A Tepee Fire is the one I think most people envision when discussing a campfire. Just like it sounds, it’s shaped like a teepee with standing lengths of wood. This type of fire provides a good light source for the campsite and a high heat source for boiling a pot of water or roasting meat on a skewer. To build the teepee fire, drive a stick securely into the ground and then place a circle of sticks leaning against the secured stick. Leave a window on the windward side to allow air flow and keep feeding the fire as it continues to burn.
The Pinwheel Fire, or Star Fire, is shaped like the spokes on a wheel without the outside rim. The fire burns at the center, or hub of the wheel and produces lower light and heat. This fire is used when a large fire is not necessary, you are trying to conserve fuel, or you need a more concentrated heat source for frying. Use 1 to 2 inch diameter sticks for fuel and once the fire is going, continually push the sticks inward as they are consumed. This fire requires more attention, but also provides more temperature control for frying that trout you just caught.
A Log Cabin Fire is another fire for excellent light and heat. Constructed like a log cabin with cross-hatched logs, this arrangement allows for plenty of interior space for tinder, kindling, and small fuel, leaves plenty of open space for excellent air flow, and exposes lots of wood surface for an even blaze. This results in a quick supply of hot coals for cooking some great meals in your cast iron dutch ovens. Also, if needed for survival, it makes for a great signal fire.
The Keyhole Fire is the multitasker’s delight. The setup is made for building both a teepee fire and a log cabin fire at the same time. Build a rock fire pit in the shape of a keyhole. Build the teepee fire in the larger round part of the keyhole for heat, light, and any cooking you want to do with skewers or in pots. Build a log cabin fire across the rocks in the narrow part for the quick supply of coals needed for cooking. Once the log cabin fire has diminished, the teepee fire can continue to provide coals for any further cooking needs.
These are some of the typical campfires most people use in the outdoors, and each has its own benefits depending on your cooking and camping needs. Always be sure to have good fire starting tools, ample supply of tinder, kindling, and fuel, and always practice safety and no trace left behind. I’d love to hear about your favorite campfire and why you like it. I’d also like to hear if anyone has experimented with any other ingenious forms of building a campfire. Happy camping!