire Pits
Propane is also a more readily available and reliable heat source than a traditional wood fire, as you eliminate the need to find dry wood, and constantly add wood to your fire.
If wood is not readily available or has been recently rained on, then you’re sure to have some unhappy campers if you’d been relying upon a wood campfire. Choosing an alternative to wood fires also eliminates the variability of popping wood and flying embers that can cause fires or damage property.
Propane is also odor-free, sparing you if you are not interested in having you and all your belongings smelling like a campfire for the coming weeks.
When you turn on your propane stove, the heat is immediate, and when you turn it off, the heat immediately dissipates, no need to drown the campfire or keep an eye on the embers. The convenience of using a portable propane stove can be a reason many campers choose them.
Regional fire-bans can affect whether you can build a fire in park campsites and wilderness. It is a camper’s responsibility to be aware of fire regulations and conditions in their area and prepare for that. Often when a fire restriction is in place, however, propane stoves are still permitted.
The National Park Service recommends propane stoves as a campfire alternative during high fire danger periods. Having a propane fire pit can take uncertainty about how to cook food or stay warm out of the equation when planning your next camping trip in an area that restricts open fires.
While the convenience, sustainability, and safety of using a propane fire can be compelling reasons to use one next time you go camping, there can be a few drawbacks.
Disadvantages of Portable Propane Fire Pits
Standard propane takes a 20lb tank. Relying on a large, heavy tank may restrict you to car camping. If you’re looking to head up into more remote areas with just a backpack, although these alternative campfires are portable, you may find that you’re unable to tote them long distances.
But, if you’re up for it, that added weight can bring a challenge that will be worth it with a fire at the destination!
While portable propane fire pits are one of the safest campfire replacement options, be sure that you have a complete understanding of fire safety, especially around using propane.
Propane fire accidents can be disastrous to you, others around you, and the natural environment. If you’re not confident handling propane, it may be best to bring a friend who is, or wait until you are confident with propane before camping with a propane fire pit.
How to Use Portable Propane Fire Pits
Only use a propane fire pit in a well-ventilated area, away from any flammable items such as tents, gear, and dry brush. Do not use inside! Burning propane emits carbon monoxide.
Make sure your connections between the fire pit, hose, and propane tank are secure, to avoid gas leaks.
Keep the propane tank as far from the fire pit as possible, and on an even surface. Many options, such as our Winner, come with propane tank stabilizers.
Considerations When Buying a Portable Propane Fire Pit
When choosing a portable propane fire pit, look for features that suit your needs of convenience, reliability, and usability.
Below we outline some of the common features of portable fire pits and their benefits or drawbacks.
Safety features such as a locking lid allow you to prevent burns from remaining heat after you’ve turned off your fire. Long hoses keep the propane tank away from the flame and safely out of sight.
Having a longer hose also lets you attach the tank to your RV’s propane, eliminating the need to bring along a propane tank.
Adjustable knobs allow you to control the flame, which can affect how long you can run your fire pit.
Also Read: Safest Space Heater For RV
The shape of your gas fire pit doesn’t necessarily impact its functionality but can be a matter of personal preference and affect how you choose to store your pit.
Most portable fire pits are round, though our Runner-Up is square, which we find so much easier to store!
Most portable propane fire pits are filled with either lava rock or fake logs. While logs can evoke a sense of warming your hands over a real fire, lava rocks distribute heat better.
Do note that lava rocks tend to sit loosely in the bowl of the pit, so make sure if you choose an option with lava rocks that you keep it on a flat surface or use a lid to prevent spillage.
Ease of Use
Look for a portable tank that is easy to set up and break down. Many portable propane fire pits are connect-and-go and come with carrier storage bags, making them excellent choices for a variety of expertise levels when it comes to outdoor gadgets.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Portable Propane Fire Pits
Q1. Are propane fire pits worth it?
It really depends on the experience you want and how much work you’re ready to put into making a fire. Compared to their wood-burning counterparts, propane models take a lot less work to enjoy a crackling fire out in the woods.
Propane is a more readily available and reliable heat source than a traditional wood fire, as you eliminate the need to find dry wood, and constantly add wood to your fire. Plus, if there’s a fire ban in place, in most cases, propane fire pits are allowed which makes them totally worth it.
Q2. Do propane fire pits give off heat?
Yes, they do! Ok, maybe not as much as a wood-burning fire pit of course but they can still give you a good amount of heat. When looking at propane fire pits, pay attention to their heat output which is calculated in BTU. Anything above 50,000 BTUs will give you decent heat.
The main advantage of propane pits is that although they generally produce less heat than wood-burning pits, they produce instant heat and produce no messy ashes to clean.
Q3. How long does a 20lb propane tank last on a fire pit?
A 20 lb propane tank will last approximately 8 to 9 hours at a moderate gas output and will last approximately 4 to 4 ½ hours at maximum output.
Q4. Can you cook on a portable propane fire pit?
Yes, you can. Although propane fire pits are not specifically designed for cooking, you can still use them for roasting. Since they don’t come with drip pans, you should clean them after each use to get rid of any food particles and other debris that could alter the flavor of your food.
To keep your propane fire pit in good working condition, clean the burners regularly for proper gas flow and also check fuel lines on a regular basis.
While it’s safe to cook over a portable propane fire pit, you should avoid cooking your food directly on a grill (as this will create a big mess!). Instead, cook your food in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven.
Q5. Is it safe to roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit?
You can certainly roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit. You can roast marshmallows just like you would over a wood-burning fire pit. To roast them safely, you should use roasting sticks that are sturdy and about as long as an adult’s arm.
To roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit, all you need to do is poke your marshmallow with the roasting stick and place it over the flame. Rotate the stick regularly to toast the marshmallow evenly on all sides. Continue until the marshmallow is light brown all over and
The Outland Firebowl Premium Firebowl surpasses our other highly-competitive options with its high-quality materials, elegant design, and comprehensive safety features.
Many of the other options had shortcomings compared to the Outland Firebowl. For example, several had short gas hoses, unsecured lava rocks, unsteady bases, and lacked lids or propane stands.
These oversights tend to not provide us campers with confidence in fire safety, or reliability in terms of ease of use. The Outland Firebowl provides good safety features with its long hose, secure lid, and strong all-weather stainless steel.
The Outland Firebowl Portable Fire Pit is our clear Winner as it is a complete, safe, and reliable portable propane fire pit that can enhance and warm up your next camping adventure!
If you liked this article, you can find more of our camping gear guides here.