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Winter Firebuilding Techniques (Video)
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: concerns with hatchets on 02/20/2013 17:51:32 MST Print View

The hoodlum is a big knife. Knives are great for splitting, but they suck at chopping so you are going to want a saw with that. A large buck saw. You are talking about some serious wood processing tools.

sean neves
(Seanneves) - M

Locale: City of Salt
Great vid. on 02/20/2013 18:07:26 MST Print View

And especially sharp about the use of magnesium starter. Very useful advice on the river, when sometimes everything (and I mean everything) is wet. I've never brought a hatchet or saw. I step on stuff and break it. Winter I bring a fixed blade for sure.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
Nice Video on 02/20/2013 20:29:42 MST Print View

I think this is a great addition to the mix at BPL. Fire building is a foundational wilderness skill. Increasing your comfort when in an area that is appropriate for fire or even saving your life in an emergency are well worth a little practice. I love shiny new toys as much as the next guy but the skills and experience you have are the most important and lightest things you carry.

Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
_ on 02/20/2013 20:57:53 MST Print View

Nice video. I'm glad to see it here on BPL.

One small quibble. The firestarter used was not a magnesium starter but a ferrocerium rod ( The ubiquitous but subpar magnesium firstarters have a ferro rod mounted on their side that actually generate the hot sparks. It is not the magnesium that sparks but the ferro. Ferro rods are also known as a "metal match".

Ferro rods are commonly referred to as "flints" but they are not really flint. Ferro is a manmade alloy while flint is a natural rock/mineral/whatever.

A ferro rod plus homemade tinder made from Vaseline-soaked cotton balls is an extremely effective firstarting toolkit.

Karl Kerschner
(Distelfink) - MLife
$23+ship for a similar hatchet of same wt. and length, made in USA on 02/20/2013 21:42:34 MST Print View

A less expensive alternative to the $160 GB Belt Axe is the $23+ shipping Vaughan Sub-zero, Sportsmans Axe distributed by using a slightly modified name. The quality is high for a mass produced product and the low price point.
The Sportsmans has almost the same exact head weight, overall weight and handle length as the GB Belt Axe.

The GB head is 4.125 x 2.5 in.; and the Vaughan Sportsmans head is 3.75 x 2.375 in. The Vaughan Sportsmans eye is far less vulnerable to distortion than is the GB eye.

The Vaughan Sportsmans head is not finished quite as well and the sheath is inadequate, but the fundamental shape, steel quality and tempering are there, using a 1080 low alloy carbon steel at HRC 54-55. Also the grain alignment of the handles are generally excellent.

If you still want to go upscale and buy a USA product, you might consider the Reeves Forge Belt Axe. It is a little heavier at 14 oz. but is of the highest quality. $185 if you are willing to wait 12 months or so to buy direct from Lee Reeves. The cost is considerably more through a distributor to get one right away.

I'm glad to see the introduction of a 3-edge-system brought to BPL. Cliff Jacobson and many others have been using it for a long time.

Edited by Distelfink on 02/20/2013 22:37:28 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
ferro rods on 02/20/2013 22:00:31 MST Print View

You can actually scrape off shavings from a ferro rod in the same way as a mag bar. You can get a nice little pile and a burst of flame.

Karl Kerschner
(Distelfink) - MLife
Re: Re: Winter Firebuilding Techniques (Video) on 02/20/2013 22:10:36 MST Print View

@ Brian UL, your point that small belt axes are much more dangerous than full size axes is very important. More skill is required.

Kochanski demonstrates using five or so wooden wedges of varying lengths to split a larger diameter round of wood, using a baton. He talks about reusing them until they wear out.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Wood Pile on 02/20/2013 22:23:42 MST Print View

Nice video

I make mine slightly different. I gather enough thin sticks to make a small log cabin. built it sort of like a bridge between two thicker pieces of fuel. I fill the "cabin" with either pine nettles or shavings of wood I've made and I light it from the bottom (usually with a cotton ball on the end of a stick).

I've found a sturdy pocket knife to be invaluable in starting fires in the east even in summer. Things tend to be moister then out west and finding good tinder is tough. Often its quicker to split sticks up.

Ken mentioned fires in a downpour. I did that once using generous amounts of alcohol. I built a big pyramid of fuel on top of everything so the fire was somewhat covered as it was starting. A friend of mine had his campers hold a piece of cardboard over a fire while he started it. I suppose you could have someone hold a sleeping pad over the fireplace while you lit things up (I wouldn't us a Neo Air though).

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Fire in the rain. on 02/20/2013 23:00:45 MST Print View

Here is a GREAT video of Terry Barney making a fire in the rain using only a non locking folding knife and a firesteel.

Joshua Billings
(Joshua) - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Esbit on 02/20/2013 23:06:42 MST Print View

Totally cheating. Love it. Nice hatchet, too.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Fire in the rain. on 02/20/2013 23:13:41 MST Print View

Good find Justin. Thanks.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Fire in the rain. on 02/21/2013 08:02:23 MST Print View

That just makes no sense - if it's raining, get in tent

And that video is worth less - let's see him keep the fire going for several hours.

Maybe if you could rig up a tarp or find a sheltered spot to keep the rain off you and the fire.

I usually make a fire, but it's just for entertainment.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Fire in the rain. on 02/21/2013 12:20:26 MST Print View

That video is worthless? Really?

In the beginning of the video he shows that he is under a tarp. Being able to get a nice fire going in the cold and wet while laying under a tarp is amazing. It can warm you up after a cold day and help to dry out some of your clothing. After being soaking wet and cold all day, it can be hard to warm yourself up with just your body heat.

Yeah, he could keep that fire going for hours but it was just a demonstration. If you put wet wood on the fire carefully, the heat will dry it out to where it can catch. The rain wont put a fire out unless it's a torrential downpour. Even with a torrential downpour, if you place the fire under heavy tree cover it will block enough of the rain.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Fire in the rain. on 02/21/2013 12:43:33 MST Print View

Rain or no rain, This how you start a fire!

Of course, LOX isn't UL.

Edited by jcolten on 02/21/2013 12:44:16 MST.

Confused Newbie

Locale: Northern CO
Nice video on 02/21/2013 12:53:34 MST Print View

Thanks for the post Ryan. I'd love to see more videos, especially about winter or shoulder season backpacking.

(asterias) - MLife

Locale: quebec
nice video on 02/21/2013 14:04:35 MST Print View

You are doing a good job for bpl thx you so much!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Fire in the rain. on 02/21/2013 14:42:38 MST Print View

"That video is worthless? Really?"

No, I said worth less, not worthless : ) And there are some good ideas in both videos I have filed away in my memory bank, thanks.

A lot of times when I build a fire in marginal conditions, I can get it to burn for a while, but then it sort of fizzles out. You need an hour and at least 10 times as much wood before you really know you've got it going.

If a fire is big enough, like a bonfire, it won't make any difference if it's raining.

And if it's raining hard, there's no way you'll dry out as fast as new water is getting you wet.

If you can find a sheltered spot, like under a tarp, but not melt the tarp from the fire, then you could make a fire and get warm and dry. A tree maybe, but after a while most trees start dripping.

So much easier to wear as little as possible that gets wet, set up your tent, take off wet jacket and put on dry clothing and get into dry sleeping bag.

Tom Deal

Locale: Northern Idaho
Re: Fire in the rain on 02/21/2013 17:43:33 MST Print View

Thanks Ryan you did a great Job! Here is my 2 cents for what its worth. I have several vids on youtube demonstrating different types of fire lays for different situations Also a few on finding natural tinder that works well I have been successful in rain snow and windy conditions.I would give the link but I thought we were not supposed to do that here.Search Tomsbackwoods if anybody cares to watch.
My experience has led me to not using small saws. For me my small axe can split chop cut everything I need under 5 inches in diameter.A light scoring around the outside of the piece and some pressure will usually break the wood with no need for a saw.Splitting is just as easy with some practice.I use a break down buck saw with a 24 inch blade for bigger wood. Batoning is a great example for getting to the dry heart wood.I use this method when I don't have an axe.
Making fire is a great skill.I practice in the rain for the fun of it and I think everybody should know at least a few ways to make fire in an emergency.
Thanks for your effort Ryan and great tutorial!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: _ on 02/21/2013 18:10:57 MST Print View

"Nice video. I'm glad to see it here on BPL.

One small quibble. I don't really see the need for an ax. It is the heaviest and by far the most potentially dangerous implement of the three used in the video, especially in a survival situation where you may be shaky and stressed. You can do limbing very easily with a pruning saw, without worrying about limbing yourself in the process, and save a lot of weight and bucks in the process. Other than that, an excellent tutorial well executed. Thank you, RJ!

Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
Thanks, Ryan!! on 02/21/2013 21:43:55 MST Print View

"Thanks for the post Ryan. I'd love to see more videos, especially about winter or shoulder season backpacking."

My thoughts exactly!!! Keep 'em coming!