fire of the day: the long log

long log fire

long log fire

This fire is a denizen of the cold places. It is a key piece of survival kit in the boreal north. It is mainly used as an effective form of heating at camp. Although you can happily cook over it (its length means that it is ideally suited to a high-bar pot suspension rig / double tripod) it excels in the amount of heat it kicks out sideways down its entire length. Having a long-log fire the length of a sleeping person ensures that heat is radiated down the entire length of the body. Pair this fire with a way of reflecting radiated heat back at you from the other side of the fire – such as using a log fire reflector wall and having the back wall of a shelter behind you can ensure that all heat is bounce back onto you, over you, behind you, and if you raise your sleeping platform, even underneath you. I have slept out, without a sleeping bag in -14 C using a long log fire in this way. As long as you remember to feed it at certain times during the night!

radiated heat bouncing back into the shelter

radiated heat bouncing back into the shelter

To make this fire you should start a regular, small fire and build up the ember base (for instance criss-crossing the firewood helps in this process). Build up a significant bed of embers then ‘rake’ it out into a length and place three lengths of wood onto the fire to encourage it to ignite and for the flame to move outwards along the logs. Sooner or later you will be able to put quite sizeable diameter logs of 6 foot length onto the fire – you don’t need many, two or three at a time. They should burn for hours. The longest long log fire I have ever used was for 8 people, sleeping both sides of the fire and was around 20 feet long – showing that you can keep the cutting and chopping of wood to a minimum.

long-log-and-reflector3

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