Posted by Jamie Canterbury on September 12, 2018
What comes to mind when you think of fire and survival? Is it a Ferro rod? Maybe its matches and a lighter. You wouldn’t be wrong in any of it. The truth is, a fire should come about as cheap and as easy as possible. It's far too powerful to even worry about.
When you are constructing a bugout bag or a survival kit the number one issue is always organization. How do we wrap our heads around all the assorted items that go into a bag? Is there a pack out there that has enough space for us to carry everything in an organized fashion? Most people would say no.
If you don’t have the time to find out, we can look at another method. If you create smaller zippered or clear bags in your pack, you can have quick access to certain items. Color coding these bags can be a tremendous help.
One color you should have is orange. This should be your fire bag. Don’t use red, that is for first aid.
The first thing to place in that bag is a few versions of reliable tinder. There are some products out there that you can buy and use for tinder, like the Pathfinder Mini Inferno. Another option is to pack things like cotton balls or cotton balls rolled in petroleum jelly. You can pack some of that dryer lint you are always throwing away. Dryer lint is absolute gold in terms of tinder. Throw this stuff in a few zip locks or a metal tin and you will be ready.
Make sure you pack plenty of tinder. In fact, tinder should make up about 50% of your fire bag. Do not skimp on this stuff. First of all, it's free if you take it from the dryer. Second, there is no feeling worse than watching the last bit of tinder fizzle out and knowing you have to start all over.
Ferro Rods and Other Sparkers
When it comes to creating a spark for that tinder there are few things as effective as a Ferro rod. A Ferro rod is a combination of the rare earth metal cerium and iron. This combination is great for laying down a rain of sparks that are over 3000 degrees!
Of course, the Ferro rod is not the only spark out there. You can also look into the old flint and steel method. You can even create an ember from hardwood if you have experience with a bow drill.
When it comes to packing that fire bag. You need to have three things at a minimum. A pack of waterproof matches (strike anywhere), a couple of lighters and a long and thick Ferro rod.
Remember, a fire should be easy. It should be brainless. Outside of collecting enough tinder and fuel, a fire should cost you very little. That is the importance of this bag.
Things like Mini Inferno, fire gels and compressed paper fire extenders are all something you should have in your fire bag. These items will allow you to sustain a small fire under harsh conditions or just until your kindling really gets going.
These are all important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to fire starting. While you may be a master of fire on a hot August night, that might not be the case on a rainy October night. Fire has to be around for a person to survive. Being wet and cold is death. If you cannot generate your own heat sufficient to warm your body, its over for you. Hypothermia can kill a wet person at 65 degrees without shelter or fire.
Building Your Bag
Once you have picked out the perfect bag, pile these items into the bag. You can use simple rubber bands to combine items as well. Items such your matches, your lighter and your Ferro rod can all be bound together. This makes it even easier to grab the “starters” in one shot.
Once you have all of your items organized and set up in your smaller orange bag, you will need to decide where in your pack that bag should go. Remember what we talked about with fire. We want it to be the easiest thing you do. Therefore, we should look to store this fire bag in a pocket that is easily accessible. You might even want to place it in a pocket by itself.
Your fire process is uniquely yours. Adopting this sort of “rapid deployment” approach to fire will make things easier on you. It will also help you get more organized in your pack in general. That organization makes an enormous difference in terms of efficiency on the trail and in camp. Though fire is very important and having a fire bag will make it easier to build from scratch, these bags make everything easier.