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How to Build a Reverse Fire and Why You Should

All photos via Alex Burton

You may rethink how you build your campfires after trying the “reverse” fire technique. 

When most people go to build a fire they all follow the same rules. Tinder goes on the bottom, followed by small sticks, then slightly larger sticks, and so on until it hits your main logs. What if I told you the reverse of that could be the most efficient and easiest way to build a campfire?

Reverse fire building isn’t a new technique, but it is one that is often overlooked. It is as its name says, a reverse fire is the complete reversal of how we were taught, as I demonstrate in the photos below.

Logs are stacked on the bottom, and the tinder is lit on top so the fire burns down instead of up.

What you do:

1. Lay your ground logs as close together as possible.

This is your ground floor and final ember catch.


2. Lay another slightly smaller row of logs across your base logs, once again as close together as possible.


3. Lay a third row, slightly smaller than the last row of logs, across the middle layer.

I like to split logs in half for the top to make a somewhat flat surface to lay my tinder upon and work my fire.


4. Stand back and let it go.


While this technique is great to know, it does have its pros and cons. Here are a few things I learned from using the reverse fire technique.


  • Can be used in many different climates, even with damp to wet wood.
  • Easy to manage- Once you get it going you can really just sit back and watch it go. It pretty much feeds itself as it goes along layer to layer.
  • Produces more heat and a more even burn.


  • Requires more wood to start than a traditional fire.
  • Takes a little longer to get going over a traditional fire.

This is going to be my go-to build from now on while on camping trips with my family or just building a bonfire in the backyard. It will be nice to spend less time feeding the fire and more time enjoying it.

Try the reverse fire the next time you build one and see if you don’t question the traditional way just a little.

All photos taken by Alex Burton.



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How to Build a Reverse Fire and Why You Should