Tech Tip #19
September 22, 2018
One of the iron laws of the wilderness is never to be without fire, or some way of creating it. This was a skill that kept our ancestors alive, allowing them to stay warm, go North, cook the inedible, and avoid being food themselves; fire, protection against the dangers that lurked in the dark. For ancient man, fire came from sticks and stones, the eternal flame sacred and passed from eldest son to the eldest son, (when Troy was sacked, it was the eternal flame, not treasure, that was spirited away from the Greeks). These days all you need to do is carry a one-dollar lighter in your first aid kit. A more critical issue for the modern-day Homosapien is the ability to light their PCS (personal cooking system). Yes, many feature integrated ignition systems, but these often fail, as do lighters, and matches (neither like dampness). If you’re high on a mountain, and your stove can’t be lit, then it could be the end of your climb; alone in the wilderness, far from help, and it could be your life. The best method of lighting any stove is flint and steel, which works at any temperature, any altitude, wet or dry, with both liquid and gas stoves. Carry one per team member, and consider attaching it directly to the stove, making it faster to relight if it blows out. If you want to use a flint and steel to light an actual fire, that’s not so easy, and you’ll have to get all Bear Grylls about it, as this requires some good tinder. One way that makes this easier, and kills two birds with one stone, is to include a tampon in your first aid kit, which makes both a perfect fire-lighter when pulled apart and avoids another type of wilderness emergency.