Planning for a casual camping trip with some friends or family and want to stay warm? Sounds like a reasonable plan. If you’re new to fire building, it’s important to do a little research and have some idea of how to create warmth and a place to cook if needed. Some methods can leave you feeling defeated and cold. Let’s avoid that. We have compiled a few simple, yet effective fire styles that can be built with a little practice and are good for weekend getaways or to simply have in your back pocket in case of emergency.
1. The TeePee Campfire
Surely we have all heard or at least seen this type of fire at some point. Whether over the fire pit in the backyard for smores or surrounded by campers trying to stay warm in the woods at night, this is one of the most (if not the most) popular type of fire to build. By leaning several sticks and branches together in the shape of a teepee and filling the hollow center with kindling or a thicker fire log, this is an easy one to build. However, it often comes toppling down pretty quickly once it starts to burn down. We suggest placing a large log down, perpendicular to the wind, while using sticks and branches to lean up against it, forming more of a half teepee. This is more secure and the large log will help keep the fire going by blocking out wind.
2. The Dakota Fire Hole
This particular build takes more work than a teepee but it’s a great one if you’ll be sticking around for several days. It produces no smoke, is protected from the wind and doesn’t shine any light above ground level. This is what makes it so popularly used by the military. It is a great fire when trying to keep warm but also trying to avoid being seen. You dig two holes in the ground. The first hole is for the fire. Dig straight into the ground. Then dig the second hole away from the first and make it slope downward so that it meets the first hole at the bottom. The air comes in through this one. It makes a better fire with no smoke. The fire is blocked by the walls of the ground, making it sturdy in the wind.
3. The Log Cabin
Although this one may be pretty easy to assemble, it can be trickier to get a fire going in the log cabin style. The best way to do this to avoid the hardships of getting it burning is to build a teepee in the center and then stack up logs around it in square box like formation. You simply continue to stack around in a square shape 5-6 layers high or until it surrounds your teepee. It’s a great fire for cooking because it burns slowly and the design itself is good for holding a pot or pan or piece of meat or fish.
So which one is best? Great question but also a trick question. There is no right or wrong answer here. Each style has a unique purpose and it’s own pros and cons. Your best bet is to consider the main purpose for the fire and plan accordingly. For a casual fire, the teepee is great. For a low detectable and windproof fire, the Dakota fire hole is your go-to. And for a great cooking fire, the log cabin style is going to be your style of choice. There are more, many more, styles out there. So the more you know, the better prepared you will be for the many variables involved in mother nature. Happy camping to you! May your fire be strong and the wind stay low.