Bug Out Bag Part Deux

In previous articles we’ve talked in some detail about weapons to use in z-poc, and the importance of having a tiered set of solutions for water purification. Next on my list of important items is the item that first brought man out of the caves and into primacy in the world – fire.

Fire is important for a multitude of reasons:

  • It can keep you warm on horrible conditions. In World War II there were hundreds of GIs who huddled in foxholes with a Zippo lighter keeping them from freezing to death. A little heat can go a long way.
  • Fire can be used to boil, and therefore sterilize, water when you have no other way to get the job done.
  • Fire cooks food. No matter how badass you are, if you eat raw squirrel you’re likely to get sick. Cook that sucker over a fire and you’ll be Daryl Dixon in no time.

There are other important uses for fire (signaling, used as a weapon) but these three are the main ones I think of when it comes to z-poc. To successfully create a fire, you need three things: a spark, oxygen and fuel. There are literally hundreds of ways to get the job done.

I have a camp stove that uses a propane/butane fuel canister. These are nice because they will boil water quickly or enable the cooking of food without having to make a large fire. Remember, in z-poc you want to be as invisible as possible. The main drawback of this type of stove is that your fuel supply is limited. Other stoves exist that will run on about any type of fuel you can put in the canister, and still others that use wood or other combustible materials yet still maintain a low profile in terms visibility. There even the Biolite camp stove that runs on wood and will charge your USB devices. There are cost implications as well. My stove was $20 for the stove and two cans of fuel. Biolite’s stove is $130. Arguably, the Biolite stove will pay for itself over time by not requiring you to buy fuel, but if you’re on a budget the price may be hard to swallow. If I ever buy the Biolite stove I will publish a review on this site.

In addition to the camp stove you will need a backup method of starting a fire. I have a butane lighter in my BOB, along with storm proof matches and FireSteel. This way I can still start the camp stove if the piezo ignition craps out, or I can make a proper fire if I need to. A Zippo is nice because you can light it and let it burn even if you set it down, unlike the butane lighter where you have to hold the button down. The WWII soldiers may have had a tougher time if they had to hold their thumbs on that button for hours at a time. Like the camp stove I have, the Zippo has a limitation in that it requires frequent refills of its fuel, so that’s a consideration to keep in mind.

There are a number of tinder options as well. Compressed wood chips, gels and other commercially available products exist. I have a couple of packages of NDUR utility flame gel that will light in just about any weather condition. Because of that, my intention is to save it for the really inclimate moments (wind, rain or snowstorms) which can be the most difficult situations in which to build a fire, but ironically may be the times you need a fire the most.

For normal conditions, I use a homemade tinder solution. I have several baggies filled with dryer lint and wood pencil shavings. You probably have both of these in abundance in your house and they’re FREE! Lint is very combustible and the pencil shavings give it that little extra oomph when lighting a fire. It also compresses in a baggie very well so it can be shoved into about any nook or cranny of your BOB. Here’s an example of how easy it is to light the lint mixture:

As you can see, it only took a few strikes on the FireSteel to get it going. With matches or a lighter it would be even easier. (This also highlights the importance of cleaning your dryer and dryer vent on a regular basis!)

Another couple of items to consider which, while unrelated to starting a fire, are related to heating your body, are the Proheat or HotSnapZ reusable hand warmers. They get up to 130 degrees and can help stave off frostbite or provide some warmth in your bivvy sack.

I’ll add several of these items to the Bugout Master List for reference. So how about you? What is your fire solution? What have you used that works really well? Let us know by leaving a comment below, hitting us up on Facebook or sending us a tweet!

Until next time, better dead than zed!!



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2 Responses to “Bug Out Bag Part Deux”

  1. Bob says:

    As you say, there are a bazillion ways to start a fire, cook, get warm etc… Here are a few things I carry, either in my bag, on my person or in my pickup ( which is always ready to journey forth or bug back home).
    I carry a Kelly Kettle, which burns kindling or combustibles of about any kind and boils water in a hot flash. I have had boiling water in as little as 2 1/2 minutes by using just the dry tips of sagebrush. I carry a variety of tinder and kindling with me at all times, just in case. ( Yes, dryer limt is part of the mix).
    In addition to a butane lighter, I carry strike anywhere matches, a fire stick, and a magnifying glass. I also smoke a pipe occasionally and have found that a glass can light tobacco readily, which gives you a really fine ember, which placed in a nest of tinder, gets that fire going right quick.
    Another super cheap and quick stove is a hobo stove made from a small cat food can with perforations around the rim for air intake. Add a couple ounces of alcohol, found about anywhere around the world, place another ventilated can around it and you have a platform for your pot or tin cup. It lights with a single spark and boils water fast. This stove is actually free because it’s made from trash!
    My final tip is to fill your canteen or nalgene bottle with hot water and throw it in your sleeping bag before you get in. It not only keeps you toasty, you have a handy source of drinking water close at hand.

    Cheers, Bob

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