When you go camping, you’ll need to make a fire for different reasons, especially for cooking and the creation of warmth. If you haven’t already realized, your campfire is an essential part of every camping experience.
Even if you go camping with a stove, you’ll still need a camping fire for cold days and nights, or to roast marshmallows.
Before you go camping, you need to think about how much wood you’ll be needing, how to get your hands on the wood you need for the duration of your camping, as well as how much firewood you need for your camping trip.
Let’s answer all the questions you might have about wood for camping to best prepare you for your next camping expedition.
How Much Wood Should I Bring Camping?
There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer for this question because the amount of wood you need when camping depends on several factors, including how long the trip will last, what you’ll be using the wood for, as well as the kind of wood you’ll be using. You also need to be certain how many times a day you’ll be lighting a fire
However, you’ll generally need between two and five bundles, which is about 10 to 25 logs every day, depending on your campfire habits and frequency.
For two nights, you need between 4 and 5 bundles, which is 20 to 50 logs for morning and nighttime fires. The calculation can go on like this depending on how long you plan to stay.
However, these are generalizations, and it might help to consider all related factors that affect the amount of wood you should bring when camping.
How Often Will You Be Needing Campfires?
Always think about how often you’ll be lighting campfires when you’re getting wood for camping. If you only like to turn on a campfire at night, you’ll need less wood than if you want to use a campfire twice a day, or even leave it on all day.
Of course, more campfires a day mean more wood. However, wood doesn’t always come cheap, so you’ll need to check your budget. Also, different kinds of woods have different burn rates.
A rule of thumb is that 4 to 5 logs of wood last as long as an hour in a campfire. For cooking, you’ll use 6 to 10 logs of wood every hour.
However, even this estimate isn’t 100% accurate at all times because different types of wood have different burn rates.
What Type of Firewood Are You Using?
Not all wood burns the same, so which firewood burns faster than the other?
Softwoods like cedar, pine, and spruce burn out more quickly, although they catch faster when you’re starting a fire.
On the other hand, hardwoods like maple, oak, and hickory take longer to burn, even if they start up slower than softwoods.
A combination of soft and hardwood often lasts better; softwood to start the fire and hardwood to maintain it and keep it burning for longer.
Selecting The Wood Depending on Climate And Weather
When camping in a dry and hot climate, you are less likely to need a campfire than when camping in a cool environment.
So, if you’re camping in a potentially cold location, you’ll need more wood to stay warm outdoors.
The season of the year you’re camping should also be a determinant. Simply put, you’ll burn more wood for winter camping than summer camping, so bear that in mind.
Whatever the case might be, it is always wise to buy more wood than you think you need, even after all these considerations. More is always better than less.
You can always return home with whatever wood you have left or give it to a neighbor before leaving the campground.
What Is the Best Wood for Camping?
As far as camping goes, the best type of wood to use is the one that has a longer burning time. Hardwoods fit this condition perfectly, and we’ll be talking about the best hardwoods for camping.
1. Ash Wood
Ash wood is a great choice because it is light and solid. It is also very easy to ignite, coupled with a long burn time.
Another advantage of this wood is that it produces a small amount of smoke when burning and it has a neutral odor when burning.
Thanks to the long burn time, you’ll end up using less wood per hour.
Beechwood is quite rare to find in bundles, and due to its dense nature, it has to be seasoned for an entire year before it is used.
Beech is great for winter camping because of its low sap content. It also produces very little smoke, so if you hate smoky fires, you’ll like it.
Although it is more cost-effective, it is quite difficult to harvest beechwood yourself because splitting beech logs is quite stressful. So, it might be more convenient to buy beechwood.
This wood is loved for the aroma it delivers when you make a fire. Instead of the unpleasant smell that you get from most woods, the aroma from cherrywood is sweet and long-lasting.
Cherrywood also delivers a wonderful, sweet, and subtle flavor to your meals when you cook them on the fire.
This wood is easy to harvest and split and is great for summer or spring camping when you need to cook without much emphasis on heat. The reason is that cherrywood doesn’t deliver as much heat as other wood types.
Be careful to not use Cherrywood fire when camping in an area that bears frequent because it can attract them to you.
4. Hickory wood
Hickory wood delivers a good amount of heat when burning, especially the dense kind, because it doesn’t store much water.
The wood delivers a fire that’s nearly smokeless and lasts for a long while delivering intense heat.
Hickory also delivers subtle flavor to meat dishes that make meals cooked over the fire tastier.
5. Maple wood
Maple is very similar to ash where burn time is concerned, but it is hard to find in bundles, so you will most likely need to gather the wood yourself.
However, Maple is not easy to find in bundles, and it is very tough, so it is hard to split. However, it might be worth the stress because maple produces intense heat, making it perfect for fires that you burn in the winter, or a fire that you want to last throughout the night.
Just like its name, maple has a pleasant and subtle aroma that is similar to maple syrup.
Oak wood is one of the most common woods used for campfires because it is largely available, and is also the hottest wood.
The amount of heat oak produces is enough to last for an entire night and keep you warm on winter nights. The heat it delivers will even last long after the campfire has been quenched, especially if there’s no wind.
However, ensure that you get seasoned oak because the unseasoned one doesn’t produce as much heat as seasoned oak.
Oak wood is available almost everywhere you buy firewood; even online and at campsites.
How To Find Firewood When Camping?
If you’re camping at a site where you are allowed to collect firewood, you should go out and begin the search.
The first step to finding firewood when camping is to get a tool such as a saw or an axe.
After that, you’ll embark on the search for wood either using a long-distance or short-distance trip.
When you go long-distance, you’ll find better wood, but it could be hectic to bring them back with you. Sourcing wood closer to your camp is easier, but you’ll most likely find small, waterlogged wood that might not burn well or even burn at all.
When hunting for wood, ensure that you’re inspecting it to get good firewood for your campfires. Here are things to look out for:
1. Weight and Feel
When you find a piece of wood, study its weight and see how it’ll be. For instance, if the wood is heavier than its size, it means there’s too much moisture and it won’t burn well.
If the wood is too light, it’ll burn too quickly and won’t produce coals, making it great for starting a fire, but not good enough to be the main fuel.
The feel and weight should be quite right for it to burn well and last when you set up a fire.
Study the ends of the logs when looking for firewood to tell you the nature of wood. If the ends of the log show cracking, it means they are dry and seasoned.
You also need to seek light-colored wood that doesn’t seem like it has been freshly cut. Dryer wood is often lighter in color than fresh wood and burns better.
Dry wood sounds like a crack, while wet wood sounds like a thud. To try this out, pick up two pieces of the same wood and hit them together. If you hear a thud, then there’s too much moisture, but if you hear a crack, then it’s dry enough.
When you smell the wood you find, it shouldn’t have a smell that’s too overpowering. Although woods like spruce and pine often smell fresh due to high phenol contents, when they dry, their smell evaporates alongside the moisture. Hardwood takes a long time to get all the moisture out, so the smell might last for a long time.
After gathering all the wood, you need for your trip, you can transport them in the trunk of your car, on a sled, or in your backpack.
Upon reaching your campsite, you need to store the wood properly to prevent it from getting wet.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get Wood While Camping?
What if you don’t want to go through the rigorous process of hiking through the wilds to get wood? But you still need wood to make your campfire? Here are some quick ways to get wood while camping.
1. Purchase firewood
This is arguably the fastest and easiest way to get firewood when camping. You can purchase the type of wood you need with convenience because it has been cut and dried.
You can either purchase wood at home before going to your campground, especially if you’re not sure what kind of wood you’ll find at camp. However, you should confirm that the campsite allows you to bring wood from outside.
Alternatively, you can buy wood in bundles at a campground. However, bear in mind that these wood bundles are often more expensive when bought at the campground. But, they deliver convenience, such that you don’t have to transport wood over a long distance to the camp.
2. Collect wood
If you don’t purchase wood, you can collect wood around your campsite, which is a more cost-effective option, howbeit more time-consuming.
However, before you go about your camp collecting wood, you need to be sure you’re allowed to do that.
To save time, you can collect firewood around your immediate environment. However, not all woods you see should be collected just because you want to save time, money, and energy.
Ensure that the wood you’re picking up is dead, choose the wood that’s already lying on the floor, rather than cutting one from a tree, and get dry wood, rather than wet ones.
How Do You Keep Wood Dry When Camping?
Whether you purchase dry wood from home, at the campsite, or you collect them from your environment, you need to store dry wood properly to ensure that it doesn’t get wet and it burns efficiently and cleanly.
If you’re camping when it’s rainy and windy, you also need to take more care to keep your wood dry.
The best way to keep your wood dry is to create a waterproof shelter for the wood bundles using a tarp or simply wrapping the tarp around the wood.
Alternatively, you can store the wood in the trunk of your car, under a picnic table, or in your tent vestibule.
You can also look for a reasonably high platform to place the wood above the ground to avoid cold or dampness from the ground. However, ensure that it is protected from above as well, especially from rainfall or snow.
Always store your firewood in a dry place, away from all forms of moisture.
Next time you’re going camping, the last thing you need to worry about is wood. Now, you know the best kinds of wood for your campfire, how much wood you need for a camping trip, and the best way to get the wood you need.
Equip yourself with this knowledge and you’ll enjoy a warm, comfortable campfire throughout your camping trip.