Howl R4 Portable Propane Fire Pit: Redefining Outdoor Heating

When you’re embarking on outdoor adventures, there’s nothing quite like the warmth and camaraderie of a campfire. However, bans on collecting or burning firewood can quickly halt your plans. Portable propane fire pits offer a convenient solution, but many fall short in heat output. Colorado’s Howl Campfires has set out to change that with its robust Howl R4 portable propane fire pit, boasting a remarkable 61,800-BTU output and radiant tubes that deliver scorching 1,200 °F (650 °C) heat, rivaling the warmth of a traditional wood fire.

The inspiration for the Howl R4 came from a group of outdoor enthusiasts who found themselves shivering during a particularly chilly camping trip in Utah. The propane fire pit they had brought along failed to provide sufficient heat, leaving them cold and uncomfortable. Determined to find a better solution, they embarked on a mission to create a propane fire pit that could generate the same cozy warmth as a wood fire.

Traditional propane fire pits tend to emit heat that rises and dissipates into the air, making them less effective at warming the surrounding area. In contrast, wood fires produce glowing coals that radiate heat in all directions, creating a warmer and more inviting atmosphere. Howl’s innovation, known as BarCoals, consists of two inner tubes that combust propane mixed with air, reaching temperatures of 1,200 °F. This high heat allows the R4 to emit the same thermal radiation as a wood fire, making it exceptionally effective at providing warmth.

The R4’s combustion system also includes the A-Flame burner, which sends flames upward through the top grate, delivering a wood fire’s captivating glow and ambiance. This ensures that the R4 isn’t just a heat source but an outdoor fire pit. To withstand varying weather conditions, the burner plate is designed to drain off water efficiently. At the same time, a windscreen protects against winds of up to 60 mph (96.5 km/h), ensuring the flame stays steady even in adverse conditions.

To prevent the R4’s base from heating the ground and potentially starting fires with dry vegetation, the fire pit is equipped with mirror-coated reflectors that redirect the radiation outward, keeping the foot cool.

In terms of design, Howl has departed from the standard round shape of most gas fire pits. While the R4 isn’t particularly compact or lightweight, it’s designed for efficient packing. Its legs are spaced to encircle a propane tank, minimizing the packing footprint and serving as a stable base when strapped to the tank. These legs also feature strap points for securing the fire pit to a pickup bed or trunk floor, making it easier to stow alongside other camping gear.

The Howl R4 is built to last, constructed in Colorado using 304 stainless steel for the main frame and a combination of aluminum and brass components. While it sells for $1,299, significantly higher than many portable propane fire pits, it offers a design and performance that outdoor enthusiasts will likely appreciate. For those who have experienced the limitations of cheaper propane fire pits, the promise of superior heat output and durable construction may justify the investment. The next release of the Howl R4 is scheduled for October 26, with a $100 deposit securing a spot for interested buyers.

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