The credentials for a good fire pit aren’t too complicated: they need to look good during the day when there’s not a fire roaring in them and throw out lots of heat in the evening when there is, so that you can huddle around and extend your time outside.
During our test, we loaded a range of the fire pits and bowls with wood to see how efficiently they burned through the fuel load and judged how many people could keep warm before the fire began to die down and the jumpers came out.
We were also testing with functional design in mind, from portability to ensuring that the ash stays in the fire pit, even when it’s windy.
With all our burning questions answered, these are the pits that gave us the perfect combination of fresh air and fire.
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Stadler Made firepit
This is delivered flat-packed, but don’t let that put you off as it comes together in around 20 minutes, using nothing more than a flat-edge screwdriver. Your assembly efforts will be rewarded with a pit that has stand-out looks, fabulous fire output and overall versatility.
In fact, putting it together yourself allows you to understand the ingenious design of the fire pit’s internal chimney, which sucks in air through the double walls and through the bottom plate and produces a beautiful clean flame with hardly any smoke to spoil the fun.
This has also been designed to be used as a cooking source, with a carbon steel cooking ring that encases the fire so that you can grill anything from fish to veggies and even steak, which will all have a mouth-watering wood-fired flavour.
The fact that it is made from corten steel means that it will only look better the longer it’s outside as the material rusts over time to give the pit its uniquely authentic look. The corten also means you won’t have to worry about weathering once summer is a distant memory and the British winter kicks in.
Buy now £587.12, Stadler Made
Eva solo fireglobe
This visually striking hemispherical bowl looks great even when there isn’t a fire raging inside it, but it comes alive once there are flickering flames in the bowl as the powder-coated aluminium reflects the fire to give off a mesmerising golden glow that garden guests will love. The well-engineered fireglobe means that the fire burns cleanly, fed by oxygen from a ventilation grid at the bottom, and the shape directs the heat back at those gathered around it very effectively, while also protecting the fire from any wind.
Buy now £295.00, Amazon
Camping with your car or staying on at the beach shouldn’t mean you have to leave your fire pit behind. However, rather than spend time messing around with embers and kindling, just place some wood in this “smart” fire pit, which enables you to control the height of your flames via a Bluetooth app that connects to air jets that inject the fire with oxygen. The flames were hyper-efficient, smokeless and gave great heat all around, thanks to the mesh body that also gives everyone a great view.
Buy now £279.99, Blacks
The German manufacturer has elevated the humble fire pit to an art form with this sculptural corten fire bowl, which is available in three sizes (65cm, 90cm and 120cm). Each one comprises three identical sections, which you simply connect together to form the whole pit.
The design holds the fire superbly and allows for a supremely efficient burn, while the upturned hexagonal design protects the flames from wind and keeps the ash in the bowl. You can break the sections down to either save space when it’s not in use or transport elsewhere.
Buy now £75.62, Connox
A trusty pit by a trusted brand, you can see the same ingenuity that Weber puts into its barbecues in this porcelain-enamelled steel offering. The fireplace gave out good flames and heat output and the design kept the ash in the bowl, even in windy conditions. We especially liked the ingenious lid design that can be inserted into a bracket to act as both a holder, windbreak and heat reflector. The functionality continues as you can use the lid to completely extinguish a dying fire by starving the flames of oxygen, which is good for parental peace of mind if there are children close by.
Buy now £204.74, Weber
Ornamental fire pit
This pre-weathered metal bowl features a laser-cut woodland scene that throws out some interesting shadows when in use. It also offered good ventilation for the fire, while the sturdy legs prevented any scorching of the decking, patio or grass. The fire pit was also very easy to move around when cooled.
Buy now £179.99, Crocus
Hofats beer box fire basket
A brilliant portable fire pit disguised as a beer crate, this is perfect for evenings on the beach or alfresco meet-ups. Made from corten steel, this can weather any storm and just look better for it. The large handles make the basket easy to move and carry even when fully loaded with bottles of cold beer – they also allow for some generous airflow to the fuel when the fire’s lit.
Once you’ve found your spot, all you need to do is empty the contents before using the cardboard grid that holds the bottles in place as the perfect kindling (one time use) to start the fire under your wood. And what good would a beer crate fire pit be without an integrated bottle opener? We enjoyed having a nice cold one once the flames were roaring.
Buy now £75.62, Connox
The Woodee fire pit cooking set
Form and function combine beautifully with this hand-crafted stainless steel fire pit from a workshop in Herefordshire. The oak leaf indents are plasma cut into the design and throw a lovely light out onto the ground. They also double up as the fire’s oxygen intake, drawing air in at every level to give an impressively efficient burn, which is protected by the straight sides. Once the wood is glowing you even have the option of placing the stainless steel grill on top to cook a range of wood-fired food.
Buy now £595.00, The Woodee
Jiko fire pit
Built from a traditional Kenyan design, this fire pit is all about heat output, with the iron hood capturing the heat given out from the bowl below. Treated in fire-retardant black paint, it did a fantastic job of keeping a large party warm, long after the sun had set. We also liked the small footprint, which could be ideal for compact urban spaces, and the chimney that channelled any smoke away from anyone sat around the fire.
Buy now £139.99, Waitrose & Partners
Stix fire pit
If you’re really looking to make a statement then go for this designer fire pit that’s engineered to burn environmentally friendly bioethanol. The stainless steel sticks house an efficient 2.5l ethanol burner that will keep going for over eight hours. As it’s not reliant on oxygen to burn, the brand had more freedom to create the talking point “campfire” design. The eye-catching aesthetic highlights the bright orange ethanol flame and you’re guaranteed to have zero smoke or ash because of the fuel source, which still generates plenty of warmth.
Buy now £1695.00, Ecosmart Fire
Morso ignis firepit
The nice clean lines of this cast-iron pit make it a stand-out feature in any garden and a real focal point when it’s not in use. The deep bowl and high sides kept the fire well protected and there was good ventilation, which made it easy to start and maintain a healthy fire. The fire combined with the cast iron to create good ambient heat, which provided protection against any evening chill. There’s also a top grate, which is an optional extra, if you intend to do some cooking.
Buy now £199.00, Morso
The verdict: Fire pits
For sheer ingenuity, the Stadler Made firepit is clearly taking burners to another level, with great looks, efficient heat and the added versatility of being able to cook on it.