Lean-to Fire

Not every fire building technique will work for every situation.  The lean-to fire is a great design for windy situations.  It provides a built-in wind block and allows for you to continually add fuel as the fire grows.  Here’s how to build one.


  1. Gather all your tinder, kindling and fuel before trying to start the fire.
  2. Take the log with the largest diameter that you have available and lay it in position, perpendicular to the direction the wind is blowing. This will serve as a wind block to help get the fire started, and as your bed of coals grows this log will also serve as fuel.
  3. Place your tinder bundle near the large windbreak log, on the side that is shielded from the wind. Leave enough room between the tinder bundle and the log for oxygen to flow.
  4. Lean small pieces of kindling against the large windbreak log. This is where the name lean-to comes from.
  5. At this point, with larger fuel gathered and laid to the side, you can start your tinder bundle.
  6. As your kindling catches, add more fuel, gradually increasing the size of the fuel as the fire gets bigger and more coals are produced. This is the drawback to the lean-to design, it requires more attention than other fires like the tee-pee or the log cabin fire.  But if you slowly establish a good bed of coals you can add fuel slowly and even in high wind and wet conditions you can have a steady and even slow burning fire.


The lean-to fire will require a little adaptation to cook on.  But it’s great for providing warmth and light.  The log that serves as a windbreak will also help reflect the heat towards you.  Just one more fire building technique to put in your knowledge pack.

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