Everything You Need to Know to Start Awesome Fires

Five tips, five tools and five great places to light a spark

November 15, 2016 9:00 am

This is 5x5x5, a series in which the seasoned outdoorsmen at Huckberry give us advice on how a layman can up his wilderness-conquering game. This week: the art of building a fire.

They say burning a fire will warm you twice: once when you chop the wood, and once when you light it.

Unless you buy it at the hardware store. Then the only thing you’ll be burning is an unnecessary hole in your pocket.

With that, we’d like to steer you toward winter with five tips on building a great fire, five pieces of gear that’ll make said task easier, and five of our favorite places to put all the above into practice.

The Gear

1. The Max Multi-Purpose Tool
Seven tools packed into one. Most importantly for firestarting: an axe. Also features a shovel, rake and various picks. Go for these handmade axes from north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden for a slightly more aesthetic option.

2. Lems Shoes Boulder Boot
You need some sturdy footwear in order to collect everything you need for a successful fire. These have water-resistant uppers and weigh less than 10 oz. They are also foldable heel to toe, so you can efficiently pack them away for your day hikes.

3. Rumpl Outdoor Insulated Blanket
Just in case you want to be warmed thrice after building that fire.

4. Stanley Shot Glasses and Carrying Case
Just in case you want to be warmed, uh, whatever the version of thrice is for four.

5. Stormproof Match Kit
You never know when you’ll lose that $1 bic lighter you bought at the gas station. They come in a durable, waterproof case with 50 wind- and waterproof matches. This titanium nanostriker is also great.

The Know-How

1. Create a fire bed
Don’t just go in starting a fire in any old spot — Smokey would not approve. Pick a spot on dirt away from grass or any dried leaves. Dig a hole or rake the spot clean if need be.

2. Gather materials
There are three important types of the wooden variety: tinder (dry grass, leaves, bark), kindling (small twigs and sticks) and fuel wood (large sticks and logs). The dryer, the better.

3. Lay your fire
Place tinder in the center of the fire bed and build a cone shape over the top (think teepee) with your kindling. Make sure to leave room for air to travel in. Layer some larger sticks over the interior cone and light the tinder. The flame should burn nicely as long as there is space for the air; once the kindling is caught, the cone should collapse.

4. Build your fire
Once the base has collapsed, add your larger logs and sticks. The fire should roar, as should your soul (with pride that you built a fire).

5. Put it Out
Splash water across the entire surface of the fire and surrounding area. Turn over all the embers to ensure there are no nooks and crannies still alight. Spread the ash across the campsite or bury it if you dug a hole.


1. Cape Reinga, New Zealand.
The North Island’s northernmost point, with panoramic views of a 90-mile beach.

2. South Campground in Zion National Park, Utah.
Great access to the scenic Pa’rus Trail and prime tent views of the Watchman mountains.

3. Washburn Point, Yosemite National Park, California.
Near the touristy but scenic Glacier Point.

4. Mt. Bierstadt, just outside Denver, Colorado.
A seven-mile hiking trail with some of the best views of the Rockies.

5. Kalulau Trail, Hawaii
One of the country’s most dangerous trails also offers some of the most breathtaking coastal views and jungles to explore.

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