Essential Skills for Men – Esquire’s Fire Building Omission

Esquire Magazine published a list of 50 essential skills that every Man should possess.  They range from being able to tie a bow tie to jump starting a car to describing wine.  #51 jumped out at me – starting a campfire!

#51. Build a campfire.  There are three components:

  1. The tinder — bone-dry, snappable twigs, about as long as your hand. You need two complete handfuls. Try birch bark; it burns long and hot.
  2. The kindling — thick as your thumb, long as your forearm, breakable with two hands. You need two armfuls.
  3. Fuel wood — anything thick and long enough that it can’t be broken by hand. It’s okay if it’s slightly damp. You need a knee-high stack.

Step 1: Light the tinder, turning the pile gently to get air underneath it.
Step 2: Feed the kindling into the emergent fire with some pace.
Step 3: Lay on the fuel wood. Pyramid, the log cabin, whatever — the idea is to create some kind of structure so that plenty of air gets to the fire.

So what’s wrong with this picture?  THE PLATFORM!  I don’t care if you are winter camping, back country camping or building a fire in your outdoor fireplace – Step 1 is paying attention to base the fire is going to sit on.  Len the Fire Master preaches “Get It Off The Ground”, especially if it is damp and/or cold.

Esquire offered no opportunity to comment on their article.  Too bad, as I would suggest that Winter Camping should be on their list of essential skills.

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