Here are some tips that hikers, backpackers, campers, and others can use for building a fire in the rain or after it rains. There are few things worse that not being able to get a fire started when camping. A campfire helps to provide light, warmth, and something to cook over, but when everything is wet it can be difficult to get a fire going. However, with a little preparation getting a fire started in even the wettest weather can be made a lot easier.
Having multiple ways to start a fire on hand is a good way to avoid problems. Lighters can stop working and matches can become wet, but by having both campers should be certain of having some way to start a fire. Waterproof matches and wind resistant lighters are a good combination for trips into the backcountry. Matches should be stored in at least two places as well in case one gets lost or damaged.
Dry Tinder and Kindling
When bad weather is looming, campers should gather up some tinder and kindling that is dry and store it until it is needed. Another way to deal with this is to bring along commercially made or homemade fire starters that can be ignited and will burn long enough to dry out the wood that can be gathered.
Cover the Fire While Starting
Whenever possible protect the fire that is being start from direct rainfall. A helper can hold a poncho or other waterproof barrier over the fire area to help it get going. The small tinder can be covered by hand when starting a fire alone.
Split or Break Sticks
When gathering wood in wet weather, split or break the sticks to expose the drier inner area of the stick. Place the dry area of a split stick or the broken end of a stick into the flame. This will allow the sticks to start burning more rapidly.
Dry Out Bigger Pieces of Wood
Larger pieces of wood should be stored close to the fire, even when it is small, so that the larger pieces can be begin to dry out. Wet wood should be slowly placed into the fire one at a time to keep from smothering out the flame.
Use What You Have
Sometimes everything can go wrong. Campers who find themselves stuck in the woods with nothing dry to start a fire should be resourceful. Pieces of clothes, pages from a book, toilet paper, unneeded areas of a map, rope, string, and other articles of equipment commonly carried into the woods can be used to start a fire if needed.