How to Light a Fire in the Rain
author: dominic trimboli

At ust we like to say that it’s important to expect the best camping conditions but be prepared for the worst. There’s not much worse than trying to light a fire when the rain simply won’t stop, so we decided this time on Tent Talks we’re going to help prepare you for it.

How to choose a location for a fire when it’s raining

Pop quiz: You’re out in the woods, miles from the nearest shelter and it’s starting to rain cats and dogs, what do you do first?

The answer is finding a spot as sheltered as possible from the wind with the best overhead protection you can find. Whether that’s underneath a particularly tall set of trees, a small rocky outcrop, or if you’re lucky enough a nearby lean-to or cave.

Step two is to make sure you’ve got enough clearance above your fire for smoke ventilation and a guarantee you won’t set your shelter on fire. Roughly 6-10 feet of clearance is ideal for safety. The smaller your enclosure, the warmer and dryer it will get. The goal is to have a built-in barrier to help get your fire lit and keep it that way regardless of the wind and rain.

How to start a fire in the rain

So you’ve got the best location you can find and it’s time to get a fire started, where do you begin?

Step one is finding fuel that’s dry enough to take on a spark from your lighter or flint. If you want to be prepared for this exact situation, then the Learn and Live Kit is the ideal addition for your bag. Housed inside a water-resistant container is our Sparkforce fire starter, our Light-me tinder and backup pieces for everything just in case the fire doesn’t catch the first time.

If you already have a waterproof container for your fire-starting gear, then upgrade the kit with a flameless lighter that works regardless of the wind and rain. The Tekfire Charge Fuel Free lighter and the TekFire Pro both produce an electrical current that aren’t affected by the elements and include multi-purpose paracord for additional dry tinder.

Finally, if you want to guarantee you’ll have dry tinder to start a fire no matter how much it’s raining, don’t forget to grab a bag of WetFire Tinder. With a 5-year shelf life, these individually packed cubes will burn for 5 minutes straight in almost any condition.

How to keep a fire going in the rain

Once the fire is lit with your tinder, it’s time to build it up. While your first thought might be to grow your fire as large as possible to warm up, that’s actually the opposite of what you should do. Keep the fire small, ensuring it burns consistently, uses less fuel and keeps you warm all night.

When adding fuel, put that Boy/Girl Scout training to work and prioritize airflow in your construction. The most common way to do this is by building a small teepee over your tinder to avoid smothering the bed of coals you’ll eventually make. This is not a simple or quick process so take your time adding extra fuel to the fire, especially if you’ve run out of good fuel and have to start adding damp wood.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to anything. So next time you see some rain in the backyard when you have a free afternoon, take an hour to go outside and attempt this with low stakes. You’ll feel much better about your abilities and be more prepared for the worst when it happens.

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