There's More Than One Way To Start A Fire. What's In Your Fire Kit?
by Brandon Hunt
What's in Your Kit?
Have you ever been on a campout and your only method for starting fires were a few matches?
You would grunt in frustration as match head after match head broke off while striking them.
You forgot your bow and drill for starting fires.
I know…I’ve been in that situation. Well, at least being stuck with crappy matches. I’ve never started a fire using a bow and drill set up — it looks like a lot of effort.
I always prefer the fastest way to get a fire going. And these days there are plenty of tools for lighting that bonfire.
Once upon a time, matches were the main tool for starting fires, but not anymore.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fire kit that includes more than one method for lighting a fire.
Why Did I Only Carry a Match?
As a kid I would go backpacking with my dad every summer. He always packed a pill bottle full of matches. They were his preferred method of fire starting. I don’t know why he never carried a lighter, they were available.
Anyway, my dad’s reliance on matches was something that carried over to me. Whenever I went out camping with friends or scouts, I too filled an empty pill bottle with matches.
It never really occurred to me then that there was wisdom in carrying a small fire starting kit, of being able to light a fire with more than one method or tool.
Fortunately my mindset has changed with experience. I finally saw the light (bad pun) in carrying a fire starting kit. Now, whenever I go on a hiking or camping trip, I pack my dedicated fire kit.
More Than One Way to Start a Fire
Build your own fire starting kit.
Fire building is a skill in itself. You can go completely primitive with fire starting methods (think bow and drill method), which is cool and does build your own survival skill set.
But a lot of people prefer quicker ways to get a fire going. And with all the current innovations out there, you can create a well rounded fire kit. Afterall, you want to have more than one way or means to light that all important fire.
The container for your fire kit can be anything from an Altoids can to a small leather pouch. It should be easy to carry or pack.
As far as actual lighting methods a combination of any of these will work:
- Matches or water/wind proof matches.
- At least one lighter. They are plentiful, cheap, and easy to keep on hand.
- An electric arc lighter. I have one that I’ve used a few times. It’s nice for lighting small pieces of tinder. The electric lighter is rechargeable, so make sure it has a full charge. I would say add one to the fire kit before you head out to the woods; I wouldn’t store it in a fire kit permanently, just because it could lose the charge when you’re counting on it.
- Permanent match. I’ve seen these on the internet, but I have not tried one yet. I can’t say if it would be a good addition to a fire starter kit or not. You’ll want to try it out first.
- The old school flint and steel (ferro) rod. A little more work to catch a spark and get the fire going, but generally reliable. Some practice using one is recommended. But you can store a flint and steel rod in a fire starting kit for a long time.
As part of your fire starting kit, add some sort of tinder or accelerant to help light the fire quickly. You can use anything from cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, fire sticks, Pyro Putty, char cloth, or magnesium shavings.
You’ll be ready and able to build a fire at your leisure or when you need it most.
Put it All Together
Emergency preparation, camping, hiking are all opportunities to learn and test your kits to find what works best for you.
In the case of fire starter kits, you can buy some premade ones online, though in my own opinion they tend toward the expensive.
Alternatively, creating your own fire kit isn’t hard at all. You can go as grand as you want or as simple. Carry your kit in a tin, leather pouch, or any kind of container, the only limit is your imagination.
In fact, make a few fire kits. Create a deluxe kit for your camping and hiking needs, but then make generic kits filled with a lighter and matches and then add them to storage or your vehicles.
Light Your Way
Just a quick note before the end here. In this post I mainly focused on various methods for starting a fire. In another I’ll go over different tinder materials to add to your fire kit. That way you have the method and the means to get that fire going.
Carrying a fire starting kit isn’t new. The idea has been around for…well, as long as people have been hunting.
What we have now is the advancement of materials and tools. So, take advantage of the tools and put together a fire kit… or two. Just make sure they’re out of reach of curious toddlers.
So, the next you’re at a family campout, pull out your fire kit and get that blaze going. Everyone will watch in awe and call you The Great Fire Maker….well, maybe kids will call you that.
But at least you’ll have fun lighting a fire.