Camping

6 Useful Tools for Starting (and Enjoying) a Backcountry Campfire

When you’re tent camping in the backcountry, space and supplies are limited. That’s why it’s important to carry the right tools. The best tools can conquer many tasks and take up little space while they’re at it.

One of the most important tasks you’ll do when you’re out camping in the backwoods is starting a fire. Humans have been using fire for thousands of years. The good news is, you don’t have to go the way of your ancestors using sticks and stones to start a fire.

Here is our list of 6 useful tools to start, and enjoy, a backcountry campfire.

An Axe-Saw Combo

If you’re going to make fire, then you’ve got to have the right kindling. The woods are an excellent place to forage for fire-starting material.

One tool that you should never leave the campsite without is an axe/saw combo tool. When you choose a camping axe, you want one with a forged-steel handle. Forged-steel offers you the tough durability you need when chopping hardwood.

You also want to make sure your axe has a long enough handle to give you a good striking force. The longer handle, the more force. But you also want your axe to be portable so you can bring it with you long hikes to gather wood.

We recommend the Gerber Combo II. The Gerber Axe has the perfect handle length for good force and easy storage. Plus, this axe comes with a six inch, hideaway saw.

The saw fits into the handle of the axe. And it has a magnetic lock to keep it from slipping out by accident. A saw is perfect for cutting smaller pieces of wood and breaking down kindling.

A Multipurpose Survival Tool with a Firestarter

Multipurpose survival tools are essential for any backcountry camping trip. And getting one that has a built-in firestarter is a great way to make sure you aren’t stranded with no way to cook.

The experts at Gander Outdoors recommend Smiths Pocket Pal X2. The best part about the Pocket Pal is that it’s lightweight and very durable. It fits right into the pocket of your jeans.

And it includes some essential survival tools. It has two knife sharpening slots, a fold out diamond rod, compass, LED light, whistle, and a fire starter.

Although the sole purpose of this tool is not to start your campfire, this handy piece of equipment is a must-have as a survival resource.

A Dedicated Fire Starter

Although some multipurpose tools do include fire starters, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated fire starter too.

As a dedicated fire starter, you can use any number of different options. Firestarter squares are great because they are safer than liquid lighter fluid. They also don’t change the taste of your food if you’re cooking over your fire.

You can pack a portable lighter as your dedicated fire starter. There are hundreds of lighters available on the market. Visit one of our locations to check into getting a heavy duty camping lighter. Those won’t let you down like a cheap lighter might.

You could also try a shaker bottle of fire starting fluid. These are great at getting your fire going in wet, cold, or windy conditions. But these bottles take up space, and you still need to make your flame.

Our recommended tool to use as a dedicated fire starter is the Gerber Fire Starter. This little tool is as small as a keychain and comes with a lanyard and built-in whistle. Its water-resistant case protects the ferrocerium rod and metal striker. It’s perfect for getting the spark going on your campfire.

A Multipurpose Utensil Tool for Eating

Now that you’ve got your fire going, you’ll probably want to cook on it. And to do that, you should invest in a tool for eating.

The CRKT Eatn Tool XL is great for backcountry camping. It’s in the shape of a classic “spork” but has several other uses. It’s lightweight and portable, but strong too.

It has a bottle cap opener and a can opener so you can get into your food canisters. The edge serves as a screwdriver blade and it has five wrench reliefs cut into the handle.

A Portable Tripod Grill

One of the best parts of camping is enjoying food cooked on the open grill. But if you don’t stay in a comfy campground, you won’t have the luxury of a grill.

Unless you bring your own! Most portable grills are too large for a backpack camper to carry along through the woods. So we suggest the Rome EZ Tripod Grill.

This little grill will be one of your favorite accessories when you see how easy it is to carry and use. It folds out in a few seconds with no tools required.

You can adjust the height of the grill over your fire. This gives you control over how much heat your food gets and allows you to be flexible with your fire height.

And it breaks down to a small, flat package so you can strap it right into your backpack. It’s lightweight and easy to clean too.

A Compact Fire Extinguisher

When you’re done with your fire, you should always put it out completely before you leave the camping area. Forest fires are often caused by reckless campers who don’t put out their fires.

You’ll want to use water to put out your fire most of the time. But in a case where lots of water is not available, you need an alternative. That’s why you should bring along a compact fire extinguisher, like this First Alert model.

The First Alert is a small, 5 lb. fire extinguisher. It’s made for watercraft but works for camping trips too because it’s so small. If you run into a situation where you need to put out your fire but don’t want to waste water, this will do the trick.

Also, this extinguisher serves as insurance in case you get caught in a dangerous situation. If you’re building a fire in drier areas, it’s always advisable to have one of these around in case your fire escapes the fire ring.


Camping in the backcountry can be one of the most fulfilling experiences. As long as you have the right gear to start your fire while you’re there.

When you plan for your trip, stick to tools that are multipurpose. Make sure you’ve got the right utensils for cooking and eating. And always have a way to put the fire out when you’re finished.

Want to check out more camping gear and accessories? Visit our camping page.

6 Useful tools for starting a backcountry campfire

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