Ibex Ode to the Campfire

On Campfires

The often-romanticized campfire is experiencing something of a moment in popular outdoor culture. Instagram photos and post-gravel ride potlucks don’t happen without a good pile of burning wood. Count the number of time-lapse photos replete with darting spark trails and the orange shadows not replicable away from a real fire that you find in popular outdoor magazines and marketing materials (this brand included). There’s a reason for this. Fire is universal. The elemental story that is told through all the senses lights, crackles and smokes its way into our shorthand for adventure, for tired muscles and well-earned beers.

Pre-historic people told stories using fire as the theater lighting. As our need for fire as a way of heating and cooking slipped into the past, the stories remained steadfast: even the most suburban scout troop knows the power of a good campfire, its ability to forge a day together, to stamp a seal of contentment into the dusk that falls after hours outside. Furthermore, as campfire has become a ritual to life outside, it’s gathered different shapes and sizes. Surfer driftwood fire. Wet balsam backcountry ski fire. Desert deadfall slickrock fire. Alaska nighttime sunlight fires. Across every flavor of outdoor culture, we’ve found no better antidote for the computer screen than the roiling embers beating and glowing under a well-tended fire.

In that way, the campfire requires a bit of purpose- the recipe of tinder and time and the unapologetic willingness to simply sit and take it in – they are part of the contract one strikes before striking a match. The often romanticized campfire is experiencing a moment in popular outdoor culture… and that’s just fine by us. Those pixelated odes to the evening pyre that follows an epic mountain bike ride, a swimming hole hiking tour, those articles that conclude a circumnavigation of the nearest pond / lake /ocean with an orange burning centerpiece? They’re overdue in our opinion as they keep us prompting, urging and expecting our next adventure to fuel the fire.