Mom Goes Camping

How to Make a Fire in the Rain

how to make a fire in the rain

Campfires are meant to keep you warm.  When it rains, it gets really cold in the woods.  So it would be logical that you’d really want to make a fire when it rains.  It would seem like this is a Catch 22, but it is actually quite easy to make a fire in the rain.  The problem is keeping a fire going in the rain.  Don’t worry.  Follow these steps on how to make a fire in the rain and you’ll have a roaring fire despite the wetness.


Step 1: Choose the Right Spot

If you use the right fire lay, you can easily get a fire going in the rain.   The problem is that the rain will quickly douse out your fire.  Since your wood will get all wet, you’ll also end up with a lot of smoke.

In light rains, this isn’t really an issue because the raindrops will evaporate before hitting the fire.  Or, if you build a HUGE fire, then even the water from a huge downpour will evaporate before it hits the flames.  But I doubt you want to go and collect that much firewood when it is pouring rain. 😉

To keep your fire going in the rain, you’ll need some sort of natural protection.  Don’t do anything stupid like trying to make your fire under your tent’s rain fly.  You’ll end up burning down your tent.  Instead…

  • Look for natural outcroppings to build your fire under, like under thick tree branches, under uprooted trees, or a cliff overhang
  • Prop layers of fuel wood over your fire pit.  These will keep rain from getting to the fire below.
  • Build a loue tent with your tarp
Make your fire at the mouth of the loue tent to keep the rain out of it.

Make your fire at the mouth of the loue tent to keep the rain out of it.


Step 2: Find Dry Tinder and Kindling

Tinder = small, fluffy, dry and ignites very easily (not the dating site 😉 )

Kindling = small branches and twigs; you use your tinder to light the kindling

Fuelwood = larger pieces of wood that keep your fire burning

It doesn’t matter if your fuel wood is wet.  Just put it near the fire and it will dry out.  But your tinder and kindling must be dry if they are going to ignite.

Even if it is pouring rain, you can still probably find dry tinder and some kindling.  Look underneath piles of brush. Look under dense trees.

What if it is so wet that you really can’t find any dry tinder???

Use your survival knife (you have one, don’t you?) to baton dead branches. It basically means that you split the wood down the middle.  Voila!  Inside the branch you will find dry wood.  Use your knife to shave off some tinder.  Or, take it a step further and make a feather stick.  The video shows you how to do it.


Or Make Your Own Firestarter

Or forget about finding dry tinder.  Be prepared like a scout and bring a firestarter along.  Some options:

  • Dryer lint
  • Cotton ball with petroleum jelly: Rub some petroleum jelly on a cotton ball and then wrap it up in a piece of tinfoil.  When it’s time to light your fire, just cut an X in the tinfoil and light.  The petroleum jelly will burn for a while.
  • Tea bags dipped in wax
Tea bag dipped in wax makes a great firestarter

Tea bag dipped in wax makes a great firestarter


Step 3:  Lay the Fire in the Rain

  • Get your kindling off the wet ground! The wet ground will extinguish your tinder and kindling.  Get them off the wet ground by laying a layer of sticks on the ground as a platform.  Or scrape away the top layer of wet earth to expose dry dirt.
  • Protect your kindling from getting wet. The lean-to campfire lay is great for wet conditions.  This basically means that build up layers of kindling.  The top layers protect the bottom layers from getting wet. The fire will burn from bottom-to-top, instead of top-to-bottom like with the standard tipi fire lay.
  • Make sure your fire is getting enough air.  Because you are covering your fire to keep the rain out, it might not get enough air.  If your fire isn’t getting air, it will emit carbon monoxide as it burns.   Since you are outdoors, you probably aren’t going to get poisoned but still not worth the risk.
The lean-to fire lay keeps the tinder and lower-levels of kindling dry.

I made this lean-to fire because it was windy, but the figuration also works well to keep rain off your fire. You’ll have to continuously add kindling/fuel wood to the top.


It was raining lightly this day, so I just propped a big log over the burning kindling.

It was raining lightly this day, so I just propped a big log over the burning kindling. The kindling then lit the underside of the log!


Bonus Tip:

If you really want to stay warm from your fire in the rain, make a fire reflector.  This can be done by making your fire next to a cliff.  Or you can make a “wall” out of sticks.  The heat from the fire will bounce off the reflector and keep you toasty warm.

The wall of branches reflects the heat from the fire and keeps wind out of it.

The wall of branches reflects the heat from the fire and keeps wind out of it.

Image credits:
0T8A5116” (CC BY 2.0) by  Phototaking101
Campfire in Rain” (CC BY 2.0) by  RichardBH
Erected loue (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Creidiki
10. Waxed tea bag alight” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by coconinoco


What other tips do you have for making a campfire in the rain?


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About the author /

Diane Vukovic is an avid traveler, outdoor enthusiast, beetle lover, sometimes sculptress, couchsurfer, and loves finding ways to explain complex topics to her 6-year old daughter. Follow MomGoesCamping on Facebook and Twitter @MomGoesCamping to stay in touch!

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  1. Name *

    Empty 12 shot gun shells with a piece of candle inside make great fire starters and hold up well in a back pack or bug out Bag,
    Char cloth made from old t shirts (look it up on line) with frayed hemp rope and dryer lent make a great “birds nest” to hold a spark when using flint and steel to start a fire. Make sparks into the “birds nest” with the wind at your back and raise the nest to shoulder height and blow gently. when the nest bursts into flame shove it under your kindling. No you wont catch on fire if you pay attention.

    • Diane

      Thanks for the comment. These are great ideas! I should really start saving my dryer lint. It’s probably better coated in Vaseline than cotton balls (another great fire starter), and free. 😀

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