Whether you are new to camping or are a seasoned camper, sitting around a campfire makes for the best camping experience.
A camping fire helps keep you warm during the night and you can also use it to prepare your meals.
As such, you’ve probably asked yourself the question ‘How much firewood do I need for camping?’ before.
The last thing you want is to run out of wood a few days into the camping trip and have to endure a few cold nights.
At the end of the day, how much wood you need for camping comes down to such factors as how long you intend to keep the fire burning, how you will be using the fire (cooking or warming yourself), and the kind of wood.
What’s the Best Firewood When Camping?
One of the rules when it comes to keeping a campfire going is to ensure that you don’t cut down any growing wood. If you are well prepared, there is no reason why you need to damage growing trees for firewood.
Additionally, fresh and green wood doesn’t burn well and only produces a lot of smoke when burning.
Around the camp, there will always be dead and fallen logs that you can burn. That is what you need to target.
However, not all wood is suitable to keep a campfire burning so you need to consider the kind of wood you are collecting. With that in mind, there are trees that make the best wood for campfires.
Oak is among the best woods for campfires that happens to grow widely especially in North America. The reason why oak is preferred for campfires is because the wood burns steadily and slowly. It is a hardwood that has a high heat capacity also.
The coals also last for several hours which makes it the best for those targeting a more relaxed time around the campfire.
The embers of oak trees are also ideal for cooking foil-wrapped dishes from potatoes to corn as well as marshmallow toasting.
Just like oak, hickory burns slowly and produces a lot of heat as well as light to keep you as comfortable as possible when camping.
The wood ignites easily producing bright flames and very little smoke. Hickory also produces a very enchanting scent that is likely to add flavor to the food when you are cooking.
The wood doesn’t produce sparks which makes it perfect for roasting even meat without risking any burns in the process.
Birch is a great option for campfires mainly due to the long-burning periods of the wood. The wood also produces bright flames with fewer sparks that are ideal when you are camping outdoors.
Birch also produces a lot of heat if you are camping out in the cold. Birch is however a dense hardwood but one that takes a short time to season. As such, birch wood will be ready for use a few months after being cut.
Ash is a hardwood tree whose logs produce a lot of heat and steady flames that will ensure that you remain warm when camping out in the cold.
Ash also splits easily if you need to reduce the log sizes for faster ignition. The wood, however, produces very thick smoke which may be irritating when camping.
So, How Much Wood Do You Need?
When it comes to average campfire use, you will require about 4 to 5 average size logs every hour. If you are cooking, you will need about 6 to 10 logs every hour.
Firewood is usually sold in bundles with a bundle having about four to five logs. Most logs will usually be pieces of a split log with a stick of wood being about five inches in diameter and a foot long.
Sometimes, you may need to buy a farce cord which is wood that is cut, split, and stacked. In such a case, a stack will usually be about four feet high and about eight feet long.
Such logs need a lot of storage space and are only ideal if you camping for a long time or are targeting a huge campfire.
At the end of the day though, a face cord can prove cheaper than buying smaller bundles so that’s something to consider.
While there are so many factors that affect the burn time of wood, you can expect a bundle of wood to last you an hour or an hour and a half in case of a standard campground fire ring.
If you intend to have the campfire going for two hours, you can expect to use two bundles of firewood.
When you are cooking with the campfire, you want the fire to be hot. How hot the flames will be will depend on the kind of wood as well as how much wood you use.
If you are cooking, therefore, you will need to use more wood than when you are just using the fire to warm yourself. In such a case, expect to burn through about two to three bundles in two hours.
Sometimes, you may prefer cooking over coals rather than an open flame. In such a case, you will need to give the logs time to burn well so that the coals can form.
At the end of the day, when you are going camping, to be on the safe side, you are always better off bringing more wood than you think you will use.
This way, you can use the firewood however you want without worrying about running out and having to look for more wood around the camp.
How Do You Ensure the Firewood Lasts Longer?
Sometimes it can be difficult knowing just how much firewood to bring with you on a camping trip.
Purchasing firewood around the camping ground, in the long run, can prove expensive, so you are left with no choice but to conserve what have.
So how do you ensure that your firewood lasts you through the entire duration of your camping trip?
Begin with the softer woods
If you are a seasoned camper, then you are familiar with the process you need to follow to get the fire started.
Ideally, it might take some time for the coals to get hot enough to create an effective flame. You also have to deal with a lot of smoke before you can comfortably start using the fire to cook or warm yourself.
Since this process will take a lot of time, the last thing you want is to waste even more time burning through your hardwood.
Instead, ensure that you carry softwood branches as well as twigs since they burn quickly and will therefore help you get the fire burning much quicker and easier.
When you have the fire going, you can then add in your hardwood so that the fire lasts longer.
Only light a fire when necessary
Unless you have money to purchase a lot of firewood or the space to carry as much firewood as you can, you will need to rethink how you want to use the fire when camping.
What does this entail? Limit the fire to only when it’s dark outside as well as limiting how many logs you use at a time.
You also need to budget on how long you need to keep the fire burning and there are several ways of doing this.
Begin with a basic timeframe whereby a single bundle lasts up to two hours. From there you will need to experiment to decide on how to make your firewood last longer.
With time, you will have a better idea of how much wood you need for a certain duration of a camping trip.
Put out the fire when not in use
When you are camping it’s tempting to leave the fire to burn to ashes. Do this if you have the budget to purchase firewood when you run out.
If you don’t, consider dousing out the fire when you are done cooking and warming yourself. When it comes to dousing the fire, there is a way to do it right.
The last thing you want is to water-log the logs by using too much water. Instead, douse the fire out in such a way that the wood is still cool to the touch and not too wet to not be used the next day.
Consider the fire shape
Any experienced camper is familiar with the various shapes of campfires. The fire shape simply refers to how the wood is set up for a campfire.
How you arrange the wood will determine how effective they burn and how much wood you will use by the end of the day.
With that in mind, some fire styles work for different purposes. Some campers will focus on setting up the wood so that it’s easier to cook on the fire, while others try to arrange the wood so that the fire lasts longer.
If you want the fire to last long, the Teepee style is not ideal. This is because such an arrangement promotes a lot of oxygen circulation which means that the wood will burn more quickly.
The pyramid style or the Swedish torch is more ideal if you are trying to make your firewood last longer. Such styles block any wind from reaching the coals which help the wood burn slowly.
If you don’t know how to create the different styles, there are so many online tutorials that you can refer to before you go for your next camping trip.
Consider using larger logs
It goes without saying that larger logs will take more time to burn completely than smaller logs.
However, this doesn’t mean using only larger logs. Instead, use one large log at the center and surround it with small logs or branches.
The larger log will continue burning and you only need to replace the smaller logs from time to time.
Create a windbreak
When you are camping, your goal should be to keep the coals as hot as possible for your wood to burn efficiently.
This means minimizing the smoke. So, before you set up camp, ensure that you set it in an area that is less likely to be windy.
If that is not possible, you can use tarps to block any excess wind from reaching the camp which ensures that you don’t use a lot of wood.
Use other tools to keep the fire burning
If you are running out of firewood fast, you might want to consider adding other items to the fire to keep the heat levels high without having to use any more wood.
Ash, rocks, and foil can be used to keep the heat flowing and make the fire last longer. You, however, need to use them sparingly because they can end up suffocating the fire forcing you to start over and even use more wood.
Camping in Cold Vs Warm Weather
The weather makes all the difference when it comes to how much firewood you will use. With that in mind, camping during cold weather and warm weather are completely different.
If you are camping in cold weather for instance during winter camping, the only source of heat you will have besides sleeping bags and blankets is a campfire.
A campfire during winter camping can actually make the whole experience a little more bearable.
Since it’s cold outside, you will probably need to have a fire burning for the better part of the day if not the whole day.
In such a case, therefore, you will probably need about 3 to 7 bundles of wood every day depending on what time of the year you are camping.
During warm weather, you will likely not need as much wood since you may only need to create a fire in the evening for a few hours when it gets cold.
Depending on how late you stay up, you might only need the fire for 2 to 3 hours which means using about 2 to 3 bundles a day.
Sometimes you may prefer warming up with a fire in the morning before the sun comes up so that will mean adding a bundle or two.
If you are going camping, one of the things that you can’t overlook is the importance of having a good fire burning. How much firewood you will need will depend on how long you will be camping, how you will be using the fire, the weather, and how long you need to keep the fire burning. Either way, you need to efficiently use the firewood you have to make sure that it lasts you longer.