Fire pits used to be simple, just holes in the ground with a grill for cooking. Life was simpler back then, but today, with so much choice – from fire tables, to gas fire pits, wood fire pits, and even portable fire pits – how do you choose the best fire pit for your garden?
In this article we’re going to talk about the different types of fire pits, including the best fire pits for BBQs, and the best fire pits for patios, because it’s not just about cooking.
It can get cold in the evenings, and a good fire pit can keep you warm late into the night, and even if you’re just by yourself, some gardens come to life after dark.
Best Fire Pits for 2022
Fire Pit Buyers' Guide
What are Fire Pits Used For?
Fire pits are traditionally used for heat, but increasingly we want time from them, so today’s fire pits are all about cooking, entertainment, and design. Some even incorporates fire pit to their outdoor kitchen.
For me though a fire pit is about more than just looking good, it’s about staving off the winter temperatures and keeping the garden going into the evening.
When we moved in here, our main aim was to create winter drama. It’s always the hardest season to get right in the garden, but the plants that flower do it dramatically.
Plants that seem boring during the day come to life with intoxicating scent, and bright white flowers open up to attract evening pollinators.
As you sit on the patio, staring out into the garden, you hear the buzzing of bees and flapping of wings late into the evening, and it’s all down to a well-placed gas fire pit that keeps us warm, without masking the floral aroma with smoke.
Different Types of Fire Pits
When I started thinking about this article, I got a bit muddled up trying to define the kind of fire pits I wanted to talk about, because there are so many merits to different designs.
Wooden fire pits, for example, have a traditional rustic charm that works really well in small gardens, and can be a great talking point in contemporary design too. Equally, gas fire pits are pretty incredible these days, and help create clean smoke free heat.
So in the section below I’ve tried to break fire pits down into a few key types, so you can decide exactly what you’re after. Hopefully it helps you choose the right bit of kit for your yard.
Fire Pit Table
Fire pit tables, or fire tables, whatever you want to call them, are probably the biggest statement piece of furniture you can put in your garden, but the big choice here comes down to fuel.
For me, even though I prefer wood burning fire pits, the gas fire tables are definitely more practical, because if you’re sitting around them eating dinner, you avoid the harsh smoke blowing in your eye from the wood fire.
If you decide to get a fire table, price is a big factor too. They can cost anywhere from $800 to $10,000 but you can find some incredible gas fire tables for just over $2000, which would be perfect in almost any garden.
We love fire pit tables so much we made a full review on it. Be sure to check out our complete fire pit tables buying guide here.
Gas Fire Pit
Gas fire pits are really compact ways to heat patios and seating areas, and come in all shapes and sizes, but by far the best are the modern gas stoves that give off traditional flames without any of the smoke.
Gas fire pits are perfect for campfires in the garden, and super easy to set up and light when you’re busy too, making them the most convenient choice.
Wood Fire Pit
For traditional gardeners (or cooks), wood fire pits are the only real choice. They’re authentic, small, amazing, and look even better when they’re lit, with the fiery embers glowing from inside burning logs.
For any budget-wise gardener, they’re also a great way to get rid of weeds and overgrown plants. Just leave your cuttings to dry out for a few months under cover and then burn them.
It saves you loads of space in the bin, and helps you get rid of all sorts of garden waste that can’t otherwise be composted.
Portable Fire Pit - Best Portable Fire Pit Reviews
Portable fire pits are designed for camping, but some are so compact and fold away so neatly that you can keep them permanently in the car so you can set up a campfire at the beach any time you like.
There are portable gas stoves or portable wood fire pits, so the choice is more about space in the car than anything else. If you buy a portable gas fire pit, you’ll need to keep gas in the car all the time too.
But a wood fire pit just needs timber to burn, and you can find coals a few minutes from most beaches.
If you’re on a budget, or if you just prefer DIY, fire rings mean you can create your own custom fire pit safely. Fire rings are just metal rings that help safely conduct heat, so fires don’t burn too quickly.
They also prevent moisture ingress on the fire pit if you’re building a buried fire pit in the ground. The big downside of fire rings is that, even though they’re really cheap, once you’ve installed them, you can’t move them.
They are really permanent installations, but they do make beautiful additions to nighttime gardens.
Best Fire Pit Reviews
If all you want is a simple fire pit, then this is maybe a bit too high end for you, but it’s the sort of gadget I’d love to have at home.
It’s only small, but the fire pit from Solo Stove is a really clever design that keeps firewood and charcoal burning evenly for longer.
With air flow from underneath and a clean cylindrical body that recirculates smoke back down the base so you don’t get sudden clouds of smoke filling the patio and choking your guests.
Wood fire pits are SO worth the effort. They’re harder to light than gas fire pits, and you need to keep topping them up especially if you ever want to cook on them, but they look amazing; they smell amazing; and they make food taste amazing.
This simple fire pit from Harbour Housewares is everything you could possibly need in a fire pit. If you’re not after a fire table and want to achieve more of a traditional look, then this is a great contemporary twist on that, with neat lines, a simple, modern stand, and a stunning matt finish.
It’s only small, so you might want to splash out on something a little bigger, but for a fire pit on a budget, this is a really good buy.
Outland Living’s table is an outstanding bit of patio furniture. The table is made from plastic rattan, which is long lasting, weather resistant, and quick to clean, and the gas cylinders are super easy to change.
On top of that, it’s really intuitive for a first time installer to set up, with straightforward valves to adjust the flame height. Like any decent fire pit table, it’s gas powered too, which means it’s virtually smoke free, so you don't leave the party smelling of smoke with burning eyes.
But seriously, all safety and comfort features aside, it just looks good. And fire pits aren’t there to be practical, they’re there to impress.
So InnFest is making a bold move with this table, and I kind of like it. 90% of people looking for a fire pit table want gas fires these days, because they’re smoke free, and easier to sit around and have a conversation without tears in your eyes.
However, this giant of a table is a traditional BBQ grill in the centre, which means you can use it as a BBQ all year round, or remove the grill in summer and fill it with ice for parties.
If you want to cover it up when there’s rain expected there’s a handy centre section that can be slotted over the fire pit, and a tarpaulin supplied with the table too for seriously rough weather.
All in all, this is a great table, but it’s not one for the faint hearted as you’ll be sitting right up close to the flame.
This is more of an outdoor coffee table than a fire table, but it’s a cute piece of kit, that works as a camp fire, and works out on solid patios.
Maybe steer clear of using it near any timber decking or dry grass, but it’s safe enough to use as a camp fire when you’re playing out in the evenings.
Because it’s built from a fire proof poly-resin, it’s pretty safe to touch even when the fire’s burning, so you’re less likely to burn yourself than on traditional cast iron fire pits.
It’s also a really quick material to clean, and can just be hosed down with a pressure sprayer when it’s not in use.
This fire bowl is from a company called outdoor basic, and if you’re looking for a basic fire bowl, you’re in luck. There’s no frills with this fire pit, just a simple valve and pit, ready to burn.
It’s great for camp fires, and for a simple patio that just needs some heat in the evening, it’s a great little gadget, but if you’re looking to wow your friends, you might want to find something a bit more substantial.
If you’re looking for the sort of thing you see on reality TV in the background, this is the fire pit for you. It’s a bit gaudy but it’s a really neat fire pit that isn’t shy about showing off.
Because it’s made from fire-proof resin and topped with a granite rim, it’s really safe to touch, and it shouldn’t get hot enough (apart from the flames) to burn you.
It’s also completely smoke free, so perfect for parties.
You can’t have everything right? There are some really beautiful fire pits on review here that look amazing, but have small grills so aren’t that effective. This isn’t one of them.
This fire pit by bond, is a seriously basic, slightly ugly fire pit, but it’s got the best grill of any gas pit on review, and it’s amazing for campfire cooking.
I guess sometimes it’s hard to get everything you want all the time, and this is the perfect example. It’s the practical choice, but maybe not the best looking…
This is a really gorgeous fire pit if you’re a fan of rustic charm. If there was one fire pit I could keep from this set of reviews, it’d be this. It’s hard to light, but well worth the effort.
The rusted cast iron surface glows an almost molten red when the flame gets going and radiates heat around the patio. It’s not a fire pit for any sort of timber decking, but on a concrete base, or out on the lawn it’s amazing.
Fire pit rings are a really great way to save cash when you’re installing new wood or charcoal fire pits in the garden and don’t mind them being more permanent.
This fire pit ring from Karpevta is really easy to install, and can either be placed on hard ground and built around, or buried into the earth for a traditional fire pit.
The steel ring prevents water ingress into the fire hole, and helps radiate the heat around the seating area more efficiently too.
This simple fire pit ring from Pleasant Hearth is amazing value, and a fraction of the value of some high end gas fire pits. Obviously, fire rings are the most basic option.
Just provide a base to build a fire pit around, or a structure to bury into the earth, but their high radiation quality means they’re great at warming up spaces, and make it slightly easier to light traditional wooden camp fires than just laying them out on the ground.
I love this cute little fire pit. It’s a really cleverly designed grill that folds away and comes with a tray so you can always make a safe and flat surface to light your fire.
It’s a charcoal or wood burning fire pit, designed specifically for camping, so wherever you end up you can just throw this in the trunk and head off into the wild with a flat pack fire pit ready to go.
It’s a little bit fiddly to set up and takes some time to make sure it's safe before you light it, but it works as a mini BBQ grill, or you can take off the grill and add more wood for a bigger flame.
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Best Fire Pit - Our Top Pick
It’s more expensive than anything you can directly compare it to, but the Solo Stove Bonfire Fire Pit is a really clever camping stove fire pit, which would look great on your travels, or even on a patio.
Because of its genius cylindrical air flow it pushed flashes inwards to stop them flicking out as everyone sat around the fire, and recirculates the smoke to reduce smoke in the surrounding area.
This is a really amazing fire pit for cooking on too, because it focuses the heat inwards so you get super focused heat in one area for quickly toasting marshmallows or roasting a quick kebab.
Best Value Fire Pit
Budget shouldn’t mean things look cheap, Harbour Housewares Cast Iron Fire Pit prove that ten times over. For anyone looking for a simple wood fire bowl, this dopes the job perfectly, and looks good doing it.
I think why I love it though is because it’s not trying to be anything special, it’s just there, ready to light fires, and keep you warm. Everything a fire pit needs to be without being too flashy.
It’s even cast iron, which means it holds up to heat better than the stainless steel, chrome finish fire pits that cost twice the price.
Premium Choice Fire Pit
Outland Living Series 403-Espresso Brown Fire Table is an insanely clean gas fire pit that keeps you warm without filling the air with smoke, so you can eat out around the table in the evenings with friends without that nagging heavy smoke filled air from a traditional BBQ.
They’re also really easy to set up and clean, and thanks to their glass fire stones they look good even when they’re off.
Fire Pit FAQs
Is it safe to put a fire pit on your deck?
It’s never safe to put a wood burning fire pit on a timber deck without some serious safety precautions, and barrier mats. Instead of placing a wood burning fire pit on a deck, consider a gas fire table or a gas grill in its place.
How do you protect a wooden deck from fire pits?
If the only space you have for a fire pit is a wooden deck, then there are some precautions you can take to make the area safe. First, you can use paving slabs underneath the fire pit, with timber decking surrounding the fire pit
If you want to make your wooden deck safe against sparks from a wood fire pit, you can buy specially made fire pit mats that sit underneath the fire pit and help reflect heat away from the desk, as well as being flame retardant.
How do you line a fire pit?
If you’re using a fire pit ring to install a DIY fire pit, you need to line the base with sand. The sand helps to regulate the heat, and drains water away easily when it rains so you’re not trying to light a fire on the mud – which is never, ever, a good idea.
Is it cheaper to build or buy a fire pit?
You can build a basic fire pit for $0, but it will always look like a $0 fire pit. On average a custom built fire pit costs around $700 to build well, and you can buy a per made fire pit, or even a fire pit table for an average price of around $700, so the choice is more about time than money.
For more options for your fire place, also see our product reviews on the best cast iron chiminea for 2022.
Light Up Your Evenings with the Best Fire Pit for 2022
I’m a big fan of sitting out in the evening and making the most of the flowers that come into bloom late at night. They’re the cleverest plants in the garden, making the most of the evening wildlife and adding mystique to our outdoor spaces.
It doesn’t matter how good a gardener you are, you will never beat the miracles of nature at their own game. So sit back with the best music, the best drinks, and the best fire pit, and just enjoy the wonder of nature at night. That’s what fire pits are for, above all else.