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What should you include in a fire kit?
The ability to light a fire is essential, fire will keep you warm and provide the means to cook, clean, tool-making, sanitising water, signal, and even keep away insects. Your choice of fire lighting gear is therefore essential to not just your survival, but your whole outdoor experience.
Building that perfect fire kit is loads of fun. At the end of the day, it is largely dependant on your personal preference. There is no golden set-up, it comes down to which kit is best for you and meets your specific needs and requirements. However, we can all agree that simplicity and functionality are the two key objectives. With this in mind, these are our recommendations.
Primary Fire Starter:
One of the components of the main kit - the fire starter itself. For the primary fire lighting source, we recommend a ferro rod. Ferrocerium rods are one of the most influential innovations in bushcraft gear as they are very reliable. Unlike lighters or matches, they do not stop working and require zero fuel. They are 100% water and wind-proof and can light fires at all altitudes. Of course we recommend a Forest Fundamentals ferro rod above all others, our full Fire Starters Collection is available here. A guide explaining the differences between the models is also available here.
Backup Fire Starter:
The only drawback to ferro rods is that they do not produce a naked flame which makes it hard to light candles, etc. We would always recommend carrying a small supply of waterproof survival matches, or a cheap plastic lighter. UCO makes some great survival matches, these are available here.
Fire Lighting Tinder:
Another essential part of your fire-starting kit is your tinder. We would always first learning how to source and process natural tinders. As Ray Mears says: “Knowledge is the key to survival, the real beauty of that is that it doesn't weigh anything.”. However, in many situations, it definitely makes sense to have a backup! You basically want your backup tinder to be waterproof, windproof, as compact as possible, and to have a very slow burning time. Our waxed cotton fire plugs are a great example of this. Our Stealth Fire Starter also incorporates tinder into the design. It comes included with waterproof, waxed-infused tinder wicks that produce a strong naked flame. These bad boys will burn for hours and will light your kindling right off the bat. These are available here.
Some DIY Options:
As well as the few core pieces of kit, there is a whole range of inexpensive DIY options worth exploring. A few of these include:
• Folded tin foil: Tinfoil/Aluminum foil provides a great base for your fire. It will help insulate it from the ground, the reflective texture will also help radiate the heat upwards.
• DIY tinder options: There is a whole range of DIY tinders, a few of these include: cotton pads, tampons, jute rope or twine, wood chips, etc. Soaking any of these in wax or vaseline is also an easy way to make them more water-resistant and increase burn time.
• DIY Ferro Rod Strikers: If you often misplace gear, it might make sense to carry a backup ferro rod and striker. In short, any material which is harder than the rod itself can be used as a striker. The harder the better. If you are going down the DIY route, square pieces of High-Speed Steel (HSS) like this or a piece of hacksaw blade work very well. Using the spine of your knife also works very well. Please make sure not to use your knife blade as this will blunt your blade very fast!