best fire lays for winter

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Sorry to mention the W word in august even if it has felt autumnal the last few days.
I like to plan ahead somewhat organising cold weather equipment now to allow easier use when the time comes.
based on this theory I was wondering what people consider the best fire lays for the winter months, I'm hoping for most warmth, least fuel most cooking area of fire.
I have seen the method where two large logs laid side by side have the fire built in between them(sammi I think?) but I am limited with the amount of fuel i have available.I've tried the method nessmuk describes in his book but didnt find it the best in the world possibly due to my interpretation of the text and picture., just curious if there is a more effective method anyone uses or knows of?
Cheers all

Retired Member southey

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jun 4, 2006
your house!
I tend to use a long ish(paralle) fire with a reflector built behind faceing my tarp when it gets colder, i have a couple of pot hangers poking over the top from the other side of the refletor, works well and really concentrates the heat towards you.


Feb 10, 2009
I tend to use a long fire in winter, although I'm not confined in my choice of venues where fuel isn't a problem. I've never been one for pyramid/teepee style fires. After my kindling is going I prefer to build in a chock/grid style, so showing maximum surface area of larger kindling to flame. I tend to continue in this fashion, so laying fresh fuel at 90º until well after the fire is established. It's only approaching bedtime that a proper parallel fire is set by ovalling the fire outwards and placing increasingly longer logs. This can require a lot of fuel though!

My fire lay varies depending on the ground I'm on, If I'm on gravel or course aluvia it goes straight on the ground but I'm often confined to river banks due to peat or vegetative matter in the soil. On damp or frost penetrated ground I'll lay a good base of logs or suitable rocks and, like most here, have learned to allow for drainage of melt on frosted ground. As you know, melt can result in a cold fire... if you're lucky!

If I can't find a suitable bank, boulder or fallen tree, etc as a windbreak/reflector, I tend to build a curved wall of rocks which will not only absorb but radiate heat in my direction.

Without digging into Nessmuk, if I remember correctly he built reflectors from green wood, which isn't an acceptable option for us today.



Aug 22, 2007
... lay a good base of logs ...
I'd say this is the best advice no matter which fire-lay you use. Once the base has started to burn you'll have a strong bed of coals to cook in and to keep your fire going in the worst of weather.