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You’ve been paddling all day.
You’re tired. It’s hardly surprising.
All you need to do now is set up camp for the night and light a fire.
Different types of campfires have different uses, such as a star fire for cooking or warmth. A simple teepee fire can be great if you don’t have a lot of firewood or tools. There are also other types, like a lean-to, that can be better for windy conditions.
When you’re setting off for an overnight paddling trip or a multi-day adventure, it can be useful to know how to set up a campfire to cook your food, keep you warm or even dry out your wet gear.
There are several types of campfires that can be ideal for kayak camping or canoe trips, as they can usually be made using items you can find in your camp surroundings. However, an axe can be a handy tool to have with you, in case you need to chop any of the wood you find.
It can be worth bringing along a lighter or some matches so that you can get your fire going easily. When you get to your camp it can be useful to look for a mixture of sizes of twigs, sticks, and logs. Dried leaves, bark, and pine needles can be used as tinder to start your fire, with larger sticks being ideal for kindling. Larger pieces of wood can help your fire to burn longer.
We’ve added a list of some campfires you might want to try on your next camping adventure. However, always remember to fully extinguish your fire before you leave your camp and pay attention to any fire restrictions in effect, which would prohibit you from making a campfire at all.
5 Types Of Campfires
1: Teepee Fire
A teepee campfire can be one of the easiest fires to make and can be ideal if you’re short on time or don’t have access to a lot of firewood.
Video: How To Build A Teepee Fire
This one requires you to build a small teepee-style structure with twigs or small branches, so that they lean to meet together at the top, like a teepee. In the center of the structure is where you put your kindling. This can be smaller twigs and sticks or bark.
You can put the kindling on the ground before you build the teepee structure and build around it if you find it easier. Once the kindling is inside your teepee, you can place tinder on top. This can be dried grasses or leaves, or even paper.
To start your fire, light the tinder. This should light the kindling and the structure should keep your fire lit.
2: Star Fire
A star campfire can be considered a traditional type of fire and is shaped like a star on the ground. This one can burn for a long time and can be useful if you want to keep your campfire burning all night long.
Video: How To Build A Star Fire For Cooking
It can be a good idea to start by digging a shallow hole in the ground, so there’s a small dip, which will be the center of your fire. Grab five logs (you can use more if you want) and place them in a star shape so that one end of each log is touching near the center of the dipped area you created.
Put your kindling and tinder in the center of the star and light it. This should burn the ends of the logs and you can push each log closer to the center to keep your fire going. The dip in the ground can also help to slide them into the center.
- Long burning
3: Swedish Torch
A Swedish fire torch can be ideal when the weather is wet, as it can let you start your fire up off the wet ground.
Video: How To Make A Swedish Fire Torch
The first thing to do is to grab a short(ish) log and cut it into four pieces through the middle. Stand the pieces up as if you were putting the log back together. You can tie them together using wire or anything else you have with you in your kayak or canoe, as this can help stop it from collapsing.
Place your tinder inside the gaps of your log structure, including at the sides and through the middle, as well as at the top. You can then light the tinder at the top and it should burn through, with your sidewalls helping to contain the fire.
- Wet ground
4: Dakota Fire Hole
A Dakota fire hole is a submerged campfire that is built in the ground, letting you cook on the surface with hidden flames. However, this might take a while to set up, depending on the type or size of the shovel you have with you, so it might be better if you have help from your paddling buddies.
Video: How To Make A Dakota Fire Hole
This will require you to dig two holes close together – about one or two feet apart. The second hole should be a little smaller than the first one, with the first one being around a foot wide and two feet deep.
Once you have your two holes, you have to join them together under the ground by digging out a small tunnel between them. Be careful not to dig too close to the surface or the ground above could collapse.
The larger of the two holes is where you should place your tinder, kindling, and firewood. You might find it easier to light the tinder first before placing it in the pit. The second hole is to allow oxygen into your fire.
- Hiding flames
5: Reflector/Lean-To Campfire
A lean-to fire or reflector fire can be a good campfire to make if it’s windy or raining as it can help to shelter the flames and reflect the heat. You also don’t need a lot of tools, which can be handy if you’re kayak camping and traveling light, as you can usually find what you need near your chosen camp.
Video: Fire Starting – Lean-To Method
To make this one, you should first find a decent sized log to create your lean-to. If it’s windy, you should put your log on the side where the wind is coming from, so your flames can be sheltered on the opposite side.
With your log placed horizontally on the ground, place your tinder on the sheltered side, along the length of the log. You can then add your twigs and sticks so that they’re leaning against the log. You’re then ready to light the tinder with your match and it should burn without being put out by wind or rain.
- Windy weather
Campfires: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between A Campfire And A Bonfire?
A campfire is generally what you might have at your camp to cook food and stay warm. A bonfire is usually a much larger fire, often used for certain types of celebrations or to signal for help.
How Hot Are Campfires?
Campfires can reach temperatures of up to around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1,100 degrees Celsius.
What Is The Best Type Of Wood For Campfires?
Ash can be one of the best types of wood to use, as it can be easy to chop and can generate a lot of heat. Pine can also be a good one to use and can usually be found pretty easily when you’re camping – the pine needles can be useful for tinder too.
The type of campfire that you build on your next kayak camping trip will probably depend on your available resources. Remember to keep a box of matches or a lighter inside a dry bag (or a deck bag) so they don’t get damp. It can also be a good idea to pack a small axe for chopping wood.
Have you had a go at making any of these campfires? Let us know how you got on. Remember to heed local warnings and check that it’s safe to make a campfire before you start, as some places ban fires at certain times of the year.