I have a small snack ziplock baggie full of cotton balls in vasoline and a ferro rod
I love my Exotac XL. Small package that protects the rod, keeps it dry, and also includes a striker. Can't beat it.
I carry that and stormproof matches. If I need a fire quickly, the matches are my first choice. The Exotac is for the long haul.
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Ferro rod and an Esbit cube is a guaranteed fire what ever the conditions.
Beer is not the answer! It does however make you forget the question.
Esee Fishing Club Founder.
Piston is overrated. It works quicky... Provided you have the right material to transition to coal. Pistons are very picky on what material works, hell, some materials even need to have the right age before they'll glow long enough for the coal to get transfered.
Why make it hard on yourself? Go with bic and firesteel. And some fire-aid like esbit and fatwood. Or a freakin' tea-light.
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Love the tea light! Cheap, easy to light with a Bic and Ikea sells them by the bucket.
Not very bush-crafty but hey, being cold wet and hungry blows.
Mat has it right. Take several items as fire starters. Make a kit. Fatwood, Cotton balls soaked with Vaseline, Two bic lighters, an Esbit Tab, Ferro rod, etc. Pistons are parlor tricks at best for those who don't know how to use them.
My youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/c/ThePreparedWandererBushcraft
I have the 12,000 strikes sweedish fire steels that work pretty good. Amazon for $17.00 shipped.
A piezo-electric lighter. I always wonder why regular BICs are so popular. The don't work when wet, they don't work when your hands are wet and you'll run out of flint sooner or later, if conditions aren't ideal. A piezoelectric is much more reliable to my mind.
I usually carry a small ferro rod and an esbit tab as a backup, but never needed it so far.
When it's really cold (way below freezing) butane is less effective and a fero rod makes more sense, if you don't like matches.
I've had piezo lighters fail in cold and wet conditions, even when kept close to my body, but not bic lighters - everything has it's weakness. I still prefer bics or Zippos. Check the Zippo every time before heading out though.
Ferro rods are reliable anywhere, but they do have a learning curve. Take them out and practice lighting tinder before you really need it.
For fire starters don't overlook the coghlans fire sticks. Wax impregnated particle board I believe. You can soak those for 24 hours and they will still light. Scrape them into a dust pile and they will readily light with a ferro rod. Light weight too.
North of the Border, South of the River
Ferro rod, storm matches and lighter. PJ cottonball and fatwood shavings to get it going. I always use the ferro rod (Gobspark) just to be good at it, the matches and lighter I don't use.
My only problem with the ferro rod is that I still can't light up feather sticks with it, and there really isn't much else in the way of natural tinder in my area. Because of that I end up hauling cotton balls or something into the woods to get it started. So honestly I'd rather just carry a lighter.
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