Camping is a fun and inexpensive activity. However, the price of firewood can substantially increase the cost of heading outdoors. If you buy the firewood on the campground, you can expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a bundle. A bundle usually consists of 4 or 5 pieces of wood and only provides you with 1 to 2 hours of burning time, and most people burn two bundles per night.
This means that if you decide to camp for, let’s say, three days and have the campfire all three nights, you will spend between $30 and $60 just for firewood! The good news is that there are some less expensive options for obtaining firewood.
The best places to buy firewood for camping to save money are from a local woodcutter, a big-box home improvement store, or a local gas station. You can also usually find firewood for free near your chosen campsite since enough fallen limbs are often lying around, or you can scavenge abandoned firewood.
Here is a list of sources from which you can get firewood that is cheaper than that on the campground. Sometimes you can even find free firewood.
1. Local Woodcutter
When looking for cheap firewood, it would be best if you first checked with a local lumberjack. They often sell the firewood in bulk and keep it in sheds and wood stores. The wood that loggers provide is of good quality and almost always sold for a great price.
However, sometimes it’s hard to find a local woodcutter near an unfamiliar camping area. If this is the case, you can ask the staff if they know where the lumberjack is. Just don’t ask management since they will usually just try to sell you the firewood sold by the campground. Also, Google is your friend. Assuming you have a signal, just search “cheap firewood near me,” and often, you will get a couple of hits within a few miles.
2. Home Depot and Lowe’s
If you see that there is a Home Depot or Lowe’s near your chosen destination, you should check for firewood there. Both of these stores usually sell it for a fair price.
Here are links to a firewood search for both stores:
3. Local Gas Station
When you’re in a hurry or desperately need firewood, you should check a local gas station or convenience store.
Even though the firewood that is sold in a gas station is often much more expensive than the one that a woodcutter would sell, it’s still less costly than buying firewood at the campground.
Money-Saving Tip: You may want to shop around a bit if you have time because prices can vary wildly from one gas station to the next.
4. Firewood Found in Nature
You don’t necessarily have to buy firewood.
Of course, most campgrounds don’t allow visitors to chop down trees. However, you can use the loose wood or deadfall you find on the ground since you technically didn’t cut it.
Natural forests don’t usually have any rules when it comes to obtaining wood. However, make sure you check with them before you go out collecting. Some camping grounds don’t allow this because fallen trees and limbs can provide nesting grounds for wildlife.
Check for Abandoned Firewood First
You can also get free firewood by inspecting the area where campers have moved out. There’s a chance that they left some unused firewood there. Most people don’t take it with them, so they just leave it at the site.
If you happen to have any left with you are done, it’s usually a polite gesture to offer it to someone near your campsite for free as you are heading out.
How Much Firewood Do I Need for Camping?
It’s important to obtain the right amount of fuel to burn. If you buy too much firewood, you will waste your money. Even worse, if you buy too little, you will soon run out of it and can be left in the cold. Literally.
Two key factors that determine how much firewood you will need are how long you plan on having the campfire burning and how large the campfire will be.
When deciding how much firewood you need for camping, a good rule of thumb is to buy one bundle (4-5 pieces) for every 2 hours you expect to have a fire burning. Since most campers usually burn a fire about 4 hours per day, you probably want to get about six bundles for a typical 3-day trip.
Of course, the longer it burns, and the larger a campfire is, the more firewood you will need. If you wish to reduce how much firewood you will need, you can only keep the fire going when you need the light and warmth. It’s also a good idea to have a small campfire. A big campfire will consume much more wood than a small campfire will during the same time.
Firewood is usually sold and bought in bundles. The sizes of bundles vary, but they often consist of 4 to 5 pieces of wood. Each of these bundles is supposed to last for up to 2 hours for a small to medium-sized campfire. How long a bundle is going to last, you also depends on the wood that is being used. If you plan on keeping your fire on for about 4 hours, you will need between 3 and 5 bundles. Make sure you remember to consider the type of wood you are using and how big you plan to make the campfire.
When trying to figure out how much firewood you’ll need, it’s important to first think about how many nights you will be on the campground and how long you will be using the campfire each night. Once you’ve decided how many hours your campfire will burn in total, remember that each bundle gives you enough wood to keep the fire going for about 1 to 2 hours.
What Is the Best Type of Firewood for Camping?
Campfires are used for much more than just cooking. It is a place where you can gather and hang out, tell stories, relax, and create unforgettable memories. As already mentioned, how long your campfire will burn depends on the type of wood. Not all firewood is a good choice. While there isn’t one single type of firewood that is best for camping, some types are better than the rest.
The best types of firewood for camping are:
- Ash- Ignites easily, doesn’t produce a lot of smoke, and burns when green.
- Oak- Probably the most common firewood. It’s very dense and burns slow and steady.
- Maple- Burns fast and smells great.
- Birch- Easy to light, sweet-smelling.
- Cedar- Burns quickly and tends to pop.
- Hickory- Dense, long-burning, but a bit expensive.
- Beech- Hard to light but produces a lot of heat.
Ash is the Best Choice
My personal favorite. Ash is very well known because it produces a strong flame that heats very well. Most people find it to be the best wood for burning since it can hold up on its own. This means that it doesn’t have to be burned along with other types of firewood.
In fact, you can always rely on ash when building a campfire. This type of wood is sure to keep you warm and cozy during camping. It also burns very hotly, making it a great choice when you’re camping during the colder months. More specifically, white ash is the best type of ash to burn during the winter because it produces 23.6 million BTUs per cord.
The great thing is that ash isn’t heavy to carry. It is both lightweight and easy to split into smaller pieces. But that doesn’t mean it’s flimsy. Ash is very tough yet easy to transport.
Cool Fact: Most wood can’t burn if it’s green, but ash can. Even so, it’s better to wait for ash to be fully seasoned, but if you have no other choice, you can burn it while it’s still green.
Just keep in mind that ash is usually more expensive than softer types of wood. It also produces thicker smoke, so it’s not good to burn it around people with respiratory issues.
Oak as Firewood
Oak is a great choice when you need a fire that burns slowly and steadily. It doesn’t produce much smoke or sparks and should be used when you want to stay warm for a longer time. It also requires less maintenance than other firewoods.
Since oak holds a lot of energy per cord, it is able to produce a lot of heat. This is why oak produces warm and rich fires that are great for keeping you warm during cold months. Because of its biology, oak can burn slowly for a long time.
This makes oak a great type of wood to burn if you or someone you’ll be camping with has respiratory issues.
As far as price goes, good oak can be on the more expensive side but is definitely worth it, in my opinion. The one downside is that oak takes a long time to reach its peak, about two years. Unlike ash, it doesn’t burn well when it’s green.
Maple as Firewood
Maple is another excellent firewood. It burns well, smells good, and it doesn’t take a long time to reach its peak. It is a nice all-around choice that is reliable and will keep you warm regardless of the season.
When buying or cutting down maple, remember that it’s less dense than other types of firewood, so you will need more of it. Even so, it is able to hold a steady flame, and it produces very little smoke or spark.
It’s easy to set maple on fire, which is a significant advantage when compared to other hard camping firewood. Maple reaches its peak quicker than other firewoods. Many people love the smell of maple since, when burned, it gives off a sweet smell.
Pro Tip: You will need more maple than you would other firewood because it’s softer and has a lower heat output. It would be a good idea if you mixed it with other hardwood in order to keep the fire going for a longer time.
Birch as Firewood
Birch is very similar to maple because it’s also a softwood that burns quickly. It would be good if you mixed birch with oak, which burns more slowly to keep the fire from going out too fast. Another advantage of birch is that you can use the bark to start the fire because it’s so similar to paper. This is why birch is very useful and efficient as firewood.
This type of wood is excellent for beginners because it’s easy to split. It also takes less time for birch to reach its peak than it does for other hardwood. Birch is a softer wood, but that doesn’t stop it from generating a large amount of heat. It doesn’t produce much smoke or spark. When you burn birch, it emits a sweet smell.
Since it’s a softer wood, birch tends to burn out more quickly than other firewood. If you’re planning a more extended camping trip, you will need a large amount of birch.
Cedar as Firewood
Cedar is a great choice for firewood because it’s easy to split it, it burns hot, and it smells great. However, cedar is known to pop a lot, which is why you should be careful when burning it. Cedar usually has a small fire, but it can burn for a long time.
It’s effortless to start a fire with cedar. This type of wood is really good at holding its flame. However, it doesn’t produce much heat. This is why it’s best to use cedar for summer camping. Many people like using cedar because it smells terrific when burned.
Pro Tip: Cedar produces a lot of sparks because it has an oily composition. It also burns very quickly, so make sure you bring a lot of it with you.
Hickory as Firewood
Hickory is excellent firewood for when you need a campfire that will burn a long time. This is because it’s a dense hardwood. Hickory burns longer than other split wood does. It also produces really hot and bright flames. When you burn hickory, it gives off a crackling sound. The burning efficiency of hickory makes it the best choice for cold winter nights. It also has a great smell, which can be absorbed into the food that you’re cooking over the campfire.
The process of drying hickory is rapid because it doesn’t hold in a lot of moisture. It’s straightforward to set hickory on fire once it’s dry. If you buy too much of it, you can keep it without worrying about it becoming infected with mold or insects. This is a nice type of wood for anyone who is environmentally conscious because it is low-emission. This means that hickory is also safer for you and the people you’re camping with than other types of firewood. The wood burns slowly and doesn’t produce many sparks.
Sometimes it’s not very easy to split hickory, so it might not be the best firewood for beginners. Usually, hickory is more expensive than some other types of firewood.
Beech as Firewood
Beech burns for a very long time and produces a lot of heat. It produces about 27.5 million BTUs per cord. This is why beech is one of the best choices for firewood. It is a hardwood, which is similar to oak, and it doesn’t take a long time for it to reach its peak.
It can be hard to split beech, which is why you shouldn’t use it unless you have the right ax. You are going to have a really hard time trying to light a beech on fire, even if it’s a bit green.
How to Store Firewood When Camping
Regardless of which type of firewood you choose, it’s imperative that you store it correctly.
While camping, firewood should be kept off the ground to avoid moisture. It’s a good idea to store firewood on a flat tent, garbage bag, or anything waterproof. Even better is to stack it on a bench or a rock to allow proper air circulation and keep it away from mold and insects.
If you are unable to find any of the woods listed above, you will almost always be able to find some type of mix or something called “Pinion Wood.” Either of those will serve you well, so don’t worry about getting too picky. Just make sure you check for obvious signs of moisture or rot before you lay down your cash.
For more, don’t miss What Size Should You Split Firewood? | A Quick Guide to Optimal Stacks.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!