Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast

Building a fire is nothing short of an art form, and no one can teach you everything you'd need to know to perfect it in a ten-minute video. Instead of attempting to do this (perfecting your form), we've simply highlighted some of the gear and techniques used to start a fire.

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by Sam Haraldson | 2009-07-14 00:05:00-06

Fire building videos on the Internet are a dime a dozen, but each and every one of them can teach you a thing or two. However, building a fire is nothing short of an art form, so no one can teach you everything you'd need to know to perfect it in a ten-minute video.

Instead of attempting to do this (perfect your form) you'll find that we've simply highlighted some of the gear and techniques used to start a fire. A short description of the fire triangle, finding fuel, and other quick tips are included as well.

Watch for a quick intro to these techniques and discuss some of your own on the Backpacking Light forum at the bottom. If we get enough reader suggestions, perhaps we'll release Up in Smoke II - More Fire Building with Sam H.

 

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Backcountry fire building tips, techniques, and tools with Sam H.


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"Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast," by Sam Haraldson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/backcountry_firebuilding.html, 2009-07-14 00:05:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast


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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Fire Fixins on 07/15/2009 10:46:07 MDT Print View

Although they weren't featured in the video (presumably because BPL doesn't sell them) Fire Fixins make great natural tinder should you be interested in that.

I think they're made and sold by a father and his son here in the US, so that might be appealing to some.

http://www.woodsmonkey.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166:fire-fixins-review&catid=78:firestarting-equipment&Itemid=97

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 11:08:49 MDT Print View

There are literally thousands of ways to start fires so I only featured those things that I had on hand. I've never heard of Fire Fixins and will have to check them out.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Fire Fixins on 07/15/2009 11:23:24 MDT Print View

Dave,
To be fair, BPL doesn't sell dryer lint either (or maybe it's just not currently in stock...just kidding, glad to see many items restocked!).
Tom

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 11:28:25 MDT Print View

No BPL doesn't sell lint. But they sell everything else that was featured in the video.

So, to be fair, the video was basically an infomercial.

Nothing personal, Sam. It's not even that I mind infomercials. I just don't like framing a video that's meant to sell products as an educational piece.

Maybe it was an accident. I'm just saying...it's tacky.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 12:52:37 MDT Print View

I chose to showcase some of the best commercially available fire starters in the video. I also happen to choose to sell some of the best commercially available fire starters in the BPL store. It's no coincidence that there was overlap in this video ; )

Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
Up in Smoke on 07/15/2009 13:34:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for the video, but how can you not like Air Supply??

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HejVjzhKTY

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 13:38:11 MDT Print View

>>I chose to showcase some of the best commercially available fire starters in the video. I also happen to choose to sell some of the best commercially available fire starters in the BPL store. It's no coincidence that there was overlap in this video ; )


Fair enough. Maybe I'm just grumpy today.

Edited by Ramapo on 07/15/2009 13:38:42 MDT.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 14:06:16 MDT Print View

I am not aware that BPL sells egg carton fire starters or waterproof matches. I thought the video was fair and balanced, and I did not have any impression of it being an infomercial.

I would like to see a followup done in the rain, and with more use of natural tinders.

I have occasionally used part of an Esbit tablet to sustain a flame long enough to dry materials so that they will burn. Once you get a few small sticks involved it can make enough heat to dry larger stuff.

Kerry Rodgers
(klrodgers) - MLife

Locale: North Texas
what about cooking? on 07/15/2009 14:41:16 MDT Print View

Enjoyed the video, Sam. The build-up techniques and wet demonstration you mentioned would make a worthy part 2.

Another future direction I'd like to see would be how to actually cook on such a fire. People who know how to do this will laugh at me, but I've never actually seen someone cook over a backcountry wood fire. Of course, I'm mostly interested in light or UL style.

How do you prepare the fire? Do you need to make coals? How to get those quickly? How do you boil water without ruining the pot or burning your hands getting it out? How do you roast the fish another camper gave you, if you don't have all those wire baskets on long handles?

Go ahead everyone, laugh.

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Bic Lighters... on 07/15/2009 15:12:09 MDT Print View

Hey Sam, I'm interested in those bic lighters you showcased, how do I go about accquiring those. I've heard great things.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 15:18:22 MDT Print View

Gary, Bic lighters can be procured at just about any Air Supply concert ; )

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 16:46:00 MDT Print View

Mini Bics +1!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: what about cooking? on 07/15/2009 17:15:10 MDT Print View

"People who know how to do this will laugh at me, but I've never actually seen someone cook over a backcountry wood fire."

The people who truly know how to do this won't be laughing at you, Kerry. Nobody has ever been born with a Tinderkwik in one hand and a striker in the other. We all had to learn by a combination of trial and error, and/or asking those with experience. There is a fair amount of info already posted here on your questions, but I don't think it is organized into one thread. You might try using the BPL search engine and, if you don't find satisfactory answers, just start a thread and you'll get plenty of opinions, answers, recipes, etc. Then you can start experimenting and see what works for you. In time, you'll develop your own set of methods and materials, part you and part what you have learned from others. Everyone does. Have fun and don't ever be afraid to ask a question here. This is a very supportive bunch of folks.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Got lint? on 07/15/2009 18:01:31 MDT Print View

Did someone say they need some lint?

Alright this is embarrassing but here it goes.

Lint collecting for 2.5 years with me and my 3 roommates that has collected in the corner of my basement. There is a paper bag full... and a little overflow.

lint

Whats the price per pound on this stuff? lol

Edited by Berner9 on 07/15/2009 18:08:55 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Got lint? on 07/15/2009 18:40:34 MDT Print View

"Lint collecting for 2.5 years with me and my 3 roommates that has collected in the corner of my basement. There is a paper bag full... and a little overflow."

All that from 4 guys' navels? Awesome!!

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Got lint? on 07/15/2009 19:10:09 MDT Print View

Most disgusting fire hazard - ever.

Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
lint on 07/15/2009 19:41:42 MDT Print View

"Most disgusting fire hazard - ever."

wow...didn't think about it like that. Although its in the corner with nothing around it should be ok but I'm gonna go clean it up now.

Maybe I will save it up in something and then make a quilt out of it next year

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Will this work? on 07/15/2009 19:43:14 MDT Print View

Iphone lighter...

I got this lighter app for my iphone, I figured it would work the same. I'm just curious, how do I start a fire with it?

Edited by debiant on 07/15/2009 19:43:44 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Interesting Vid on 07/15/2009 21:44:42 MDT Print View

Nice video. I never use fire starter in the wilderness so it was a good introduction for me. Normally I just grab a couple squares of toilet paper (unused) and that's enough to start small twigs.

The bit about the dryer lint was cool. I'm going to try that sometime. The egg carton/lint/wax creations looked a bit bulky and time consuming to make (for a lazy person like me).

It appears that the 'Sparkie' requires a firm surface to use. It's cool that it's one handed but a regular flint & steel seems like a better choice since you can throw sparks where ever you want (ie. into a tinder pile).

Edited by dandydan on 07/15/2009 21:46:25 MDT.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Tinder and natural fire starters on 07/16/2009 03:08:12 MDT Print View

In the North East there is whats called "tinder fungus" its fairly easy to find. It will take a little practice to figure out how to get it to take a spark - (try crushing it into fine powder or slicing paper thin pieces ect.)

More info here:
http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/fire/tinder/tinderfungus/true.html


The advantage of this is that it will smolder and hold a coal for a while giving you time to try and get some kindling to flame up.
Every environment will have some different material suitable for tinder just read up on what was traditionally used in your area.