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At face value, starting a fire is about as simple as it gets. Throw some wood, a little tinder, and a few sparks together in dry conditions, and you’re all set. No need to over-complicate it, right? Well, not necessarily. This age-old process has plenty of room for improvement, and the Dakota Fire Pit is one of the most effective upgrades to a traditional campfire.
As taught in the USMC Survival, Evasion, and Recovery manual, the Dakota Fire Pit uses an underground cavity to create an efficient and concealable fire source. It draws in air through an inlet, and focuses the heat upward so minimal energy (and firewood) is wasted. Constructing this type of fire pit is certainly more difficult than an above-ground campfire, but may be worth the effort if you’re planning to remain at your camp for several days.
For more information on how and when to build a Dakota Fire Hole, you can refer to this article from Ron Fontaine at Survival Topics.