If you’re looking for ways to hack your camping trips without crossing the line into glamping, you’re reading the right article. Not all camping hacks are designed to make you more comfortable. Many hacks are designed to create efficiency, like pop-up tents and tents with built-in poles and stakes.
There are endless ways to upgrade your campsite, but what about your campfire? Here are 5 ways to maximize the efficiency and fun when building your fires:
1. Use a mylar emergency blanket as a campfire reflector
You know that feeling when the sun starts to go down and you feel that first breeze? Everyone inches closer to the fire, but can’t get close enough. You wrap yourself in a blanket but you’re still cold. An emergency blanket (or three) will help.
An emergency blanket isn’t as snuggly as a sherpa hoodie, but if you’ve ever used one, you know they reflect heat extremely well. In this hack, however, you don’t want to wear the emergency blankets. You want to prop them up surrounding your camp fire to reflect the heat back to your group of people.
You can use mylar to reflect heat in any situation if you can figure out how to construct it. This guy on YouTube modified his tent with mylar to capture and reflect the heat inside. He achieved a temperature of 92 degrees in his tent while it was snowing outside!
2. Bring simple fireplace tools
You don’t need to bring your entire toolset with you, but some fireplace tools will make your campfires easier to build and maintain. A small poker and a small fireplace grate should be enough. The poker will allow you to manipulate your campfire without having to risk burning items you don’t want to burn, and the grate will increase the movement of air around your fire. Air flow around a fire is important, yet difficult to create with a traditional campfire built directly on the ground.
3. Bring a small chainsaw
Most campsites prohibit cutting down trees for firewood, but fallen trees are fair game. If you’re able to bring your car directly to your campsite, it makes sense to bring a small chainsaw to cut your logs; you won’t have to carry it far. You could cut your firewood with a hatchet or a hand saw, but using a chainsaw will give you more time to spend with your friends and family.
The other reason to carry a chainsaw is to make a Swedish torch log fire. You can’t make one of these easily without a chainsaw. The Swedish torch log fire is a log that you stand up on its end, cut crossways, and build a fire inside the cuts. A fire built in this manner will burn longer, require little maintenance, and you can cook on top of the log.
An alternative way to build a Swedish torch log fire is to take several skinny logs and bundle them together with some kindling in the middle. You don’t need a chainsaw for this method, making this technique perfect if you’re unable to drive directly to your campsite.
4. Dryer lint
It seems weird to save dryer lint, but it comes in handy as tinder. Aside from chemical fire starters, nothing ignites fires like dryer lint.
You don’t need much. In fact, if you scooped out what’s in your dryer right now you’d probably have enough for a couple of fires. Save your lint from several loads of laundry and you’ll have enough for a week-long camping trip!
5. Source out some slow-burning forms of tinder
Tinder and kindling are supposed to burn long enough to catch the larger pieces of wood on fire. Dryer lint is a good fire starter, but it burns quickly. You need several forms of tinder that will burn slowly.
In this YouTube video, there are ten different fire-starting hacks presented, including several forms of slow-burning tinder. Some of these sources include coating cotton balls in melted wax from crayons, sawdust-filled egg carton cups, and duct tape.
There’s no one right way to build a campfire, but there are plenty of ways to make the task easier. Try these hacks next time you go camping, and see which methods work best for you.
Image credit: Campfires tools via Michal Ninger/Shutterstock