The Fire Kit
When putting together a fire kit, it is important to remember the components of the “Fire Triangle”: heat, fuel, and air. Knowing that allows us to build our kits appropriately. For emergencies, we need to carry gear that is capable of producing heat (ignition sources) as well as our emergency fuel source (emergency tinder) to accept the heat. Mother nature will provide the air.
The ability to make fire is critical, especially in an emergency. Never go out with only one method of making fire, and never rely on one method working in all conditions. For your fire kit, you want to have redundant ignition sources and emergency tinder.
We have likely all heard the saying “Two is one, and one is none”. Typically this is interpreted as having multiples of the same item for redundancy. This isn’t true redundancy, it is just more of the same. If the conditions are not right for one lighter to work, they aren’t right for the other lighter either.
TRUE REDUNDANCY COMES FROM HAVING MULTIPLE DIFFERENT TYPES OF IGNITION SOURCES THAT WORK UNDER A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT CONDITIONS.
If the weather or conditions aren’t good for a lighter, windproof, stormproof matches usually excel. If neither of those work, you have a ferrocerium rod (aka ferro rod) which isn’t effected by the rain or wind. On sunny days, you can use a magnifying lens and save those other more limited resources. That is true redundancy. Simply having a pack full of lighters because “it’s the easiest” does not offer the versatility that you are looking for.
As mentioned, this gives you options for conservation of the more limited ignition sources. Always try and save your lighter and matches for an actual emergency. For routine fires that aren’t an emergency, use your more durable ferro rod on cloudy days, and on sunny days you can use your magnifying lens. Solar Ignition doesn’t take anything at all away from your kit and can be used over and over so long as the sun is out.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN AN EMERGENCY WILL HAPPEN AND WHAT RESOURCES YOU WILL HAVE AVAILABLE AT THAT MOMENT.
As soon as you hit the wood-line, it is important to start gathering natural tinder to use on your first fire. Tinder is a resource you should not pass up, it’s too valuable a resource.
Having a dedicated, weather-resistant tinder pouch to fill as you go is a necessity. A “dump pouch” that attaches to your belt is extremely convenient. Because tinder is so critical, carrying a second dedicated tinder pouch in your pack so that you always have two pouches full of tinder ready to go is a great idea.
With that in mind, you also can’t completely rely on being able to find dry natural tinder quickly in an emergency, so you should carry emergency tinder in your kit. This is often in the form of cotton that has been soaked in some sort of fuel that readily accepts heat from the majority of your ignition sources, especially the emergency ignition sources like your lighter and matches. Being able to light it with a ferro rod is an added redundancy bonus.
The emergency tinder is just that, it’s saved for an actual emergency (just like your lighter and matches) so that when you really need it, it is available and not depleted. Otherwise, use the natural tinder resources that you find along the way and can replenish in the wild. The principle of two is one, one is none, is also recommended here. For example, Tinder Tabs that fit in your pocket or belt pouch can easily be backed up by fatwood shavings or fatwood (lighter-knot) sticks in your pack.
Lastly, you need to have a method of charring material to make all your fires easier. You are not just preparing for your first fire, you are also preparing for all your “Follow On Fires”. This can be as simple as having a small tin that can withstand being placed in the fire to not only make it, but to store it afterwards and keep it dry.
You can use other items from your kit like your water bottle and nesting cup, or a nesting cup with lid in a pinch, but remember that you shouldn’t be planning to improvise. Why improvise when you can anticipate a need and prepare for it instead? You also likely need those items for their intended purpose rather than making and storing charred material.
It should go without saying, but there is no need to bring an empty tin or extra cotton material out in the woods in your kit for the purpose of charring material with your first fire to make the next fire easier. Bring the tin full of material that has already been charred, and replenish it in the wild as needed with natural material. You can use that charred material for your first fire, if needed.
In keeping with the principle of not putting all your eggs in one basket, remember to place some items in your pocket, some in a belt pouch, and some in your pack.
Recommended Fire Kit:
- Leather Possibles Belt Pouch
- BIC Lighter
- Windproof/Stormproof Matches
- Ferrocerium Rod
- Glass Magnifying Lens
- Tinder Tabs or Fatwood Shavings
- Loaded Fatwood Pouch
- Bushcraft Dump Pouch (Belt)
- Saami Tinder Pouch (Pack)
- Charring and Storage Tin
Be Prepared First. I hope to see you around our campfire soon!