Free USA Shipping On Orders Over $150

Fire Right Now!

by Brian Griffin March 12, 2016

Fire Right Now!

There are a lot of different techniques for starting camp fires in the wilderness, from primitive methods like bow drills and flint and steel to ferro rods with chemical tinder and wind-proof butane torches. My favorite option for quickly making fire are the UCO Stormproof Matches™. These matches are longer than standard matches and have a larger head. They go off somewhat like small road flares, they flare very hot for 8 to 10 seconds, and they will burn for around 10 more seconds afterward if protected from wind.

This fire lay was done on wet ground, the day after an all night rain. There was very little prep work involved. First I made a base for the fire from branches collected off the ground that were roughly one inch in diameter. Then I placed small dry twigs, also collected off the ground, on the base. I started with twigs just a little larger in diameter than tooth picks and match stems, and worked up to ones roughly the diameter of a pencil and a little larger. After that I gathered as much fuel as I could from as far off the ground as I could find it. That was the extent of the prep work.

The next step was to strike the match and push the burning tip into a gap in the smallest kindling material as quickly as possible. You can see the match is just starting to flare up good in this photo, and some of the smallest twigs have already caught fire. The initial flames of the fire have ignited in less than half of the burn time of the match. At this point the match would still be flaring for 5 or 6 more seconds, and then the match stick itself would burn another 8 or 10 seconds after that.

Here you can see how the match had burned. The flare has finished and the stem has a small bit of flame still going. Yet inside the pile of kindling you can see that some of the twigs that are a good bit larger than the match stem have caught fire, are burning well, and that the flames are already beginning to spread through the fire lay. These matches aren't all that big, and they don't take up a lot of room, however they do pack a pretty powerful punch and bring a lot to the table.

The next step was to establish sustained fire by adding a good bit of fuel. I started with some about the size of a finger in diameter and a little larger, and then gradually stepping from there. That is the trick with starting fires in wet or damp conditions. Staying with the smaller twigs would cause them o burn out too fast and require a lot of fuel to create any warmth. Going with too large of fuel too soon would only result in a smothered fire, due to there being more moisture in the wood than the available amount of heat heat could dry out and still have enough energy to ignite it. In this photo you can see the amount of moisture rising from the heated wood.

In a short period of time the fire was strong enough, with a substantial bed of coals below, to add larger fuel and create more heat. To me, living in a temperate rain forest, the storm proof matches are an important part of my kit. I spend a lot of time out in the field, and whether I am cold and wet, and in dire need of warmth to prevent going into hypothermia, or it is late when I make it to my campsite tired and hungry, I want a fire starting system that gives me what I need the quickest. So far this is the most reliable and consistent system I have found. 




Brian Griffin
Brian Griffin

Author

Brian Griffin is a photographer, knife enthusiast, wilderness skills instructor, professional writer, author, outdoor gear research & development consultant, and knife designer. He has a long history of using and developing outdoor related tools and gear.



Leave a comment


Also in Articles

Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester
Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester

by Kevin Estela June 12, 2019 1 Comment

When you grow up in the Northeastern United States, you experience the full range of seasons with hot summers and frigid winters. In New England, you can find nasty swamps to navigate and an ocean to explore. One environment not found in New England is the desert and if there is ever a weak point for me to train, the desert has my attention. Since my experience with the desert is limited, I wanted to reach out to someone who is no stranger to it. Tony Nester, Owner and Chief Instructor of Ancient Pathways is my go-to desert survival expert. Recently, while visiting Arizona, I had the opportunity to pick his brain about the state, the terrain, and the history of the area. We discussed survival and the great outdoors over breakfast and Tony answered some questions for us.

Read More

Lights
Lights

by Brian Griffin June 05, 2019

There are many reasons why it is a good thing to be able to illuminate darkness at need. Some of them can actually be crucial to our survival. Having spent much of my life working in various non-illuminated environments, both urban and woodland, I almost never venture out without having at least one light on my person and a backup or two in the console of my truck and / or in my pack. A deep forest can be a very dark place to find yourself on a cloudy night or on the night of a new moon, and our cities are only well lit as long as the power grid is up and running. When the grid goes down, cities can become very dark places. I've spent time under stress in both situations with no light source, so today I make every effort to avoid finding myself in that position again if it can be helped.

Read More

Yucca Cordage
Yucca Cordage

by Kevin Estela May 22, 2019 1 Comment

Continuing with the theme of desert-related posts to this blog, this month’s topic is cordage making with a widely available desert plant, Yucca. This survival skill is challenging and takes practice to be proficient. Personally, I am more amazed by those who have mastered how to make great cordage than those who can get a friction fire going. It’s only when your fingers get sore from repeating the cordage-making movements do you really come to appreciate pre-made cordage like decoy line, 550 paracord, and Kevlar thread. It is a pretty amazing sensation when you are able to harvest a plant from the land and turn it into something useful. It makes your sense of self-reliance much stronger as you become more resourceful.  

Read More

Knives & News

Sign up with your favorite email.