While there are a number of ways to build fires to make them more-likely to start in wet conditions, keeping them lit when it’s raining or snowing is another matter altogether. Fortunately, there are a couple of shelters that you can try in order to keep a lot of moisture at bay. Let’s take a look at their basic designs, and you can easily find ways to improvise according to your specific needs.
The first example is a shelter that represents a cross between a lean-to and a fire wall. It’s essentially a wall made from thick branches that leans over the fire in order to shield it from rain or snow. The first step is to create the support frame. You’ll need to gather two branches that are around three feet long and two inches thick, as well as two thinner branches that are about three feet long with forks on one end.
Place the thicker branches about an inch into the ground, and space them about 3 feet apart at a 30-45 degree angle. Next, use the smaller branches to support the larger ones at the desired angle, and use the forks to hold them into place. Burrow these branches into the ground to provide some additional support. Next, reinforce the frame by adding some smaller branches on either side of the joints and press them into the ground as well.
Place a log or two that are at least three inches in diameter on the ground in front of the larger branches, and make sure that it is long enough to reach both sides of the frame. This will be used to anchor the branches that you use to build the wall. To build the wall, simply lay down branches that are around two inches thick atop one another until the leaning side of the frame is covered. Fill in any gaps with smaller branches as necessary. You can also add some leafy branches to provide additional protection and insulation.
However, it’s important that you regulate the size and heat of the fire so that the heat won’t ignite the material and create a lot of smoke and ultimately cause it to burn. All you need to do now is build and start the fire, and you’re good to go.
If you want to protect your Dakota, or similar fire, all you need to do is grab two branches, about an inch in diameter, with forks, and stick them into the ground on either side of one end of the fire hole. Try to find branches that will rise about two feet above the ground. Next, place a straight branch atop the forks, but make sure that it’s a little bit longer than the anchor branches. Next, take some long branches that are around two inches thick and lay them atop the beam you just made, letting them rest on the ground at an angle on the opposite side of the fire. Keep repeating until the frame is filled and hole protected. You can also cover this shelter with pine branches, or branches with moist leaves for some additional protection as well.
These simple shelters can do a remarkable job of keeping precipitation out of your fires, and they’re easy to scale up or down. Try them for yourself, improvise as needed, and chances are that your fires will be less-likely to go out in inclement weather.