Evening temperatures in the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere – like here in the UK, for instance – aren’t especially suitable for sitting outdoors while enjoying a post-nosh chinwag round the table. Enter the best fire pit.
Once the sun sets, the temperature plummets and everyone’s either reaching for the cardigan or heading back indoors again. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You could, instead, warm the cockles round a roaring fire pit, just the way our hairy simian forebears intended. No longer are fires just for scaring off sabre-tooths and making mammoth kebabs a bit more palatable — in the form of a striking fire pit, they can be beautiful, functional, sociable pieces of art for enjoyable outdoor living. Plus, they can toast a mean marshmallow. Whether you want it for flipping burgers at your next barbecue or thawing out chilly extremities, the best fire pit is a joy to have in any garden.
How to buy the best fire pit for your patio
Fire pit models featuring grills or heating plates for alfresco cooking mean you’ll be hard-pressed for an excuse to go inside at all, and anything that keeps the festivities going longer gets a thumbs-up from us. Alternatively, simply opt for a bogstandard model without a grill and do your cooking on a proper charcoal or gas barbecue while the fire pit blazes away near the dining area. A third, much cheaper method is to load your kettle barbecue with wood after you’ve used it for cooking. However, this isn’t as efficient as a bona fide fire pit because most kettle BBQs are waist height, meaning the heat won’t radiate quite as well, especially if you’re lounging about on low chairs.
Think about your other needs: if it’s design kudos you’re after, go for a good-looking model with a durable finish that’ll stay smart year after year; if your fire pit’s staying out year-round as a permanent fixture, look for long-lasting materials and an included cover to ward off the worst of the weather. And if your crew are keen campers, look for a portable fire pit that you can take on the road. For a cosy home-from-home atmosphere wherever you go, just be sure to get one with legs or a stand that’ll avoid scorching the grass.
A final consideration is fuel. The bigger the fire pit, the more logs you’ll need to add to keep it going. If you live in the countryside and have access to an infinite supply of logs then you’re in luck. But if you’re an urbanite, it’s going to cost you about £5 for a bag of local garage-sourced fire logs and a bag full will burn away in next to no time. For a large fire pit like the Dancook 9000, three hours of alfresco entertainment could easily amount to three or four bags of wood. That’s up to 20 quid’s worth of cosy entertainment; the price of three extra bottles of plonk.
Also, be mindful that fire pits create a lot of smoke and if there’s a breeze it may well waft in your direction and make your clothes smell of a campfire. The smelly bit is actually quite pleasant (you will really notice it on your clothes in the morning) but having a face full of smoke isn’t.
If you’re considering investing in one of these outdoor features, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 best fire pits on the market right now that cater to a range of lifestyles, budgets and environments.
Our pick of the best garden fire pits to buy today
Lightweight and foldable for handy transportation, with classic good looks, and doing double duty as a fire pit and BBQ, the Outwell Cazal Fire Pit makes the perfect camping companion.
Despite being raised, it’s been noted that this fire pit can cause some damage when placed on grass, so stick to placing it on a patio – alternatively, putting it on bricks will help. At just £55, it remains one of the best fire pits for home and away. What's a bit of singeing between friends?
We love the convolutedly-named Fallen Fruits Oxidised Rust Effect Woodland Fire Pit Basket for its decorative style. This laser-cut rustic fire bowl has been intricately designed to bring your garden to life with woodland silhouettes and earthy tones – it really does look invitingly cosy when the logs are in full blaze. However the cut out shapes can cause ash to blow out of the bowl, so be careful not to overfill it.
As time goes on, the bowl itself will rust which will give it an even more authentically vintage look. Your guests will be none the wiser, mind, but their tootsies will sure be warm.
Kadai produces a wide range of Medieval-looking fire pits, some of them over 100 years old and costing upwards of £400 apiece – no, we’re not the first generation to think about filling a bucket with a bunch of logs. This particular model isn’t 100 years old but it certainly looks it. Thankfully it’s a lot cheaper, too.
To the untrained eye, the Travel Kadai looks like an inverted Norman helmet and it’s probably just as tough. It measures 45cm across so is just the right size for a small patio and perfect as a campfire. The short stand adds a little extra elevation.
This model is also equipped with a grill and a pair of tongs for those au fait with the lid-less direct cooking technique; ie keeping a constant eye on the food and regularly move it around so it doesn’t burn. It also comes with a handy carry bag. Incidentally, Kadai recommends using 8cm of sand in the bowl to help keep it in tip-top shape; the norm with some fire pits.
If you love the ancient, reclaimed look then this patio perfect model is well worth adding to the list.
The hand-crafted design and rust-proof bronze of the Peaktop FP35 Fire Pit make it a great choice for log-burning all year round, as well as providing a handsome rustic finish.
The bronze fire bowl itself comes complete with diamond-shaped air holes for great ventilation and a mesh screen cover to keep sparks contained. At roughly 89cm (35 inches) in width, this is a big old log burner so make sure you have the space to position it comfortably so others can walk past it without scorching a shin. A great choice for large verandahs and patios.
The Dancook 9000 is 76cm (30 inches) wide and comes with a heavyweight stainless steel grill meaning you could start an alfresco evening with a handful of charcoal to cook some sausages, chicken legs and kebabs and then, post grub, remove the grill and throw a pile of logs on top of the charcoal for a blazing fire.
The 50cm-high stand’s a clever design too: not only does it look great but it also lets you store the steel bowl on its side so it doesn’t fill with rain water and become a mecca for mozzie lava and other unsightly natural things.
Astoundingly, the Dancook’s surrounding three-inch lip remains merely warm to the touch and not searingly hot as you might reasonably expect, given that the whole thing is shaped out of heat-conducting steel. This means that kids and pets won’t get burned if they inadvertently brush by or touch the outer edge.
A top, very keenly priced but sophisticated modern-art option, but only for those with more capacious patios.
The Fuoco Tabletop Fire Pit is a must-have for campers, hikers and festival-goers alike. By far one of the best portable fire pits, it’s compact and easy to transport, and it comes handily equipped with a long-handled extinguisher, so you can safely and easily put out your fire wherever you are.
This modern fire pit uses burning gel, which burns quickly and can quickly become costly as a result, but if you’re using it purely for trips or events then it’s an undeniably handy piece of kit.
The latticed bowl and pyramid lid of this large fire pit make it a standout feature even when not in use. Its considerable size and compatibility with all types of fuel makes it one of the best fire pits for outdoor heating, perfect for creating warmth to prolong those summer nights
While it’s admittedly huge and outrageously heavy, its weatherproof cover means you don’t have to worry about moving it during the colder months, so it can remain a permanent fixture — good news for our backs.
This giant Kiln Dried Swedish Candle is a great novelty item, and although it’s more for show than anything else, it makes a fun addition to garden parties and other events.
This twist on a conventional fire pit can be used to toast treats or to cook with a frying pan, but doesn’t produce as much heat as some of the larger fire pits — it burns from the inside out with just a flickering of flame at the top, so it’s less daring than it looks. It’s deceptively heavy for its size (don’t even try to take it camping), but it’s an undeniably unique centrepiece.