Trench Campfire


If you are looking for a smarter way to create a campfire for cooking, the trench fire setup is what you need.


There are many campfire arrangements you can make use of while on a camping trip. A trench fire setup is a great setup because you have a couple of cooking heat sources and can make any size you like. Here’s a guide on how you can make it


Since one of the main components of this setup is a trench, observe the ground and see if the conditions are good to hold the trench walls. Avoid rocky ground or sandy areas. You need good soil that will hold its shape.


The next thing to do is decide on the width of your trench. This depends on whether or not you plan on using racks or grills. If you are using grills, you will know exactly how wide your trench should be because it needs to be less than the length of your grills. If you don’t have them, you will have to make a trench quite thin so your pots and pans can sit securely on top of the edges. It’s best to have a grill, that is for sure.


The hole used in a trench fire setup is usually shaped like a rectangle with a slope in depth. The shallow end should be facing the prevailing wind, and it’s usually about 4cm deep. On the other hand, the deep end should be about 30cm or one foot deep. The shape helps to create a draft that’s good for cooking.

You can place rocks along the sides if you want to sure up the edges of the trench.


At the deep side of your trench, place your firewood and light it up. Let it burn,  for a while so that you can split some of the coal to the shallow end of the trench. This area will be used for grilling and reheating food. The fire at the deeper end is good for cooking using pots and pans.

Feed the deep end of the trench with fresh firewood. Once you see coal, regularly move the new coals to the shallow end of your trench and add a little more fresh wood in the deep end again.


After letting the fire burn out, wet everything down with water. When the coals are cool to touch, spread them throughout the hole. Then, return the soil you dug out and compress to reduce air pockets.

The trench fire setup is a versatile great way to cook with fire when you are at camp. You can cook a few dishes at once over this arrangement as it enables you to use two levels of heat. When done well, a trench fire cooking setup will mimic the functions of a multi-burner portable camping stove in the ground.



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Jake Taylor
Jake Taylor

Jake is a global traveller who has recently called Australia his home again. If he's not travelling, he is writing about it and his experience.