Wood-burning fire pits are the most basic and popular type, and many receive abundant and largely positive reviews. At their heart, they are simply a metal bowl for holding burning logs, but the most popular -- and safest -- models are also equipped with legs and a screen to keep the embers contained.
Among wood-burning fire pits, the Red Ember Bronze Crossweave Firebowl Fire Pit (Est. $170) looks to be a top choice. We found the most feedback at Hayneedle.com, where it earns an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 following more than 950 reviews. Users overwhelmingly describe this squat bronze-toned steel bowl with its open basket-weave design as attractive, well built and easy to assemble. It is also very weather-resistant, though a few users complain that theirs rusted quickly -- sometimes in as little as one week. However, the staff at Hayneedle.com say that keeping the fire pit covered when not in use should prevent this problem. The Bronze Crossweave Firebowl comes with a PVC cover for this purpose, as well as a spark screen and a poker. There's also a grill grate, so the Red Ember fire pit can serve double duty as a barbeque grill.
The Landmann 28335 Big Sky Stars & Moons Fire Pit (Est. $120) is a little cheaper, and has a design that's a little more whimsical -- though whether that second point is a plus or minus depends upon your decorative preferences. As the description implies, in place of the classic basket-weave design, the Stars & Moon fire pit is adorned with punch outs of stars and crescent moons. The Landsman Big Sky series also includes the Landmann 28337 Big Sky Fire Pit, Wildlife, Georgia Clay (Est. $110), which features cuts outs of animals such as a moose, bear, fox and others, and the Landmann 28336 Big Sky Fire Pit Western (Est. $130), which features western-themed cutouts such as a steer skull, cowboy boot, and horse.
Other than styling, these fire pits are similar, and similarly well liked. The Landmann 28335 Big Sky Stars & Moons Fire Pit has accumulated more than 300 reviews at Amazon.com and an overall rating of 4.6 stars, while the Landmann 28337 Big Sky Fire Pit, Wildlife fire pit has a 4.7-star rating following more than 330 reviews. At Walmart.com, the Stars & Moons Fire Pit enjoys 4.7-star rating following more than 175 reviews and ratings, with 97 percent saying that they would recommend it to a friend.
Owners say this fire pit looks great and is lots of fun to use. They also like its large capacity, which makes building a decent, long-lasting fire easier. You also get a nice assortment of accessories, including a grill rack, spark guard and poker. The most common complaint about this otherwise sturdy fire pit is that its clay-colored finish wears off quickly, leaving the pit vulnerable to rust. A cover is not included, but there is the option to purchase the Landemann Big Sky Firepit Cover (Est. $25) to keep the fire pit protected between uses.
If you'd prefer a fire pit with a built-in stone look (but without the price tag) for a patio, consider the 35-inch Sun Joe SJFP35-STN Cast Stone Fire Pit (Est. $200). The exterior is fiberglass, not real stone (a source of disappointment for some buyers, particularly at Amazon.com), but looks good and wears well, most owners say. Versions with grey stone and faux wood finishes are available as well. The bowl comes in for some criticism for not standing up well to the elements, so it will need to be covered or moved inside between uses, and it's recommended that the entire fire pit be stored indoors during the winter.
Feedback doesn't look terrific at first blush at Amazon.com, just 3.6 stars based around 105 reviews. However, at Wayfair.com, things are rosier -- 4.3 stars based on around 475 reviews. Negative comments follow those at Amazon.com regarding durability, but many more are completely pleased with the look, performance and the value. It comes with typical accessories -- a log grate, screen guard and screen guard hook/log tender.
Among gas-fueled fire pits, the UniFlame Endless Summer GAD860SP (Est. $400) looks to be a good choice. The fire pit's fire bowl is surrounded by an attractive multi-shade slate-tile mantle, while the rustic open latticework housing does a great job of hiding the propane tank. It's supplied with lava rocks and realistic-looking cement logs for a traditional wood-burning-fire look rather than the more modern look of fire glass that's found with many competing models. Many owners report that the GAD860SP puts out a good amount of heat and it's rated at 40,000 Btu.
Users say the GAD860SP, which is sold under both the UniFlame and Blue Rhino brands, is as convenient to use as it is beautiful to look at. It features a battery-operated electronic ignitor for safe, reliable starts and a slide-out tray to make changing the propane tank easier.
Feedback is generally strong. At Amazon.com, it draws a 4.3-star rating following nearly 300 reviews. Satisfaction at Walmart.com is higher still -- 4.6 stars after more than 535 reviews and ratings, with 96 percent saying that they would recommend the fire pit to a friend. The UniFlame GAD860SP draws solid feedback as well at HomeDepot.com -- 4.4 stars after more than 110 reviews. Of course, not every user is happy. Some find the GAD860SP incredibly difficult to assemble. We also saw a smattering of complaints that it produces too much smoke and soot, just as if it were burning real wood.
While most propane fire pits are anything but portable, the Heininger 5995 Portable Propane Outdoor Fire Pit (Est. $120) is quite the opposite. At a weight of just 22 pounds (not including the required propane tank), it's marketed specifically as a portable solution for tailgating, picnics, camping and more. Though it's not very large -- just 19-inches across -- it's rated to put out 58,000 Btu of heat. It resembles a wood-burning fire pit like the ones above, but it can't double as a grill for cooking. The Heininger 5995 comes complete with a hose and regulator, as well as decorative rocks. The propane tank is not included. A protective cover with carry handle and a carry bag are available as options (Est. $40 each).
User feedback is almost uniformly positive for the Heininger 5995. At Amazon.com it gets a 4.7 star rating following around 570 reviews. Around 95 percent grant it four stars or better, with the majority giving it a perfect score. At HomeDepot.com, user satisfaction is similar -- 4.7 stars out of 5 following around 65 reviews, with 100 percent saying that they would recommend this portable propane fire pit to a friend.