Welcome to my step-by-step guide to building a Dakota Fire Pit.

I love this firepit for a few reasons.

One, it’s great if you’re being tracked and you need keep a low profile.

The last thing you need in that case is a roaring fire. I’ll show you how to be practically untraceable from the moment you start digging to the moment you fill it in and carry on your way.

Secondly, it’s great for prolong survival situations where calorie expenditure is a concern.

You can build these right in your shelter, and they require minimal fuel. Meaning a handful of twigs and sticks can get this thing going very well.

Third, it burns very hot. Making it a great way to boil water, or cook meat.

Let’s dig in!

STEP 1. LOCATION

  • Find a hidden area to dig your fire pit to avoid detection.
  • Look for big trees to build beside.
  • You also want smaller trees where your smoke will dissipate through the leaves.

STEP 2. TARP

  • Set this up before doing ANY movement of ground
  • You will layer your layers on top of your material.
  • This will help you cover your tracks by putting the area back to normal… quickly and easily.

STEP 3. REMOVE LAYER

  • Begin removing the top layer of brush and twigs. Exposing the bare ground.
  • Pile the material on top of your tarp. Off to one corner. You’ll soon see why.

Survival Tip: Always keep an eye for extra supplies. I came across some great cordage as I was removing material. Coiled it up and put it aside for later.

STEP 4. FIRE PIT

  • Trace a 10-12 inch circle in the ground with your finger.
  • This will be your main fire pit.
  • Aim for this to be under the leaves of your small tree.
  • Determine the upwind side of your fire pit, and trace a 6-8 circle onto the ground on that side, roughly 6 inches away from your fire pit. This will be your vent hole.

STEP 5. SCORE

  • Take your shovel and score around the perimeter of your hole
  • You want to make sure you leave the green plants as undisturbed as possible so you can cover your tracks.
  • The goal here is to keep this top layer intact.

STEP 6. UNDERCUT

  • Once you’ve scored around the edges, cut underneath with your shovel.
  • If there are a lot of roots, be sure to sever them before lifting your “top” off.

STEP 7. POP THE TOP

  • Once clear, lift the entire “top” off, being sure to keep intact.
  • Place this on your tarp.

  • Repeat step for ventilation hole.

STEP 8. DIG

  • Begin digging your fire pit. You want to go about 12 inches deep.
Can you dig it?: If you don’t have a shovel, you can easily dig this out with a digging stick.
NOTE: Remember to be removing your material in layers for a quick dash.

  • Once done your fire pit. Begin digging out your ventilation hole.
  • If your shovel is too big, use a stick to dig it out.
  • You want to get below the roots before connecting through to your fire pit.

STEP 9. THE TUNNEL

  • Start creating your tunnel through to the fire pit.
  • If sandy, it may be tricky to keep the integrity of the bridge. In which case you may prefer to use your hands.
  • If it does collapse on you. Dig out the entire thing, lay sticks across where the bridge was. And then pack it down with dirt.
PROGRESS SHOT:

STEP 10. TINDER

  • Get a collection of course, medium and fine material.
  • This will help save resources, and start a fire very easily.
  • If I’m using a ferro rod, I want it in 3 strikes or less. One strike being the goal.
  • Pictured: Brooms Edge, Dog Fennel and Bow Thistle.
BE A POSSUM: Anytime you’re walking along you never know where you’re going to need to set up camp. You don’t know what resources are available. So always, always, possum mentality, fill that possum pouch as soon as you find something.

STEP 11. BUNDLE

  • Take the brooms edge (coarse material) and fold the flowers tops to the inside.
  • Almost try to fold it into a birds nest. But, not completely, as it can be a little too brittle and break.

  • Take your dog fennel (medium) and fold it into the center of your broom’s edge.

  • Then, take your bow thistle (fine material), and put it right in the middle.

STEP 12. STRIKE

  • Line up your ferro rod dead center of the bow thistle.
  • The goal here is to light up the finest, to the coarsest material in that order.

STEP 13. FIRE BOMB

  • Once your bundle is alight, quickly position it over your fire pit.
  • Hold it upside down to let the rest of the flame catch the coarser material.
  • Drop it into the fire pit.
FIRE TIP: Be sure to clear the roots out of your fire pit. They can heat up, smolder and start fires at quite a distance away.

Also be cautious of a lot of pete on the ground. If it can smolder and carry heat, it’s a fire hazard.

 

STEP 14. FUEL

  • To fuel this fire you only need a small handful of twigs and sticks that you find lying around.
  • Pictured is the most you’d want at any one time.
  • Any more than that and the flame will easily burn above the groundline, defeating the purpose of the fire pit.

STEP 15. BOIL WATER

  • Grab some green sticks.
  • Layer them across your fire pit.
  • Throw a pot on top and you’ve got a safe, reliable way to boil water.

STEP 16: THE COVER UP

  • Once you’re done, go back to your tarp, and begin filling your hole in order of the layers you removed.

STEP 17. UNDETECTABLE

  • Once you’re done, rearrange your top soil to look natural. And it would take a very experienced tracker to spot your signature.

And that’s the Dakota fire pit.

Play around with it. Get used to building the tunnel, and how to fix broken bridges. As well as the right amount of fuel source to get a good flame, without blowing your cover.

Enjoy.

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