Canopy over the campfire?

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Canopy over the campfire?

Postby eveningprimrose » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:47 am

A few years ago, I read a blog. The person said that one of the best camping trips they had ever experienced, was when it was raining. They put a tarp over the campfire, and had a great time listening to the rain on the tarp, staying warm by the fire.

Every since then, I've been trying to figure out a way to use a canopy above the fire, without catching the canopy on fire. If I could figure out how to do it, I think it would be great for winter camping, too. Since heat rises, I assume it would stay warmer, if there was a roof to hold the heat down.

Has anyone ever done anything like this? We recently bought a portable fire pit, with a screen on top. I was wondering if it would be better to use that (better than the campground fire pit), so the sparks wouldn't be as inclined to "hit the roof".
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Postby Oasis Maker » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:02 am

Canopy over campfire: no good

Canopy over Mr. Buddy Heater: excellent

Unless you are talking about a tepee type design and material, a fire with flaming embers in plastic and trapped smoke above you is not something I would twist my brain trying to do.

However, the canopy that I use in the summer for shade becomes equally important in the winter for trapping heat rising from my Mr. Buddy Heater. :thumbsup:

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Postby PanelDeland » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:09 am

You would need a vent to let the smoke out.Unfortunately the heat would also find the vent.This would cause an even cooler feeling under the canopy since there would then be a breeze from the flow of air/smoke/heat.
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Postby eveningprimrose » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:23 am

I will look for a Mr. Buddy heater. Thanks for the info!
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Postby Oasis Maker » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:30 am

eveningprimrose wrote:I will look for a Mr. Buddy heater. Thanks for the info!


Get the big one, "Mr. Big Buddy Heater". More heat output and has a blower that will run off of 4 D batteries. Works for me. It's very surprising how much warmer (with a canopy) and comfortable it will make your immediate campsite rather than being tethered to your camfire some distance away.

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Postby eveningprimrose » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:32 am

Is this the kind you're talking about?

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Postby Oasis Maker » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:38 am

No, that's the small one. Click below:

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Postby eveningprimrose » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:44 am

Perfect. Thanks!
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Postby Oasis Maker » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:53 am

eveningprimrose wrote:Perfect. Thanks!


You got it (or will). ;)

Oh, and if you can, take a 20 pound propane tank and use the extended hose. Much better experience. Also, if your canopy has adjustable height, lower it as much as you can for obvious reasons. You'll be sittin pretty (and warm).

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Postby hugh » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:08 am

my buddies and I take our jeeps out occasionally for winter camping. I have one of those plastic portable garages. I modified it a bit. First I shortened the poles for the walls so the fabric would reach the ground, about 6 inches. Then we did the same for 1 of the roof sections lengthwise to close up the gaps. We put an airtight wood stove inside. The chimney goes out the sidewall. A friend made a 2 ft square of thin metal with a hole in the center for the stovepipe to pass through. He also made a chimney with 3 u channel legs that are spot welded to the side of the chimney so they fold along the body for transport and when set up provide for some adjustability. It often goes down to about 15 below at night when we are out, so we fill that airtight up and get it cooking. Even with plastic walls and no insulation the stove once its going good makes it nice enough to get down to a sweater.
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Postby Miriam C. » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:57 am

If you make a lean-to type cover for a fire at an angle the heat will be reflected into and the smoke will still be let out. Look up survival shelters.

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Postby regis101 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:45 pm

Must still be careful. The 2 center poles are 10'. The 4 side poles are 6. I'm going to increase the length to 7 foot. I also have a third center pole that can prop up the center for better drainage if needed. Under normal conditions the flame from the fire will be about 24" tall. When the flame and heat content is sufficient it will puff up the ridge.

I was told when Scouting that an Indian will build a small fire to stay warm and a white man will build a large fire and stay cold. Think of the times when you were at a bonfire and had to keep spinning. One side was always hot and the back side was cold.

I copied this basic design from another gentleman is our camping crowd who does canvas tents in the Renn-Faire style. This tarp is a 15x 30 so that means 14.5 x 29.5 finished size. Bummer was that the number of grommets are an even number. It made the first build a bit off center. I'm going to add another grommet to each side to establish a center

My deal is still a work in progress. I found out that it pays to keep the open sides a bit toward the prevailing wind if you want to keeps the sides staked down. Smoke can still accumulate but not bad.
I was able to roll up the sides to help with draft and under the tarp cleared out nicely. I can also raise or lower the sides to promote proper draft much like a chimney flue.

The metal poles may act like lightning rods so I have to be careful. We don't get many, if any, thunderstorms here.

In the second pic, when the flame was at the top of the fire ring best results were felt.

If your fire seems really smokey, then it's not hot enough or the wood hasn't seasoned yet.

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Last edited by regis101 on Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby regis101 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:08 pm

I tried to use a 10 x 10 pop up shade thingy last year. Bad deal. The pyramid design of the top made the smoke roll back down. It does have a separate flap of sorts at the top to help with wind but it doesn't help with smoke..

I would entertain one of these shade thingy's if a chimney of some sort could be brought along. Something like a Witch's hat supported by four poles about 5-6 feet above the fire, maybe lower, and add a 8-10" flu pipe. Hey don't laugh. I've seen worse. Have to modify the top of the tarp but it'd be a small sacrifice for the greater gain for year round camping

Just some thoughts.
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Postby kirkman » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:28 pm

Like hugh said. You need s small wood stove or you can make one out of a big mail box. Then you can have one like this.
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Postby Juneaudave » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:36 pm

Miriam C. wrote:If you make a lean-to type cover for a fire at an angle the heat will be reflected into and the smoke will still be let out. Look up survival shelters.

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That is how we set up. In addition to the rain, it keeps the cool breezes off.
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