Campfires are an essential part of the outdoor experience, providing warmth, light, and a sense of camaraderie. However, in the unpredictable climate of the UK, lighting a campfire in the rain can be a challenging task. This guide will walk you through the materials needed, different ignition sources, and strategies to keep your fire going even when the weather is less than favorable.
1. Dry Tinder:
Before you even attempt to light a campfire in the rain, ensure you have a good supply of dry tinder. This can be anything from dried grass, leaves, or birch bark. You should gather these materials beforehand and keep them protected from the rain.
Kindling consists of small twigs and branches, usually no thicker than your finger. These are essential for building up your fire's intensity. Keep them as dry as possible and gather more than you think you'll need.
Your main fuel source should be dry firewood. In wet conditions, hardwoods like oak and beech tend to burn better than softwoods like pine. Collect enough wood to keep your fire going once it's started.
Different Ignition Sources
1. Waterproof Matches:
Always carry waterproof matches in your camping gear. They are designed to resist moisture and are a reliable option for lighting a fire in the rain.
Windproof lighters can be a good choice in wet conditions. They are less susceptible to moisture and wind, making them a practical tool for igniting your fire.
3. Ferrocerium Rod:
A ferrocerium rod, often called a firestarter, can be used in damp conditions. Scrape it with a knife to create sparks that can ignite your dry tinder.
4. Firestarter Cubes:
Firestarter cubes are small, fuel-impregnated blocks that burn for an extended period. They can help you ignite your tinder and kindling even in wet conditions.
Lighting the Fire
1. Build a Fire Lay:
In wet conditions, it's essential to create a platform for your fire. Place your dry tinder on top of a small bed of dry leaves or pine needles to keep it off the wet ground.
2. Shield the Fire:
Use a fire reflector or a natural windbreak to shield your fire from rain and wind. This will help protect your flame as it ignites.
3. Light the Tinder:
Carefully use your chosen ignition source to light the dry tinder. Shield the tinder from rain until it catches fire. Once lit, gently blow on the flames to encourage them to spread to the kindling.
Keeping the Fire Going
1. Gradually Add Kindling:
Once the tinder is burning steadily, add small kindling to build the fire's intensity. Gradually increase the size of the kindling as the fire grows.
2. Maintain a Steady Supply of Firewood:
To ensure your fire doesn't die out, have a constant supply of dry firewood ready to add to the flames. Properly stack and organize your firewood to prevent it from getting wet.
3. Avoid Extinguishing Factors:
Keep an eye on rain or wind changes. Adjust your shelter or fire reflector accordingly to prevent the fire from getting extinguished.
4. Create a Drying Area:
If possible, create a designated area for drying more firewood. Hang wet wood near the fire but not so close that it will catch fire. This will ensure a steady supply of dry fuel.
Lighting a campfire in the rain in the UK may be challenging, but with the right materials, ignition sources, and careful fire management, it's entirely possible. Being well-prepared and adaptable in adverse weather conditions is a valuable skill for any outdoor enthusiast. Always follow Leave No Trace principles and ensure you're aware of any local regulations regarding fires before starting one in the great outdoors. Happy camping and stay warm!