7 Types Of Campfires And How To Use Them

campfires

Check out our list of seven important types of campfires and how and when to use them. 

  1. Lean-to fire

This particular type of design is best suited for windy days. Start by looking for a medium-sized tree log and place it where you want to start your campfire. The log should be arranged horizontally, facing the wind direction.

This is to block the wind and keep the campfire going.

lean-to fire
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Next, you will need tinder, which is usually a bunch of fibers bound together. You could use dead grass or weeds. Or use any dead, dry plant-based material because they are suitable for turning sparks into fires.

Then, take the tinder and place it in front of the log where the wind can’t reach. It should also be arranged horizontally, just like how the log is set.

The last thing to place down is the twigs (kindling). They should be leaning on the log over the tinders you have placed. The twigs should be placed vertically because it will be leaning on the log.

Once you are ready to light it up, get your lit match and place it on one of the tinder ends. The fire should start and proliferate.

Pros

  • Easy to make
  • Great against wind
  • Great against light rain

Cons

  • Less heat 
  1. Log Cabin Fire

This type of fire is not possible for everyone because there is a need to cut up softwood with an axe. You will, therefore, need a lot of large-medium sized softwood.

To start, you need to cut-up softwood and begin building a hashtag shape on the ground. So you will have two pieces parallel on the ground, and another two parallel on top, but facing the east and west direction.

That will be the first layer.

You then have to build a platform with smaller tinder in the middle of your shape. Load up the middle with one layer and once done, you can continue stacking the larger softwood on top with the same hashtag shape as before.

This will give your tinder lots of oxygen for the flame to start and sustain growing since it is one layer above the ground.

After adding about three more layers of softwood, you can add in birch bark. This will also help in igniting the fire.

You will also have to add in smaller kindling, enough to fill up the three layers you created previously.

Lastly, you will have to add a few more softwood pieces on top, and you are ready to start the fire!

To start the campfire, you have to use a lighted match and reach into the birch bark. Since air is abundant from all of the layers you have created, the birch bark should instantly light the fire.

Image by BitBot-Media from Pixabay

Pros 

  • Produces a lot of heat
  • Perfect for cooking food
  • Low maintenance
  • Last a long time

Cons

  • It takes some time to build
  • Harder to keep the fire going when windy
  1. Teepee Campfire

This is probably the most common campfire of all time. It is a lot more simple and faster to make.

The first thing to do is to create a loose layer of 6-7 sticks on the ground. This is to allow air through and make the fire start without any problems.

Then you will have to place tinder right on top of the layer you built. The tinder is what will get on fire first.

Then, get four firewood pieces, dig them into the ground, and make each top end touch. There should be one firewood piece on each side of the tinder layer, connecting like a triangle.

Teepee Campfire
Photo by Thomas Despeyroux on Unsplash

After that, you need to start filling in the circle with kindling until there is no more space left. Proceed to dig each piece into the ground and make the top end touch in the middle.

If you have more firewood or larger sized firewood, you can add it to your complete teepee.

A small part should be left open to have room to reach in and start the fire.

Pros

  • Produces a lot of heat
  • Easy to make
  • Good for cooking

Cons

  • Requires more maintenance
  • Hard to start in windy conditions
  1. Star Fire

This is a very traditional fire layout that has been around for a very long time. One good thing about this type of fire is how long it can last, incredibly when you start filling into the established fire.

The primary thing you should do is dig out a little area where your fire will be. It doesn’t have to be a large hole since it gives more oxygen for the fire.

Then, get a tinder and place it into the small hole that you created. 

After that, take around eight pieces of log and place them in a star shape. You will do this by taking one log, setting it down, and putting the next log next to it at an angle. The tips should be touching. Do this until you come around to your first log.

The logs should be about 2-3 feet long.

Lastly, you will need to take some smaller sticks to make a platform in the middle of your logs. This will be your kindling, so make sure to have them loosely bundled.

You can draw back one of the logs and light up the tinder to watch the fire starting. Once you have an established fire, you can add more logs to increase the heat and flame. You can also lessen the fire and heat by removing logs.

Pros

  • Big surface space for cooking

Cons

  • Exposed to wind
  • Requires maintenance
  1. Platform Campfire

This campfire is popularly known as the upside-down campfire.

If you want a fire that lasts for hours, then this is the one. If you follow these steps in order, you can have a campfire that can stay lit for about six hours.

You need to gather about four to five large pieces of wood and place them down in a row. Next, you will need to get any dirt or even mud, and spread it between the logs you have set.

This step is crucial to have the fire last because the dirt will prevent the embers from falling to the ground. This will delay the fire and make it last longer since it has to go through the dirt you have placed.

You need to place another set of logs perpendicular to your first set of logs for the next layer. You have to continue doing this for three more layers. Make sure to cover the dirt between the logs for each layer.

You can then add your tinder and smaller sticks to the top of your platform. Now light up your tinder and watch as your campfire lasts you several hours. 

platform fire
Photo by sarina gr on Unsplash

Pros

  • The fire lasts for around 6 hours
  • Low maintenance
  • Great for cooking food
  • A lot of heat

Cons

  • Time-consuming to build and cut logs
  1. Dakota Fire Hole

If you need to conceal or hide your campfire, the Dakota fire hole is the solution.

To create this fire hole, you need a shovel. You will proceed to dig a two feet deep hole where you plan to have your fire. The bigger you want your fire to be, the deeper the hole needs to be. You can also make it wider for a bigger flame.

You will then need to create another hole, about one foot away from the hole you just built. The second hole should be somewhat smaller than your first hole, around 1.5 feet deep.

The purpose of the second hole is to give oxygen for the flames. If it feels like your fire needs more oxygen once it begins, then you can carefully blow into the second hole yourself since the flame is on the other side.

After you have two holes, you can use your shovel to connect the two holes. Make sure to dig near the bottom of the hole and go towards the other hole. You don’t want the whole thing to fall and result in you having to start all over again.

You will place down a small stick platform on the very bottom for the first hole you created. Then you can get a group of sticks around the same length of your hole and place them inside. You should fill the hole up as much as you can.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Pros

  • Great for cooking
  • Hidden
  • Low maintenance
  • Plenty of heat

Cons

  • Time-consuming
  1. Swedish Fire Torch

This is one of the simplest campfires to make. It’s not time-consuming and can be applied to cooking. You will need to find a short log and cut the log into four, identically sized pieces. 

The next thing you will need is some tinder. Have the log standing up and connected with little gaps in between the pieces. You can fill in the gaps with many different tinder types—anything from wood shavings, tree bark, and hay.

The last thing you have to do is light the tinder and watch the fire start. You can continue to add small pieces of firewood on the top as the fire starts to build.

This fire is excellent for boiling water to cook various foods that have to be in pots. You can place a pot right on top of this campfire, once the fire burns away the tinder on the top.

Pros

  • Good for cooking
  • Easy to make
  • Portable

Cons

  • Need tools
  • Fire doesn’t last a long time.

The article is a part of our comprehensive guide on “Fire building tips for backpackers