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Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/14/2009 18:33:25 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/14/2009 19:06:25 MDT Print View

Nice video; I like the demonstration on the fire-starting tools. I'd love to see more videos demonstrating reviews, techniques and trips.

I would like to see more fire starting with natural materials i.e. what to do if your fire-starting products fail. Knowledge weighs nothing.

Also, the close-ups are a little too close.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 07/14/2009 19:32:16 MDT.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/14/2009 19:29:13 MDT Print View

Discerning forum watchers want to know...where are the cheeseburgers? ;-)

Nice video, Sam! The biggest challenge I usually face isn't fuel or starter but coping with too much wind (that blows out my baby fire before it grows up). I'd love to see some creative solutions for that!

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Love it, want more... on 07/14/2009 21:06:06 MDT Print View

I suck at starting fires, so I need all the help I can get, short of butane or oil.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast" on 07/14/2009 21:25:48 MDT Print View

Matt, you probably already know about the fire bow, but this video is pretty good. All natural materials.

This video is part of a series on friction fire methods, so be sure to check the others out if you're interested.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast" on 07/14/2009 21:50:40 MDT Print View

Dave: I was more referring to building a fire, especially the tinder ball, using natural materials and not relying on commercial firestarters as tinder. I'd be more worried about soaking my Tinderquiks than losing my flint/steel combo. In Minnesota, we have pine sap, pine needles (dried) and paper birch bark, among others, as excellent natural fire-starting materials.

As for all-natural fire building, I have read through Tom Brown's survival text many times and conceptually understand how to do a bow-drill. I have never really sat down and worked at it. Perhaps it is something I should take a weekend (or two, three or more) to work at.

Nice video: one thing that is not explained is how to make the various pieces.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 07/14/2009 21:57:08 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Two thumbs up on 07/14/2009 22:06:20 MDT Print View

Excellent video, and a great thing to present.

I got pretty good at a bowdrill working a wilderness therapy program years ago, and it's a whole art form in itself. Getting the right wood for the spindle and fireboard is crucial.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Natural tinder on 07/14/2009 22:11:40 MDT Print View

>>I was more referring to building a fire, especially the tinder ball, using natural materials and not relying on commercial firestarters as tinder.

Ah. Well, that's dependent upon the area you're in to a certain extent. In the 'Dacks I know to use birch bark as tinder. Works like a charm and smells really good. I always pick some up and carry it around with me.

When I was in Montana, I used a lot of that fluffy Old Man's Beard stuff for tinder.

One natural tinder/firestarter that I've always wanted to get better at finding are those tinder fungi. You break them off a tree and mash the insides just a bit with your knife, then they catch a spark. You can use them as hand warmers if you're careful

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Tinder on 07/14/2009 22:13:32 MDT Print View

Oh, and knowing how to make char cloth is handy too. Though not really a natural tinder.

Lawton Grinter

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Up In Smoke with Sam H on 07/14/2009 22:26:02 MDT Print View

Sam H, you're a regular Les Stroud! Nice vid.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Up in Smoke: Fire building on 07/14/2009 22:46:32 MDT Print View

A great fundamental to backpacking-cool stuff!!!


Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Up in Smoke: Fire building on 07/15/2009 00:26:12 MDT Print View

Great video Sam! More like this in both format and down to earth topics please (no professional video crew required). Although the intro and conclusion closeups were a little bit Blair Witch Project! :)

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 05:41:13 MDT Print View

thanks Sam, a great refresher...

James Gealy
(surnailz) - F

Locale: White Mountains
Fire starting in non-ideal conditions on 07/15/2009 06:51:40 MDT Print View

I really liked that video. Well done! What I would like to see, and I'm not sure if this exists already, is a fire starting video that is taken in the rain, after many days of it, and perhaps while it's dark too. These challenging conditions are exactly when you need a fire the most and I would like to see how others cope with these challenges.


Pedro Arvy
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Can you light a fire in wet weather on 07/15/2009 07:40:02 MDT Print View

Definitely, I agree, the techniques were interesting but lighting a fire in dry weather - come on, anyone can do that!

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Great Video on 07/15/2009 08:34:38 MDT Print View

Great video Sam! Nice to see one of those Sparkies in action.

Edited by cmcrooker on 07/15/2009 08:35:08 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Tinder and natural fire starters on 07/15/2009 08:36:54 MDT Print View


That fungus I was thinking of is called Daldinia concentrica (i.e. cramp balls). Check them out in this video:

Also, regarding firestarting in wet conditions, I think the unfortunate reality is that is cannot be done reliably if you are hiking in an ultralight style and don't have the sorts of artificial fire starters that Sam was demonstrating.

If you have a full tang knife for batoning into wood (to get to the dry center) and for making feather sticks, you'll probably be able to do okay.

EDIT: Also, here's a good place to learn about how to start a fire with the traditional (and ultraheavy) flint and steel method.

You can also buy steel strikers from this guy (handmade no less) and buy Mora knives on the cheap.

Edited by Ramapo on 07/15/2009 08:39:30 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Up in Smoke: Backcountry Fire Building Videocast on 07/15/2009 08:39:31 MDT Print View

I'm happy to see all the positive comments so far - thanks! This video was quick and covers only the absolute basics of using a few different tools to get a spark going.

I should probably revisit the topic and go into the art of turning a spark into a fire as well as using only natural materials rather than Tinderquik and Wetfire.

Personally I always carry a fire starter into the backcountry so I've not taught myself bow drill or friction techniques although I respect those who practice it in the utmost.

Sean Thompson
(Questtrek) - F

Locale: Michigan
Fire Starting on 07/15/2009 10:08:39 MDT Print View

Great video, I've always had a hard time starting a fire in wet conditions! Thanks for the tips!

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
without artificial tinder on 07/15/2009 10:21:43 MDT Print View

The small dead branches at the bottom of pines that the video shows also have very small branches or tiny twigs that can be bunched up into a baseball size loose fitting ball. A trick is to get your match at the bottom of this ball of twigs. Just with your fingers dig a small trench and then a small platform with bigger twigs, so the lighted match can fit directly under the pile. In wet weather, split thumb sized dead sticks with a knife into small pieces which will be dry in their center. You can also carve these sticks along the edges to create dry chips. You can split the wood with a large single blade knife. Place the knife on top of the stick you want to split. With one hand on the handle take a large stick and pound the blade down through the center of the wood piece you are splitting. Imagine that you are splitting large pieces of wood for your fireplace or wood stove at home.
I learned this from reading Cody Lundin's book 98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your A__ Alive. Google "Cody Lundin"

Here are some photos of the above method:

Edited by rambler on 07/15/2009 10:24:15 MDT.