I always carry a small fire-making kit when I go hiking. It contains a Light My Fire firesteel that can generate sparks and a small sandwich bag with vaseline smeared cotton balls as tinder that light easily and will burn for a few minutes, long enough to get the small sticks in my fire to stay lit. I like using the firesteel because it’s so much more reliable than matches (which trap humidity and fail) or even a butane lighter, which will run out of gas eventually or jam.
Whichever fire starter and tinder combination you choose, it’s important that you test them periodically to make sure they’re still in working condition and they’re compatible with each other. Don’t assume that every fire starter will work with any tinder , unless you test and verify that they’re compatible in advance.
For example, many people will tell you that dryer lint is a good tinder to carry when hiking, but that’s only true if the lint is from cotton clothing. Lint from wool or polyester clothing is much more difficult to light with a fire steel (try it), which is why I recommend people use cotton balls or cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly, instead.
What type of fire starter and tinder do you keep in your fire making kit?
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