A great campfire is one of the best parts of camping. However, you need to know how much firewood to bring and where to find it. The last thing you want is to be short on firewood with no way to warm up at night.
You also need to know the dos and don’ts of gathering firewood and campfire safety. This post will cover everything you need to know about getting the right firewood for your camping trip.
My husband (and co-author) has an obsession with firewood. We always end up with way more firewood than we need.
It’s a serious pain because we are constantly loading and unloading firewood. So anyway, the point is to help you take a manageable amount of firewood on your next camping trip.
How Much Firewood Should You Bring Camping?
Many factors affect how much firewood you need to bring. You want to have enough not to run out, but getting more than you need is a hassle.
How Long Is Your Camping Trip?
If you are camping for several days or a week, you will need much more firewood than 1 or 2 nights of camping. On average, 1-2 bundles of firewood will get you about 2 hours of a warm fire. One bundle of wood is about 4-6 pieces of firewood.
If you plan on having one campfire every evening for several hours, you should get 3-4 bundles of firewood per night. This would get you about 4 hours of a good campfire.
If you were camping for five nights and having 4 hours of campfire per night, you’d need about 15-20 bundles of firewood. This sounds like a lot, but if you really want a good, lengthy fire in the evenings, you will need this much.
How Many Campfires Will You Have?
You need to plan how many campfires you will have on your trip. For example, do you want morning fires in addition to evening fires?
When the mornings are icy cold, having a low fire for several hours is nice. However, it doesn’t need to be as blazing as an evening campfire if you want a little warmth and ambiance.
If you need campfires to cook food, you will need at least two campfires per day. Campfires for cooking food need to be a little hotter than if you just need some warmth. Take that into account and bring another bundle of firewood per day.
How Cold and Wet Is the Weather?
If the weather is cold and damp, you will definitely need enough firewood. The wood burns faster in cold weather and won’t feel as hot if your body is really cold.
Because of the cold, you will toss more wood on the fire. Therefore, you will want to make your fire bigger and warmer. Keep in mind you will need more firewood for this.
If there is any chance of rain, you will want to cover your firewood with a tarp. You also can put some firewood under your vehicle to stay dry.
How Quickly Will My Wood Burn?
How quickly wood burns depends on the type of wood and how wet or dry it is. First of all, you don’t want your firewood to get wet. But, if it does, remove the outer layers until you get to dry wood. Then, dry the other wet wood close to your campfire.
Softwoods will burn the quickest. They will also leave finer ash in your firepit when done. Examples of softwoods are cedar, red fir, and pine. Spruce alder and poplar are also softwoods.
These woods are very lightweight and less dense. As a result, they light up much quicker than hardwoods. Softwoods are excellent to use at the beginning of your fire because they light up quickly.
As you can probably guess, softwoods don’t burn as long as harder woods. Softwoods are appropriate if you are looking for a quick, easy fire and don’t need it to last very long.
Hardwoods burn long and slow and are perfect for several hours of a steady campfire. Therefore, hardwoods would be the best choice if you want to burn your campfire all night.
Because hardwoods are so dense, they can be slow to start. Therefore, you must mix in some softwoods to act as a constant kindling to get an all-night fire going.
Some examples of the best hardwoods are oak, ash, walnut, hickory, and cherry. These woods are dense and packed with fuel. This is why they burn so long.
What Are the Campsite Rules?
Check with the campsite for any burn bans or campfire rules and regulations. For example, some campsites may only allow a campfire after a specific time of the day. They also may limit you if the weather is windy.
Different states and campsites will have rules about whether you can use fallen wood. Check with the forest service or the campsite host for guidelines.
If camping off-grid, you also need to know if having a campfire at your location is legal. Check with the forest service for any guidelines.
If you brought a fire pit, then great. If not, you will need a way to keep your fire contained safely. First of all, clear the area of any leaves or debris that could spread a fire. Next, dig a shallow pit and put rocks around the edges, using smaller rocks to fill in the gaps.
Always properly put your fire out when done. Stir up the coals with dirt and water until the coals are cold.
How Do You Get Firewood for Camping?
Do not bring firewood from your home to your campsite. It is actually illegal to transport firewood more than a few miles from where it was cut in many states.
Introducing non-native wood to an area can bring tree-killing bugs to the forest. These bugs crawl out from the wood and damage the forest. This is similar to how certain states will not allow the fruit to cross the borders.
Bringing in non-native bugs to an area can be devastating to the ecosystem. You also don’t want to bring any wood back to your home. Leave any remaining wood at the campsite.
Buy Your Firewood at the Campsite
Most campsites sell bundles of firewood right when you enter the campground. When you are checking in, just ask the camp host. This is convenient because you can buy another bundle whenever you need it.
It is a little pricey, though. You are paying for convenience. A bundle of firewood can cost $5-$10 per bundle. A bundle only has about 5-6 pieces of wood, so bring plenty of cash.
Buy Your Firewood From a Local Woodcutter
The term “local” can vary by region, so you must check the regulations for the area you will be camping in. Sometimes this can be within 50 miles of your campsite, but most likely, it’s much closer. The closer, the better. Check with the campsite for more information.
You can also use this handy map for state-by-state information regarding firewood regulations.
Before you head out camping, you can call around and hit up a local woodcutter to get your firewood. You also can call the forest service to see if they recommend anyone. Local woodcutters are usually pretty affordable, much cheaper than the camp host.
Buy Your Firewood From a Big Box Store
This firewood should be wrapped in plastic or mesh and have a certification label. This will also cost about $5-$10 a bundle. Again, you are paying for convenience.
Buy Your Firewood From a Local Gas Station
This will run a little cheaper. Most likely, a local woodcutter sells its firewood to the nearby local gas station.
A local gas station close to your campsite may also be able to recommend where to get firewood if they don’t have any to sell. This will definitely be cheaper than buying at the campsite or at a big box store.
Gather Your Firewood From the Forest
This will cost you nothing, but you must make sure it is legal. Some states will allow you to gather fallen wood for your campfire. Others may not. Before doing this, you will need to check with the campsite or the forest service.
Know before you go. If you count on gathering all your wood at the site and then it ends up that you can’t, you may be in a pickle once you get there.
How Do You Get Cheap Firewood for Camping?
The cheapest way to get firewood is to gather it from the forest. The campsite will most likely have strict rules for what you can take. Check with the camp host for details.
You also can look for wood left behind from previous campers. Only partially burned logs can be fine and have a little life left.
Obviously, you will need to check with the forest service for rules and regulations regarding gathering firewood. However, if allowed, the wide-open forest will have plenty of wood for you.
If none of these is an option for you, the best and cheapest way to buy firewood will be to source it locally. Check with the nearby gas station as to who they can recommend.
What Is the Best Firewood for Camping?
Hardwoods are the best types of wood for camping. They burn for a long time, giving you a blazing hot fire for hours. That being said, hardwoods need a little help getting started.
You will need a mix of some softwood to get your fire going. Softwood catches fire quickly and will buy the hardwood some time to catch fire.
Good examples of hardwoods that are also low smoking are oak, ash, hickory, and maple. Pair any of these with softwood when you start your fire, and you will have a perfect campfire for hours.
Can You Bring Your Own Firewood Camping?
No, you don’t want to bring your own firewood from home. This is not safe and not even legal in most areas. The last thing you want to do is introduce non-native, tree-killing bugs to the forest.
Buy wood from the campsite or a local woodcutter around your camping destination. Invasive bugs can be as damaging over time to a forest as a forest fire. Be a responsible camper.
Can You Use Fallen Wood From the Forest?
This depends on the rules and regulations of the forest you are in. Several national forests offer free permits to allow this. Check with the forest service before gathering any wood from the forest.
Campsites may or may not allow you to gather wood from the campground. We have noticed over the years, they allow it less. Be sure to check with the camp host for details.
The previous campers may have left behind some firewood if you are lucky. A partially burned log may have a little life left in it.
Be a Good Scout – Put Your Fire Out
Always thoroughly put out your fire when you are done. Don’t assume it is out because it doesn’t have flames anymore or looks mostly out.
Stirring up the coals with dirt and water is crucial until they are completely cold. Remember that if you use hardwoods in your campfire, they may take longer to completely cool.
How Do I Find Camping Firewood Near Me?
Google is your best friend. Simply google that exact question, and you will find several options. You also can ask a local gas station or call the campsite. Most likely, there will be firewood suppliers near the area. Be sure to buy firewood locally and certified firewood if possible.
How Much Does Firewood Cost?
Firewood can be pricey, depending on where you purchased it. If buying from the campsite, a bundle of firewood can cost $5-$10. A bundle is only about 5-6 pieces of wood.
Buying your firewood from a big box store will also run you about that price, maybe a dollar or two less if you are lucky.
Buying your firewood from a local woodcutter might be a cheaper option. You can ask where to go from a nearby gas station or ask the camp host.
As you can see, a lot goes into finding the right firewood for your camping trip. It can also be challenging to decide how much to bring. You really don’t want to run out of firewood. Nobody likes to be cold while camping.
It is essential to know the rules and regulations with gathering or bringing firewood, so know before you go. Also, be sure to be a good scout while camping.
Hopefully, we covered any questions you may have about camping firewood. Being adequately prepared should ensure you have a great time camping with friends and family. They will be amazed at your ability to provide such a nice campfire.
So get out there and build the best campfire ever.