How to Make a Budget Fire Kit
The first consideration in how to make a budget fire kit is do you actually need one? For overlanding we are reliant on our vehicle for most things and with that comes the ability to cook which requires fuel and an ignition source. Most of us will have camp style cooking facilities such as a gas stove, gas cartridges, lighters etc so why put together a fire kit?
Gas runs out as do lighters, matches get wet and there are a whole range of potential situations that may arise that will require you to head out on foot, bug out for a few days and necessitate fire to keep warm and cook.
Not just related to overlanding we need to consider what might happen in adverse weather conditions, losing bearings on a hiking trail, losing gear, natural disaster or vehicle breakdown, if you are miles away from civilization, at night and out of range then a fire may be crucial depending on your situation.
So you’ve decided you want a fire kit just in case, it’s a sensible move and comes with being prepared for unforseen scenarios.
Where to Source Your Kit
First up, the general opinion is that pre made kits are a waste of time – you are far better off sourcing what you need individually and putting together a kit that is tailored to your needs and not full of cheap rubbish half of which you don’t need and will never use.
Search for survival stores online, most have a comprehensive selection of ingredients for your fire kit, also dedicated prepping stores are another place to look. Amazon does have some fire kit tools but we found them too expensive for what they were.
What to Buy
The first thing to consider is what type of pouch or container you are going to need and how large this needs to be, a fire kit can be as minimal or as comprehensive as you like, old style tobacco tins are large enough for basic kits or a molle pouch will allow you to keep more [and larger tools such as strikers].
For a budget fire kit the contents will break down as follows [this is what we have in our kit with the contents coming to only €25.00 euros]
Solid Fuel [Combustible]
Comes in a range of variations from micro fire lighters and ‘fat wood’ to card strips and more. The most budget friendly are cotton wool balls with vaseline which provide an excellent source of heat and prolonged flame.
In a plastic tubular container tends to be best, these matches have a long burn time and can be ignited in adverse conditions.
Tinder cards are half way between firelighters and kindling, a good source of prolonged flame once lit, can be cut into strips and flat for easy storage in your kit.
Ferro rods or ‘strikers’ are made from synthetic alloy and produce hot sparks when ‘struck’. Very common in most fire kits, the longer the rod the bigger, better and hotter the spark.
Magnesium burns white hot, these blocks need to ‘shaved’ with a sharp or serrated edge to create shavings and will ignite through the introduction of a good spark.
Other items to consider are an EDC flashlight, cotton balls, vaseline, standard matches and lighters. Purists will argue what the point of a fire kit is if you are going to keep a lighter in there anyway, well lighters run out, the gas inside even a BIC lighter will evaporate and as nice as Zippo’s are their fuel also evaporates [and quite quickly].
Being prepared is all about putting together tools and utilizing those tools at your disposal in adverse or not normal conditions, if a caveman had had a BIC lighter then he would have used it instead of knocking flints together making the job harder and longer, a fire kit is about options and having tools/an ignition source that will work depending on the situation.
From an overlanding and camping perspective having a fire kit is a good idea as we can’t always carry [or have the space for] newspapers and matches – and what happens when those don’t work?
A good budget fire kit will have all the basics and provide enough tools to light dozens if not hundreds of fires, it’s a compact solution to what one day may be essential. A fire kit is one of those things you may never need… until you do.
And then there is fatwood, yes you can buy it but you can also collect it yourself. Fatwood is renound as one of the best natural fire starters and well worth keeping a stash in the house for emergencies as well as your fire kit.
Do you carry a fire kit and what tools did you decide would best fit your needs?