A cracking fire is one of the great pleasures of camping. Without the right tools though, building and maintaining a fire can get tedious. On a recent winter camping trip with my friend Greg from gadmachine, I realized we used four fire tools that seemed, to me, essential. Some of them I’ve never heard discussed before. The best part is, you can get them all for around $30.

Thin, flexible cutting board: Fanning the flames is a fantastic way to get a fire going or revive a dying one. I’ve found no better tool for this than a copy-paper-sized flexible, plastic, cutting board. They’re cheap (about $2.50), light, take up virtually no space, and don’t disintegrate like cardboard. A few good gusts and your fire will roar to life. I always keep one in the camp box.

Bow saw: A bow saw will provide you with plenty of free firewood. I use a 30″ saw which gives me a long enough stroke to make quick work of dead standing timber. That size saw is also tall enough to get through a 10″ log in a single cut. Dead, standing, timber is the key here, of course. As long as the wood is off the ground though, it’ll be dry and burn well. You obviously don’t want to cut down live, green trees.

I think we spent about $20 on three bundles of firewood for the first night of our trip. This Bahco saw costs less than $14. Can’t ask for better than that — it pays for itself in one use.

Kitchen Tongs: Handy for moving pieces of firewood and coals around. Inexpensive (< $3), light, easy to pack. Around a mellow fire, these 16″ tongs are long enough to keep my fingers from getting burned. And they work for cooking as well.

Folding Shovel: Lock the blade to 90˚ to scrape clear an area for your campfire. Use it to pick up the ends of burning logs. Move coals en masse for cooking. And, most importantly, use it for mixing your burned-up coals with water to completely extinguish your fire. And those are only the campfire uses. At just over $10, it’s another inexpensive, high-value item. I always keep a folding shovel in the truck.

There you go. Four super-useful campfire for under $30.

For tips on how to build a fire, check out these posts:

How to build a Split-Wood Fire
How to Build a Long Fire

How to Build a Swedish Torch

Flexible plastic cutting board

Bahco 30″ Bow saw

Kitchen Tongs

Folding Shovel