10 Campfire Alternatives We’re Stoked About

Look no further than these lit campfire alternatives for all your cooking, warming, and decorative needs.

Published October 5, 2023
Man enjoying BBQ with family in nature

A campfire can be tons of fun, but if you're under a burn ban or are worried about the potential dangers, you might be looking for other options. While nothing can exactly replicate that smoky smell of a real campfire, there are so many incredible campfire alternatives that are just as good at cooking some quick meals, warming you up, and looking pretty for any outdoor party.

Simple Campfire Alternatives for Cooking 

When you think about trailing through the great outdoors, one of the fantasies that comes to mind is scavenging for firewood and using your handy flint to light up a campfire. And while your dream can come true, it doesn’t mean it’s always the right time to stack up some logs and start burning. But when your cold hot dogs and s'mores are calling for a nice roasting, here are three campfire alternatives you can cook with.

Woman cooking outside tent on beach

Portable Gas Stove

Unless you’re an avid camper and frequent campsites on the regular, your go-to cooking appliance to bring is a portable gas stove. For first-time campers, portable gas stoves are powered by small butane or propane tanks. They do take up some space in your pack, but you can find them in a variety of sizes and set-ups, which makes them great for every kind of camper.

Single Burner Electric Stove

Single burners look like your classic coil stove top minus all the extra space. You can slip one of these thin electric-powered burners into your pack and heat your morning coffee to perfection. This is a great option if you’re going to a flame-free campsite and still want to make a hot meal. 

Flameless Cookware System

Most people have heard of portable camping stoves, but a new kid on the camping cooktop block just might revolutionize your off-the-grid experience. The Barocook flameless cookware system is one example of this type of innovation. It comes with a steel inner core, a plastic outer core, and water-activated quick lime material that can reach up to 203°F. Simply follow the instructions and cook a can of soup with as little mess as possible.

Toasty Campfire Alternatives to Keep Everyone Warm

Camping’s all fun and games until someone gets cold. But running to your car and blasting your heated seats doesn’t have to be the answer. Instead, abide by any fire bans in your area or campsite with these toasty campfire alternatives.

Happy parents kissing son, relaxing at campsite

Tent Heaters

Tent heaters are like portable space heaters and are powered in many ways, such as with propane or electric power banks. They’ll do an awesome job of keeping your small space warm, but they do come with their own dangers.

Most companies don’t recommend that you fall asleep with any heaters on in your tents because of the fire hazards and carbon monoxide dangers they can pose. However, if you’re worried about setting your tent on fire, you can look for indoor-safe, low-oxygen, tip-over shut-off specifications. Tent heaters with these specs are the safest on the market. 

Smudge Pots

Smudge pots are interesting old inventions that people with orchards have been using for decades. Invented in the early 20th century, this oil-burning device looks like someone took a big cauldron and slapped a smokestack on top. Smudge pots aren’t going to top your packing list if you’re solo camping for a few days, but they are a good option if you’re hosting a large outdoor get-together.

Electric Blankets

Another way to stay comfy and cozy in your tent when the weather’s dropped and the wind’s whistling by is to grab an electric blanket. Once again, electric blankets come with their own warnings not to fall asleep with them turned on because they are burn hazards. But if you’re just sitting outside looking for some cool constellations, they’ll knock off that late-night chill in a heartbeat.

Portable Hand Warmers

We’ve all seen the friction-activated hand and feet warmers that hardware stores set up at the checkout lanes during the winter months. Instead of adding more stuff to the landfill in a desperate attempt to stay warm, consider investing in an electric hand warmer.

You can charge them and bring along a portable battery pack to keep them warm for hours. If you’re trying to create less waste, this is a good hand-heater option.

Nail the Outdoor Ambiance With Decorative Faux Campfires

When the sun sets earlier and earlier in the latter months of the year, Seasonal Affective Disorder can hit hard. We all need to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, even in the colder months. A great way to entice yourself to get out into the dusky early evenings is with these decorative campfire alternatives. Whoever said you needed a firepit to set your patio alight?

Glass Cloches & Tea Candles

If you’re not really about that rustic vibe but want a luminescent centerpiece, consider investing in a few electric tea candles and some glass cloches. Since the tea candles aren’t really flickering, you won’t have to clean soot off the cloches every few minutes. This is a super quick and low-budget way to add a little ambiance to your backyard.

To shake things up visually, buy a handful of cloches in different sizes. These size differences will let you create levels that make the set-up more dynamic.

Real Logs & Fairy Lights

If you’d love to have a firepit but live in too dry of an area for it to be safe, you’re in luck. All you need is some battery-powered fairy lights, a handful of real logs, and some black paint. If you smudge the black paint using a sponge or paper towel, you can create a sooty effect that sells the burning-longs story.

Once dry, you can set up the fairy lights in a loose ball and place the logs around the lights. Pull different strands through the holes to weave the lights and logs together.

Quick Tip

Swap out the fairy lights for an LED flickering flame light if you want something that screams "firepit."

Punched Tin Lanterns & Tea Candles

If you’ve got a few hours on your hands or some kids who you want to drag away from their screens, this is a fun DIY project you can try. Just take whatever empty aluminum cans you have on hand and have your kids (or yourself) dot out a design around the entire can with a permanent marker.

Then, you or another adult can take an ice pick or a screwdriver and mallet, and lightly punch in the holes through the aluminum. Once they’re all punched out, you can set them on the deck table with a tea candle inside each one. In the dark, the tea candles will cast the beautiful lantern designs you created across the night sky.

Helpful Hack

Want to be extra safe punching out the holes? Fill your marked can with water and freeze it. The frozen water will absorb the energy from your instrument and keep it from puncturing through the rest of the can or you. 

Lit Campfire Alternatives That Are Just as Good  

There are many reasons why someone might not want to set up a massive campfire. Some campsites don’t allow open flames, and other times you just live in a really dry area. Not to mention that there are safety protocols you should follow when tending an open fire, and some people aren’t comfortable with the risks involved. No matter what your reasons are, there are a plethora of campfire alternatives you can try instead.

10 Campfire Alternatives We’re Stoked About