A Guide to Wild Camping Fires: How to Safely Build a Fire in the Wild

After a long day of outdoor adventures, there’s nothing better than getting cosy around the campfire. Whether you’re cooking dinner, keeping warm, or enjoying a toasted marshmallow snack, a good campfire is a staple of any wild camping trip.

If you’re new to wild camping, you might not know the best way to start a campfire. It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies! In this article, we’ll uncover how you can build a roaring campfire and what you need to know about fire safety while camping.

How to build a campfire

Most things are never as easy as they seem, and that includes building a campfire! But do not worry, you can build a safe and reliable campfire with the right supplies and the help of our guide to campfires.

Collect your materials

Collect your materials - Campfire GuideFirst thing’s first, you’ll need the right materials to build your fire. Depending on where you choose to camp, these might be readily available for you to gather from the wild. Look for wood shavings, pine needles, twigs, sticks, and small branches.

If you do choose to stay at a commercial campsite, always check their policies beforehand. Whilst some will allow campfires, they may require you to bring your own materials and not forage from the local surroundings.

Structure your campfire

Structure your campfire - Campfire Guide wild CampingNow that you have your tinder and kindling, it’s time to start building your campfire. There are different structural types of fire, from a traditional ‘cone’, to simply stacking the wood in a log cabin style, or leaning the wood together in a star shape.

The teepee or cone structure is the most popular and simplest to achieve if you’re new to campfire building. Each type of campfire will offer different properties, such as burn time and heat output. It’s also important to consider the height of the flame, and whether your fire will be more suited to cooking or just keeping warm.

The best way to start a fire

Time for the main event! Once you’ve structured your fire and added the kindling, you’ll need to know the best way to start a fire. The easiest option is to come prepared with a box of matches or a lighter. If you really want to think ahead, pack some dry tinder that will certainly catch alight. This ensures that even in wet weather conditions, you’ll still be able to light your fire and get it going.

Our guide to fire safety while camping

As with any outdoor excursion, safety is the most important element. If your campfire is not constructed safely, uses the wrong materials, or is positioned too close to your campsite, it can be hazardous for you, the environment around you, and your whole camp! Avoid a wild camping disaster with the following tips for fire safety while wild camping:

Find a safe spot

Always build your fire within a pit to keep the flames within a controlled area. When wild camping, it’s easy to build your own fire pit. Dig a circle about two inches deep into the ground, clearing the surrounding land of anything that could potentially catch fire. Ensure the ground is compact, then finish your fire pit by circling with rocks to keep the fire from spreading out of hand.

Watch the wind

Find a safe spot - Campfire GuideAs well as keeping a safe distance from your campfire, a vital campfire safety rule is to keep an eye on the wind. You should always build a campfire upwind or out of the wind where possible, however, if the wind does change, be careful a sudden gust doesn’t blow the fire towards your campsite.

Never leave your campfire unattended

Because of the unpredictability of fire, and the elements, you should never leave your fire unattended, especially if you are camping with pets or small children! The wind can pick up at any given moment, turning your happy camping trip into a disaster. Whenever you’re leaving your camp, no matter how briefly, put the fire out.

Put it out properly

And finally, ensure the campfire is always thoroughly put out, whether you are briefly leaving the camp, going to sleep, or moving on to your next adventure. Drench your fire with water, making sure that it is soaked through and cold to the touch before you leave your camp.

Final thoughts

No matter where you choose to go wild camping, building a campfire is a fun and enriching outdoor activity that provides a comforting heat source. Once you know the best way to start a fire, and how to do it safely, heading back to camp to chill around the campfire will become your favourite part of the trip!