Build the Ultimate Fire Starting KitJanuary 15, 2014 by Melanie Swick | 30 Comments
Starting a fire can often mean the difference between life and death; it’s critical in treating hypothermia, purifying water, and signaling for rescue, among other things. But even under the best conditions, turning a spark or ember into a crackling fire can be a challenge.
I’ve started fires in every environment using every technique you can imagine—from a primitive bow drill to a lighter and way more gasoline than was wise. If nothing else, this has taught me that it will be the most difficult to start one when you need it the most. How easily do you think you’ll be able to start a fire in the wind when you’re cold, wet, and shivering, with numb fingers? If you haven’t tried, you don’t know, which is why you need to train under a variety of circumstances.
There’s no need to make starting a fire any tougher than it already is. Can I start one with primitive techniques? Sure, but why the Hell would I want to? I regularly do it in my training, but I don’t have anything to prove in a survival situation, which is why I carry a fire starting kit with several tools to turn a small pile of tinder into a roaring blaze guaranteed to warm my extremities.
1.) You won’t find an easier way to start a fire than with a disposable lighter, and you can pick up a three-pack for less than a dollar.
2.) Matches are a tried and true fire starting tool, but the matches from your last night of bar hopping won’t cut it—you need something that handles the elements better; these wind and waterproof matches are perfect for the job.
3. Magnesium bars are small, lightweight, and inexpensive, and with a knife or other piece of metal, you can quickly create a pile of magnesium shavings that will quickly ignite with a spark from the embedded ferrocerium rod.
4.) You might not think of a knife as a fire starting tool, but it is; it allows you to shave wood into tinder, make a bow drill, or utilize a magnesium bar. I always carry a knife suitable for my activities, but I also pack one of these Boker Magnum micro knives in each fire starting kit.
5.) Tinder is a vital component to any fire, and while you can usually find plenty in most environments, I’m not taking any chances. I stumbled across this packaged tinder from SOL at a sporting goods store and instantly fell in love. It will ignite even when wet in windy conditions and each piece will burn for about two minutes.
6.) If I’m stuck in a shitty situation for a really long time, my lighter may run out of fluid or I may use up all of my matches, but primitive methods will last indefinitely, so I include a 3-4 foot piece of paracord to build a bow drill.
7.) Now I need somewhere to put everything and a 2″ x 5″ piece of PVC pipe works perfectly. Add two end caps, one cemented in with PVC cement, and you’ve got a weather resistant package that fits easily in your glove box or bug out bag.
Pack everything neatly inside and you still have about 1″ for additional tinder or other tools. (I recommend tinder.)
And here is the whole package…
So what do you pack in your fire starting kit? Let me know in the comments below…