Knowing your options when it comes to getting a flame going during your camping trip is important, especially if you’re dedicated to camping in colder weather.

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Here are three ways in which fire comes in handy, from the obvious conveniences (that become necessities in winter) to some lesser-known tips:

    • Getting a campfire going for good ol’ camping ambiance, aka s’mores and sing-a-longs.
      However, it’s important to note that not all parks/camping grounds allow campfires and dry or windy weather conditions in your local area may invoke a burn ban. Before your trip, always call the site or research online to double check in advance for a campfire OK-go. For example, there are currently 60 counties in Texas with burn bans in effect (as of publishing this article)! It’d be unfortunate, and possibly dangerous in the winter, to show up to the camping grounds ready to get a campfire started and have no back-up plan. If you’re planning on a campfire, here are the basics of getting one started, along with some other important some information, provided by the National Park Service.
    • Heating warm meals: Warm Backpackers Pantry meals require that you either add boiling water or add water and cook over heat. Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, anyone? Relatively simple for some fine dining in the backcountry! 😉 
  • Making a DIY heater for your tent: Put boiling water in a non-insulated water bottle, like the CamelBak Chute 1.5 L, wrap the bottle in a sock to prevent burning yourself, and then put the bottle in your sleeping bag for extra warmth throughout the night!

So what are the fire-related essentials to pack before a camping trip?

First and foremost, a way to get the fire going: waterproof matches (consider our UCO Stormproof Match kit), a reliable lighter or a powerful emergency fire starter. None of these are big expenses; considering that fire-starting materials are considered camping essentials, consider bringing them all along on a trip. The more options, the better.

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UCO Stormproof Match Kit
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Ultimate Survival Floating Lighter

Bringing a decent supply of highly flammable material to start a fire is a crucial safety measure, especially in the winter. We’ve got a lot of options to help you in an emergency situation/unfavorable conditions or just to kickstart your campfire, including InstaFire Fire Starter Solid Fuel, Light My Fire TinderDust, or Ultimate Survival WetFire Fire Starting Tinder. While firestarters may slightly differ in the time that they burn or the material they’re made out of, you’re going to be good to go with whatever you pick. Just make sure you bring some!

While the most orthodox campers may view camping stoves as a luxury, they turn into necessities for winter camping when the ability to have hot meals and drinks (or a way to melt snow into water) is a pre-requisite for a pleasant time. The technical details of different cooking systems can get overwhelming. Here’s what you need to know for winter camping: The most convenient 3-season camping stoves don’t perform too well in super cold conditions (below 20 F). Products like JetBoil’s MiniMo cooking system (and JetBoil upright canister stoves in general) boil water quickly and are popular for being the most lightweight and portable stoves on the market, but the fuel they use is susceptible to freezing.

That being said, if you live in a region with warm winters like we do (we’re looking at high 40s most nights), go ahead and pack your canister stove! And here’s a pro tip: You can use canister stoves in freezing temperatures, if you take a few precautionary steps to keep the canister warm.

Liquid fuel (white gas) stoves, like the MSR Dragonfly Stove, work best in freezing temperatures, for melting snow and if you’re cooking for large groups of people. The cons of these cooking systems are that they’re relatively bulkier, heavier and more difficult to use than canisters, but they’re well-worth it if you’re big into cold weather camping.

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MSR Dragonfly Stove

So to recap, make sure your winter camping trip is comfortable and safe by packing a match, lighter, firestarters, and a stove designed for colder weather.

We’re going to leave you with this big no-no that we wish went without saying:

Never cook inside your tent! Even if you’re really, really cold.