Whenever we set out on our camping adventures, there is always the chance of rain. In the winter months, especially while backpack camping, a fire is still a much needed necessity. A campfire adds an extra layer of comfort. Whether it be from unwanted animals, or needed to prevent hypothermia. Starting a campfire in the rain is a skill any outdoor enthusiast should know.
The key to building a fire with wet wood in the rain is to have 2 to 3 times your normal tinder and kindling. You really can’t over do it. It’s not going to be dry, so you need lots and lots of it. The finer the wood the better.
Next we need some type of shelter for your tinder. It needs to be 100% dry to start the initial fire. A container lid or small tarp held up by 4 sticks around the fire site is a perfect solution to keep your tinder dry. Anything you have that will keep your tinder dry will work.
My personal favorite tinder is wood shavings. You can get dry shavings from a stick or branch in the rain, as long as you can keep the rain off of the shavings.
Next, after you have gathered your dry tinder. You are ready to start your fire. Make sure you have all of your kindling as close to the fire pit as possible. As soon as you light the tinder, put all of your kindling on the fire. From there, fan as much air to the fire as you can. Use a container lid or anything you have to fan the fire. Your fire needs as much oxygen as you possibly can give it due to the wet fire conditions.
By piling huge amounts of kindling onto the fire, you’re creating a barrier between the flames and rain. Unfortunately when you do this, you smother the fire. To compensate we have to fan the fire.
Starting a fire with wet firewood is a marathon, not a sprint. Fanning your fire should be slow and smooth. Pile more firewood on as needed. After you have dried out some of the wood on the fire, you will have to fan it less.
Just remember, a campfire in the rain will take more work and attention than a normal fire.
Good luck on your next outdoor adventure!