When you go camping or venture into the backcountry it is essential to know how to build a proper camp fire.  It may end up saving your life one day.  Below, i will discuss how you can build five different types of camp fires.  All fires have a specific advantage for different circumstances.  These are the five camp fires every outdoor enthusiast should know.  First, it is important to note the three requirements for a fire.  The three requirements include heat, oxygen and fuel.  The fuel source in most cases is considered to be the tinder.  Tinder includes small sticks, pete moss, old man’s beard, dry leafs and weeds.  This goes without saying, tinder must be dry!  If your caught in a wet environment its important to know where to look.  Start with looking for your toilet paper!  If their is a few extra squares do this because the paper ignites perfectly.  Otherwise, you can use cotton balls or other various fuel agents.  If all else fails look for a dead tree.  Usually, the inside of the tree remains dry. Also, the dead tree should still be standing.  Dead trees on the ground will likely be water logged.  Let’s begin breaking down the list!



The Tipi Fire


The tipi fire is excellent for producing heat in a quick amount of time.  In fact, when polar plunging into those icy lakes in the backcountry i always have this fire close by.  The heat comes from the gases on the bottom of the fire quickly rising to the top as more sticks are added.  That means this is the perfect fire to stand over when time is of the essence.  When making the tipi fire start with your tinder.  Create a small bundle of tinder to ignite, than add slightly bigger sticks to the pile making a tipi around the tinder.  As the fire produces more heat, add larger sticks to the structure until desired heat level is acquired.




The Reflector Fire


The reflector fire should be utilized when you want to maximize the fire’s heat.  Any fire build will do, its uniqueness comes from a reflector wall on the opposite side of the fire.  The idea is that the heat from the fire will be reflected onto you.  Always look for a natural wall to build next to, such as a rock.  However, if a natural wall is not available, you will have to build one yourself.  Take two straight sticks and stake them into the ground on an angle.  Next, find sticks to lay across the stakes until a sufficient wall is built.  When building the reflector wall out of sticks use one’s that are green.  This will prevent the reflector from catching fire.


Log Cabin Fire


The log cabin fire is the least vulnerable fire for premature collapse, but is the most inefficient.  The inefficiency stems from the fire causing the worst use of convection to ignite progressively larger pieces of fuel.   With that said, this fire is perfect for cooking due to the stability of the build.  Start with your tinder pile, than lay sticks parallel to each other on opposite sides of the tinder pile.


The Star Fire


The star fire, also known as the Indian fire is the most predictable fire build.  For this reason, star fires are great to cook with.  Star fire’s are best used when conditions are calm.  The most important aspect of the star fire is that it takes a minimal amount of firewood to burn.  This fire will burn all night if needed with little maintenance.  Think of this fire as a wheel with spokes.  Lay 4-6 sticks out like the spokes of a wheel.  Dig a small hole 2-3 inches where the hub of the wheel would be.  This is where you will start your tinder.  Once the tinder is lit, slowly feed the wood into the center as needed.


The Platform Fire


Last on the list is the platform fire.  This fire is the go-to when you’re looking for coals to cook over.  The name says it all, you will start by building a base platform out of sticks.  This platform should be the largest of the build.  Next, build 2-4 other platforms stacked on top of one another.  Each platform stacked should get smaller in size.  When starting the fire, lite your tinder on the top platform.  As the fire grows it will burn through the structure, creating a nice big bed of coals.