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Lean-To Fire

Camp Skills


A lean-to fire is one of the most underused and underappreciated fire-building procedures. This technique is great for days that are a bit windy or even when it’s starting to rain. The stacking method here will help block wind and rain from your tinder while you get it started. This also allows the heat to start burning the main log right away.

How to build a lean-to fire


Unlike most fires, a lean-to fire requires you to have one live branch to go along with the typical dry firewood. You can either break a branch off a tree or find a stick on the ground that is still green on the inside.

  1. Place a large log in the center of your fire pit and lay your live branch leaning on it with the center of the live stick in the center of the log. This should resemble a teeter totter. If you only have smaller pieces of wood to work with, you can use a rock for this part as well.

  2. Place another large log (or rock if that’s what is needed) on the end of the stick that is up wind from the rest of the fire to anchor that end down.

  3. Begin placing small sticks leaning on the downwind side of the live stick, alternating sides as you go. You will want these sticks to be about the diameter of your wrist. This will be the first layer to burn and will need to be able to feed the larger pieces of wood on the outside.

  4. Place another layer of large sticks and logs against these sticks in the same manner increasing the size of the sticks as you go until you get to the largest pieces of wood.

  5. Place your tinder and kindling inside the lean-to you just made, close to the large log that your stick is resting on.


Light the fire from the inside! This fire should get going pretty quickly and last for a while. Remember that the idea of any fire is to first ignite the small dry stuff that will burn fast and hot. This then heats the next size and begins burning that. The large logs on the outside need a lot of heat to ignite, but they burn much longer than smaller sticks and pieces of wood.


Do you have any fire-making tips or tricks you'd like to share? Tell us in the comments!

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