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Ah, fire, the perfect topic for the pyromaniac in you. It’ll keep you warm and cook your food, but starting one takes practice. There are SO many good tools to have on hand for fire. I’d recommend getting your hands on multiple options and getting practice in with every single one. Find which products work well for you and which don’t and remember this in particular is something where redundancy is key. Now when I say try multiple products, I’m absolutely serious. I have several flint strikers, including the BlastMatch and the Sparkie by Ultimate Survival Technologies. I use those as an example because even though they are made by the same company, I’ve found the one is FAR easier for me personally to use. I’m not going to say which simply because it’s different for everyone and I really want you to try a bunch rather than just relying on someone’s recommendation. Both are worth trying.
I also like having a bunch of different ones on hand so that as my kids get older they can practice using each and be comfortable with a variety of methods. What I prefer may not end up being what they prefer.
In my bags, I keep multiple methods of starting a fire. This means:
- Matches, stored in a ziploc to stay dry.
- Several lighters, also stored in ziploc.
- A couple flint based strikers of various designs.
I also keep a variety of items to help start a fire, like:
- UST’s Wet Fire
- Cotton balls and vaseline
Starting Your First Fires
If you don’t have much experience outdoors, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you practice. First, get your various sizes of kindling and wood lined up and ready to go before you start. You’ll want tiny twigs and leaves, then slightly bigger twigs and so on, working your way up to larger logs. If you try loading your fire up with larger pieces of wood before it gets going you’ll typically have a hard time getting it to catch. Likewise, if you don’t have your kindling and all ready to go before starting, the tiny fire you do start will likely burn out by the time you look around and find additional tinder and wood to keep it going.
Secondly, when you are having problems finding dry wood and leaves — look up. What’s on the ground will be the last to get dry after rain. If you look up in the branches of trees you’ll often find dead branches and leaves that just got hung up and stuck in other branches instead of being able to fall to the ground.