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The positive benefits of campfires

We have aa couple of threads discussing the negative effects of campfires- escaping, causing air pollution, etc., and I think it is worthwhile to point out that there are positive aspects to fires as well.

To wit:  Campfires provide heat and light, which can be crucial in numerous situations, especially what we might term "survival" conditions, when other more customary light and heat sources are not available.

Back in the 50s and 60s, when I was learning and perfecting outdoor skills, I got pretty good at getting a fire going in adverse conditions.  This came in handy on several occasions, some of which were edging on crucial.

In 1963 I signed up with REI.  my first purchase was a Primus 71L stove It is still around here somewhere, now a prized antique).  At that point, my ability to build fires under adverse conditions began to decline, since I could now carry a virtually guaranteed heat and flame source.  my ability to build and ignite fires in a howling snowstorm steadily declined.

These days my essentials bag include some hexamine (Esbit) tablets and I always carry a small bottle of 70% alcohol hand sanitizer, which makes an excellent fire starter and accelerant.  I am confident with those aides, and a bit of my rusty skills I will be able to get a fire going, if I ever need one.  And those occasions do arise, often when least expected.  Fire construction is an essential, fundamental outdoor skill

The crucial thing about fires is knowing when to start one, and when NOT to start one, under any circumstances,  Heat, wind, and dry conditions indicate that no fires should be built, period.  Dinner will have to be dark chocolate bars, served cold.

On other occasions, a fire can be the difference between life and death, quite literally.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.
5 Replies


        In a blackened pot, the last remnants of boiled coffee simmer on a hot stone next to the waning embers of a late campfire.

       Those present, bone and muscle weary from a long climb, lean back against a huge, smooth log and stare at personal messages in the glowing coals.

       Now and then they speak of simple things … like Sierra cups and pocket knives, or best packs and boots and other symbols of the backpacker’s true faith. Mostly, however, the silence of the wilderness night is enough; it overtakes them and little is said. An occasional popping of the fire shifts an individual thought pattern. An owl up on the wooded ridge questions … and questions again.

       Peace permeates every heart, body and soul and the metamorphosis is complete. All came here to shed for a time the stress and everyday burdens of their individual professions and lives. Now all experience these great moments of relaxed friendship that only such a place as this provides.

       These buddies have come to this mountainous wilderness and it has renewed their inner beings. They have drunk the waters of the purist springs and have gloried in the cool, morning mist, and seen the night sky like it can only be experienced here. They have sought new strength for the days ahead and this mountain has not let them down.

       This group of long-time friends will do this many times in the years ahead and their friendships will last throughout their lives. They will always remember and return to this special place, wherever they find it. It will just always be so.

                                                                    Sldmcn 1983

                                                                     REI Member

@hikermor - great post!

"But I only go camping in warm weather, so a fire is not needed" is a phrase I've heard lately.

It's easy to forget that gear, no matter how well constructed, can fail. Did the seal on your water filter get compromised? Being able to build a fire so that you can boil water and make it safe to drink is a crucial skill, regardless of weather.

Sure, it might *only* be going down to 60 degrees overnight but you slipped when doing that water crossing a few hours ago and now you need to help get your gear dry before you go to bed.

There are so many potential challenges of varying seriousness that can be solved - or, at least, diminished - by knowing how to build a proper fire.

Thanks for the reminder

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Speaking of campfires, has anyone tried one of these?  I really like the looks of it, but would I ever really use it?  Can you use it for dutch ovens?


On their (Fireside Outdoor) website it says that the Trailblazer can hold up to 25 pounds.  So, as far as what can it hold, that is the stated weight.  It is definitely an interesting product.

And, note that this fire pit and grill weighs about 3.2 pounds.  So, that might be something to consider for its use.  I have seen a couple of VLOGs where the person has used a "Wolf & Grizzly" Firesafe for grilling.

I cannot say as to whether you would use it on not. 




i did a bit of checking.  A 6-quart Dutch oven weighs around 12-15 pounds (empty).  Then, add what you are cooking.  Also, I could not tell tell if the briquette or wood coals are included in that 25 pounds.  The website does say "Car camping? Bring your cast iron and boil that pot of coffee at the same time, with room to spare.".

So, it is hard to say what would fit or work.  You could ask them that question on their website.