Fire building tips for backpackers: What You Need to Know

Fire is a chemical reaction under certain conditions. When heat, fuel and oxygen mix, fire is created. This is due to the combustion.

Before starting a fire, certain safety measures should be considered. Whether you’re making a campfire in the woods, at a campsite or in your garden, you need to take different precautions in each situation.

If you are starting a forest fire, you must choose a room that meets certain requirements. The location you choose should be free of hazards such as. B. Branches, are. It would be best if you also put out anything else that could catch fire quickly.

If you are lighting a campfire at a campground, make sure it is in an authorized area. If there are fireplaces on the campsite, use them. If you are making a fire in the garden, you can use a stone circle or a safety blanket, or build your own fireplace. These methods are effective in maintaining the fire and ensuring your safety. Photograph of Peccaries by Igor Haritanovich

How do you make a fire when you are outside?

To build a campfire in the wilderness, certain steps must be taken.

Creation of a bed of fire

Always think about safety first if a fire occurs. You don’t want to be the guy who starts a fire. If your campground has a designated campfire area, please use it.

If you are camping in a more mountainous area that doesn’t have enough room to build a fire, you will have to make one yourself. Choose an area away from trees, shrubs and other plants. Your bed of fire should be on bare ground, not on grass.

If you cannot find bare soil, make it your own by clearing and removing plant material and taking responsibility for its disposal.

After we clean up, it’s time to build a fire. Pick up the dirt and place it in the center of the cleaned area. Shape the floor into a platform 3 to 4 inches thick.

Wood collection

To start a fire, you need three main materials: Wood flour, brushwood and firewood. Photo Lum3n by Pexels

Binding agent

The binder is a highly flammable substance that can easily be ignited by sparks or flames. When you build a fire, your foundation is your foundation. Useful forms of binder grains can be obtained in nature, manufactured at home, or used commercially.

Natural forms of grinding include materials such as :

  • River birch – River birch contains resin (natural oils), ignites quickly and burns longer.
  • Fire Needles
  • Cattail – A piece of cattail can be twisted to loosen the fibers and make a small nest. The taillights light up instantly, which is handy if you need a quick shot.
  • Dried milk thistle – Like a rush, thistle catches fire very quickly.
  • Cedar bark – Break the cedar bark into small pieces so it catches fire more easily.
  • Thick wood – this material comes from the end of a pine tree.
  • Dead leaves and grass
  • Dried orange peel, potato chips, corn chips
  • Tree bark
  • Dry grass


Kindling is a small piece of twig or stick used to start a fire. Once the ash is ignited, a small piece of kindling is placed on top of the ash pile to light the fire. The branches are generally a quarter to an inch in diameter and six to twelve inches long.

Kindling can be found on the ground or obtained from the branches of dead trees. Other materials used for ignition are :

  • Feather sticks are thin pieces of wood that are scraped into curls.
  • Pine cone.
  • Large pieces of wood are broken into smaller pieces.


Firewood keeps the fire warm. Contrary to popular belief, firewood doesn’t have to look like the giant logs you use in your fireplace. If you choose too large, it will take a long time to burn the wood. Look for branches as wide as your wrist or forearm.

When gathering firewood for a fire, gather wood that breaks and splits easily. Dry wood burns better. If your wood is bent, it is too wet or too green. If you try to make a fire with this type of wood, you will get a lot of smoke. Unlike firewood and kindling, firewood can be slightly damp. The fire will dry him out, but it’s not perfect yet.

Collect twice as much ash, wood and firewood as you want. You’ll be surprised how fast you can get through the ash and ignition when you start a fire.

Wooden stacking structures

When you make a campfire, you can choose between different types of construction. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is best to prepare the bowl, tailgate and tree in advance with all the drawings.

Counterfeit model

The teepee design is achieved by placing your kindling and firewood in the shape of a tent. You can add the bark first, light it, then stack the brush and firewood like a tent, or leave a small door to put the bark in after building the teepee. Some people find it difficult to build a teepee because it tends to fall into a big pile.

One way to get around this problem is to use a large pile of waste such as leaves to structure a solid. When you’re done, add a line of lights through the little door you made earlier. With this design, you should continue to add logs and kindling, as wood burns quickly.

Slim design

This design is appropriate if you are building a fire in a windy or rainy environment and need a method to start the fire before it has a chance to be extinguished by the elements.

You can build a ramp using a large tree trunk to block the wind or rain. When building a lean-to, instead of building it on a lattice platform like a rock, dig a small area around your lean-to to allow for more air.

The next step is to place your kindling so that it lies across a line on a large log. Once you have made a fire, you can place your firewood logs on the slope.

Building pyramids or wooden houses

This design burns longer and requires less maintenance than a tepee or tipi. photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash

To begin with, you have to rely on the basic magazines. Place two logs about five inches apart in diameter and place the ashes and kindling in the middle. For best results, install your kindling in a teepee.

Once this is done, stack the logs alternately on the wooden base. From then on, there are variations in the design of this structure.

You can place the magazines in twos, threes or fours on the base magazines. Remember, the more magazines you put up above the base, the more you restrict airflow.

If you stack firewood logs alternately, you have the option of using smaller logs or logs of the same size. Using different sized logs allows for better air circulation, so your fire will burn harder and hotter.

Dakota Firehole design

The design of the Dakota fireplace allows for a fire that cannot be seen from afar, is excellent for cooking and is very easy to put out. You have to dig a hole in the ground up to three feet deep. The depth of the pit depends on the size of the fire you want to build.

If you’re considering building a home in Dakota, a good approach is to bring a shovel. After making the first hole, you need to dig another hole at a distance of about 15 cm and at a depth twice as deep as the first.

An underpass connecting the two pits should be constructed to provide the highest oxygen flow. When you are done digging the second hole, dig the hole that goes to the first hole.

When you’re done with the holes, build a fire in the first hole, as you would in any wood pile structure. Then put your logs, kindling and firewood on top.

Self-propelled version

Of all the models mentioned so far, self-power is the longest lasting. It also requires little maintenance compared to other devices.

This design is similar to a log cabin fire with minor differences. You start building this structure by placing tree trunks on the ground as a base, but placing them close together.

Once the base is ready, stack the logs as you would for a log cabin structure. These logs are close together, with three to four logs per layer.

With this drawing you put your peels and kindling on top instead of underneath. Instead of burning from bottom to top, it burns self-feeding from top to bottom, slowly.

Places of no-fire authorisation

  • Wherever there is insufficient wood (e.g. above the tree line).
  • In a region of remote villages in developing countries. The locals need more wood than you do.
  • Wherever there is a risk of fire. Always be aware of fire regulations and restrictions in the area you are hiking.  Watch out for changing weather conditions.

Emergency communication about fire

It is sometimes difficult to obtain dry ash and kindling. Hikers are advised to always carry a firelighter for emergencies in this case. Below are five simple and reliable options:

  • Vaseline coated cotton balls
  • Light my fire
  • Birthday candle
  • Drying of lint
  • Corn chips

Fire maintenance

To keep the fire burning, remember the three ingredients needed to start a fire. To start a fire you need air, heat and fuel.


If the oxygen is cut off, the fire is extinguished. You can quickly test it by lighting a candle and covering it with a glass or cap.

Similarly, if the fuel smothers the fire you are building because you have brought them close together and blocked the airflow, it will either go out or be very difficult to maintain.

Whatever model of wood pile you choose, make sure there is enough space between the brush and the fuel to allow oxygen to circulate.


Heat is another element to consider when maintaining a fire. If you have started a fire and only a few coals or embers are burning, the heat produced will be insufficient and your fire will go out. If your fire dies, add kindling and more firewood to make the fire stronger and hotter.


The tinder helps fuel the fire, kindling is the next growth phase, but your firewood logs will eventually fuel the fire. If you try to maintain a fire with only kindling made from small twigs or branches, you will constantly run out of fuel and trying to keep the fire going will become a real challenge.

Good firewood logs have a diameter of at least wrist size. You can increase the size depending on the type of wood pile you choose and how long you want the fire to burn.


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