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Let's explore this and really answer, how much firewood do you need to go camping?
If you are anything like me, you take a quick trip to the store to grab a few bundles prior to heading out on a weekend family camping adventure. The question most people wonder about is just how long will that bundle of wood actually last…
How much firewood do you need to go camping? That is the question a lot of us ask ourselves! Give this a quick read and hopefully, you will be on your way to solving the great mystery…or at a minimum have a better formula to get you started.
So, the unfavorable response is "it all depends". With that said, the average campfire burn of two hours equals about 1 cord of firewood. However, there are lots of variables, like: What kind of wood are you using? How big are you wanting your fire? These are just two quick questions that will drive this conversation.
Why Do you Need a Fire When Camping?
What is camping without a fire? The glow and flames flowing in the dark, while you and the family sit around it enjoying a beverage and some s'mores…the crackling sound adding to the mesmerizing scene.
Yes, a fire is a must when camping. So how much firewood should you bring? Well, this all depends on a few variables; days camping, camping site, and weather.
Who has that magic formula that can calculate how long a bundle of firewood will last? I know I do not and often find myself on the search or making a quick trip to the nearest gas station for some more firewood because I thought 2 bundles would cover a weekend trip.
The combination of days camping and weather will drive the beginning stages of determining how much you should bring with you. It also depends on where you are camping. Regardless, you will need to determine a good estimate on the amount of firewood you will need to keep the fire going.
You do not want to end up underestimating and seeing the fire slowly die down, but at the same time bringing too much firewood means you will have less storage space for other things you may need to bring to the campsite.
How Much Firewood Do I Need When Camping?
In my experience, a bundle of wood purchased from the local grocery store contains anywhere between 4-6 sticks with each stick ranging anywhere between 3-5 inches in diameter and 12-14 inches in length.
When I am out with my family, we typically only have fires in the evening. However, we sometimes also have them in the morning. The diameter of our fires ranges anywhere between 3-4 feet.
Now we do not get super crazy here, we want it to be enjoyable and not dangerous since we have kids around. Given the species mentioned above, we typically have our fires going for about 2 hours…which equates to 1-2 bundles of wood.
A little word of advice…when picking up a bundle of firewood, go for the bundle that weighs the most. Why do you ask? Because the heavier the bundle of wood usually translates to a hardwood, which will burn longer than softwood.
So, if you plan to be camping for 2-3 days, and you want to have a fire each evening for at least 2 hours, you will need to bring 4-6 bundles of wood. That is a lot of wood to pack. One way you can offset this is by researching the location you will be camping to see if the hosts offer firewood for purchase.
Most RV parks that I have visited offer bundles of firewood as long as there is no fire ban. Additionally, most gas stations near these sites also offer firewood, so do some research and make some calls to check availability prior to departing.
Another option is using what nature can provide you! Can you use resources that are available or nearby the campsite? If so, then you need to calculate the time for searching and gathering the firewood.
While we're on the topic, definitely check out this helpful guide to Camping and Fire Pit Safety, its worth your time and full of really good safety tips.
How to Have a Campfire When There is a Burn Ban In Effect?
So, your heading to the great outdoors for an awesome camping trip but you're bummed there won't be a campfire because of the local burn ban in effect, what can you do?
It's a great question and thanks for being responsible for looking for alternative options. I hate to say it but I've seen plenty of people ignore burn bans and unfortunately, our wildfires here in Colorado are getting worse by the year. In-fact, the 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado was the worst in the state's history....like ever!
With that said, I'm happy to report you DO have options!
Per the Forest Service website:
Approved and Non-Approved Fires
The following is a guide to use when campfires are restricted due to high fire danger.
- Liquid gas stoves or fires. These include:
- Propane gas camp stoves used for campground or backcountry use.
- Propane gas catalytic heaters.
- White gas camp stoves with a pump which distribute pressurized gas.
- Butane or other pressurized gas canister devices attached to camp stoves.
- Propane or white gas lanterns that distribute gas under pressure.
- Solid fuel citronella candles in a metal bucket.
- Solid fuel candles in a metal or glass container.
- Propane barbeque devices that do not utilize solid briquettes for the heat source.
- Stove or fireplace fires completely contained within a summer home or residence.
- Propane or pressurized white gas warming devices with a shield and base.
- Campfires that utilize wood, pressed logs, wood pellets, paper, cardboard, or other solid fuels.
- Campfires utilizing solid fuel that do not distribute the flame with a wick.
- Briquette fires.
- Unapproved fires on a summer home or residence porch or in an uncontained structure.
- Unapproved fires in a tent, open garage or carport, fenced area, shelter, porch, or other nonstructural surroundings.
- “Tikki torches” which utilize liquid fuel.
- Alcohol ultralight stoves (these tend to be homemade from aluminum or tin cans and burn rubbing alcohol)
- Wood “twig” ultralight stoves
- Campfires, lanterns, or stoves that use non-pressurized liquid gas or fuel.
- Liquid fuel citronella lanterns or liquid fuel candles.
- Solid fuel candles which are not contained within a metal container or glass container.
- Liquid fuel stove or lantern fires which utilize a wick to distribute the flame.
- Solid fuel fireworks of any kind.
- Wood, solid fuel or non-pressurized gas campfires contained by a rock barrier.
- Wood, solid fuel or non-pressurized gas campfires contained in an open camp stove, container, or barrel.
- Wood, solid fuel or non-pressurized gas campfires contained in a closed camp stove, not in a fully contained residence or summer home.
So, as you can see, you DO have options. Personally, we own the Outland Firebowl 863 which's highly rated. It's approved for fire ban usage as it meets the requirements above, and well, it's really easy to use, no mess, limited danger and still gives the true campfire experience! Also, we can take it with us anywhere and always lights up, no need for firewood! Check it out here
Need help understanding how to gather firewood around your campsite?…I got you covered!
7 Tips to Find Your Own Firewood.
- You want dry wood. If it is wet, leave it alone. If it has been raining prior to your trip I would highly suggest bringing your firewood with you.
- No one wants to search for firewood in the dark. Take advantage of all available sunlight and make gathering the priority during this time. No need to be out in the dark when the predators are hunting…but seriously, avoid hunting for firewood in the dark as you can possibly get disoriented to where the camp is. And let’s be honest, it only makes the search more difficult as it is never easy to find something in the dark.
- Wear proper attire. Gloves, closed-toe shoes, and long sleeves will help to avoid splinters and also protect your skin from and scrapes.
- Closed-toe shoes at a minimum, but if you have boots with good toe protection then go with those. Nothing worse than dropping a heavy object on your feet when out camping.
- Know where you are at all times. It is easy to get fixated on the search for firewood and forget which direction camp is. Also, keep in mind the further you are from camp the longer the haul. Use every minute wisely…as you are driving or hiking into camp pay attention to your surroundings…you may just see a fallen tree that is perfect and can be hauled by your vehicle versus breaking your back.
- Get everyone involved. The more hands you have searching and sourcing, the better. Someone can be gathering all the tinder and kindle (smaller sticks of wood) that will help get the fire started faster.
- If camping with kids, this is a great task for them as well. Not only is it a teachable moment, but it will give them a sense of accomplishment when that fire is burning and they are enjoying those sticky and gooey s'mores.
In order to keep everyone gathered around for those fireside chats in the evenings, you will need to do some planning and preparing. Research the area you are headed to and see if you are allowed to use the local resources near the camp. If not, then plan to bring it with you.
Either way, a successful camping experience always includes a fire. Always keep safety first, and do not leave your campsite with a fire still going…we have seen too many forest fires started due to human error.
And while this article is specific to gathering and/or bringing firewood with you, that is only half the battle. You can have all the wood you need, but if you do not know how to build and start a fire then…
But here at Off Grid Essential, we have you covered…go check out this article on “How to build a campfire – 6 easy steps for beginners.”
Lastly, if you have leftover firewood, consider leaving it behind for the next person…it is always a nice welcoming gift when you arrive at your site with firewood someone left behind.