Quick Tip #21

So, you made it to where you want to camp for the night, and you’re all setup, then you realize it’s going to be dark soon and you start scrambling around to gather natural tinder and wood to get a fire going. Does this sound like your normal routine? It used to be mine years ago until I started carrying a tinder pouch on my belt. Now as I hike along, I gather natural tinder, birch bark, small twigs and anything else I might be able to use to make a “birds nest” and get a fire going. I also grab a few pieces of wood (sticks) that are slightly thicker than my thumb and break them short enough to fit in the pouch. I use these for making feather sticks.

Carrying a tinder pouch and filling it as you hike makes for a less stressful time later trying to get a fire going and it means you’ll most likely have better quality material to work with. Some advantages to carrying a tinder pouch are that everything you put in the pouch gets mixed together and ground together as you hike and if anything is damp it will help dry it out by the time you get to camp. Also, if it starts raining along the way or by the time you get to camp or before you get a fire going, you’ll have a bag full of quality dry tinder to work with instead of trying to scrounge around in the rain.

I highly recommend training yourself to grab natural tinder as you hike, whether you put it in your pocket, pack or designated tinder pouch, you’ll thank me later when you have a much easier and relaxed time starting a nice warm cozy fire. Do you already carry a designated tinder pouch? If so, what natural things do you grab to fill your pouch? Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment with your answers to the previous questions.

Practice

With five active and energetic kids its hard to find time to continue to practice bushcraft/wilderness skills that need constant practice. It forces me to be a multitasker and to think outside the box.

Here’s an example; just the other night, we have a wood/coal furnace, I needed to get a fire going in the furnace but instead of getting the fire going and just sitting there waiting for it to get up to temperature I figured why not practice bow drill friction fire. It seemed like a better way to spend my time than staring at my phone like I often do well waiting on the furnace. I knew all of the wood was dry, so it wasn’t really a question of whether or not I’d get an ember but more about continued practice and for muscle memory.

It was fun to spend my time doing something more useful and we all know practice makes perfect. I knew I couldn’t be in the wilderness but there was no reason I couldn’t practice wilderness skills. I forget sometimes, as I’m sure others do as well, that we don’t necessarily need to be in the woods to practice our skills. Although that is a nicer environment to practice in, it’s not necessary.

Below are some pictures of the bow drill set I made. It worked great and was smoking within seconds of running the bow and drill. I know we’re all very busy, but I urge you to find time to practice bushcraft/survival skills so that you don’t loose them. Sometimes we must think outside the box when it comes to finding time to learn and practice. What skills are you currently learning or trying to fine tune? Have you ever tried any type of friction fire? Thanks for reading and please leave a comment about what outdoor skills you’re currently learning or fine tuning.fire1.jpg

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Fire Kit

 

Pictured are some basic fire kits I made for my older three boys, Father and brother for Christmas. I wanted to make the kit compact but encompass more than most kits do. I put everything in a metal tin (similar to an altoids tin) and included a fero rod, 6 ft of jute twine, a piece of chert and a steel striker I designed, made and heat treated.

I used 1095 steel to make the striker. I drilled an indent in each striker so that they can be used as a baring block for the bow drill, primitive friction fire starting technique. I made all the edges 90 degrees so that the edges can be used to scrape wood for fine shavings or be used to scrape a fero rod.

The tin can be used to make char cloth. They have room to add char cloth as well as add some quik tinder or other modern tinder for fire starting. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to sit down and teach them all how to start a flint and steel fire. I did teach my older son, who was excited when his first try was a success. I’m sure they’ll be addicted to starting a fire in the wilderness this way, just as I am. Flint and steel is by far my favorite way to get a fire going. What’s your favorite fire-starting method? Have you ever used flint and steel or any primitive friction methods? I added some pictures of me heat treating the steel strikers in my simple forge.

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Camping With My Dad

A few weeks ago I went on an overnighter with my dad. We both had new Deepwoods Rucks from The Hidden Woodsman that we wanted to test out and it had been many years since my dad has been able to get out and camp. He had gotten seriously hurt on a construction site when I was younger and it really took a toll on his body, which meant backpacking and camping and any of the outdoors stuff he loved doing were out of the question for a long time. It’s only been in recent years that hes been able to slowly try to get back into some of the outdoor activities that he loves. Since other plans I had that weekend fell through and instead of doing some side work, I texted him and said lets get out for an overnighter and cook some steaks over the fire. He replied with YES! LETS GO! So the planning ensued.

I knew the night time temps would be in the low 30’s with windchill around the low 20’s and since it was his first time back out in the woods in years, I decided to go to one of my favorite spots to camp that was maybe a 20-30 minute hike in so my truck would be close in case we needed any extra supplies for warmth. I gave him my 0 degree Hammock Gear over quilt to use and I used my 20 degree over quilt. We used foam pads with  Klymit insulated static V blow up pads over top so that based on the R-value I new we’d be good down to 0 degrees and we’d be comfortable since we both have back issues. I set up my Warbonnet Outdoors Superfly tarp since it has “doors” and I knew it was going to be very windy. We used reusable heavy weight emergency blankets as our ground sheets.

We camped near a large pond with a great view. It rained a bit after we got camp set up and stopped just as we started to cook our steaks over the fire. The steaks (Venison backstraps cut into steaks) and potatoes came out perfect and tasted amazing after being cooked over the fire. We enjoyed some time around the fire and headed to bed. We slept pretty decent all night. The wind gusts got going pretty high which concerned us because the trees creaked like crazy all night and we could hear some trees and limbs falling in the distance. The wind was constantly changing direction all night. Otherwise it was a pretty good night. We both got up around 4 am to go to the bathroom and I loaded up the makeshift fire pit with wood so that we’d have coals to get a fire going later that morning. After I got the fire going again and warmed my hands up, I headed back to bed for a few hours.

I think we ended up getting up around 8-8:30 am. There was a little bit of snow on the ground, on our tarp and on our packs that were hung on the trees. The low that night was 32 degrees with a windchill of 18 degrees. It was so windy when we got up that we both decided we’d just pack up and have breakfast when we got home instead of getting a fire going and trying to cook over it in the wind. Plus I didn’t want to have to worry about the fire being reignited after we left because of the high winds.

We enjoyed our hike out and had a great time. It was nice seeing my dad be able to camp again and enjoy the things he use to be able to. We had a fun successful trip. We ate great food, had a great time and slept pretty well. We only needed our rain gear for a few hours the night before. We both love our new packs. My dad will eventually upgrade his pack frame to the same one that I have because mine has much more padding and is very comfortable. My dad’s already looking forward to our next trip, and to me that always means your trip was successful when anyone you took out enjoys themselves so much that they look forward to the next trip.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the attached photos of our trip. What extra little things do you do to ensure you have a great trip? Heres a link to the video of our trip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rbbY5vnuW0

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Quick Tip #20

If you’re tired of getting smoke in your face and wasting your breath get yourself a V3-pocket bellows. They are awesome! It will help direct your air exactly where you want it to go and you can get a longer sustained blow. Instead of having only a little of your breath of air actually reach the dying fire you can now have all of it reach the base of the fire with no smoke in the face or burnt eye brows.

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Flint and steel failure with a waxed disk in the rain

This past weekend I went out with my dad for an overnighter. After we hiked in and got our camp all setup, it was time to process fire wood and get a fire going for dinner. We got plenty of firewood processed down into all the different sizes we needed and then of coarse it began to rain steadily.

My favorite way to start a fire is with flint and steel with a piece of char cloth. I had one piece of char cloth left in my tin, so I decided to use a fluffed waxed disc. Every time a spark hit the fluffed waxed disk it just went out. I could not get it to light. After a few minutes of trying, I decided to grab my last piece of char cloth and use that. I turned the waxed disk into a sort of birds nest to receive the lit char cloth. The char cloth lit with only one strike of the steel on the flint. I blew on the char cloth to make sure and sure enough the spark took. I then placed the char cloth in the birds nest made from the waxed disk and blew. The char cloth kept burning but the disk just would not light. I’m not sure why but I was shocked. After blowing and getting a lot of smoke and light from the char cloth I got nothing from the waxed disk. Once the char cloth was fully consumed I gave up on the flint and steel and grabbed my fero rod. All it took was two slides down the fero rod with my knife, sparks rained down on the waxed disk and shavings and everything lit right up. From what I can gather from this experience is that these waxed disks are great for use with fero rods and lighters but I’m not so sure they’re any good when you’re trying to start a fire with flint and steel. I will definitely be testing this out again to see if my suspicions are true or not. Thus far, when starting a fire with flint and steel, I’ve always had luck with a birds nest made with natural materials and char cloth for the ember. What has your experience been like when using flint and steel? What is your favorite way to start a fire?

After we got the fire going for awhile and had some nice coals built up, we cooked some venison backstraps and potatoes over the fire. Dinner was delicious! The rain mostly stopped once we started cooking. We had a great time and this was definitely a learning lesson for me. Hope you all have a great day and get a chance to get out and enjoy the wilderness well testing and learning some new skills.

 

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Quick Tip #19

This is the time of year to check your local hardware stores, Home Depot, Lowes and Tractor Supply. With heating season in full swing you can find all kinds of pre-made fire starters at many stores at a fairly cheap price. Grab a mixed assortment and give them a try. You may very well find your new favorite fire starter.

fat wood

Every year I grab a few of these bags of Fatwood. They are great and easy to use all year long.

 

Firestarter

I found these little gems at Tractor Supply. They are made of Fatwood and wax. What more could you ask for? What are some of your favorite fire starters?