Friday, November 21, 2014

How to best maximize heat from a campfire

If forced to stay a night in the wilds because you got lost on a day hike, you’ll probably need to build a campfire. While comforting for its warmth and the light that keeps animals at bay, a particularly cold night may leave even the best-built fire wanting.

That’s because most of the heat from a campfire escapes straight up rather than warms those sitting around it. In addition, it only heats one side of those who are seated, leaving the back (the side not facing the flames) to remain cold.

The solution comes in selecting where to build the campfire and then in using a little technical know-how.

Specifically, you want to build a fire between two reflective surfaces. This way more of the heat radiated from the campfire is trapped.

Start by finding a rock wall for one of the reflective surfaces. The campfire should be built about six to eight feet away from it. Make sure there are no overhanging branches that the campfire might soar into and burn.

Next, on the fire’s other side, build a wall of stones or green logs, also keeping them about six to eight feet away. Ideally, this wall will be as high as the crown of the tallest person sitting around the fire.

Once the fire gets going, its heat will reflect off the rock and your artificial wall. Sit between either of these walls and the fire.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.