Upside-Down Fire

As I’ve said before, if all you know about fire is the tee-pee camp fire, then you don’t know enough about fire to survive in anything be the most ideal scenario.  The more versatile your fire building skills are, the better chance of survival you have in a variety of scenarios.  The amount of, and the type of fuel available to you in the wilderness will not always be the same.  Likewise, the purpose of your fire, and the weather conditions that you are going to be using it in will change.  For times when you will need a slow burning fire that requires little to no maintenance, the upside-down fire is a great option.  Here’s how to get one started.


  1. First, you will need to gather all your fuel, this fire will need to be set up completely before starting.
  2. Begin by arranging the largest pieces that you have on the bottom layer. Full round logs are great for the bottom.  Lay several of them parallel with each other, but unlike the log cabin fire, these pieces should be touching.  This bottom layer needs to be as large as you can make it since it will serve as a foundation for the rest of your fire.
  3. Gradually decreasing in diameter and length, add additional layers. Each layer should slightly smaller than the layer beneath it and perpendicular to it.
  4. When you have gotten to a layer that is less than 12’ square, lay your kindling down. Then your tinder on top of your kindling layer with only a few pieces of kindling saved to put on top of the tinder when it catches.
  5. Start the tinder as you normally would, put some kindling on top of it, and blow until it has all caught.

Because the fuel source is beneath the heat of the flames and only the coals will have contact with new fuel, the fire burns slowly.  This build is not good when your fuel is wet.  A upside-down fire can burn for hours without any attention, this makes them great for signal fires since you can start one and then head to the next two without worrying that the first will go out.  They are also great when you need to get a shelter built and can’t spend time tending to the fire.

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