Last summer, on a biennial camping trip to Tofino—which is becoming nearly unaffordable for my partner and I, despite our double incomes and not having kids, due to the high cost of private campgrounds and ferries—I shared some videos of us reading around a propane-fuelled campfire on Instagram.

The response was less than enthusiastic.

After hazy, smoky summers and nearly constant summer campfire bans, my boyfriend and I purchased a propane fire pit. We love it—it’s portable, easy to control and sparks an instant flame—but some campers think it’s nothing compared to a traditional wood-burning campfire.

enjoying the beachAlison Karlene Hodgins

I get it. Our propane-fueled Canadian Tire metal bowl can’t quite replicate the crackling ambience of a log-studded flame flickering beneath the star-speckled sky. There’s something about campfires that brings us back to our childhood, whether it’s the smell of sizzling sap or the feeling of natural warmth. Campfires are often nostalgic, and we don’t want to give them up.

It’s certainly aesthetically unpleasing to have a large white jug of gas with a hose supporting our flickering flames, so we tend to place it out of view. It’s typically not advised to cook over a propane gas fire pit, as they are not designated cooking appliances; however, to be honest, we do. For a late-night s’mores craving or quick hot dog roast, I don’t see how the fire pit is much different than our propane BBQ.

cooking over a propane fire pit is it safeAlison Karlene Hodgins

Except for rare instances, I doubt we’ll go back to a traditional campfire anytime soon.

Some of the benefits of propane fire pits include:

  • it’s safer, more energy-efficient and more eco-friendly
  • it’s better for people with severe allergies or extreme sensitivity to smoke
  • it’s easy to start a fire instantly in any conditions—and keep it going
  • it offers precise control of the heat and flame height
  • it requires little-to-no maintenance or clean-up
  • despite being heavy, it’s portable and easy to transport
  • you won’t have the smell of smoke sticking to your clothes and hair
  • there’s no risk of leaving potential fire hazards behind
  • running out of firewood is not an issue—one tank of propane lasts about 1-2 days

I asked our Instagram followers if they would ever bring a propane fire pit with them camping, and 50 per cent of respondents answered a resounding, “No, I never have & don’t want to.”

propane fire pit questionsAlison Karlene Hodgins

“No thanks. Who wants to carry around propane?” one message read. “I heard they use a LOT of propane?” questioned another.

However, 19 per cent of respondents already use a propane fire pit; another 31 per cent say they would try it.

Some agreed there’s a time and place for propane fire pits: “you can use them during fire bans when camping,” one follower said. And there are advantages, such as “no sparks,” added another.

relaxing by the propane fueled fireAlison Karlene Hodgins

Whatever you choose, the responses reminded me how important it is to be kind and accepting of whatever method someone else uses to enjoy the outdoors, as long as they are being respectful and safe. New traditions are made every year—no matter how you choose to enjoy a camping trip, the important thing is that you’re out there.