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Go Low-Impact in the Backcountry with a Dakota Fire Hole

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The Dakota fire hole is the perfect low impact fire for camp when a traditional fire just won’t do.  

Traditional campfires are great when sitting around your chosen campsite with friends, but they are not always the most practical. The Dakota fire hole is a great low key, low impact fire for the backcountry when all you need is something simple for cooking and boiling water.

The Dakota fire hole is exactly what its name implies: a fire built in a hole in the ground. With the addition of a vent hole made to connect to the main hole, this fire burns hotter, longer, and with less impact to the environment. Check out the video below for a tutorial on trying one yourself.

The Dakota fire hole may be more labor intensive to start, but has many advantages over a traditional fire, including:

  • Requires less wood to manage.
  • Easy to cook over.
  • Can be used to make a fire in windy conditions.
  • Burns hotter and more efficient than traditional fires.
  • Can easily be extinguished with the dirt used to dig it, as well as concealing that a fire was ever built.
  • Flame is harder to spot at night if stealth is required.

There are a few negatives when using the Dakota fire hole, especially if staying warm is your goal. Being built low in the ground, it cannot radiate heat around it, making it a poor choice for colder temperatures.

This type of setup is also extremely difficult to pull off when the ground is soaked or muddy as the tunnel for the secondary hole will often collapse in on itself. The moist soil can also soak into your wood after being placed in the hole and make keeping a fire going difficult.

Even with the few drawbacks that it can’t offer over a traditional campfire, the Dakota fire hole should be something everyone should take note of.

While there is no real wrong way to build a fire in a survival situation, having various options for different environments and conditions can give you a leg up when you need it most.

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Go Low-Impact in the Backcountry with a Dakota Fire Hole