4 Essential Items You Need In Your Survival Fire Kit
Fire is an essential element to survival in a variety of harsh environments. A well thought out fire kit will make your life easier and will mean you can always get a fire going in almost any conditions. The most important thing is to practice with your kit, there is no point having a bunch of gear in a survival situation if you don’t practice with it, so make sure you reach for the ferro rod next time before you resort to the lighter.
There are few essential items that every fire kit should have and we will take you through some of our favourites.
Redundancy is important so I suggest having some backup gear throughout your kit, but I always keep a dedicated fire kit in my bag. There are various types and sizes containers that can be suitable depending on your kit. Ideally a waterproof plastic or metal container is best and you can even use a small dry bag. One of my kits lives in a canvas pouch which isn’t waterproof but it keeps things organised and it looks great!
Sometimes you just need a fire as fast as possible and that is where a lighter comes in handy. There are 2 main types to choose from.
Butane Gas - These can be just a standard BIC cigarette lighter which are generally fairly reliable and there are also jet lighters and a large variety of “waterproof” survival oriented models on the market. There is great waterproof Fire Sleeve made by Exotac that really enhances the abilities of a standard BIC lighter.
Liquid Fuel - Most people will know of the brand Zippo that makes liquid fuelled lighters, They can utilise a variety of liquid fuels although it is best to use a dedicated lighter fuel for safety and longevity purposes. Check out the Exotac Titan Lighter which is a modern adaptation of the liquid field lighter that has solved the problems that normally occur with waterproofing and fuel evaporation.
Whilst lighters are a great option and should be a part of every fire kit, there are some limitations which should be considered and that is the reason we shouldn’t rely on them alone.
- Gas or Fuel can leak and leave you high and dry. (You can sometimes still utilise the spark from your lighter if you have a dry tinder in this situation)
- Flints can wear out and leave you without a spark to light your fuel.
- They can get wet and render them inoperable until you are able to dry them properly.
Fire Striker/ Ferro Rod
A ferro rod is one of the most reliable pieces of fire lighting equipment and with a bit of practice and a dry tinder source you will be able to get a fire going in almost any conditions.
There are a range of different models on the market and the most important thing is to practice with yours as there a various techniques that work better with different rods. I have found that the USA made rods to be the most effective although you certainly can get by with some of the cheaper Chinese made rods with a bit of practice.
Tinder & Fire Starters
Tinder is any dry combustible fuel source that you can ignite using a spark from your ferro rod or other ignition source, there are plenty of natural tinder sources which are great because you can find them out in the bush and there also some alternatives you can bring with you for the best chance of success.
Fire starters will generally burn for longer to allow you to build up enough heat to keep your fire going, but they don’t always count as tinder as some of these need a more steady flame to ignite. Although with a bit of practice you can usually manipulate these materials to be used as tinder.
- One of the most popular fire starting materials is cotton balls soaked in vaseline. This works both as tinder and as a fire starter as the cotton catches a spark easily and the vaseline will continue to burn long enough to get your fire going. You can keep this in a zip lock bag or any other waterproof container.
- Fat wood is a natural fire starter that is cut from the base of pine trees and contains high amounts of flammable pine resin which is perfect for building up a fire base. With a bit of practice you can also shave a piece of fat wood finely enough to ignite it with a spark.
- Commercial tinders are offered by a variety of different brands and generally will run double duty as a long burning fire starter. Some of our favourites include QuickLight from Exotac and the Mini Inferno Discs from Pathfinder.
- Natural tinders can be found all over the place in the great outdoors, just look around for dry materials and try your luck to see which materials take a spark easily. Dry grasses are a great starting point and can be bunched up into a tinder bundle which makes it easier to get a flame from an ember like you will get when using char cloth or friction fire techniques.
- Char cloth can be made using a tin with a small hole poked into it with a piece of cotton fabric inside. Check out this cool video on how it is done.
- Candles are a great fire starter and you can also use the wax to make your own DIY fire starters using a variety of other materials.
I could go on all day about this topic but the most important thing is to practice with your materials and make sure you have a backup just in case.
You should be able to get a fire going in most conditions using the items I have listed above, but if you want to make it even easier then this item will help you out.
A pocket bellows is a telescopic tube which you can blow through to deliver more oxygen to your fire and get it burning hotter and faster. This work much better than kneeling down and trying to get close enough to blow into fire and it makes it substantially easier to get the fire going if you are using damp and soggy wood.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Did I mention you need to practice to improve your skills! A day will come when your lighter isn’t working or your fire starters are all gone and you will need these skills.
There a lot of alternative items we haven’t covered here which could be really useful but we are only looking to cover the minimum essentials here. So get out there as much as possible and practice all of the different techniques available to you and find as much natural tinder as you can.