The Outland Firebowl Propane Fire Pit Is A Camping Must-Have
Nobody loves a good campfire more than I do, but when you live in your RV full-time smelling like smoke all the time isn’t always nice. There’s also the problem with firewood. You might have to spend hours searching for burnable sticks and logs and if it’s summer there may be a fire ban making it illegal to have a campfire.
Propane fire pits like the Outland Firebowl not only burn clean and are smelly smoke-free, they are also allowed during some fire bans with permission, and are less of a risk for forest fires. They also put off quite a lot of heat and warm up after about 15 minutes. The only downside is if you want to make smores you have to be a bit more careful not to get any sticky marshmallow on the burner. But that’s less of an issue than you might think.
We bought our Outland Firebowl right before we started full-timing in our travel trailer. It’s stored in the truck bed, has had 6 months of regular use, and endured countless bumpy roads. I can tell you right now that so far, I’m very impressed. I didn’t take any pictures of the propane fire pit when it was new so it does look pretty dirty in the pictures I’ve takes after 6 months of use. As you can see it’s held up very well even when being jostled around in the back of a truck.
In this review, I’m going to outline all of the excellent features of our Outland Firebowl and give you my reasons for why I think propane fire pits make the best campfires. Even after just 6 months, Outland has slightly changed a few of the features of their Firebowls so the one I’m linking to on amazon has a few tiny differences, but the quality and overall features are still the same. There are also some larger or more affordable models I’ll link to.
The Outland Firebowl 870 premium propane fire pit has a 58,000 BTU burner with an automatic start that has worked every time for me. The burner is in a square shape that sits on the bottom of the pit. You cover it with the included lava rocks that are lightweight and easy to place.
There are two sizes. The smaller ones sit along the bottom and the larger ones go over the burner. Note that the lava rocks in my propane fire pit are well used and some have broken apart over time from heat and getting bounced around in the truck bed. I will probably replace them with new lava rocks in a few months, which is normal for any propane fire pit.
When the flame from the burner shoots through the rocks it comes out looking like actual wood-burning flames and not propane ones. The flame is also adjustable with the highest setting being quite large.
The flame is adjusted with a stainless steel knob on the side of the fire pit. If you have the version with the automatic start function you turn the knob until you hear the click of the starter, about halfway. The flames should start. After the flames are on you can turn the dial all the way left for the highest flame or keep it low.
Normally I start with the flame set in the highest setting for about 15 minutes to heat the rocks and then I turn it down to the lowest setting which is still quite a lot of flame. At the highest flame setting it will take the propane fire pit 1 1/2 hours to burn just a gallon of propane. If you turn it down the propane will last even longer.
That means using a propane fire pit is often cheaper than buying firewood at a campground and using that.
The entire propane fire pit weighs only 25 lbs and the circle is 19 inches in diameter and 11 inches tall. There is a larger portable propane fire pit that is 21 inches (click to view on Amazon). One cool thing about the larger propane fire pit is that it uses a “helios” burner which creates a more full, realistic campfire flame.
So far the 19 inch diameter version has been perfect for camping and RVing but if you have a large family and camp on the weekends with a lot of people the bigger propane fire pit may be better.
There is a thick flexible 10 foot gas hose you use to attach it to a 5 gallon propane tank or if your RV has a propane line quick connect you can use that. If you place to propane tank as far away as you can you barely notice it. When you turn off the fire pit make sure you turn off the gas to that main tank first so any propane in the line will get used up before detaching it.
The premium version comes with a metal lid you place over the lava rocks and use bungee straps to hold close. The bungee strap system has a handle on top you can use to carry the fire pit around. The lid keeps the rocks from coming out and everything gets held in place perfectly making the Outland Firebowl very easy to transport.
My Review Of The Outland Firebowl 870 Premium Portable Propane Fire Pit
One of my favorite things about propane fire pits is no smoke, and adjustable flame, good heat, less of a risk for starting forest fires, and that you don’t need to find or carry around any firewood. The fire is also instant, I can take the fire pit and the propane tank out of the truck bed and have everything hooked up and running in less than 5 minutes. Because it’s so easy we have a campfire more often and spend more evenings outdoors.
Most of those features are common on a high-quality portable propane fire pit, but the Outland Firebowls have some features that I really like and we’re the deciding factors when I decided to get one.
What I Like
Super Compact & Portable- I store my portable propane fire pit in the back of the truck along with a bunch of other things like water jugs, tables, chairs, and tubs. There’s limited space and everything must be placed just the right way for it all to fit. One of my main concerned with a propane fire pit was the long 10 foot gas line getting in the way.
Luckily after packing up the propane fire pit up a few times, I found that if you wrap the gas line around the Firebowl above the valve you can use the bungee strap system to secure the gas line to the fire pit as well which makes it one solid unit that is easy to carry around and store in the back of a truck.
You can also get a canvas carry case (click to view on Amazon) that the entire fire pit plus the gas line fit into for more protection.
It’s also not too heavy and easy to carry around using the handle on the bungee system. The lava rocks have stayed in place even after 6 months of travel and nothing has ever fallen out or been damaged.
The Design- I also really like the look of the Outland Firebowl. I’ve seen a few different kinds of portable propane fire pits for camping and none of them have looked as clean as what Outland makes. Even after a lot of use, the fire hasn’t damaged the paint job in any way and even though it gets covered in dust, just wiping it off with a damp towel makes it look good as new.
The vent holes along the sides that look like flames are also a nice touch and the stainless steel ring finishes off the entire look. The flames look really good too, almost like a real campfire minus the nasty smoke and embers flying around.
The fire bowl sits pretty high off the ground as well so it doesn’t get super hot underneath. You can use it on grass without killing it or on a wooden deck. The entire thing sits on a super stable steel ring that doesn’t have to be on level ground to be sturdy. It’s also something you can put a chain though if you store it outside of your RV or trailer and don’t want anyone walking away with it.
The Adjustable Flame- I’ve already talked a little bit about how the flame adjusts and how convenient that is. The valve you use to turn the flame up or down is super easy to use and it’s large with rubber around the outside so you can even adjust it with your foot and never get out of your camping chair.
After about 15 minutes of full flames, the lava rocks start to heat up and put off a lot of heat so being able to turn the flame down is a nice feature for temperature control as well, especially on hot summer nights when you don’t as much heat.
The Reduced Risk Of Starting A Forest Fire- Forest fires are terrible and lots of times they are started by people being unsafe. Having a campfire in a good open spot with a good fire ring is essential but a lot of people don’t put out their campfires the correct way. I can think of two times we’ve been driving out of a campground and seen burning fires in an abandoned campsite. It’s because people are usually in a hurry and don’t have the time or water to properly put out their fire.
With propane fire pits, especially ones like the Outland Firebowls the fire can be put out immediately and there are no sparks being shot out or large embers floating off into the trees and grass. It’s a much safer option and a good way to help prevent forest fires.
Autostart- A lot of portable propane fire pits have a manual start, you have to use a lighter to ignite the propane gas. The Premium Firebowl 870 has an autostart that clicks on when you’ve turned the flame adjuster dial about halfway. It’s a great feature and it means I don’t have to keep track of a lighter when I’m getting ready for a campfire.
What I Don’t Like
Smores Aren’t As Easy- Smores are a staple for most camping trips and while I camp every single day I still enjoy a good smore every once in a while. The good news is it is safe to roast smores over propane fire, it’s no different than a gas grill. The bad news is if your marshmallow falls off you are going to have a mess on your hands.
If you do drop a marshmallow into the fire turn off the flames and remove the lava rock it fell on. You don’t want it melting and falling into the burner because it may clog it.
You Have To Let It Cool Before Putting It Away- If you have a regular campfire you must put it out completely before you turn in for the night or leave. With a propane fire pit like the Outland Firebowl, all you have to do is flip a switch and you are good to go. The only downside is if you want to pack it up and put it away you are going to have to wait for at least an hour for the entire thing to cool.
This normally isn’t that big of a deal. I usually just leave the fire pit out all night long and pack it up in the morning. But it’s still a bit annoying and something to think about.
I try and take care of my camping gear but the Outland Firebowl does take some abuse from the truck bed when traveling to different campsites. So far it’s held up well even after thousands of miles. The heat from the flames haven’t discolored or damaged the paint and I would call this a very durable portable propane fire pit.
The portability of this propane fire pit is very high and one of my favorite features about it. Outland makes some great storage bags and have the metal lids you can place over the top so the lava rocks stay inside. Being able to secure the gas hose to the fire pit makes it even more portable and easy to pack away.
While this is a propane fire pit mostly intended to take on camping trips it’s also great for backyards, patios, decks, picnics, tailgating, and can even sit under awning and roofs so long as there is at least 8 feet between the flames and the roof.
While this isn’t a very good fire for roasting hotdogs or dutch ovens, it can be used almost anywhere and I would say the useability is very high.
Outlander has some awesome portable propane fire pits. The Outland Firebowl 870 Premium that we own is one of my favorite camping gadgets and I’m glad we decided to get one. There isn’t a lot I would change about it and I highly recommend getting a propane fire pit if you live in your RV full time.
You get all the benefits of a nice warm campfire with none of the smelly smoke and work it takes to set up and put out a wood-burning fire. And you can use it under your awning safely when it’s a little rainy outside which is a huge bonus if you ask me.
While I highly recommend the Outland Firebowl portable propane fire pits there are other great options out there.
The Bond Manufacturing 54,000 BTU Aurora is another great portable propane fire pit. It is 18.5 inches in diameter, almost 15 inches tall, and has a steel body with a medieval looking lattice design. The lid twists to lock over the rocks and has a steel handle on top you can use to carry it with. The entire fire pit weighs only 18 lbs.
The ignition is autostarting, which is one of my favorite features of any fire pit. The gas hose is 10 feet long, and there are pumice stones included so you can start enjoying your campfire right away. All you need is a propane tank that is at least 5 gallons and you are good to go.
The fire pit also sits on a very stable ring base, which is a great safety feature especially when you are walking around it in the dark.
The Camp Chef portable propane fire pit is only 15 inches in diameter and 7 inches tall. It may be smaller than the others but it’s still pretty heavy due to the thick steel ring. Unlike the other portable propane fire pits the Camp Chef doesn’t come with a steel lid but with a canvas storage bag that the entire fire ring sits in. It could be a better storage option or worse depending on how you look at it.
The propane fire ring comes with 12 lbs of lava rocks, which means you will have plenty to replace the rocks a couple of times. There are also two roasting sticks included for marshmallows. The burner 55,000 BTU which is still very large for such a small fire pit, the flames can get pretty big.
The gas hose is only 5 feet long which isn’t optimal since you want the propane tank to be as out of the way as possible. The ignition is autostarting which is uncommon for smaller propane fire pits and a nice addition to have.
The main downside to this small portable fire ring is the legs. Instead of a stable rind design, there are only 3 small wire feet. It does make the fire pit lighter and easier to carry around because they are removable, but it’s not super stable. There’s more of a risk of knocking it over, you will have to be more careful when walking around the Camp Chef gas fire ring.
Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Propane Fire Pits
Is it safe to cook food or roast marshmallows over a propane fire pit?
The flames from a propane fire pit are no different from those in a gas grill. It is safe to cook food over one but it’s not recommended. Marshmallows are sometimes ok if you are careful and don’t drop them into the fire but things like hotdogs will drip grease and make the fire pit and the rocks or glass dirty.
If getting your propane fire pit a little dirty doesn’t bother you it’s perfectly safe to cook food over the flames.
How long does the propane last with propane fire pits?
All propane fire pits have different sizes of burners, for example, the Outland Firebowl 870 Premium has a 58,000 BTU burner but the Bond Manufacturing Aurora has a burner that is only 54,000 BTU. Luckily it’s fairly easy to get a good idea of just how much propane your fire pit will use if you know the size of the burner.
1 gallon of propane can burn 91,500 BTU per hour. That means if you have an Outland Firebowl with a 58,000 BTU burner on high it will use up 1 gallon of propane in 1.58 hours. That’s about 95 minutes. That’s a lot of firepower for only one gallon of propane and I rarely have my propane fire pit on high for more than 30 minutes because it puts off so much heat.
What Does BTU mean?
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit which is used to measure the amount of heat it takes to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. Whenever you read about the BTU capacity of a burner it means per hour.
When talking about the literal definition of BTU and what it’s used to measure it can be confusing, especially if you just want to know how powerful a burner is. For a little bit of perspective, a single stovetop burner in an RV will burn at about 6,500 BTU. If you compare that with the 58,000 BTU burner of an Outland Firebowl you get a better idea about just how large the flames will be.
Can I use glass in a portable propane fire pit?
So long as it’s glass made for propane fire pits like the Hiland Fire Pit Fire Glass (click to view on Amazon) you can use it in a portable propane fire pit. For fire pits like the Outland Firebowl’s, I would get the largest glass rocks you can find because you will need to be able to space them the right way so the flame can still get through.
Some people will remove the top layer of lava rocks and put the fire glass on top so you only see the fire glass but there are still lava rocks on the bottom that give the burners good air circulation.
Do all propane fire pits make a hissing noise from the connected propane tank?
You may notice a low hissing noise from your propane tank when your fire pit is running, especially if you have the flames turned down to the lowest setting. This is standard with all propane fire pits and does not mean there’s a problem so long as you are using the regulator and have everything connected correctly.
Can I connect a portable propane fire pit to my RV or trailer’s quick-connect gas line?
Yes, you can. The only thing you will need to do is replace the standard propane tank connection on the end of the gas hose with a quick-connect one that is compatible with your RV, travel trailer, or 5th-wheel.
Do portable propane fire pits have an automatic shut off functions if they get knocked over?
Sadly most portable propane fire pits for camping do not have an automatic shut off safety feature. It would be a nice addition that I hope companies will start adding to their portable propane fire pits in the future.
Because this is not a common feature, never leave your fire pit unattended and make sure you are ready to turn off the propane from the propane tank if the fire pit is ever flipped over.
Are portable propane fire pits warm?
Much like a regular campfire once the rocks and metal fire ring heat up portable propane fire pits put out a lot of heat. It’s enough to keep you warm on chilly fall and spring evenings and on warmer summer nights you can turn the flame down so it’s still comfortable to sit around.
What size of propane tank do I need for a portable propane fire pit?
Most portable propane fire pits call for a standard 5 gallon/20 lbs propane tank, you normally can’t use anything smaller than that but you can use a larger 7.5 gallon propane tank if you want.
Is it normal for the propane tank to get cold when connected to a propane fire pit?
When releasing a lot of propane the tank will get very cold because of the reaction of the liquid propane turning to a gas inside of the tank. Because propane fire pits can use a lot of propane at one time it is common for the tank to get very cold and even start to form a little ice.
Have any more questions about propane fire pits for camping or the Outland Firebowls? Leave a comment below.