Author Topic: How do you guys build a winter long fire?  (Read 3793 times)

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Offline brad.clarkston

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How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« on: January 28, 2016, 06:15:18 PM »
I pulled this out of one of Ross's trip threads that keeps coming up.

"How do you build a long fire?".

The classical "long fire" as I know it is called a "Gap Fire" two four foot logs spaced five feet apart and then a five to six foot log split and layed on top of along the width of your shelter with a foot or two gap between.  You then add your fire lay between the two long logs and set the whole thing on fire, keep adding wood in the middle and let the whole thing burn all night.

The Finnish version splits a birtch on top of the two longs nearly the same size and you light that bad boy on fire with a gap at the bottom for air flow.  Even a big hardwood burns faster than I like that way.

I tend to do a non-classic style we used in the army.  Dig a pit five feet long length wise with your shelter face, split a five foot log and lay it split up side by side in said pit. Ring it with rocks and build your fire lay on top and let it burn down to hardwood coals evenly across the logs as you add fuel.

As Ross has mentioned it's a lot of work and needs lots of wood but if it's nasty out I'll stop way before sundown, say 2 hours before and start building camp.

Offline mneedham

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2016, 06:50:19 PM »
Interesting concept, I can't say I have a lot of experience with that type of fire..

Offline MrFixIt

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 04:49:01 AM »
I don't bother with splitting the long logs. I'll lay 3 in a shallow trench, then build a fire on top of those in the middle. I keep adding wood as it burns outwards. This will generally burn all night once you get a good coal bed established. It's not a bonfire so to speak, just a slow burn.
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Offline Dabberty

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2016, 05:59:49 AM »
Same here, just 3 logs to start with, and half way the night add 1 more log if needed.
These are pics from my last trip.

Whole evening normal small fire for cooking.
Just before we crawled in our wool blankets, we started the log fire.
2 logs next to each other, coals from the small fire on top, birch bark, small sticks, then 2 pieces of wood at both ends as a spacer for the 3rd log on top.



Once the fire is spreading, removing the spacers.
Just to be sure between our sleeping place and the fire an additional log in case some burning log comes rolling down towards us.



This was dry standing pine, not very thick, and burned real fast.
Twice we added 1 similar log in thickness, once me, once my friend, so we had a good decent night of sleep.



Next morning.

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Offline Wood Trekker

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2016, 09:10:19 AM »
Very nice. Awesome camp set up. I usually don't bother with long fires. A lot of that is the fact that I usually backpack alone, and if it's just me, a fire a foot and a half in diameter keeps me plenty warm even in very cold weather because I stay close to it. That's assuming I'm in an area where I have access to good size wood.

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« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 09:29:13 AM by Wood Trekker »

Offline MnSportsman

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2016, 09:31:28 AM »
   Most of the time when we make one , we do not dig any trench or place stakes in the ground. Particularly in Winter with the ground frozen. Gabbertys set up in the pics is pretty close. One difference I see, is that we generally split a couple 3-5 inch spacers for the bottom logs to rest upon like joists, round side up , flat to the ground, rather than directly on the ground. For air space,prevents some of the moisture problems from the ground thawing & putting out some of the coals, plus helps keep the logs from rolling. We don't usually split the larger logs, but we have chopped spaced notches for added surface area & air gaps if the top log settles down to the lower ones after the mid spacers burn through. Other than that pretty similar to Gabbartys pics.


:)


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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2016, 10:31:55 AM »
More options from Lonnie at Far North Bushcraft and Survival....



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Offline Yeoman

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2016, 11:51:08 AM »
In winter in deep snow I have finally learned that the time and effort to dig a long trench is worth it.
I dig the trench down to the ground about 2-4 feet wide and generally about 10-20 feet long depending on the depth of snow.
Paradoxically, the deeper the snow, the longer the trench.
I make sure that the snow upder my bed is blocked by a log to keep it from melting out.
I then lay a few logs on the far side to make a "reflector".
I lay down 2-3 logs in the bottom of the trench and then make a fire using a as many twig bundles as necessary for the length of the shelter.
I then lay two logs parallel to each other on the fire or at a shallow angle to burn them through.
The reason for the long trench is for three reasons:
1. To get the fire down to the ground, otherwise the fire will sink in the snow and either go out or prevent the logs from laying flat.
2. To allow long longs to be burned through and to be kept at the flatest angle.
3. For ventilation: the shelter and long fire are parallel to the wind and so the trench channels are to the fire and smoke away from the shelter.

I've really only done this for training and experimental purposes. These days, I'm really working on using a super shelter most effectively and learning how to get a longer lasting but smaller fire to heat the super shelter to be more efficient in time, energy and wood.
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2016, 07:30:16 PM »
I'm a major fan of the reflector-type fire. I've only made a couple long fires, and didn't feel it was worth the energy, or resources. IMHO, a medium sized fire with a good reflector setup will provide as much long term heat as the long fire.
Even if I don't have the time or energy to build a self-feeding reflector, I'll drag the biggest deadfall I can find into position to act as a heat reflector. Snow or rain soaked windfalls are perfect, because they don't get consumed by the heating fire as fast as dry, or even green wood.
On one snowy elk trip, we stacked up about six 8"-10" soggy logs, about 4 feet long, leaning against braces angled slightly away from the main fire. We didn't cut anything, just scrounged what we needed. The effect of having the fire heat reflected in one direction was noticeable. In the morning, the reflector was still intact having only the bottom 2 logs burned part way through.
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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2016, 07:57:05 PM »
In my experience, a relector fire doesn't reflect much in the way of heat.     For me, it's real value, other than drying wood that is yet to be fed into the fire, would be as a 'smoke shelf' like that of a correctly designed fireplace in a home.  It definitely helps draw the smoke away from the shelter and, for the most part, stops that game of hide & seek that we have all played while sitting around an open campfire with friends. :fire1:
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Offline brad.clarkston

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2016, 08:48:18 PM »
Reflectors work but 90% of them are built wrong a couple of logs pilled up doesn't really do much without a real heat shield.

It's takes work and if your tired or out of light it's not so easy.  Long flat rock shelves work fine but takes time and energy to do correctly.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2016, 09:14:30 PM »
Reflectors work but 90% of them are built wrong a couple of logs pilled up doesn't really do much without a real heat shield.

It's takes work and if your tired or out of light it's not so easy.  Long flat rock shelves work fine but takes time and energy to do correctly.
In the Good Ol' Days, our hunting trips lasted a week in the bush. In the area where we hunted, there was a lot of shale, and sandstone. We built some pretty impressive fire circles (or should I say semi-circles) that were the focal point of our camp.
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Offline NewEnglandBushcraft

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2016, 09:43:28 PM »
I have no experience with long fires, just small 12 inch diameter cooking fires. That said, it would be interesting to try the long fire concept in sub 0 temperatures with a Mors Kochanski super-shelter configuration.  :tent:
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Offline Dabberty

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2016, 01:54:16 AM »
Gabbarty?   :P

We usually also do not much long fires, maybe twice a year max, to test out our equipment, setup.
We're still waiting for some proper cold weather, to do it once again, to see how comfortable we can get with a wool blanket.
Usually just a rather small fire for cooking and then for staring into it.

I saw the long fire from Lonnie (far north bushcraft & survival), and it is nice, but not much suitable for 2 people, since 1 side is occupied with the "arms" to hold the log in place.
So i'm still open for other methods for a long fire which 2 people can enjoy.
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Offline MnSportsman

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2016, 03:59:13 AM »
   Ooops. Sorry Dabberty, I apologize for that. It was certainly not intentional.
:(
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline Yeoman

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2016, 07:39:11 AM »

I have no experience with long fires, just small 12 inch diameter cooking fires. That said, it would be interesting to try the long fire concept in sub 0 temperatures with a Mors Kochanski super-shelter configuration.  :tent:

In his book "Northern Bushcraft" (now just "Bushcraft") Mors Kochanski puts forth the long fire for sleeping in an open shelter in cold conditions. The super shelter he came up with was to maximize efficiency by reflecting and capturing heat radiation. The idea is to avoid the necessity of using a long fire and all the wood collection that entails.

I've made the mistake of using long fires with super shelters a few times. The problem is it's way too hot initially and there's significant risk of melting the clear plastic. Even though the clear plastic does not itself heat up too much, the hot air in the shelter makes the plastic soft and any object touching the plastic has enough mass to heat up and melt it. In my last experience is was my leather mitt covers.

So your 12" fire is enough to heat up the shelter just fine. The problem with it is making it last long enough to get some sleep. That's why I'm planning to experiment with the upside down fire in an attempt to have a smaller longer lasting fire.


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Offline Dabberty

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2016, 07:47:21 AM »
Indeed, the long fire gives a lot of heat. We didn't use any super shelter kinda setup, just a lean too, but first few hours it was too hot to sleep, only underwear and wool blanket and still like a sauna.
When it became smaller, i had to put on long underwear and a sweater and i slept very comfortable on that last hike.

Upsidedown fire is also something I want to try, never done it, but it seems to be very promising.
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2016, 08:31:15 AM »
I had to look up the "upsidedown fire". It's what we used to call a pyramid, or platform fire. We used it extensively when ice fishing, out on the ice, for obvious reasons.
It works very, very well if your objective is a good night's sleep, and cooking coals in the morning. The lower logs have to be extremely dry/seasoned, though, since the fire's burning down, not up. With damp logs as the bottom layer, you can actually build it on top of the snow, though I wouldn't recommend it.  :P
We built a good sized one for a party of 5 on top of the snow once, and I wish I had a picture of the fire sitting on a 12" column of snow, and a moat melted all around it. Hahaha.
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Offline MrFixIt

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2016, 11:53:35 AM »
The first time I built an upside down fire I was sure it was not going to work. Went against everything I've been taught about fire making since I was a child.
Got it all together, struck a spark, and then sat back in utter amazement as it burned.
Great for cooking. Once you get it started, you can attend to other preps/camp duties.
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2016, 07:20:58 PM »
Yeah, I've seen several time elapsed videos of these fires and all the makers are surprised they work too. Gotta get out and do it myself. Sorry for the slight derail.


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Offline RatherBeElsewhere

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2016, 01:41:23 PM »


Best upside down fire i've found so far on the tube

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2016, 02:26:19 PM »
Thought some folks might be interested in this perspective on the Long Fire.


http://www.bushcraftdays.com/how-to-build-a-finnish-rakovalkea-gap-fire/
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Offline RoamerJo

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2017, 02:16:18 AM »
I haven't really built any over a couple feet long but I hope to be able to experiment with long fires and pile lean to this next winter

Offline Moe M.

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2017, 12:55:15 PM »
  Old thread,  but still relevant,  I don't do winter camping anymore,  mostly day hikes so long fires aren't needed,  but when I was into period trekking I and a half dozen other guys went out at least a couple of times a month, usually for long weekends (leave on Friday afternoon, come back on Sunday afternoon), we camped from the beginning of April and the season ended when the temps went below freezing, usually late Oct.~ early Dec.
  Usually there were three to five of us on any one trek,  we dressed in period clothing, made stealth camps, and carried minimal gear,  a spare hunting shirt, extra pair of Mocs, some period food staples, a small Mucket (bush pot), powder & ball or shot, a fishing kit,  flint & steel,  a water flask, a wool blanket, and a small tarp, we usually supplemented our food with fish,  a squirrel or two,  and a few of the guys were good at foraging edible plants.
  Camps were usually planed to be near a pond, lake, or good sized stream where we had water and the possibility of some fishing,  tarps were set up in a semi circle around the fire pit which was used for cooking and to keeps the biting bugs at bay, in the colder months we made long fires for cooking and heat,  we each stood a shift for fire watch (and look out for Indians that might be sneaking up on us..Grin..) a good long fire stoked a few times during the night will throw allot of heat even in colder weather.
  We usually made camp early in the afternoon,  two to three hours before sundown,  we'd set up our tarps and lay out our blankets, then clear an area for the fire,  collect firewood enough to last the night,  by then it was time to get the fire started and make supper, the fire started out small, as the coals developed we'd add more wood to the edges of the fire and eventually by dark the fire had grown to about six feet long and a couple of feet wide,  then we just kept it going that size with larger diameter limbs and small sized logs.
  Building the fire gradually like that helped to control the size of the fire and also used less wood than starting out with a full sized long fire to begin with,  in the colder months we did have a base camp that we used that had a log lean to big enough to sleep six people and an established fire pit with a fire reflector made of good sized (5"~ 6" logs), and usually a supply of dried fire wood under a tarp which we resupplied when we used the site.   

Shinning times they were. 
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2017, 01:24:44 PM »
Like you, Moe, my freezing-on-purpose days are over.  The closest I come to a winter fire now is when hard water (ice) fishing.
Not a 'long fire', but built on the ice near our fishing site.  We whack up some green logs to lay on the ice as a base, usually around 6" diameter.  The dry wood fire is built on top of this platform. We drive, or 4-wheel to our lakes, so the kit includes a chainsaw and full sized ax.  The wood crew lays in a supply while the guys who drew the short straws drill the holes.  ;)

Stumbling down memory lane, our fall/winter hunting fires were a bit different.  We'd gather basalt rocks (no river/lake rocks) for a 4-5 foot fire circle.  Cooking was done with a 'key hole' off this main fire. Most of our hunting sites were accessible by 4 wheel drive vehicles, so the chainsaw came along, too.  First order of business was to clear the camp site of debris and sweep it down to bare earth (snow permitting).  Second chore was laying in enough firewood to last our stay, maybe 1/2 cord.  Less than an hour of noise with the chainsaw while the rest of the party split a variety of sizes, and then it was peace, quiet and no lumberjacking for the rest of the trip.

I remember one trip to the Lillywap Swamp on the Olympic Peninsula where it rained so hard it would have driven sane folk out of the woods. But we had such a fire going that the ground was dry for 2 feet beyond the fire circle and the heat from the fire evaporated the rain before it hit the ground.  Didn't get much hunting done for 2 days, but we stayed dry.  8)
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2017, 06:49:00 AM »
  Yup,  it's amazing just how much rain, snow, and wind a good established fire can withstand when it's well fed,  I remember a canoe trip in the Allegash while hunting one year, the weather was fairly warm for the first of November in northern Maine, we hit some fast water just as a freak thunder storm came down on us,  three boats and five guys paddled for shore as quickly as possible.
  The sky got really black really quick but for the first half hour or so it was just wind, a few of us collected fire wood and the other guys beached the boats and propped them against the wind for a wind break,  it was mid afternoon and we could see that we probably weren't going anywhere for a while and decided to make camp there for the night.
  It must have been a hell of a storm because the fast water turned into major rapids in just the time we were there, so somewhere north of us was getting some heavy rains,  we got a good sized fire going and one of the guys got the idea to put up a quicky lean to over the fire,  nothing fancy, just a bunch of downed limbs propped up against a make shift ridge pole.
  The rain finally caught up with us and it rained with some lightening and thunder for a good part of the night, we stayed fairly dry under our canoe/tarp set up and the fire survived quite nicely,  I don't know how much the lean to helped to sustain the fire, but like you said,  between the heat and the dry ground the rain seemed to evaporate over and around the fire before it could harm it.
 By mid morning the sky was clear, the sun was out, and except for the high and fast moving water you wouldn't know a storm had gone through.
 
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2017, 06:18:51 PM »
What is this thing called winter of which you speak?

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #27 on: August 07, 2017, 07:53:31 PM »
What is this thing called winter of which you speak?
This topic is closed to beach bums and surfers. :taunt:
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2017, 02:13:17 PM »
There's a reason they call me a beach "bum".



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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2017, 04:38:44 PM »
 :rofl:
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #30 on: August 08, 2017, 09:17:35 PM »
 :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: How do you guys build a winter long fire?
« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2017, 09:47:36 AM »
There's a reason they call me a beach "bum".




 LOL, WOW,  So that was you,  hell, if I'd have known it was you I'da said hello.  (Grin)
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