Travels with Charley

The cool camping blog. Trying to find gear, supplies, adventure and activities for the 21st century camper.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tips - Camp fire building

There are plenty of sources that tell you how to make a fire. There are plenty of books on camping, Boy Scout Handbooks and websites all describe firebuilding, or woodcraft, in one way or another. But I still had a time of getting a good campfire going. If the wood was dry then it would start right up, but often turn to smoldering logs quickly. Or we would have nothing available but wet wood. And then there’s the “fire ring”, which just as often as not is an overturned truck wheel rim. Half of the time I just struggled to get the fire going and the other half keeping it going. Sure I knew that a fire needs fuel, it needs air and it needs heat, but I still almost always came up short.

My able bodied camping assistant had to stand by and watch me curse and throw chunks of wood as I fought to prove that I was a real camper! She decided to take matters into her own hands and got me a book. GASP, did I really need a book on camp fires?? Well, this book isn’t about camp fires, it’s called Camp Cookery, by Horace Kephart and it was originally published in 1910. Keep in mind that this was when people (mostly men) went camping to go way back into the wilderness to shoot or catch something to eat. It covers camp cooking tools, such as the reflector oven and folding broiler. Mr. Kephart advocates a lot of lard and has a chapter on cooking fresh killed game, like bear and squirrel. But the chapter on building fires is invaluable.

Let me quote Mr. Kephart on starting a fire to cook a quick meal: “…gather a small armful of sound, dry twigs from the size of a lead pencil to your finger…Select your three best…shave them almost thru (they will look like a Christmas tree-ed.) …stand these in a tripod…build a conical wigwam of the other sticks (over these)”. I did this on our last camping trip, and then place split wood in a log cabin fashion around the teepee. I lit it off and within a couple of minutes had a roaring fire with no further tinkering. The same thing happened whenever I built a fire, every time. I was sold! The rest of the chapter talks about the differences between a cook fire and a camp fire. It also describes what woods are good and for what situations. This chapter alone makes the whole book worth acquiring if you’re serious about your campfire.

A really nicely printed and bound edition can be gotten at Lee Valley.
It is also available at Amazon.

14 Comments:

  • At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Horace Kephart is the father of Camping and Woodcraft as Santa is the Father of Christmas

     
  • At 11:53 PM, Blogger Camping Guy said…

    That is a nice simple fire building method. I will have to give that a try. For more camping tips, go to www.youcancamp.com

     
  • At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Modern people just don't have the enough hands on experience with fire - look back to the days before cell phones for some real info on starting fires - http://upschitzcreek.blogspot.com/

     
  • At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Russ said…

    It is a little difficult to understand. Does the book have pictures?
    camping

     
  • At 12:58 AM, Blogger Senstless said…

    I like it, explains it nice and simple. I start it all with a cotton ball and Vaseline. Caming4beginners.com

     
  • At 10:16 AM, Anonymous panels said…

    this method actually sounds really simple, thanks

     
  • At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the help Camping tips cant wait to try them out !

     
  • At 9:17 PM, Blogger Barbie said…

    Great info for camping tips, I have created a link :) I hope readers see it in my blog.
    Thanks Barbie

     
  • At 5:44 AM, Anonymous African safari said…

    Great photos and great reading. Here in Africa or specifically Kenya locals don't often camp it is often left for those tourists on safari. I love camping myself being a Kenyan local.

     
  • At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Jeff Marshall said…

    These are clever tips. I will have to try them out on my next trip.

    Best,
    Jeff Marshall
    http://www.goingtentcamping.com

     
  • At 8:27 PM, Blogger Tedy said…

    I will try these tips this weekend while I'm camping in Maine. I found some great deals on WWW.TEDSCAMPSITE.COM

     
  • At 2:10 AM, Anonymous Todd said…

    That sounds like a great Idea will try that when I get back up to the lake, got lots of small and meduim sized branches around here in the cascades.

     
  • At 12:51 AM, Anonymous camping said…

    Its a very excellent fire building I hope you will post more. Thank you for sharing.

     
  • At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Tim said…

    Thanks Barbie, I was always doing it a different way, I think yours is better

     

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