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How To Start A Campfire In The Rain (And Keep It Going)

Everybody, from the experienced wilderness explorer to the casual family camper, will tell you that the campfire is one of the most important parts of a trip. So, knowing how to start and keep a campfire going when it rains is essential.

To start a fire in the rain, light your tinder and place the kindling over the flame. You’ll need to fan the fire quite a lot to ensure it has enough oxygen to burn well. Once the fire is roaring, just keep piling on the wood. Try to shield the fire from the rain and wind as much as possible.

This article will go over the tools you need to create and sustain a fire, the materials you need and how to sustain the fire even when it rains. But first, let’s discuss in more detail how to start a fire in the rain.

How Do You Get A Fire Started In The Rain?

To get a fire started in the rain you first need to carry out some preparation. This involves getting your tools and materials ready. The first thing you’ll need is a source of heat, and this could be a lighter, some matches or any other tool that will provide a spark to get things going.

Wood And Cover

The next thing you’ll need is a sharp knife. You can use this to get wood shavings for tinder and kindling, but you’ll ideally have some of both on hand already. You’ll also need some timber, and importantly you want to have something to cover your fire from the wind and rain. More on that in a moment.

You will need kindling of varying sizes as the smaller bits dry out and catch fire quicker, but the larger timbers create coals that are essential in sustaining the fire. Dryer pieces of wood are obviously better, but even the wettest wood can catch fire with time. Patience and a lot of fanning are essential for starting and maintaining a fire in the rain.

Cover can come in any form, from thick foliage, fallen trees, or you can even bring your own. You just need something that will help to keep the rain away from your fire. If the rain is not too heavy, the ground may be dry enough to build on, but bark straight off the tree can also be used as a platform to keep your fire off the wet ground.

Keeping The Water Out

Arrange the cover over your working surface and, as a further piece of security, arrange rocks of varying sizes around the area where your fire will be. The idea is to stop water getting into your fire pit, so block up any holes between the rocks. This is only really important if the rain is particularly heavy and likely to flood your fire pit.

With everything in place, it’s time to start building, which starts with tinder. If the rain is really heavy, a good way to find dry tinder is to split the timbers you have open as the inside will be less exposed to the weather. Then, using your knife, cut chippings away from the driest timber you have, to create little flakes. Remember to keep these flakes dry.

Once you have a decent amount of tinder, light a pile under your cover and, working quickly, fan the embers until a flame appears and start adding your smaller pieces of kindling, being careful not to smother the flame. Keep in mind the smaller the kindling, the quicker it will dry and catch fire. As your fire grows, you can start adding the larger pieces of timber.

Final Steps

Remember that in the rain you will need as much material as you can find. Fires are unforgiving, so you need to work fast. Once you have a decent-sized fire going from the kindling, arrange the larger pieces over the flames in a Tepee shape. This not only dries the timber so it can catch alight, but it also provides more cover for the heart of fire.

How To Keep A Fire Going In The Rain

By now you should have a roaring fire and the hard work is behind you. But you should never leave a fire alone for too long, especially in the rain, or your hard work could quickly extinguish itself.

In rainy conditions, a fire will need constant attention. The amount you should be fanning and blowing on the heart of the fire cannot be understated, and at this point something big and flat to fan the flame is incredibly useful. This allows you to keep the flames burning without getting too close to the heat.

The Fire Triangle

One of the great things about fires is that once you have introduced enough heat into the situation, and if you have enough material (acting as the fuel) and oxygen (from the fanning), the fire will not want to go out.

At a certain point, enough of the timber will have burnt down to create lumps of charcoal that smoulder at extremely high temperatures. If you keep adding wood and stop too much moisture getting in, you have the potential for a fire that can burn for as long as you need it to.

Final Thoughts

While getting a fire going in the rain might sound impossible, it’s easy when you have the right materials on hand and know what you’re doing. By keeping things as dry as possible, and providing the fire with enough heat, fuel and oxygen, you’ll be able to keep your fire going in the rain for your entire camping trip!