Suspending Pots Over A Fire

In order to effectively hang a pot  over the flames of a fire, we need a way to suspend them and something to suspend them from. The first is called a  bail. When I was a youngster (a long  time ago) most pots for camping had bails on them. This made it easy to hang them over a fire, or lift out of a fire. However, in today's world of ultra-light gear, bails seem to have gone by the wayside. If anything, you get some folding handles, as most of the pots are made to use over a small stove. But in survival and bushcraft, we normally need to cook over a fire.  

Bails are an easy addition to any of your cups or pots. Some people drill holes and add some wire. I prefer free standing bails, so I drill holes in the side, and also make a half round groove in the lip. A pre-formed bail can be attached, and it stands up. When  finished, it can be removed and stored with the pot. For a tutorial on how to make Free Standing Bails check out my article HERE.

Once you have bails on all your cups and pots, you need a way to hang them over a fire. There are more than a dozen ways that have been devised for doing this. However, I have found four basic Pot Suspension Systems that are easy to make in the field, and I will discuss them one at a time.


A prop stick is any long stick that can be propped against something so that it allows you to hang a pot over the fire. The stick can be propped against a forked upright, a small tripod, etc. It can be held in place at the ground with a weight, such as a large rock or log, or as I do when the ground is not frozen, a forked stick driven in the ground.

This photo shows a Prop Stick being leaned against large rocks around the fire to hold it up at
an angle. The back end of the Prop Stick is being held down by a large rock. With this method,
you do not need a forked upright for the Prop Stick.

This is a closer view of a pot hanging off of a Prop Stick.

This photo  shows a Prop Stick method of suspending a pot over the  fire, using a  forked stick driven into 
the ground to hold the back of the Prop Stick down.

This is a Closer View of the forked stick driven into the ground to hold the back end of the Prop Stick down.


This is probably one of my more favorite ways to suspend a pot. Using the Dingle Stick method, you use a single prop stick, but have the ability to swivel the stick to move the suspended pot off  the fire.  With a Dingle stick, you use a forked support stick, but instead of holding the back on the ground with a weight or forked stick, you attach a piece of cordage to the back of the prop stick, and then down to the bottom of the upright forked stick. This supports the pot over the fire, yet allows you to swivel the stick off and away from the fire.

With the Dingle Stick method you can easily swivel the pot off of the fire.


The spit uses to forked uprights with a green stick suspended across the two forks, allowing you to hang pots over the fire. This can be done using pot hangers, made from green wood. There are various ways to make hangers for a pot, but for a simple pot hanger, use a sapling. Where a small limb comes off the main trunk, cut just below that junction. The trunk above this point can be as long as the pot hanger requires.  At the length desired, trim off the remaining trunk, and on this end, cut a groove for the bail to hang from. Make sure the groove is made at an angle so the bail does not fall off. The small limb can be trimmed so that it will set over the horizontal suspension stick of the spit.

A view of a simple Spit made from two forked uprights and a suspended green stick across the two.

A close-up of a Pot Hanger made from a sapling.


A Tripod suspension system can be used anytime, but is particularly useful in the winter if the ground is frozen. Made from three tall sticks of substantial diameter, they are lashed together using a tripod lashing. Pots can be suspended by various means, to include a chain (something most people don't have in a survival situation), cordage or wire attached to a long pot hanger (especially when using cordage to keep the cordage away from the flames). I usually use, a long green stick with a fork at top (like the small pot hanger described under Spits above). This stick allows you to hang a pot directly over the fire, and can have notches at various heights. 

An example of a simple Tripod over a fire pit, using a long forked stick for suspending pot.


Of course, you can use various combination for whatever your needs might be. You can keep a spit setup and use a tripod for suspending larger pots. You can use a Prop or Dingle Stick with a spit. You options are only limited by your imagination.

This is a combination Spit and Tripod which we kept at our camp several years ago.

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Copyright © 2016 by John D. McCann

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