The Importance of Having Fire Starters in Your Backpack
You never know when you will want or need to build a fire out on the trail. However, there are many times when you may either have trouble finding good material to build a fire, or it will be too wet. When building fires in less-than-ideal conditions, it takes a lot more fuel to get and keep them going. There's also the chance that something could also happen to your matches or lighter as well.
Having some backup fire starters can help you to get fires going a lot faster and with less fuel. Fortunately, there are dozens of different ways that you can make fire starters. You can make them ahead of time, or you can also use some of what Mother Nature provides out in the field as well. Let's take a look at a couple of options to get your mind oriented in this important direction.
Making Your Own
The idea is to make small packets of fire-starting material that can be easily stored without adding any weight. The easiest thing to use is some tissue, paper, scraps of cloth, lint from your drier or similar items as the material that will burn. The trick is to make it burn slowly by soaking it with an appropriate type of fuel. Rubbing alcohol, lighter fluid, kerosene and wax are some of the most popular options.
If working with anything other than wax, the general concept is to tightly-pack a small container with the material and then pour in the fuel. Add some material if there's still room, cover it up and pack it away. If you are using wax, all you need to do is melt the wax and pour it around the material before letting it harden. You can also use wax as a way to wad material together and create dense balls that will burn slowly. Each option has their benefits and drawbacks, so take a look at a few and find some that will work best for you.
Sap From Trees
One of the best gifts that nature provides is coniferous trees, and they are found in almost every wilderness area. The sap from these trees is perfect for starting fires because it is very sticky, dense and flammable. The most common way to make fire starters in the field is to take some small amounts of combustible debris laying around, heat the wax and then wad and soak the material. Let it cool and harden, and you should be able to light it up with one match.
Finally, you may want to consider bringing along a fire-strike tool that can serve as a backup to lighters or matches if something happens to them. These items are inexpensive, can start hundreds of fires before wearing out, and they will work in wet as well as dry conditions most of the time.
While fires aren't on the agenda for every hike, you never know when you will need to build one. Make sure that you pack matches and a lighter, but add some redundancy with fire starters as an extra layer of protection as well.