1. The Teepee
- Start by placing the tinder bundle into the fire pit.
- Build a cone over the tinder bundle by leaning small pieces of kindling against each other, making sure to leave gaps for air, and a door to light the tinder.
- Build a few more layers on the teepee with larger and larger kindling
- Light the tinder!
2. The Lean-To
- Take a long piece of kindling and stick in into the ground at a 30-degree angle.
- Make sure the end in the ground points into the wind, and the end sticking up points in the direction that the wind is blowing.
- Place the tinder bundle underneath that stick, and build a very small teepee of kindling around it.
- Take the smallest pieces of kindling you have and start leaning them on either side of the piece stuck in the ground, building a tent shape with one side left open.
- Add a few layers to the lean-to with increasingly bigger pieces of kindling.
- Light the tinder inside the teepee to get your fire started.
3. The Log Cabin
- Start with a small teepee built around a tinder bundle.
- Take your two biggest pieces of firewood and place them on either side of the teepee, parallel to each other.
- Take the next two biggest logs and stack them on top of and perpendicular to the first two. Anyone who has ever played with Lincoln Logs will start to see where this is going.
- Continue stacking logs on top of your cabin in sets of two, each set in the opposite direction of the one before it.
- As you start using smaller logs, start placing them closer together, until you’ve built a closed roof on top of your log cabin.
- Carefully reach in to the center and light the tinder, and soon you’ll have a slow-burning fire on your hands.
4. The Platform
- Start with your three biggest logs laid next to each other. This time it’ll look more like a game of Jenga.
- Three more logs go on top of the first three in the opposite direction, and so on.
- You can build your platform up as high as you want to, but four or five layers of wood should be plenty.
- Build a Teepee on top of the platform and light the tinder inside the teepee.
5. The Star
- Start with a full sized teepee fire already burning.
- Then take five pieces of firewood and place them around the teepee, pointing outward in five points. The logs that make up the star will burn from the center out.
- If you built your fire in a pit, the logs will slide into the center as they burn down – if not, you can carefully push them in from the unburned ends.
Next time you find yourself building a campfire, don’t just toss logs in a heap and hope it burns; using what you’ve learned in this guide, you should be ready to pick the right campfire lay for your needs. All that leaves is building it for yourself. Just like anything else, building campfires is a skill that takes practice. Don’t be disheartened if your lays don’t catch every time. But if you follow this guide and keep trying, you’ll soon have the skills to build a campfire for every occasion.