Thursday, February 25, 2010


I wrote the following for a group that I belong to. May as well post it here too. Might give someone some ideas.


Fire, and the ability to create it anytime and anywhere, is what
separates man from the animals. Sadly modern man often falls short in this

There are a few of what I call essential items that you will seldom find me
without. I like to make up a little kit that weighs practically nothing, but
that can be a life saver. It consists of wooden strike anywhere matches in a
water proof match safe, a disposable cigarette lighter, a flint and steel
striker, and a few cotton balls. This makes 3 different ways of starting a
fire, and I like to have at least 2 of them with me; preferably all 3. All of
this will fit in a little water proof pouch, and you will find such a pouch in
every back pack I own, in my saddle bags, and the same items in the glove
compartment of my truck. I also have a little pouch that I can hang over my
shoulder in case I should become separated from my horse. It contains a small
digital camera, a cell phone, and a cigarette lighter. Admittedly there are
places in these mountains where a cell phone won't work, but there are lots of
places where it will. At my age, and considering some of the places where I
find myself, it's a good idea to have one along.

Another item that can come in handy is a piece of candle or some cardboard
soaked in wax. There is a home for disadvantaged children in town, and they
make and sell a simple fire starter as a fund raiser. I won a whole box of
these at a raffle once. They are nothing more that cut up pieces cardboard
soaked in wax. They must have a form of some sort that they put the cardboard
in, and pour the wax over it, as they are all about the same size and shape.
About the size of a large biscuit or small pan cake.

Several years ago some friends talked me into riding to a high country lake for
some late season trout fishing. It was November, and we had no business going
up there, but you know how it is when ya just gotta scratch the itch. We
saddled up and made it up the mountain, but when we arrived at the lake there
was 6 inches of snow on the ground and the lake was mostly frozen over. Manuel
immediately set to work breaking dead branches off some trees and peeling some
cedar bark. He had some matches, but he couldn't find enough dry tinder to get
a fire going. I had a cake of that fire starter in a plastic bag in my saddle
bags, and I tossed it to him. In a couple of minutes he had a fire going, and
we could all warm up. Here's a link to a photo taken at that spot.\


Murphyfish said...

Sage advice Bob, a few simple items can make a huge difference ‘out there’ especially when the conditions change rabidly and try to bite you on the ass! One thing that I carry in ‘my little kit’ is a Tampax (sanitary towel) it’s surprising just how much tinder goes into making one of these things (also surprising is the look on peoples faces when investigating the ‘little kit’!). Good piece my man.

Bob Mc said...

Hi John; thanks for reading. The reason for the cotton balls in my kit is for tinder. They squeeze down to practically nothing in the kit. Tear one apart and it will catch a spark readily. A puff of air and they burst into flame. Add a handful of dry pine needles and you have a fire!

Also, one thing many people neglect is to replace the matches in their kit regularly. Matches get old, and if they are stored away for to long they won’t strike, no matter what surface you try to strike them on. Have fun in your roaming with Lucy.