In general, you’ll find that you need between 2 and 5 bundles of firewood per day for your campfire. However, you may need more wood if you plan to have a fire going for more than just a few hours each night.
A roaring fire at the end of a long day of hiking is one of the most enjoyable parts of any camping trip. However, crafting that perfect campfire requires having enough wood to keep it properly fueled for hours on end.
If you’re asking yourself, “How much firewood do I need for my upcoming camping trip?” worry not, we’re here to help.
In fact, most campers will find that they need between 2 and 5 bundles of firewood per day, or about 1 bundle an hour for their campground campfire. That being said, if you plan on using your campfire for cooking, as opposed to a more efficient camping woodstove, you may want to pack slightly more wood for each day of your camping trip.
To ensure that you always have enough firewood for your future adventures, we’ve put together this detailed guide to doing just that. Coming right up, we’ll do a deep dive into the world of campfires and answer all your burning questions on the subject so that you can be prepared for any eventuality.
How Much Firewood Do I Need For Camping?
If you’re planning a camping trip, one of your biggest concerns is figuring out how much firewood you actually need to pack each day. While there’s no one-size fits all answer to how much firewood you’ll need, we can offer you some general guidance to help you make a decision based on your unique situation.
For a quick estimate of how much firewood you’ll need for camping, check out the chart below:
|Total Campfire |
Duration Per Night
|Amount of Firewood|
|Amount of Firewood |
|1 hour||1 bundle (4-5 logs)||1 bundle (4-5 logs)|
|2 hours||1 to 2 bundles (4-10 logs)||2 to 3 bundles (10-15 logs)|
|4 hours||2 to 4 bundles (10-20 logs)||3 to 5 bundles (15-25 logs)|
|6 hours||4 to 6 bundles (20-30 logs)||5 to 7 bundles (25-35 logs)|
|8 hours||6 to 8 bundles (30-40 logs)||7 to 9 bundles (35-45 logs)|
How To Determine How Much Firewood You Need For Camping
As you can see, the amount of wood you’ll need depends quite a bit on the duration of your fire and whether or not you plan to do some campfire cooking. However, this is just a rough estimate and there are many more factors that go into determining how much firewood you’ll need.
Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind as you plan your trip:
Although our chart above helps you get an idea of how much firewood you ought to pack for a single campfire, it’s important to remember that this is only an estimate for a single night of camping. As you can imagine, the longer the camping trip, the more wood and kindling you’ll likely need for your fire.
As a result, we recommend multiplying the estimates we’ve listed above by the number of nights you plan to spend outside. Doing so should give you a good approximation of how much wood you might need for your trip.
Piggybacking off of our last point about the length of your camping trip, some of the other major factors that affect how much wood you need are your personal campfire habits. Indeed, both the frequency of your campfires and how long each campfire lasts has a big impact on how much wood you need.
For example, someone who enjoys having a fire every single night for 5 or 6 hours will certainly need more wood than another camper that enjoys the occasional short campfire before bed.
So, when using our chart to approximate how much wood you might need, try to average out the number of hours you spend by the campfire each evening to estimate your usual wood consumption.
One of the most important, yet overlooked, factors that affects firewood consumption is the purpose of your fire, whether that’s for warmth or cooking.
Simply put, campfires that are used for cooking will require more wood than those that are mostly designed for warmth or aesthetics. Since campfire cooking is an energy-intensive pursuit, you’ll want to pack more wood to ensure that you have enough fuel to cook up a gourmet meal.
Local Weather Conditions
Wet and windy conditions are known to wreak havoc on campfires. Therefore, if foul weather conditions are expected, you’ll likely need to budget more wood for your camping trip.
In general, when camping in the rain or in a very windy environment, we’d recommend packing a bundle of extra firewood and kindling each day. That’s because wet and windy conditions reduce the burning efficiency of your fire, leading to increased wood consumption over time.
Wood Moisture Content
As we’ve mentioned, wet conditions are less than ideal for campfires. But, even if it’s bright and sunny outside, having wet firewood can also be a non-starter for your bonfire.
In fact, damp firewood is one of the single biggest factors that affects how efficiently a fire can burn. Ultimately, the drier the wood, the better it will burn, and the more easily you’ll be able to start your campfire.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid chopping down trees or collecting fresh green wood for your campfire. This type of wood is too damp to burn efficiently, so it’s difficult to light and it’s likely to produce a lot of smoke – not fun!
Alternatively, the best wood you can get for a campfire is dried, seasoned wood, like what you’d get if you purchase a bundle of firewood at a campground store. This wood generally has a moisture content of no more than 20%, which is best for fires.
That being said, if you plan to collect wood for your fire locally (more on that in a bit), you may want to consider packing a moisture meter, like the Dr.Meter Wood Moisture Meter. These devices will give you a quick estimate of the moisture percentage of any wood you collect, so you can limit the amount of dry firewood you use in your bonfire.
Finally, seasonality (i.e., whether you’re camping in the winter or the summer) also has an impact on your firewood consumption.
For example, if you’re going winter camping, you may find that you need more to pack more wood than if you’re camping during the summer months. Although not everyone will have fires while winter camping, if you’re planning on building a campfire for warmth during the colder months of the year, you could end up using a whole lot of wood each day.
Moreover, if there’s snow on the ground or in the forecast, your firewood will burn less efficiently during the winter months than in the summer. Thus, for cold weather camping destinations, we’d recommend budgeting about 25% more wood each day than you’d need for summertime adventures.
Although this factor might not necessarily affect the precise amount of firewood you bring while camping, it can affect whether or not you have a campfire in the first place. While most developed campgrounds do allow fires in fire pits, it’s worth remembering that fire bans can happen, particularly in the summer months.
As a result, it’s imperative that you check with local land managers to ensure that you’re allowed to have a fire on your camping trip before you spend time and money collecting wood for your fire.
What Kind Of Firewood Should I Use For A Campfire?
Once you’ve determined how much firewood you need to bring on your camping trip, your next task is to figure out precisely what type of wood you should use. When it comes to campfires, there are 2 primary types of wood to choose from:
Technically speaking, hardwood is any type of wood that comes from a dicot tree. If we want to get a bit nitpicky, we can say that a dicot tree is basically any type of woody flowering plant that has a layer of growing cells between the inner wood (cambium) and the bark.
While this might all sound like mumbo jumbo to most of us, dicot trees (a.k.a. hardwoods) are trees like oak, hickory, ash, and beech that have visible growth rings in their trunk.
Hardwoods are generally preferred for use in fires because they burn much more slowly. Nevertheless, they can be trickier to ignite than their softwood counterparts and they’re generally much more expensive.
While hardwoods are dicot trees, softwoods are what are known as gymnosperm trees. These trees, which include pines, spruces, firs, and yews, are almost all other conifers, which means that they produce cones which carry their seeds for reproduction.
That being said, it’s important to note that softwoods aren’t inherently “softer” than hardwoods. In fact, some softwood trees, such as Douglas firs and longleaf pines, are much harder than some hardwoods, like balsa, the latter of which is popular in woodworking when wood needs to be bent into unique shapes.
Generally speaking, softwoods are easier to ignite than hardwoods and they burn much faster. This makes them ideal to use in wet conditions, where starting a fire can be tricky, but less useful when you’re trying to make a single bundle of wood last for a long time.
However, the main advantage of using softwoods in a campfire is their affordability. Since many hardwoods are prized for their quality when it comes to woodworking and construction, they tend to be quite pricey.
Meanwhile, softwoods are much more affordable. So, you’ll usually find that the firewood bundles you purchase are usually primarily composed of affordable softwoods rather than pricey hardwoods.
Where To Get Firewood For A Camping Trip
At this point, you understand how much firewood you need for your camping trip and the differences between the different types of wood. But, where do you get firewood for a camping trip, you might ask?
Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
Option 1: Purchase Firewood
Perhaps the easiest way to get firewood for a camping trip is to purchase it in a bundle. Doing so gives you quick and easy access to pre-cut and well-dried wood that’s ready to be placed on a fire.
Of course, the primary advantage of purchasing firewood is the convenience. When you purchase wood, you don’t have to cut it, dry it, or search for it in the forest. Like all conveniences, however, purchasing wood can be surprisingly expensive.
In fact, you may find that you pay up to $10 for a single bundle of wood, though the average price ranges from $5 to $7. Needless to say, buying wood can get pricey very quickly, especially if you’re planning a longer camping trip. However, depending on local regulations, it may be your only option.
Now, if you’re wondering where you can buy firewood, you have 2 options:
- Buy At The Campground. Most campgrounds will have a small store that sells essentials, such as firewood bundles. These bundles tend to be pricier than what you might find elsewhere but they have the convenience of being at the campground, ready for you to use. In general, if you’re going to buy firewood, it’s best to do so at the campground or at a store within a 20 mile (32km) radius of your campsite. That’s because transporting firewood over long distances can lead to the spread of invasive species.
- Purchase Wood At Home. If you’re not interested in buying firewood at your campground or if you know wood won’t be available, your other option is to purchase wood from a store near your home. Most hardware stores and some gas stations will sell firewood, often for a cheaper price than what you’d get at the campground. However, as we’ve mentioned we do not recommend that anyone transport firewood over a distance that’s greater than 20 miles (32km). Doing so can wreak havoc on local ecosystems and is actually prohibited by many land managers.
Option 2: Collect Firewood
If purchasing firewood isn’t feasible for your camping trip, your other option is to collect it at your campsite. While this option has the major advantage of being very affordable (your costs are more or less non-existent), it is the decidedly more time-consuming option.
Collecting firewood can be an affordable and convenient way to have a fire, especially if you’re backpacking and don’t want to carry wood to your campsite. However, do be sure to check local regulations in your camping area to ensure that you’re allowed to collect firewood before you start your search.
Additionally, collecting firewood near your campsite isn’t the free-for-all that it might sound like. Although you could just pick up any piece of wood that you find, doing so can have negative environmental consequences.
Therefore, the fine folks at Leave No Trace (LNT) encourage us to follow 4 simple guidelines, known as the 4 Ds of firewood collection. These guidelines state that any wood you collect should be:
- Dead. Opt for wood that’s already dead rather than cutting down live trees – except in a life-threatening emergency.
- Downed. Choose firewood that’s on the ground rather than cutting down a standing dead tree.
- Dinky. Firewood that’s smaller in diameter than the size of your wrist is more likely to burn completely in a campfire.
- Distance. Try not to limit your firewood search to the immediate vicinity of your campsite. Walk further away from your site to find wood to ensure that we campers don’t completely strip an area of logs and branches, which provide essential nutrients for natural ecosystems.
If you’re collecting wood for backcountry camping, Leave No Trace also recommends building a mound fire rather than a fire ring to help lessen your impact on the environment. Check out this video to see how mound fires work before your next backpacking trip:
How To Store Firewood While Camping
Once you’re at your campsite with your firewood in hand, your chief concern should be storing your firewood properly so it burns as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
While storing wood at home may be fairly straight forward, figuring out how to keep your firewood dry in camp isn’t always easy. Indeed, with the wind and the rain conspiring against you, it’s important that you have a plan in place to store your firewood properly.
In general, the best way to store wood at a campsite is to use a tarp, like the B-Air Grizzly Tarp, to create a waterproof shelter. Depending on how much wood you need to store, we’d recommend either wrapping your firewood up in the tarp or creating a tarp shelter, like you see in this video:
Alternatively, if you don’t have a tarp in your camping gear list, your next best bet is to store your firewood under a picnic table, in your tent vestibule, or a large tree. The key is to shelter your wood as much as possible to prevent it from getting soaked in the rain.
How To Make Your Firewood Last Longer
For many of us, packing or buying dozens of bundles of firewood for a weeklong camping trip isn’t feasible. So, it’s critical that you know what you can do to make your firewood last longer on your adventures.
If you find that your fires burn too quickly while you’re camping, consider doing the following on your next trip:
1. Make A Smaller Fire
Making a smaller fire is a great way to reduce firewood consumption. Whenever possible, make a fire that’s no more than 3 feet (90cm) wide to limit the amount of wood you need to keep it going. Many campground fire pits are larger than this size, so you may have to be a bit conservative when making your fire.
2. Block The Wind
Wind is the enemy of any long-lasting fire. That’s because the extra oxygen from the wind causes the fire to burn more rapidly, burning through your logs faster than you’d like. So, try to build your campfire in a location that’s naturally sheltered from the wind to slow down the burn rate of your fire.
3. Reduce Airflow Into The Fire
Building off our last point about wind and oxygen consumption, if you notice that your fire is burning too quickly, you may need to try to reduce the amount of air entering the fire itself. You can do so by using a poker stick to re-arrange the logs of the fire, putting them closer together to reduce the amount of air getting to the embers.
4. Opt For Larger Logs
Finally, larger logs tend to burn more slowly than smaller logs, which makes them ideal for use in campfires. However, since LNT guidelines recommend only collecting wood that’s smaller than your wrist, we’d only encourage you to use larger logs if you’re purchasing them in a bundle from a store.
How Much Firewood Should I Bring Camping?
Ultimately, the amount of firewood you need for your camping trip depends on a number of factors, such as the length of your trip, what you plan to use your fire for, and the weather conditions you’ll face. For most campers, 2 to 5 bundles of firewood a day (10 to 25 logs) should be sufficient, but your needs will vary based on your personal campfire habits.
How Much Firewood Is In A Bundle?
Most bundles of firewood come with 4 to 5 small logs of dry wood. These logs are usually about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13cm) in diameter and about 12 to 16 inches (31 to 40cm) long.
How To Gather Firewood Around Your Campsite?
If you want to gather firewood around your campsite, you should first ensure that you’re allowed to collect firewood in your campground as not all land managers allow this practice.
Once you figure out whether or not you’re allowed to collect firewood, it’s best to look for sticks and logs that are dead, downed, and no larger than the diameter of your wrist. Doing so helps to limit your impact on the environment by ensuring that you’re taking only small bits of wood that aren’t attached to live trees.
Is It OK To Leave Firewood Uncovered?
It’s okay to leave firewood uncovered while at your campsite, but it’s not ideal, especially if rain is in the forecast. Since wet wood is harder to light and is more likely to produce a smoky fire, keeping your firewood covered while in camp will likely result in a better campfire experience.
What Kind Of Wood Should I Use?
Pretty much any type of dry wood is good to use in a campfire in a pinch, though hardwoods tend to be better than softwoods. Regardless, the key to any fire is to use wood that is as dry as possible to ensure a cleaner, less smoky burn.
What Is The Best Firewood For Campfire Cooking?
The best firewood for campfire cooking is any dry and seasoned hardwood, such as hickory, birch, oak, maple, and elm. However, nearly any type of wood will work for your campfire cooking so long as you avoid fresh, green wood since the extra moisture content will make your fire smoky rather than hot.