Upside Down Fire Building

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2) Lean-To/A-Frame Fire Lay

Lean-to fire lay, made on a very windy day

Lean-to fire lay, made on a very windy day

The A-frame fire lay, made during a light rain

The A-frame fire lay, made during a light rain

How to Lay the Fire: Get a big rock or log.  Prop kindling against it to make a lean-to or A-frame construction.  Alternatively, you can dig a pit.  Prop the kindling against the edge of the pit.

Using your tinder, build a small teepee underneath the lean-to or A-frame you just built. The small fire will light the kindling above it. Add more kindling and fuel wood before the flames completely burn through your construction.

Pros: Good for rainy and windy situations

Cons: It restricts airflow, so may not light very easily.

When to Use:  When it is rainy or windy. The configuration will prevent the wind from getting in and also keep rain from getting to the tinder and lower kindling. Read How to Make a Fire in the Rain

Tips: If the ground is wet, put a layer of sticks flat on the ground.  This will create a platform to keep your tinder away from the wet ground.

If it is raining hard, you’ll have to keep adding kindling/fuel on top so the lean-to doesn’t collapse and get exposed to the rain!

The Teepee Method

This is the classic boys and girls scout fire. Start with some loosely scrunched newspaper and tinder in the centre of your firepit and balance your kindling in a teepee around it. The easiest way to balance this is have one thick central stick, like a beach umbrella, lodged into the centre of your fire, then lean the rest of your kindling against it.

Light the paper and tinder in a few places around your fire. Gradually add more kindling in the same teepee formation. You can blow on the fire to oxygenate it more, and build your flames. Finally, you can add your fuelwood.

A few hot tips:

  1. Pick up the paper before your trip. In a world of smartphones, laptops, iPads, you’re going to feel really silly when all you’ve got is a Liquorland receipt or that novel you’re finally getting around to …
  2. Campsites themselves can be pretty bare bones from all of the campers before you, so stop over on the way to pick up sticks along the way.
  3. Collect all your wood and kindling and start making your fire well before it gets dark. You don’t want to be searching around the undergrowth for likely logs, hoping they won’t slither away.

4) Star Fire/Cross Fire

How to Lay the Fire: Start by making a small teepe

How to Lay the Fire: Start by making a small teepee fire.  Instead of laying your fuelwood across the fire, you just put the ends of the fuelwood into the fire.

Pros: Uses very little firewood

Cons: Fire might go out; makes just a small fire

When to Use: When you don’t have much wood


Building a teepee fire is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build a hassle-free campfire.

The shape allows a lot of airflow to reach the fire, and the overall design is enjoyable to watch as the fire burns.

Have fun building a teepee campfire but make sure you are careful to avoid fire hazards.

Your Turn!

So, now you know how you build your own upside down fire.  I encourage you to give it a try next time you are camping or setting up a backyard bonfire.  It is a great tool to add to any fire building arsenal and I think you will be impressed with the results.

Your Thoughts?

Have you built an upside down fire before?  Did you give our step-by-step instructions a try?  Please let us know in the Comments Section below what you thought about this fire building method or if you have any tips or tricks to getting it to work better!  Thanks!


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