Over the years of camping out in our Sprinter van, we’ve often faced the challenge of having a campfire each night. Finding firewood can often be difficult, not to mention it gets pretty expensive at some gas stations or grocery stores that carry it. Then if we do find and buy some firewood, where the heck are we gonna put it? We definitely don’t want it inside our van and we have no way of carrying bundles of wood on the back of the van. So we decided to try out a propane fire bowl. The portability is the main reason it sparked our interest.
The Outland Firebowl 893 Deluxe
My concerns were fire pit storage, making sure it was quick and easy to set up, and storing the propane tank. We bought the smallest fire bowl that Outland makes, the 893 Deluxe. It’s 19″ wide by 11″ tall. It does not have it’s own ignition/ lighter and I’m ok with that. Those always seem to stop working anyways. We just use the lighter from the kitchen drawer. Inside is simple. It has a large burner and some pumice rocks to help radiate heat. The fire bowl comes with its own metal lid and some straps that double as a carrying handle. It has a 10-foot hose and regulator attached that hooks up to a large, standard propane tank.
Amazon (and everyone on the internet) seemed to be out of the storage bag, but we picked up another brand bag and it fits perfectly.
The fire bowl tucks in perfectly between the wheel well and back door of the van. I was really stoked to see it even fits under our bench/ bed when it’s folded down!
Propane Source and How We Store the Tank
We use a standard 20 lb propane tank as you would normally use for a BBQ grill. It fits perfectly inside our hanging storage bag that attaches to our Surco ladder. I found a way to just leave it in there permanently by adding a 10′ propane extension hose to the tank. This way we don’t even need to mess with it when we are ready to set up the fire bowl. I just turn the tank on and pull the hose out. The hose even has a gauge to let us know how much propane is left. Double score!
Originally I had the bag mounted lower, but decided to move it higher just in case we got rear-ended. I also tried using it for firewood too (pictured below), but it only held about 1 grocery store bundle.
Being up that high it’s a little tricky to slide the tank in or out of the bag, but having the extension hose means I don’t need to take it in and out each time we use the fire bowl.
Firebowl Performance- How’s the Heat?
A propane fire will never compete with the heat of a real wood fire, however the heat that is generated by the fire bowl is good! We have used it in temperatures as low as the upper 30’s and it has kept us pretty warm. The best part about it is the simplicity of instant on or off operation. When we set up camp we just turn it on and boom, instant fire. Same with at the end of the night. There’s no stress of extinguishing a fire and hoping it gets put out. We just turn it off and set the metal lid on top.
Possibly one of the best benefits of a propane fire is you don’t get any smoke in your face or that nasty smell of a wood fire. There’s nothing worse than crawling into bed at the end of a night smelling of campfire smoke.
Don’t forget you are allowed to have a propane fire even during fire bans (with a permit of course). This fire bowl saved the night on a couple of group trips to Kennedy Meadows and Big Bear. Everyone thought we couldn’t have a fire because of the fire restrictions. Then they saw this awesome little fire bowl and were so stoked that we could have a fire at night. Everyone wanted one after that!
Fire in the Rain?
Yes! We used our fire bowl under the EZ-UP canopy at Yellowstone when it started raining out. The canopy helped keep it warmer by trapping more of the heat underneath. The fire bowl doesn’t get hot enough to cause any worry of melting the cover either.
- Easy and fast setup. Turn the fire on or off immediately and you have an instant fire when you want it.
- No smoke! You don’t have that annoying smoke in your face and stink at the end of the night.
- Propane is often easier to get than firewood. Most gas stations do 20lb BBQ tank exchanges for about $20-25.
- Campfire ban? No problem. In most forests, you are still allowed propane firepits and stoves.
- Clean and easy to transport. Get the bag and it stores easily in the van without making a mess.
- Safe. You won’t burn the forest down.
- Great ambiance
- It’s not quite as hot as a real wood fire, but it gets the job done.
- If you plan on camping for multiple days and having a fire for several hours each night, you may burn through a 20lb tank in 2-3 nights.
- Outland Firebowl 893 Deluxe– sometimes it is priced very high on Amazon or not available. Keep checking back if that’s the case. We got ours for $80!
- Propane extension hose
- Firebowl Storage Bag
- Hanging Storage Bag for Propane Tank