Fire Building: So What If It Rains?
Starting a fire in adverse weather or after a night of heavy rainfall can be a real challenge. Yet despite the wet wood and damp ground if you’re prepared you can succeed. In this second instalment Life Outdoors looks at how to create fire when the conditions are less than perfect.
Being able to stay dry, warm and to enjoy a hot meal or drink is invaluable outdoors, especially in a survival situation. When building a fire outdoors you need to consider the following:
The Right Location
In adverse conditions you will need to find somewhere that will offer your fire shelter from wind, rain and groundwater. Strong winds can blow out a flame in the early stages. Some form of windbreak on the upwind side of where you plan to build your fire will protect the flame, yet still allow air to get in from the other side.
To protect against rain consider building your fire under an overhanging tree. Due to the inherent risk that this poses we recommend creating a fire pit underneath to control the fire, keeping it small and contained.
"Wet wood can be placed around your fire once lit to dry it out, allowing you to sustain it for longer."
A raised fire pit built on a layer of rocks is the best way to protect your fire against groundwater. You could also use hardwoods like Oak, Birch or Maple due to their high density which means they will burn down slowly to create black smouldering embers rather than charred wood. By raising the fire you will keep the coals from direct contact with the ground and will again help to control the fire. In snowy conditions you can use the same method; just clear an area of snow first.
Trying to start a fire with wet wood and tinder is almost impossible. Yet even if it’s been raining for a day or two there is still a chance you’ll find something dry. You just need to know where to look. Scavenging for natural tinder and dry wood under overhanging trees for example, you may find dry leaves, grass, dry bark and fungus.
"Keep your matches and tinder dry in your pack by sealing them in a Tupperware box or watertight bag."
To improve your chances of starting a fire in adverse weather we recommend taking some form of dry tinder and/or kindling with you in your pack. Dry natural tinder can be collected and sealed in a watertight container. Other options include which can be used to start a fire include cotton balls rubbed in Vaseline, steel wool, bicycle tyre inner tube strips and even Doritos. Just ensure that you keep it dry in your pack.
Protect more than just your fire from adverse weather conditions with our range of outdoor gear.