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What is a Long Fire and When to Build One

A small campfire is usually enough to sustain a single group of campers. Traditional fire lays will get that job done. What happens, though, when you have a big party and the single campfire will not do. What if you would like to do some elaborate cooking without a Coleman stove?

The long fire is a very interesting build and it presents some benefits that other fires simply cannot match. I have always looked at it as a communal fire for larger groups. Did I mention that you can build a long fire without even having cutting tools?

A group of people warming by the long fire

In this post, I am going to teach you how to build your own long fire. This could be a fun weekend project or the big fire you and your group gather around to cook an awesome camping meal and watch the stars.

What is a Long Fire

The long fire is an interesting way to build a fire using two large logs that run parallel with a fire built between the two of them. This area between the two logs is where your initial fire will burn. These two larger logs can both act as a source of fuel for the fire as it grows.

However, the two logs running parallel can offer something of a cooking surface, too. The area between the two logs is hot with fire and coals the logs keep anything you put on them elevated above the fire. It’s a very cool design.

The length of the long fire also means that multiple people or camps can utilize this length of fire. It is hardly a one-person fire.

Multiple people sitting along a fire

How to Make a Long Fire

Building the long fire is a pretty simple ordeal for a couple of people. You are going to want to find two logs that are about the same size and small enough that you can move them. The long fire is best built with some help.

A back injury is the last thing you want in a survival situation.

You are also going to need two smaller branches that are between 2-3 inches in diameter. These are going to be used to keep the long logs up off the ground. This way you can get some good airflow to the fire.

Clear the ground for your fire and then lay these two branches down first. They should be separated so that each end of the logs will be sat upon the branches. Turn these branches so they are perpendicular to the logs when you set them in place.

Next, you are going to place the logs on top of these sticks. You can put a notch in the logs if you are worried about them rolling at all. The notch can be fitted over the sticks. If the logs seem sturdy then you can move to the next step.

At this point, you are going to fill the space between the logs with twigs, tinder, and some kindling. Then you are going to start a fire between the logs. Once the fire gets rolling you are in business. From here you can feed that fire in the center from time to time but you have pretty much succeeded with your long fire.

Limited Wood Processing

The biggest benefit of a long fire is the fact that you can do minimal wood processing to get this fire started and going. You can search around the woods and find a couple of fallen logs that are big enough to make this type of fire work. Just make sure they are not dry rotted or punky as they will not be good. You are after large branches or small trees that have just fallen.

You will have to collect enough kindling and some fuel to keep the fire going but you could create a long fire with no tools at all! That is what I call a survival fire. I would look for standing dead trees, small ones, that I could push over to create the base of this fire if I had no cutting tools.

Of course, having an axe or a folding saw would make this fire much easier to build but even if you had no real cutting tools you could get a long fire going. Remember, this could be a fire that services more than one party of survivors. A fire of this size also puts off considerable heat.

Long Fire

How to Use the Long Fire

The long-log fire is one of the best builds for cooking. You can easily throw a metal grate on top of the two logs and start grilling or cooking on it. You could also put the logs close enough to accommodate things like cast iron cookware. Don’t forget you can make this fire long enough to have many people cooking on this one long fire.

Another great way to use the long fire is to dry clothing. The nature of the fire is such that you could drive two larger stakes in the ground, on either end of the fire, and using paracord create a “clothesline” to hang wet clothes or blankets on.

You could also build the long fire a couple logs high. Rather than just using two logs you could use four and stake them in place. This would make for a great fire to heat camp overnight while you got some sleep.

Campfire cooking grate by fire

The Long Fire Has it’s Advantages

There are undoubtedly fires that work well for certain situations. The long fire is great for a group and one of the very best for setting up camp and cooking with multiple pots and grates. You could definitely turn this into a “field kitchen” kind of situation.

Being able to build a fire from just two main parts rather than having to split or find lots of pieces of wood has its benefits, too. Use that to your advantage. Remember, a true survival situation is a game of calorie management. You might have an axe but expending the energy to use it might not be your best bet.

Go here for more information about Campfires and Survival fires.