Open-fire Cooking with a Dingle Bom

When my Swiss friend showed me how to use a “dingle bom”, he neglected to tell me how to spell it. I did, however, quickly learn what a great open-fire cooking system it is.

It is simply a long pole resting on an “X” (bipod) made from two shorter poles. The part of the pole that extends over the fire, and from which the pots hang, is much shorter than the rear part, which rests on the ground and weighs more than the food or water-filled pots.

This system only works for pots with bales or wire handles over the top by which they can be hung. The “X” support pieces are best fastened together with wire, as they are often close to the flames and rope would melt or burn.

The “X” is made with the lower ends longer than the upper ends so the place the poles cross is near the top. For a more permanent setup, a sturdier tripod can be made to support the hanging pole.

To complete the pot-hanging parts, two or three very light, wire-type chains five to six feet long are cut. You need four light “S” hooks for each chain, putting one at each end of the chain, then one more at 10 and 20 inches above the bottom hook.

On each chain you now have three cooking hooks about 10 inches apart and one at the opposite (top) end to fasten the chain to the hanging pole by wrapping it around and putting the hook into a chain link below the pole. These chains can be about 10-12 inches apart along the top pole.

The pots can be on a lower hook to boil, such as when making coffee or vegetables, then raised to one of the higher hooks to simmer or be kept warm until serving time. The chains can also be raised or lowered as needed by doing another wrap around the hanging pole.

The height of the hanging pole can also be adjusted by putting the long bottom end on a stump or cooler, which lowers the end hanging over the fire. This might be needed as the fire dies down.

A medium-sized grate with wires from each corner to the chain hook can also be used to support a frying pan or any other cookware without a handle for hanging. Of course, you don’t need to bother making a hanging grate if you just create a rectangular “keyhole” shape out of the side of your fire and pull hot coals out into that area, just setting the grate right onto the coals.

These handy devices can be made at any campsite by using materials that are already on the ground, the shore or the river bank.

If the material is extremely dry, just make the unit a little bigger or longer to keep the dry wood farther from the fire. A good pair of work gloves is essential, as the pots and chains will be very hot and must be handled to rearrange or shorten the chains.

Larry Leigh is an avid angler, hunter and all-round outdoors person who prefers to cook what he harvests himself. He is a past president of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and retired hunter education coordinator for the Government of Yukon.

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