We Did Start the Fire

We Did Start the Fire

Tips for Making a Fire in the Field


In the field fire can be the difference between a hot cup of coffee or a cold breakfast. In extreme cases a fire can, be the difference between making it through the night or not. For the prepared there are always pieces of gear that will make starting a fire easier. But for those caught in a rain storm or stuck away from camp what options do you have?

Packable Fire Starter

You could go primitive and use a bow drill to make a fire but you need a spindle, bow, block, and a bearing block. That’s a lot of extra weight to carry. Not to mention the energy expended getting a fire going with a bow drill is a major calorie drain.



A gas station lighter is cheap enough to be tossed in every bag you own and rugged enough to deal with bouncing around a glove box. While these lighters seem like an indestructible option if you are in cold weather keep the lighter closer to your body, the cold temperatures can cause the fuel to contract and you won’t get a good burn.

Pick a bright color Bic so you can find it easily



A packet or box of matches is even cheaper than a lighter. With matches you will need to keep them dry, opt for a waterproof case. Even better purchase a waterproof match like the Typhoon from zippo.


Flint and Steel

A ferro rod, or flint striker can be scraped against a pocket knife to create enough of a spark to ignite your tinder. Just like matches you will need to make sure you are out of the wind to keep your fledgling flame going.

Free Range Tinder

Any camping isle will have fire starters for sale, if you are able to stash a chunk or two of Duraflame’s Quick Start log, will make your fire-starting much easier. However, we are focusing of fire-starting options in a pinch.


IF you need tinder in the woods you are in luck. We all know wood burns but to start your fire you will need a base of tinder. Form a nest of dry pine needles, grass, or old man’s beard moss to catch your embers soon you will have enough flame to ignite your kindling. Dry bark especially the phloem and cambium (inner layers of bark) work best for tinder.

 Something manmade and something natural.

Manmade Tinder

Worst case scenario it's wet can cold. Odds are you still have tinder in your pack, even if you don’t know it.


Between socks, your pockets, and the edges of your bag there’s probably a decent amount of flammable fuzz. Keeping a few wads from the dryer makes a great lightweight starter for your trip too.


 Some light reading material makes for a great additive to your fire. If you’re like me you probably have a stash of old receipts in your wallet; right where the money should be.

Hand sanitizer

That little bottle of Purell hanging from your pack is 60% alcohol and will ignite in a hot clear flame. A dollop will burn for about a minute so you can build a decent tinder pile of sticks in the meantime.

Duct Tape.

The adhesives of tape burn well and can work to make little bundles of dried grass or leaves. Wrap stocky side out for easier lighting.


Greasy chips and peanut shells will burn. I recommend using this as a last resort or in tandem with some other options mentioned.

"flamin hot" means something different in the woods


The best piece of survival equipment you have is you brain. Preparing for your trip includes having some way to start a fire. We all live in a world where time is a luxury, make your compact fire kit using a watertight Altoids or Skoll can. Fill it with all the bits of tinder listed above to give yourself a little head start should you need to light an emergency fire. 


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