Dakota Fire Pit Infographic

Here’s something that doesn’t weigh a thing to add to your Get Home Bag or Bug Out Bag… a little knowledge about how to build a Dakota Fire Pit.  While a fireless camp is the least likely to be observed there may be times when a fire is absolutely necessary…water purification by boiling (when you have no other methods available)  or to avoid hypothermia are two possibilities that come to mind.  Such situations call for a Dakota Fire Pit also known as the Dakota Fire Hole… the next most clandestine camp to a fireless camp.

Dakota Fire Hole Infographic

Dakota fire hole (Figure VI-15). Use the Dakota fire hole for high winds or evasion situations

Essentially the Dakota Fire Pit is a fire pit with a separate tunnel built to supply airflow directly to the fuel.  By keeping the fire below ground you reduce the light signature of the fire significantly and are able to get by with a much smaller fire than you would need above ground to accomplish the same cooking tasks.

Here are some additional hints to make your Dakota Fire Hole easier to build and less likely to be seen:

  • Use the natural contour of the ground to make it easier to build…. you can dig into a hill horizontally for the airflow tunnel.  If you do this make sure to block the view of your airflow tunnel because it will be an additional potential place for light to escape.
  • Build under thick trees to obscure smoke (but not too close that you catch the trees on fire).  If this isn’t possible you can build a dispersion screen over the pit (same warning applies).
  • Set your pot down in the hole if possible or build a grate over the hole if necessary.

If a picture is worth a thousand words than how many words is a video worth?  Check out this Dakota Fire Pit video from one of my favorite YouTubers, Southernprepper1.

FM 21-76-1, MCRP 3-02H, NWP 3-50.3, AFTTP(I) 3-2.26, JUNE 1999
DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION:  Approved for public release

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