Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Picture this: You’re back at your campsite after an amazing day of exploring. You have kayaked the entire network of lakes in the park. You have conquered the path of vigilance.

But now the sun is starting to set. The wind is picking up and it is cold. You feel the first drop of rain.

It is drizzling heavily when you arrive at your camp. You are tired and hungry.

But do you know how to start a campfire in windy and humid weather?

Whether it’s for warmth, cooking, or drying your clothes from the rain, a campfire is the first thing you should focus on when you’ve chosen a campsite to pitch your tent.

We chatted with our friends at ZIP Firestarters to compile some of the best tips for starting your fire in inclement weather conditions.

1. Start with the right camping setup

If you choose your campsite, try to select a site that is protected from strong winds. Pay attention to the location of the brazier.

camping with tent and tarps

Next, be sure to keep the firewood dry. Never throw firewood on wet or snowy ground. Instead, place the wood in the crotch of a tree, where it will stay high and dry. If it’s raining, do your best to cover the wood.

Better yet, leave the wood in the trunk of your car or under a tarp or awning until you need it.

2. Light your fire in the right place

Use the designated campfire for your camp. This will ensure that the fire you light is safe and contained, especially if it is windy. Never light a fire with flames higher than the edge of your brazier. Before placing firewood, clear a three-foot space around the hole and remove all pine needles, grasses, leaves, and twigs.

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If it is raining, try to dry the base of the fire pit. This should help keep the fire burning and prevent the wood from becoming so wet.

Your camp fire automatically provides some shelter from the elements, but you can maximize its protection by placing the fire in the most sheltered part of the circle (usually the side closest to the wind).

3. Stack the wood carefully

Work to keep the wood dry until you can light it. In windy or humid weather, it may take longer to get the fire going, so make sure you have enough firewood.

Build a log cabin or a tipi-style fire pit (or a combination). Be sure to keep the flame protected while also giving it room to breathe.

woman adding firewood to the campfire

You can also try a lean-to structure, which places several heavier logs on one side as a firebreak, protecting the rest of the fire from the wind.

4. Light your fire (and keep it lit)

If you use matches, be sure to store them in a waterproof container. A barbecue lighter is a great weatherproof option for lighting your campfire in inclement weather conditions.

If it’s windy, stand with your back to the wind to protect your budding flames. Bonus: This should also give you the best protection against sparks.

Can’t get the fire to stay lit (or even not light at all)?

Fire Log ZIP Kickstart

Bringing a ZIP lighter from your local supplier (or one of our park stores!) is a great option, especially in bad weather.

ZIP Kickstart lighters are designed to ignite even the most difficult or wet wood. A lighter replaces the need for firewood and newspapers with a quick and easy log, and gets the fire going quickly!

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Cold air, dark night, bright stars, warm fire.  Campfire under the stars.  postal logo

How to use a ZIP Kickstart fire starter:

  • Place your ZIP Kickstart Firestarter on your fire pit with the horizontal seam on top. Do not remove the packaging
  • Grasp the wrapper at both ends and pull straight out. Then pull the center seam up. Place the wood on top.
  • Light the arrows on both ends of the wrapper with waterproof matches. This means that you should be able to light the wrapper easily and the match will not go out.
  • Once your ZIP Kickstart Firestarter is lit, it will burn for over 45 minutes, meaning it will begin to dry out any wood you place on top.

Fire starters are an especially good option if you are a new or casual camper.

See a working Powerstarter Firestarter ZIP here:

There are many options for starting a fire. Complete Kickstart logs are great for campfires in bad weather, while individual cubes are great for getting your fire going the first time, every time!

The magic of bonfires

There aren’t many things in life that beat the welcoming glow of wood crackling before you after a long day of outdoor adventures.

father and son roasting marshmallows

A campfire can be both a beloved ritual to enjoy with friends and family and a safety staple that keeps you dry and warm during your adventures.

Before you hit the road this camping season, make sure you know how to start a fire in any weather and that you bring the proper tools to start it.

PS: Make sure you follow basic fire safety rules, even in bad weather!

Ontario Parks thanks corporate partners like ZIP for their support.