A pit with poor airflow and design will take a lot longer, or even flame out after 15 minutes no matter how well you’ve stacked your wood. Ideally, a fire pit will generate a lot of flame and little smoke. A quality fire pit will also burn fuel efficiently, leaving little solid material remaining once its fire burns out naturally. The models on this list are all from established outdoor brands, and they’re either bestsellers, highly ranked or worthy challengers for the best fire pit. Let us help you choose the best wood fire pit for your backyard or patio.
The Peak radiated heat well, as long as we had flames up above the rim of the pit 12 to 18 inches, which wasn’t a problem when we had the pit filled with logs. In testing, we used wood cut to about 16 inches, which fit well and ended up lasting about fifteen minutes wood burned flags longer than similarly sized models we tried. You’ll want to use seasoned wood—that means it has had time to dry out over six or more months. Wood that’s still green or wet will burn more slowly and may produce smoke even if you use it in a smokeless fire pit.
I have worked for Wirecutter for six years in various capacities, writing about everything from backpacks to luggage to road-trip gear to car-camping tents. I currently live on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, and spend a large amount of time at the beach working on our beach gear guide and our guide to camp cooking gear. Years ago, I tested a half ton of charcoal for a Wirecutter guide, comparing burn rates and cooking temperatures. When looking at the Solo Stove and the Member’s Mark smokeless fire pit, you will notice that the Maker’s Mark unit has legs to elevate the fire pit off the ground. Solo Stove has a stand available, but otherwise sits directly on the ground.
We placed the cone in the center of the pit, laid the bag of pellets on top, and simply lit the four corners of the waxed paper bag. The fire was going strong in mere minutes with no need for lighter fluid or dealing with a partial bag of pellets. (This pit can also be used with conventional firewood.) It gave a super-strong flame for about 30 minutes, and the remaining embers burned up by the 1.5-hour mark. This Solo Stove Bonfire wood-burning smokeless fire pit has a 19.5-inch diameter, large enough to warm a backyard living space. The double-wall design pulls in outside air through holes in the base and releases inside the top rim to provide oxygen for a secondary burn that minimizes smoke output. The brand new Breeo Y-Series is the latest model from the folks who introduced the first smokeless fire pit.
We then stacked the logs together so at least some portion of each was touching the others. The Firebowl has a nice long hose to keep your gas tank away from the open flame, so it is safe to use. It gives off a significant amount of heat; because it is gas, heat can be adjusted as needed. A fire pit that can start the evening on a low setting for the ambiance and finish it with a roaring fire to keep the chill away is a luxury that wood burners don’t offer. Using a pellet fire pit instead of wood is a different experience. The smell can be different, especially if you throw in some pellets designed for smoking meats, and the fire feels more intense.
Our top pick is the Solo Stove Bonfire because of its versatility for use at home and while traveling. Plus, we love all the accessories that can be added to make it safer and easier to use for cooking. With foldable legs, easy-carry handles, and an included grill grate, this fire pit works great for camping trips—but it can also be used in your backyard. Its see-through mesh body lets you have unimpeded views of the fire, including the embers at the bottom, the wood, and the flames on top. It fits up to four pieces of firewood, and the fire can burn for up to 30 hours on the lowest fan setting. Keep in mind that in order to achieve secondary combustion, smokeless fire pits burn really hot; fires often get up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so safety should be top of mind.
To compile this list, she surveyed numerous products, including one tested by The Spruce. This isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it provides a great value, considering how much heat it gives and how easy it is to assemble and use. Deane Biermeier is an expert contractor with nearly 30 years of experience in all types of home repair, maintenance, and remodeling. He is a certified lead carpenter and also holds a certification from the EPA. Expert advice from Bob Vila, the most trusted name in home improvement, home remodeling, home repair, and DIY. Rachel Klein is a Senior Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics, where she writes about everything from garden hose reels and patio furniture to mesh wifi systems and robot vacuums.