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#242064 - 02/29/12 05:46 AM Making fire in the rain: best practices?
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Making fire in the rain can be a big challenge, but of course that is when you might need it most. So what are your best practices for making fire when the rain has made everything wet?

#242070 - 02/29/12 07:14 AM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
in my canoe tripping area,where i would expect to have to do this,i have heaps of birch bark and pine.both are easy to light.
however the first step is to get the moss and wet rotten bits carved off and under some sort of shelter until i would be ready to light it.now the "best practice", i would remove my shirt or jacket to make a rain proof roof and getting close to the tinder pile by laying on my stomach with the "roof" over my head and the pile just in from of my nose strike and light whatever fire maker i have and hope for the best.with birch bark it's a very-very good chance you will get a fire.ok,so now you are wet to the skin but with a blaze going you can dry out.leaving your clothes on in an attempt to stay a bit dryer and not using them to make a "tent" will reduce your chance of success.getting a roof you have ready over the fire is the next step.any sort of tepee made from branches and covered with whatever you have or picking out a shelter place before you start is of course part of the project..just work quick.
some years ago i was up on a canoe trip when a severe,long term storm dumped some 11 inches of rain.i just went to the tent and lived in it until it was over.a few days later i came on a campsite that had been abandon leaving piles of gear all over.i could see that whoever was there tried to make a fire in several places,all failed because they stayed in the open near the existing fire place rather than find a more sheltered spot.among the things they did was make a small "house" from slabs of slate to keep the rain off the tinder pile.it failed because they had such a small pile.there must have been 20 burned out wood matches laying next to it.they could have used the bottle of cooking oil they had to help start the fire like i did when i cleaned up and burned the mess with it
another 1AM run-on post...sorry......

Edited by CANOEDOGS (02/29/12 07:30 AM)

#242073 - 02/29/12 09:35 AM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]
quick_joey_small Offline

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 531
Loc: UK
> another 1AM run-on post...sorry......

Far from it canoedog! Cracking post!
I've never understood why a sleeping bag isn't on everyones survival kit list. If you can get a fire going in all weathers; it makes sense.
Wish we had more like this.
A post on guns or knives has dozens of replies the same day.
This most basic of needs gets one from you.

#242074 - 02/29/12 10:30 AM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2786
Loc: Big Sky Country
Very good post! My part of the country is relatively dry but spring here is pretty much daily rain for over a month. And for some reason my camping gear has the magical power to summon rain! I'm serious, no matter the month, be it spring, summer or fall, about 85%-90% of the times that I head out for even an overnite, I get rained on. Sometimes it's a sprinkling, sometimes a deluge.

When I can see it coming I generally cover my wood & tinder pile with a garbage bag. If my fire is already going it's usually pretty easy to stoke & roof it to keep it going thru nearly any downpour. But if I need to light in the rain and wet I'll have to try that "tenting trick" with a poncho (something I always have with me).
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#242076 - 02/29/12 11:09 AM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7373
Loc: southern Cal
To cut to the chase - technology is your friend.

It really helps to plan ahead. A tarp can be pitched to produce a sheltered spot, or such a spot can be found -absolutely nothing eats a rock shelter in the rain. When I started, we totally depended upon fires and we became very good at lighting them in adverse conditions. Persistence was a very good quality, as when looking for dry tinder materials. it is amazing how that stuff can survive in dense thickets of brush, under downed trees, or similar spots. It is important to have a good match safe, Bic lighter, and/or firesteel. Redundancy pays off here.

Eventually, we invoked technology and started bringing backpacking stoves, which these days can be astonishingly light - mere ounces, including fuel. Many alcohol stoves are homemade from discarded food cans, so cost is trivial, as well.

Nowadays, I almost always pack some kind of "stove" and fuel on ever trip. It guarantees a fire under any conditions, it is safer than a traditional wood fire (a most important consideration in the arid southwest), and it helps minimize my footprint and my impact on the natural scene. I can always whip up that nice cup of tea, no matter what. My vehicle routinely carries a mini-Trangia cookset and stove, one of my favorites - light,cheap, and dependable. Once in a while I will light a traditional campfire. Nothing else has the psychological impact of a good campfire, which can be vital in some situations. Nothing else is quite so versatile a signal to advertise your location, if that is your need.....But here is a controversial thought - the campfire is obsolete and is generally an ill advised practice, except in emergencies.

My lightest and most compact "stove" is sitting on my desk as we speak. It is all contained within a Sierra cup; the contents weigh less than that cup does when brimming with a nice cup of tea. The stove itself cost about twelve bucks, and the price of everything else in the kit was trivial.
Geezer in Chief

#242078 - 02/29/12 12:45 PM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]
gonewiththewind Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
Peter Kummerfeldt just addressed this in his blog:

Outdoor Safe Blog

Another option I have used in very wet environments is a railroad flare.

I have also carried tinder and kindling inside my clothes to dry it.

Cutting into the center of larger pieces of wood will remove the wet outside.

#242086 - 02/29/12 03:27 PM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]
JerryFountain Offline

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 418
Loc: St. Petersburg, Florida
I think hikermor is almost right. I do think however there are a few places in the world where an open fire is still not environmentally unsound. Parts of Wilderness Alaska are one of them. I also think the use of small wood stoves in many other areas is still acceptable.

I don't think that is however the question. If I am - for some reason - without a stove, then building a fire is a critical survival skill. In the rain a shelter is key, whether a jacket as CANOEDOGS suggested, your body, a garbage bag, a poncho, or a tarp, shelter is important. The larger items help keep you dry but the fire is most important. Be careful not to drip onto the fire from your arms or head (hats are real bad about this) if you use something that does not cover you too. Dry material is the other key. Hopefully you have some available as squaw wood or under a down tree, etc. If not you will have to open some wet pieces to expose dry. A saw is a great help here. Batonning a knife works, an axe or even a splitting maul is best but usually not available (I still carry an axe in the wildest country). Cut off some standing dry wood or dead branches from a tree into short (6" or so)lengths. 2 to 4 inch diameters are usually best unless you have an axe. Cut or split them lengthwise removing the wet outside. If you don't have tinder with you, you will have to cut them very fine. Then use CANOEDOGS instructions. After you have a good fire going you can use it to dry out other wood to keep the fire going. A good match safe or a Bic gets it all started.



#242089 - 02/29/12 04:50 PM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]
ILBob Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 776
Loc: Northern IL
I have never had a lot of trouble building a fire in the rain, but I have always built it having some kind of overhead protection, and never in a driving rain.

Some time when it rains I may try and build one out on the porch in my fire pit and see if I can get a sustainable fire.

I don't know that it is realistic to expect a fire to stay lit in a monsoon though.
Warning - I am not an expert on anything having to do with this forum, but that won't stop me from saying what I think. smile


#242090 - 02/29/12 06:02 PM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: ILBob]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
I find that as long as I have good, long burning tinder and can get it ignited, starting a fire in the rain is not a problem. Birchbark is a favorite.
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

#242092 - 02/29/12 06:20 PM Re: Making fire in the rain: best practices? [Re: dweste]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852

i was thinking of a situation where you found yourself with little or no gear,just the clothes on your back and matches,lighter or whatever.the willingness to take off your shirt or jacket and let the cold rain get you wet in order to make a "tent" to light the fire under could be a life saving decision.

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