Lets Build A Campfire

Campers and backpackers have five main types of campfires available, each with there own advantages and disadvantages. Lets explore these and see which will fit correctly into your camping style.

1. Parallel Fire or Trench Fire:
This campfire is built between two long logs, usually equal in size, with a few smaller logs in the middle for getting the fire started and maintaining even burn. This type of fire can be perfect for cooking. Since the inside of the long logs are burning, these fires tend to last longer than fires built with small logs, branches and twigs.

2. Teepee Fire:
The most basic of campfires and probably the most widely used. Some will use this type of campfire as the base for a much larger fire. Start with kindling and apply larger pieces as the fire grows. Most commonly used to direct heat upwards, this is the perfect fire for cookware hanging from tripods or cantilevers. Stack a few medium size logs into a Teepee shape, then use kindling or other fire starting material in the center.

3. Reflector Fire:
When maximum warmth is needed, a reflector fire is the proper choice. A reflector built from logs, rocks or metal is setup, then a fire the width of the screen is built. Do not place fire against the reflector. As heat is displaced in all directions, the reflector screen will direct heat back toward the user. Always point the screen towards the area where warmth is needed. Careful consideration is needed when choosing the material for your back-screen.

Dry rocks are used to prevent cracking and explosions, a wet rock has the potential of causing sever injury! Metal will get extremely hot, so be sure it cooled properly before touching. Wood is the most commonly used material, choose large logs if possible as these will resit catching fire sooner than smaller logs.

4. Star Fire:
A Star fire, as it’s name suggest, is a fire with several logs placed end to end in a circle with a central hub, similar to spokes of a wheel. Star fires were common in the older times, but not used much today. Start fire with kindling, then place logs in star pattern once fire id burning. As the fire consumes the logs, each log may be slide toward the center to keep a constant fuel source.

5. Pyramid Fire:
A Pyramid fire can be made in different versions, it’s simplicity and ease of assembly makes it one of the most popular camp fires. As shown in image to the left, wood logs are stacked or laid side by side to form a solid base. Each subsequent layer is slightly shorter as the platform or pyramid rises. The solid model takes a little effort to light, but it’s burn time is longer and the amount of time adding fuel is reduced considerably. The open Pyramid style is easier to light, but will require more maintenance.

Some woods burn faster than others, look for hardwoods like Oak as these will increase burn time, soft woods like Pine are easier to light but have a much reduced burn time. Softwoods are perfect for starting a fire, while hardwoods are best for continued burning.

A large supply of wood may be needed depending on your length of stay and weather conditions. Be sure you have enough wood available and consider bringing your own for extended stays.