Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2020).
Price: £7 Weight: 31 grams
Now I’ve known about these things for donkey’s years, ever since my first job at the now defunked outdoor chain ‘Survival Aids’. Back then I just thought they were for people who carried all they needed in a tobacco tin and read Lofty Wiseaman’s SAS handbook before they went to bed (probably in a pile of leaves…or a hollowed out cow). Basically it comprised of a saw blade and a piece of magnesium, which produced sparks when rubbed together. At the time it looked very impressive, but when you’re not cooking on wood you’ve found on the forest floor it looked pretty pointless.
Years later I was given a tiny little flint and steel, and found to my surprise that I could use it to light my stove. So what? Well the beauty of this thing is that it works wet or dry, warm or cold, and won’t run out of juice. Basically it’s the ultimate stove starter. Unfortunately as with all my gear, it didn’t take long until I lost it, and not being a big survival nut it took many years to find a replacement.
This comes in the form of the excellent ‘Light my Fire’ Swedish fire steel, which at only £7 and 31grams is a real desert island piece of gear, being compact but very effective.
To work the plastic grip is held between the thumb and fore finger and then the small notched blade is drawn away from you along the stick. The sparks produced are pretty impressive and I’m told they weigh in at 3,000 oC.
The stick will work with all canister stoves and white gas (Coleman fuel), but so far I haven’t managed to get it to light paraffin (it’s rubbish anyway).
Don’t leave home without one.
If you can’t find one then check out this link.
website: Light My Fire
Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.Follow @ Instagram