Rekindling your campfire the next day will never be a huge problem for some people. They have the skills/supplies/money to get the job done. For the rest of us, though, starting up the campfire the next day can be like rolling the dice. Sometimes it works like a dream, sometimes it doesn’t. It rained overnight, or all the wood was used up, or the wind keeps blowing the little bit of flame we create, out!
So here are a few hints, tips, ideas, and gear you can think about for starting up your campfire again.
Many times you want to get that campfire going in the very early morning. It’s kind of dark out still–okay, it’s day two, you’re all excited to be camping, probably it’s still full dark but you’re raring to go–but everyone else is asleep. If you’re in an area that has several camp sites, the last think you’re going to want to do is alienate everyone and maybe cause a lynch mob because you’ve fired up the chainsaw or started chopping wood with an axe.
So prepare ahead of time–set some wood aside for the next morning. Some kindling, small pieces, and a few larger pieces. Doesn’t have to be a lot–just enough to get you through the first few very cold hours. By that time you’ve had breakfast and toasted your feet and you actually might feel like going to gather some wood. And if the campfire is dying again and everyone else is just getting up, so be it. They should have woken up early like you did. Now they have to wait.
(for the millionth time on this website) Tarp.
Make sure any wood that has been gathered for your fire, both for that day and for when you go to rekindle it, is tarped over. It rains without warning when you camp. If you try and rekindle your fire with wet wood–well; do I even need to finish the sentence. One tip: Set tomorrow morning’s wood aside or behind the main pile, separate and further away from the fire than the wood you are using that day. People are less likely to feed the fire with the stuff you are saving.
bank your fire.
When you make your fire pit, dig a small depression in the ground, and then circle the top of it with rocks. The bigger, the better. Banking your fire in this way will keep the embers out of the wind, and they are more likely to still be hot the next morning. Caution: Make certain you are allowed to do this in the area in which you are camping. Many areas and camp grounds want the fire put completely out each night. If you are allowed to let the embers remain, be sure your fire is in an area that won’t carry embers to nearby trees. If you are at a paying campsite, you probably have one of those fire pit rings to build your fire in. That works on the same principle as the rocks; it acts as a protective bank for your fire.
Cover those coals.
When the fire has burnt out and there is nothing left but coals and embers, you can save them by shovelling some ash over them and then using additional cover to protect them. If the fire is small (and most state and province regulations demand this), then place some heavy-duty tinfoil over the ashes covering the embers, and weight them down with some stones. This needs to be done with a little caution. If the embers and coals are too hot, the tinfoil can catch fire. The next morning there should be enough warmth and ember left to make rekindling easy.
An awesome solution is an item called the Campfire Defender. It’s a kind of pricey “blanket” for your fire. At the end of the evening, you throw this over your coals and embers, and it keeps them hot for up to eight hours. It protects them against wind, rain and snow and also contains the embers so they don’t fly around and possibly cause a forest fire. The cover is 68″ X 60″–plenty big enough for even a good-sized fire. They have a smaller, lighter version for hikers who camp, as well.
Get this toy.
A propane fire starter is a long wand you can screw on to the top of a small propane tank. It gives you a continuously burning flame as long as you keep the trigger depressed. If you have this handy little item, you can start a campfire up again with little trouble. Even if the wood is slightly damp you can keep the flame on it until it catches. Just make sure your kindling isn’t. I have an article about it, and how handy I find it when I’m camping. You can find the article here.
final thoughts and suggestions.
If you have the room in your vehicle to pack it, invest in some fireplace logs. Those burn for three hours. You can take your time placing kindling and wood on top of it to get the fire started with ease. When I have to room to pack them, I always take one for each morning.
Start your fire with softwood, such as pine, fir or spruce. Then keep it hot and sustained with hardwood, such as hickory, oak, beech or alder, if you can. Softwoods burn easy and fast; hardwoods burn slow and hot.
A campfire at night is a wonderful thing. It is rivaled only by a campfire first thing on a cold morning, as you sit in front of it with a coffee mug in your hands, listening to the world wake up.