Best Portable Propane Fire Pit for RV Camping & Other Adventures
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Few things are more important when out camping, or traveling in your RV, than access to a warm, cozy fire. Normally, that means keeping a stockpile of wood, smelling like smoke for days on end, and constantly disposing of ashes with a focus on safety. The good news: with a portable propane fire pit, you can easily do away with all of these drawbacks! These are the best portable propane fire pit for camping & other adventures, reviewed!
Why Fire Pits Make For Happy Campers
Originally, the meaning of ‘fire pit’ was literal: a pit on the ground in which you start a fire. This has the advantage of containing your blaze, and your ashes, but the only way to bring one of these fire pits where you need it is, well, by digging and prepping from scratch.
Modern fire pits offer the benefits of an in-ground one while overcoming their disadvantages. They stand on their own, they can be brought where you need them—it can take some effort, depending on size, but it is still perfectly doable—, and they come with the possibility of burning other fuel than wood, which presents a few perks of its own:
Easy Start, Easy Stop
Simply turn the valve, apply your small flame, and you’ve got yourself a fire. Some propane fire pits don’t even require a lighter or match, all it takes is pressing a button. And when you’re ready to call it a night, all you need to do is turn the valve back; no ashes to worry about.
Take It Anywhere
Propane fire pits are typically compatible with a 20lbs propane tank. This means that your entire kit (fuel and fire pit) can easily come with you wherever you go. Some propane fire pits are hefty, but this review will be focusing specifically on units that make for ideal companions on your outdoor adventures.
Clean, Efficient Burn
Fire pits usually come with a knob which won’t just cut off the flow of propane, it will also regulate it. This is useful for when you don’t feel so cold and can make do with a smaller flame: turn it back a notch or two, and you’ll be burning only as much fuel as you need to keep you comfortable. In other words, no waste!
When we say clean burn, we mean it in several ways. For starters, there is no mess to deal with afterwards, no ashes to dump somewhere safe. There’s also no smoke to irritate your eyes and stink up your clothes. Furthermore—and this is one of the best parts—, there are no embers flying all over the place, which means, no risk for the surrounding vegetation. This in particular is quite convenient for when the authorities say: you shall not burn!
Circumventing the Burn Ban
First, a precision: depending on its level and the state (or county, or even town) in which it is issued, a burning ban could prevent you from using even your propane fire pit. It is wise to always check with your local office so you know for sure you’re in the clear.
That said, some more context: as the name implies, a burning ban is a (temporary) restriction on burning. At the basic level, this means no wood—not even your BBQ grill—, but it will often extend to other materials such as waste (dried leaves, for example), or fireworks, in some cases.
Due to the fact that they are smokeless (and ember-free), propane fire pits can sometimes be used under milder bans; some will even come with official certification that allows their use under more stringent conditions. As mentioned before, checking with your local authorities beforehand can save you some serious headaches down the road.
BTUs: Why They Matter
When you’re looking for a source of warmth, it is useful to know just how warm it can make you; that’s when BTUs come in. One BTU (or British Thermal Unit) is equivalent to the energy required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1°F, and it is the generally accepted standard for measuring the output of heaters, fire pits and similar products.
When trying to find out the output you need for warming up your space (such as a room, or even your entire house), there are some complex calculations involved, which may take into consideration factors such as amount and orientation of windows, height of ceiling, insulation status, and so on. In this case, you don’t need to worry too much about it, as we’re talking about a heat source you’ll be using in the open.
A Few Good Choices
The following picks are all fire pits fueled by propane, and of appropriate size to take along whenever you go into the great outdoors; one of them may be what you’ve been looking for.
1. Heininger 5995
While we yet again reiterate (a reminder doesn’t hurt) that you should always stay up to date on your local regulations and ongoing burn bans, this one comes with a better chance at being used when such restrictions are in place, as it comes CSA certified for use during campfire bans. 19″ in diameter, it comes with a 10′ hose for connecting to your propane tank, and a total of 4 bags of lava stones, which you place at the pit for the purpose of creating the blaze. A knob off to the side can be used to permit or interrupt the flow of gas, as well as for regulating the flame.
- Built-in safety feature immediately cuts off the flow of gas if it detects a sudden sharp increase in pressure.
- Widely praised for enduring years of use in rough locales without decay.
- Frequent issues reported of faulty gas lines; this has been known to lead to uneven flames.
2. Camco 58035
This one may be fairly small but, with a maximum output of 65,000 BTUs, it’s hard to deny its power. Its design is fairly standard in several ways, such as the platform for holding the fire and the 10′ hose for connecting into a standard propane cylinder. It does come with some perks uncommon for its category, however: whereas most other similar models will offer a bag for purchase separately, or not at all, this one comes with a rigid lid complete with a security latch which, aside from preserving the unit from the elements when not in use, can be held by the handle at the top so the fire pit can be taken wherever you please with little effort.
- Maximum output well beyond that offered by most other similar fire pits.
- The lid and security latch provide protection and ease of transport not offered by a great many other alternatives.
- Log piece included adds to the realism of the experience.
- Per some reports, metal is thinner than that used on other units.
3. Fire Sense 62133
Whereas most fire pits of this type stand on a rigid ring, this one comes with legs which can be deployed for providing support when the unit will be in use, or folded for easier storage and transportation. For the purposes of connecting a standard propane cylinder, unit comes with a 5′ hose, and the knob on the front can regulate the flame or shut off the flow of gas. A lid can be attached to the top via safety latches on the sides, to provide a handle for gripping that facilitates moving the unit from A to B.
Worth noting that the manufacturer explicitly advises against the unit being used with its lid on, in case anyone was wondering.
- Folding legs make the unit more compact for transporting.
- Package does not provide enough lava stones for a proper fire.
- Hose for connecting the tank is only half as long as that offered by nearly every competitor; this may make some users uneasy, and understandably so.
4. Outland Living Firebowl 893
This one comes with special CSA approval as well, which gives it better chances of being used during campfire bans, and it features a pre-attached 10′ hose for your propane tank, as well as a regulator for adjusting flame intensity and shutting down the gas line. The body is steel, with an enamel finish; the burner is stainless steel, and the valve is chromed, which gives the whole thing a nice look while boosting durability. It doesn’t come with a carrying bag; it features straps instead, which don’t provide any protection the way a bag would, but at least make it easier to move the fire pit around.
- Easier to convert from propane to natural gas, thanks to a fully compatible kit available for purchase straight from manufacturer.
- Fairly lightweight and compact, even for its category, without unduly sacrificing heat output.
- Redeeming the warranty can be a complicated experience, per some reports.
- Straps are reportedly unwieldy; carrying the unit around can be somewhat uncomfortable.
5. Bond Manufacturing 67836
Considering the output offered by the average competitor, 50,000 BTUs may not be anything to write home about, but it is still decent for its intended use. Beyond that, the offer is relatively standard—knob for regulation, 10′ gas hose, lockable lid for carrying—, except because this one does not require a lighter or a match; its ignition is automatic, which means all you need to do is turn the knob in the appropriate direction, and you will have a fire going within seconds.
Whereas most similar products come in black (with some red accents here and there, occasionally), this one opts for a bronze finish.
- Automatic ignition permits operation by even an uninitiated user.
- Additional aesthetic appeal thanks to its unconventional bronze finish.
- Heat output lower than average.
- The provided lava rocks don’t give as nice a burn as with most competitors.
- Igniter known to frequently present issues, forcing user to revert to traditional means for starting a fire.
Brightest Flame: Outland Living Firebowl 893
More likely than not, you will have to use both hands when carrying this one around—rather than using the provided straps—, but there is quite a bit to make up for this potential inconvenience: aside from a pretty good heat output, it’s built with durability in mind, with its body and burner made of steel and its chromed valve. The enameled finish gives it a polished look, while further helping the unit last longer without a sign of decay.
Featuring CSA approval for burn bans can only make it even more useful when out there; and should natural gas be more of your thing, all you need to do is order an official conversion kit, and you’re good to go. All in all, this is a fairly good partner for your outdoor escapades.