A Hunter’s Guide to Starting Fires in the Wet Wilderness

Camper man sitting in front of a campfire in the rain

Hunters, we’ve all been there – a sudden downpour soaks everything, and you’re left in the wilderness, cold and damp, in desperate need of a fire.

Whether it’s to cook a warm meal or to keep hypothermia at bay, knowing how to start a fire in wet conditions is a vital survival skill. In this guide, I’ll share some tricks I’ve picked up during my time in the wild that can help you kindle a blaze even when Mother Nature seems determined to douse your flames.  

Gather Dry Tinder

lighting a fire with tinder

The first step to starting a fire in wet conditions is finding dry tinder. Look for dead twigs, leaves, or grass that might be sheltered from the rain under logs or rocks. The drier you can find, the better. If you have a knife or multitool, you can also shave the wet outer layers off sticks to reveal the dry wood inside.

Build a Windbreak

Wet conditions often come with gusty winds that can make lighting a fire even harder. Build a windbreak using rocks, logs, or even your backpack to shield your fire from the wind. This will protect your flame and keep it focused on drying out your wet fuel.

Use Fire Starters

Starting A Campfire With A Fire Striker

Fire starters like cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, waterproof matches, or lighter cubes can be a lifesaver in wet conditions. These are designed to ignite even when wet, making them an essential addition to your hunting gear. Keep them in a waterproof container to ensure they stay dry.

Feather Sticks

Creating feather sticks is a technique that can help you ignite damp wood. Use your knife to carefully carve thin curls or feathers along the length of a dry stick. These fine shavings catch fire more easily and can help dry out the wetter wood you’ll use for your fire.

Dry Your Fuel

wet wood in the rain firewood fuel wood

Before attempting to light a fire, take some time to dry out your fuel. You can do this by hanging wet wood near the heat source or placing it in your shelter to protect it from further moisture. Drier fuel catches fire faster and burns more efficiently.

Keep It Small

When starting a fire in wet conditions, remember that smaller is often better. A smaller fire requires less heat to dry out its fuel and get going. Once it’s established, you can gradually add larger pieces of wood.

Starting a fire in wet conditions is a challenging but essential skill for hunters. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can conquer the elements and enjoy the warmth and comfort of a crackling campfire, even when the weather is doing its best to keep you soaked. Stay safe, stay dry, and keep those fires burning, hunters!