How To Light a Fire in the Rain When Backpacking

Backpacking and hiking have always been great recreational activities that can be done by those of all fitness levels.  This type of exercise is a great way to experience nature and get some fresh air, without the hustle and fuss of city conveniences.  Backpacking often means stopping to build a camp when the time comes to rest, and camps mean fire, to warm up and cook with, as well.  Under ordinary circumstances, lighting a fire is quite easy with matches or a lighter.  However, rain and other types of wet weather can make it quite difficult to warm the site if your fire can't be started in the rain.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, all hope is not lost; a fire can be lit in the rain, and you will be able to dry off and cook.  Should you be in an area where fires are permitted, try to find some dry materials that will fuel the fire.  It's best to always start backpacking with materials bundled in waterproof packaging inside your pack, but if that's not available, do the best you can.  Wood, leaves, paper - all of it is useful.  You can also pack an accelerant that will help get a fire started, such as a paste that specifically starts fires.  Waterproof matches are also an essential for starting a fire in the rain; however, if they're not available in an emergency situation, the regular matches or lighter need to be sheltered from the elements in order to get a good spark.  In this case, shield the flame with your backpack, jacket, shirt or some other form of cover that will help keep rain off the fire starter.

Should you not have already been carrying dry materials, once your fire is tentatively started, you'll need to spread wet timber around the fire to dry it out for stoking.  If you happen to have the paste with you to get a fire going, it will light up quickly, but timber or other dry materials will be needed to keep the fire alive, as the paste doesn't last very long.  If you must burn damp wood, make sure your fire is nice and strong before doing so; otherwise, the dampness will put out the fire, rather than help it along.

Patience is the key in keeping a fire going in the rain, as well as preparedness before attempting to backpack, especially if wet weather might be in the forecast.  It's not impossible to start a fire in the rain, but it can be extremely trying and frustrating if you don't follow a few key steps and keep a cool head.  Once your fire is glowing, dry out while congratulating yourself for starting a fire in the rain.


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