JEEP LIFE AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
"Not all those who wander are lost"
When you’re hitting the trails - whether camping or cabining - fire is a familiar friend. It’s used for warmth, to cook, as a light source, and to generate spooky stories. Building a fire is a tried and true camping pastime whether you choose to go the natural route and build your own or opt for a Jeep Grille Collapsible Fire Pit that assembles quickly and can be put away just as fast. Fire demands respect – following safety precautions and refraining from constantly poking and stirring it up makes good sense. Always be aware that wind-driven fires and embers from them can become potential hazards if they travel and ignite brush, dry grass, litter or nearby flammable materials.
The rule of thumb is that all types of wood burn better when split. Among the better types of wood to use for campfires are Maple, Oak (when dry), Ash, Walnut, and Cedar (when dry), but people favor different wood according to its heat, aroma, and flame color. And there are other nuances to consider. For instance, despite burning well once it’s lit, trying to start a fire with Oak is not a good idea. And it’s better to choose a type of wood to burn that’s not as prone to spark and shoot embers – so steer clear of Chestnut, Beech, Spruce, and Willow.
How Much Wood?
Many National Parks and Recreation Areas have rules against gathering wood so some prefer to bring wood with them when they camp. It’s a good idea to check and see if your camping area allows you to bring wood in because many have rules against it. Buying bundled wood helps support the host if you’re at a campground, but there’s a huge markup. A wheelbarrow of wood that will last a couple of nights usually goes for about $15. Of course, there are space considerations if you’re bringing wood in, but it’s a good idea to pack a little more than you think you’ll end up needing.
Building a Burning Ring of Fire
Starting a fire on the trail can be challenging and one of the tricks is to be prepared with pine cone starters. Gather pine cones and soak them in diesel for 24 hours, dry them out, then dip them in paraffin wax. Bring them with you on your next adventure and marvel at their fire starting abilities - after igniting, they’ll burn for a good 15 minutes.
If you’re intent on building a fire ring, remember the surrounding stone ring is more of a marker. The fire shouldn’t connect with stone and preferred stone types include granite and sandstone. A great place to build a pit with a ring around it is in sand. When you go to bed, don’t assume you’re safe and be sure the fire is subdued enough so a big wind won’t revive it. Keep anything flammable a safe distance from the fire ring.
Campground rules often state that the person with the fire permit is liable if a campfire gets away. Suppressing a fire seems like a far easier task than starting it, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought. A fire should be extinguished with water, dirt or a combo of both, and cooled down enough so you can bring your bare hand within an inch or two of the remaining wood/coals without getting burned. Shovels are great tools for smothering wood and embers with dirt to ensure nothing is still smoldering before you leave your campsite.
Camping stoves that use propane can get out of control so be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand. They’re critical to have out on the trail and even a small one can extinguish a fire and save the day.
David Beran is a Copywriter at 4WD
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