Times are stressful but there are surprising things you can do to help you unplug and recharge. For example, you can take daily walks or relax before a crackling campfire. You don't need to hike into the woods to enjoy this cozy orange glow. Neither do you need to build a permanent fire pit from heavy materials like stones or bricks. Instead get a fire pit that's portable. These products are sold by lots of retailers, including Lowe's, Amazon and Home Depot. Plus many fire pit manufacturers sell their wares directly.
These transportable fireplaces range widely in price, size and weight. There are inexpensive $60 models and high-performance pits that'll set you back as much as $350. You can even spend $1,500 or more on fancy propane-burning fire pits.
In this roundup, I focus on genuine, wood-fueled fire pits. Beyond providing heat, they can also cook food, including grilling. Most importantly, they're a great way to roast marshmallows for tasty s'mores. The models on this list are either best sellers, highly ranked or worthy challengers from established outdoor brands. I tested them to learn their strengths and weaknesses firsthand. If you need help choosing a fire pit that matches your needs, you've come to the right place. I'll update this list periodically.
>The best fire pit overall
>Tiki Brand Fire PitBrian Bennett/CNET
Our favorite fire pit on this list is made by Tiki, a company that began with the familiar Tiki bamboo torch over 60 years ago. Now, Tiki offers a fire pit that's large, sturdy, and attractive. Priced almost $300 more than its budget rivals, its performance, ease of use, and superior style make this pit worth the investment.
The steel and stained wood pit doesn't just look good. The Tiki Brand Fire Pit has a clever airflow system that recycles hot smoke back into the fire chamber. During our testing, it was easy to ignite, firing up in about five minutes, and fully burning in 15.
It also generated far less smoke than the other fire pits we tested, especially after its logs caught fully, usually at about the 15-minute mark. Only the Solo Stove Ranger burned wood with less smoke emission, its fuel burning fiercely in five minutes. The Tiki Fire Pit's logs burned efficiently as well, lasting for hours.
Because of its large (16 inches in diameter) mouth, it's easier to share the fire with multiple people. The Solo Stove Ranger is smaller by comparison, its metal fire ring is 10 inches in diameter. Kids gathering around to roast s'mores need to be careful though. All surfaces of the Tiki fire pit, including its metal lip are scalding hot after the fire is lit. It also takes time to cool after the flames die down.
We do appreciate the Tiki Brand pit's removable ash tray. It makes for easy cleanup. The pit puts out a generous amount of heat as well. While that's perhaps not ideal for hot summer nights, it's excellent when the temperature dips during the fall and winter. Tipping the scales at 45 pounds, this fire pit is heavy. Think twice before you position it, and get help when you do.$350 at Tiki Brand
>The best smokeless fire pit
>Solo Stove YukonBrian Bennett/CNET
Solo Stove fire pits have gained an avid following in recent years, and the company's newest product, the Solo Stove Yukon is its biggest and best yet. With a top side that measures 27 inches across, and a mouth 23 inches in diameter, the Yukon is large enough to accept full-size firewood logs. Despite the Yukon's wide footprint, its stainless steel body gives it a sleek appearance.
The Yukon shares the same sophisticated airflow system you'll find on other Solo Stove products. According to Solo Stove, these vents help drive a continuous supply of oxygen to its fire. In our experience, the Yukon delivers performance just as good as its smaller cousin, the Solo Stove Ranger, but on a larger scale.
The Yukon's fire starts fast, its logs fully caught in just five minutes. Once they caught, they burned for hours. This pit is efficient too, consistently consuming all of our test firewood logs. At the end of the night, there was little solid debris to speak of, merely a few bits of charcoal and ash. It produces a lot less smoke than the other fire pits we've tested here too, save the Solo Pit Ranger.
You can also order the Yukon with a rain cover ($55) and metal stand ($70) for extra cash or part of a bundle. Because the pit weighs 38 pounds, we don't recommend moving it often. Also, like other high-performance fire pits, kids (and adults) need to be careful around the Yukon. In addition to the intense heat from the fire itself, the Yukon's steel surface heats to scalding temperatures fast.$475 at Solo Stove
>The best fire pit value
>Garden Treasures 29.5-inch Wood-Burning Fire PitBrian Bennett/CNET
This fire pit from Garden Treasures proves you don't need to spend big bucks to enjoy a backyard campfire. Despite its low price, this pit is nice and wide (29.5 inches in diameter). It also comes with a mesh lid to keep sparks at bay.
It lacks an advanced airflow system, however, so fires in this pit generate a lot of smoke. And its steel frame isn't stainless, so leaving the pit out in the elements will invite rust. That said, we were able to get a self-sustaining fire lit in about five minutes. Its performance is comparable to the ignition time of premium fire pits such as the Solo Stove Ranger and Tiki Brand Fire Pit.
Those products burn their fuel more efficiently though, leaving less unconsumed firewood and ash to clean up in the morning. Still, the Garden Treasures pit does get the job done on a tight budget.$59 at Lowe's
Others we tested
The most portable fire pit in this roundup is the Pop-Up Pit. Its collapsible design lets you assemble and break it down quickly. It also uses a heat shield so it won't scorch the ground below. The pit offers a large (2 feet square) burning surface for your fire, too. Since its frame is constructed from stainless steel, the Pop-Up Pit is rust-resistant. However, because the pit is so large and has low walls, it creates a lot of smoke.