One of your immediate priorities in a survival situation is to build a fire. A decent fire not only keeps hypothermia at bay, it also allows you to cook food, purify water, and fend off any wild animals.
While it’s pretty easy to strike a match or scrape some sparks from a ferro rod, the real challenge is keeping a fire going. The reason for this is that a lot of preppers don’t use the proper firelay. They start out too small, or t1hey smother out the flame with too large pieces of kindling.
Don’t wanna make these mistakes? Check out the 6 types of campfire that will definitely keep you warm on a long night outdoors.
Types of Campfire to Build
Campfire types vary in difficulty, but the best ones have one thing in common: they’re reliable in a pinch.
Here are 6 types of fires worth learning:
The teepee campfire is one of the most common types of campfire, probably because it’s also one of the most simple to make. This firelay is a favorite among campers and preppers because it’s quick to light and can be made from various materials like twigs, sticks, and branches.
As its name suggests, your teepee campfire should look like a teepee shelter.
First, gather some tinder, then build a triangular or teepee frame of kindling around it. Start with small sticks, gradually working your way into thicker kindling material. Leave an opening on the upwind side of your teepee structure so you can set your tinder on fire. This also lets some air in, which feeds the flames. Once lit, the kindling should fall in on itself. Keep adding kindling to the fire as needed.
Due to its pointed structure, a teepee campfire allows the heat to be directed in one single direction, making it ideal for suspending a pot of water or stew right over it.
The haystack firelay is so easy that you don’t even need a tutorial video to know how to make it. It’s pretty self-explanatory: it’s a firelay that looks like a mini-haystack. Call it a lazy prepper’s firelay, if you will.
Basically, you gather tinder, light it up, and just gradually stack any flammable material you can find— leaves, twigs, sticks—working your way up to larger wood fuel. Since it doesn’t have any structure, your haystack firelay won’t burn as long as other firelays do, but it should be useful when you’re in a hurry or don’t have a lot of materials handy.
Think of the star firelay as an upgraded version of the haystack or the teepee. You can build it with far less material than most firelays, but your campfire will still burn for a considerable amount of time.
Constructing a star fire is pretty simple as well. Start by building a small pile of tinder and kindling. Then, around it, place 3 to 5 pieces of large fuelwood, arranging them just like a star. All you have to do is push the large pieces of fuelwood in as the fire grows. While it does require some tending, this firelay is pretty useful when you don’t have the resources to chop large pieces of wood.
Lean To Fire
Interesting how most firelays share similar names with survival shelters, isn’t it? The lean to fire basically looks like the shelter of the same name. Start by looking for a large tree branch around the same size as your arm.
Collect some kindling (you can use twigs and sticks) and lay them perpendicular to the large branch, making an angle. Underneath the kindling, put some tinder and light it up. Gradually add layers of kindling over the original lean to firelay. This type of firelay is particularly helpful during windy days, since you can use the branch as a windbreaker to protect your fire.
Just make sure not to leave too much airspace, or the tinder will burn out without catching the larger pieces of kindling.
Log Cabin Fire
A log cabin fire is what you would make if you want a nice hot bed of coals. The firelay is far from basic; its construction involves a lot more skill and materials, but it’s pretty rewarding when you do it right.
Log cabin firelays burn from the inside out. Unlike the teepee, which concentrates the heat in one direction, a log cabin firelay spreads the heat along its surface area. It burns longer, too, so it’s perfect for long, cold nights.
To build a log cabin fire, start by gathering some tinder. Then, using four large pieces of fuel wood, make a square around your tinder. Put a layer of kindling around it, then add another layer atop it, working your way to more pieces of wood as you go along. If the ground is damp, make sure to build this firelay on top of a layer of firewood so that it lights properly.
The upside-down fire goes by many names. It’s also called a council fire or a pyramid fire because of its structure. Like the log cabin, it’s one of the more advanced types of campfire, but it should offer many advantages when executed correctly. The upside-down firelay is a self-feeding fire—once you get it started, you virtually don’t have to tend it.
The upside-down fire operates like a candle as it burns from top to bottom. At the very top of the firelay, you can find the tinder, usually arranged as a small teepee. The kindling gets bigger and thicker as you go down the structure, and at the very bottom, you can find the biggest pieces of fuel wood.
This type of firelay produces a big, constant flame, so it’s good for big groups. Although it involves more materials and takes some time to build, it can keep you warm throughout the night and will leave a nice amount of coal after it burns out.
Building a fire and keeping it going is an essential survival skill. Fire is necessary to regulate your body temperature, especially at night. It gives you light in the dark and allows you to purify water and cook food.
Without a decent fire, your chances of survival will plummet. Learning to construct the right firelay is important in keeping a fire going. Practice making the different campfire types now so that when the situation calls for it, you’ll be ready.
What’s your favorite out of the types of campfire we mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!