Editor’s Note: This is one of three sections about Fire we published on our Spring/Summer, 2021 Prepper Manual. The other two sections are It Starts With A Spark and The Flame Game.
The relationship between humans and fire is a long and mixed one. When we need it, fire can be our best friend and, in some situations, it might be the only thing that keeps us alive. When it comes to human survival in austere environments, it would be difficult to be successful without the benefits fire affords us. You’ll find some gear in the following pages that can help you reliably summon fire when and where you need it the most.
When it comes to survival, the acronym, KISS (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”), certainly applies. You’d be hard-pressed to find an easier-to-use fire starter than a BIC lighter. It isn’t perfect, but even the most experienced survival instructors usually have one in their pocket. Spin the thumb wheel, and you have instant flame. In cold conditions, carry it near your skin to keep it warm or clench it in a bare fist for several seconds before lighting. Pair it with the Exotac fireSLEEVE, and you have an unbeatable combination.
This is an ideal fire-starter to use in challenging conditions, because it’ll light from flame or spark, even when wet. It’ll burn hot—1,300 degrees (F)—for several minutes, easily getting your campfire going. One cube (approximately 1×1 inches) will last 10 to 12 minutes. However, you can break or cut it into smaller pieces and use those separately, making as many as eight fires from one cube. The cubes are individually wrapped in heavy-duty foil for long-term storage. They’re odorless when burning and give off no toxic fumes.
Sometimes, the hardest part about getting a fire going is directing oxygen to where it’s most needed. Fanning the fire doesn’t always work. The Fire Blowing Tube allows you to point air where you need it, but it doesn’t scorch your face in the process. It consists of two parts—a flexible plastic tube that’s attached to one end of a collapsible, stainless steel tube that extends out, not unlike a radio antenna. Place the open end of the metal tube at the base of the fire and then blow through the plastic tube. This keeps your face well away from the heat.
Imagine an easy-to-light fire-starter that’ll last almost an hour if needed. The Tindår Wick+Bellow’s hemp wick is infused with paraffin, helping it light quickly and stay burning for some time. It’s so simple! Pull out the end of the wick, fluff it up, and light it with a spark or flame. Use the burning end to light your tinder or kindling. When you’re done with it, just pull it back into the metal bellows, and the lit end is extinguished.
These matches are similar to a sparkler, but with a little less spark and more flame. In wind, rain and snow, these matches will stay lit, no matter what. Each one is about 4 inches long and burns for about 25 seconds. This kit comes with a dozen matches, along with three replacement strike pads, and it all stores in a handy, waterproof case. Matches shouldn’t be your primary fire-starters, but they make a great backup in case you lose your lighter or ferro rod.
The downside of disposable lighters is that they’re almost impossible to stand upright and stay lit, at least not without holding them. And, you risk burning your finger if you try to do so. Yes, you can light and set down many refillable lighters, but they often leak fuel in your pocket or pack. The titanLIGHT solves both problems: It uses standard lighter fluid, but O-rings keep it from leaking or evaporating. In addition, you can stand it up as needed or just use it as you would any other lighter. It’s also overbuilt and rugged, and it’ll last for generations.
This isn’t just a neat-looking necklace; it also has everything you’ll need to get a fire going in an emergency. The necklace, itself, is a length of Firecord that comprises 550 paracord with an extra strand running throughout the interior. Colored red, this strand is an amazing tinder product and can be pulled easily from the cordage. The inch-long ferrocerium rod is then scraped with the ceramic pendant to create sparks, thereby lighting the tinder. The necklace comes standard with a 24.5-inch-length cord, and the pendant is available in white or black.
A ferrocerium rod is a weatherproof fire-starter. When used properly, it’ll shower sparks on your tinder, regardless of how cold or wet it is outside. You’ll also get thousands of lights from a single rod, giving you a lot of “bang for your buck.” The Exotac fireROD not only has a high-quality ferrocerium rod, it also holds tinder in the handle. There’s enough space for two standard tinder tabs. Alternatively, you can use cotton balls or similar materials. The rod, itself, is replaceable too.
The Zippo SureFire Tool has everything you need to get a fire going. Use the saw to cut branches to manageable size and the knife to turn them into feather sticks. The grater works well to quickly make a pile of wood shavings. Then, cut off some of the paracord and remove the red strand for use as tinder. Pop up the thumbwheel and strike sparks to light the strand. Then, kick back and use the bottle opener to crack open a cold one as a reward for a job well done!
The Spark-Lite is one of the most effective fire-starters on the market today. This brass model adds a touch of class to the mix too. It’s simple to use: Just roll the wheel with your thumb or finger as you would on a disposable lighter. The result is sparks raining down on your tinder. When it eventually wears down, you can replace the flint with the included wrench. This kit comes complete with eight tinder bundles, and all of it stores in a handy case.
It doesn’t get much easier than this. The Pull Start Firestarter has two strings. Build your fire lay and then loop a string to one of the logs. Hold that log in place as you firmly pull the other string, and the box ignites. There are no matches, no lighters, no spark wheels—just nearly instant flame. It’s windproof up to about 200 mph, and it’s hot enough to get even wet wood to burn. Each one is about the size of a standard TV remote and weighs about 4 ounces.