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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
A 3.4oz fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 00:06:43 MST Print View

I have expressed my wishes for a short duration road flare for fire starting purposes and of course Orion makes them. This is a 5 minute version of a red road flare, 5-1/4" long and it weighs 3.4oz.

I hike solo in the deep, dark, wet woods and I count fire making as a critical skill and part of my safety cushion. Road flares will get the wettest, rotten nasty wood burning in a hurry. Of course, you get a handy dandy signal device in the same package. I plan to carry one along with my usual bic/matches/firesteel/tinder collection. I think canning them in a Seal-A-Meal bag is a good way to go.

These things are expensive and very hard to find. If hiking with a group, I think I would lean to a standard 15 minute road flare, but it was hard to resist a small light package like this. The twin pack is Orion part number 750 and UPC 077403107506.

Orion 750 5 minute flare/fire starter

Orion 750 5 minute flare/fire starter

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: A 3.4oz fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 00:21:14 MST Print View

Dale, don't they cost $9 each?

That is a pretty price to get a fire started.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: A 3.4oz fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 00:23:02 MST Print View

Thanks Dale, I know road flares are the best but they are heavy. These look good, much lighter. I usually start a fire the hard way, but always have a way to force a fire out of wet wood. Make sure you don't run low on fire starter, it's easy to fill up a tinder container with resin you find on damaged trees. One very horrible, borderline hypothermic night I took (blank) pages out of a summit register as tinder.







One time we found package of road flares that have been run over by a car and unusable. We threw them all in a campfire... the colors... so bright.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Thermite on 12/17/2013 00:24:59 MST Print View

Dales, these thermite fire starters might work even better:
http://www.lootist.com/thermitefirestarter.html

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Thermite on 12/17/2013 00:34:17 MST Print View

Expensive.

You can mix up your own Thermite pretty easily, and it isn't hard to light.

Once lit, you better step back. It will burn a hole through a government classified safe, so I think it would do a number on a damp log in the woods.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: Thermite on 12/17/2013 00:35:32 MST Print View

Hmmm.... I wonder if it will burn a hole into granite?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: A 3.4oz fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 00:38:43 MST Print View

"Dale, don't they cost $9 each?

That is a pretty price to get a fire started."

Considering that I hope to never use them, no problem with the cost. I'm not planning nor suggesting that they should be used for run of the mill fire making.

I guess Wally World had them for $4.99 a pack at one time, which is what they are worth. That's why I think a shared road flare might be a better bet for a group.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Thermite on 12/17/2013 00:39:53 MST Print View

You're thinking too hard. Why would you want to burn a hole into granite?

In the military, a thermite grenade was tested by letting it burn all the way through a cast iron V-8 engine of a car.

--B.G.--

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: A 3.4oz fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 09:13:13 MST Print View

Yes, the PNW woods can make fire starting frustrating. Everything is wet & soaked. Even when you get a fire going most of the energy goes into boiling the water out of the wood. And great ideas that work on the kitchen stove don't cut it when your fingers are stiff from the cold rain.

I carry some of the old 80's military ration heating bars made of Trioxane. A large bar will burn for 5 minutes, lights with a spark, and is robustly packaged. Mil-surp stores carry them.

Now that I think about it, I don't remember reading about any overnight "lost" hikers having built a fire (thinking Columbia gorge day hikers here).

Anyways, fire building is serious business and I'm glad you've found a way that works for you. Thanks for sharing.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Trim a standard flare? on 12/17/2013 09:45:57 MST Print View

Why not cut off part of a standard flare?

$7 for a three-pack at Walmart, and you could customize weight versus burn time.

-- Rex

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
A cheaper option. Well, free. on 12/17/2013 10:40:50 MST Print View

Waxed cardboard (available for free from your local green grocery or by dumpster diving behind Safeway) doesn't get as hot, but has more BTUs per pound. It doesn't multi-purpose as a signaling device (unless you write "HELP!" on it), but it could multi-purpose as a sitting pad and cutting board (not at the same time).

For less extremely wet conditions, I'll typically just bring one or two square feet of waxed paper.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Oil on 12/17/2013 12:20:00 MST Print View

I have found that plain cooking oil works great. It burns long enough to dry small twigs and keep them burning. 3 oz will go a long way. It may not work as well as a rad flare, but you might actually have some with you when you need that fire on a rainy day...

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - M

Locale: norcal
skillz on 12/17/2013 12:42:15 MST Print View

don't underestimate some good fire starting skills along with a knife and a fire steel...

With this gear, the right skill set, and a ton of practice before hand, you can make fire in the pouring rain.

We were stuck in a 10 hour rain shower a couple weeks ago and manage to get a nice fire going.

Some obvious tricks are to always carry your own kindling before it starts to rain. If you're without some, take a few minutes before the onslaught starts and put some in your pack. Pack in 2-3x more than you will need.

If you have a good knife you can make a feather stick for kindling.

One of the things I want to do is to work on an emergency kit that I can wear around my neck or on my ankle for severe emergencies. Like if I lose my pack somehow (bear, river crossing, etc).

At least in this situation I'll have a few basic pieces of gear so I can get out of the woods with relative safety... Fire is like 60% of what you need to survive.

I think this is why I hate hiking at higher altitudes where there is no wood. If I'm caught at without wood I can't make a fire.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: A cheaper option. Well, free. on 12/17/2013 12:44:30 MST Print View

There's really no comparison. The flare has its own ignition system and burns at 3400F. Loose your lighter and matches and have no small tinder available and you can still get a fire going. I consider the signaling option to be a very nice freebie.

My favorite light alternative is an Esbit tab with a dab of alcohol gel hand cleaner. Just the spark wheel on an empty Bic lighter will get that going.

The scenarios that drive me to want this sort of heavy and additional backup are cold wet weather conditions and the possibility of a cold water dunking in a stream crossing or both. I learned fire making in this climate and it's not impossible, but it takes time and physical ability. If you are hypothermic, it is a huge help to have something dead simple and effective. I csmtvtellvyou how many times I have read of hikers and hunters lost in the forests here and the question always comes up: why didn't they make a fire?

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: Re: A cheaper option. Well, free. on 12/17/2013 12:48:12 MST Print View

I always have fire starting materials on me when doing lots of water crossings. If I get pulled under and lose my pack, and I'm stuck somewhere overnight soaking wet in light clothes, and don't have a way to start a fire - I'm probably going to die if it gets below freezing.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Fire starting insurance policy on 12/17/2013 12:51:51 MST Print View

Dale, this might be better insurance for starting a fire. I might even fit in your day pack. You can strap the hose on the outside and carry the nozzle in the water bottle packet.


weed burner

Edited by bestbuilder on 12/17/2013 12:55:13 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: A cheaper option. Well, free. on 12/17/2013 12:54:03 MST Print View

"If I get pulled under and lose my pack, and I'm stuck somewhere overnight soaking wet in light clothes, and don't have a way to start a fire - I'm probably going to die if it gets below freezing."

Not if you cut off your arm. At least I think that's the way it works.....

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: A cheaper option. Well, free. on 12/17/2013 13:12:40 MST Print View

" I'm probably going to die if it gets below freezing."

That's the stinker-- it doesn't need to be that cold to be life threatening. People will think little of someone shivering at 45f and you really need to pay attention to that, especially if they are wet from sweat and/or rain.

I find it easier to deal with sub freezing weather here. Usually if it is below freezing, it is low humidity and no precip.

There's nothing like a good 35f rain to make a hike fun and interesting. You can get the added features of cold air falling from snowfields overhead and trails with running water that look like mossy waterfalls. And that is in May :)

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Esbit? on 12/17/2013 13:44:54 MST Print View

Wouldn't an esbit do the trick?

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
fire on 12/17/2013 14:43:38 MST Print View

one way to test whether you can REALLY start a fire under the worst conditions ...

on a rainy/snowy day freezing day jump into a stream/lake with all your clothes on

then get out and try to opem your pack, retrieve your fire starting gear, collect the wood and start a fire ... all in the rain/snow

of course you should have friends on hand with sleeping bags, mats, a tent and warm sugary drinks ... and you do so at your own risk

theres a decent chance that one of the times youll need a fire is after a good dunking ...

at a certain point your hands start shaking and your motor skills go out the window ... think "polar bear" swim but rather than having a warm blanket and hot chocolate after, you need to start a fire

its a real eye opener

;)