Spending time in the great outdoors can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but if things go awry, you have to know how to survive on your own. One of the first things you’ll need to do to survive in the wild is start a fire. It’s quite possible that starting a fire can be the difference between life and death, so if you’re going to be on your own in nature, you have to know how to build a survival fire if necessary. Here are five things to keep in mind.
One of the first rules of camping is to expect the unexpected. Even if you don’t think you’re going to need it, bring a fire-starting kit into the wilderness with you. In fact, bring several: one in your car, one in your backpack, and perhaps even a small one to carry on your person. Lighters, matches, and magnesium sticks are all good ways to create a spark, so bring all three if possible. It’s great if you can start a fire with rocks or by rubbing two sticks together, but it’s better if you come prepared with a more reliable way of getting a fire started.
Gather Everything First
Before you try to get a fire started, you’ll want to collect everything you’ll need to start it and keeping it going for at least one night. This includes dry wood and other types of small kindling, as well as large logs. Keep in mind that you have to continue to feed your fire, so even if you get it started, you can’t just walk away in search of more kindling because who knows what could happen while you’re away. Before you light your match, make sure you’ve collected everything you’ll need so you don’t have to reignite the flame.
Build A Base
Every fire requires a base or fire pit, especially if the ground around you is cold and wet. You’ll need an area that’s flat and away from trees and bushes so you don’t accidentally start a forest fire. It’s also important to elevate your fire in someway, perhaps on a mound of dirt if there’s no other way. A tiny rock wall around your fire pit can also prevent your fire from getting too big or spreading.
The Right Fuel
Building a good fire requires the right kind of fuel. Obviously, you may be limited by what’s around you, but if you can, find the right type of tinder, kindling, and wood. Dry twigs and bark can be ideal tinder, especially from a birch tree if that’s an option. Larger twigs or small branches that have fallen from trees make for the best kindling, as these can catch fire once your tinder gets going. Finally, small logs, preferably dry ones, or pieces from dead trees are the best fuel for keeping your fire raging through the night.
Practice Makes Perfect
Always practice making a fire as you get to your campsite. You don’t have to spend all day doing this, just take a few minutes to collect some kindling, build a base, and light a spark. If you can do this, you won’t freak out if you have to create a survival fire for real.