Tee-Pee Fire

When I write about a particular fire building method I usually mention that if the only fire you know how to build is a tee-pee fire then you don’t know enough about fire to stand much of a chance in the wilderness.  But that’s not at all to say that the tee-pee fire is not a useful technique, there are cases in which you would be better off with a tee-pee fire than other fire builds.  This is the proper technique to a tee-pee fire and when you would want to use this method above others.


  1. As always you want to start by gathering all material before you attempt to light anything. As a guide, you should always have at least a fist size amount of tinder, and a bundle of kindling as thick as your thigh, consisting of pieces the size of your fingers.
  2. Place the tinder on clear dry ground, or in wet conditions place it on a floor of split logs. Fluff it up so that it will light easily and quickly.  If you are using methods of fire starting other than matches or a lighter you will need to start the tinder now, if you using matches or a lighter you can start building the tee-pee now.
  3. Start building a cone or tee-pee around your tinder, allowing for both airflow, and room enough to get your match or lighter in to ignite the tinder. Start with the thinnest pieces of kindling that you have and gradually build up to larger pieces.
  4. Place at least four pieces of larger wood on/around your kindling tee-pee in a way that they provide each other with support.
  5. All you have to do now is light it and add wood as needed.

The tee-pee is a useful method in wet conditions because the shape of the build minimizes the amount of heat loss.  Almost all heat produced by the fire that is not radiating out to you is rising and coming in contact with more fuel.  It is also a useful technique for providing warmth for a group of people that are sitting around the fire and won’t fit on one side of the fire.

The tee-pee fire is a great fire to start with if you don’t have any other experience.  If you don’t have much skill in fire building, don’t get discouraged, start with the tee-pee and just get outside and practice this technique and others so that your skills can grow for direct experience.

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