ZSC:003 Builds BOBs

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ZSC:003 Builds BOBs

Post by BullOnParade » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:49 am

Chapter 3 meets on the first Friday of (almost) every month. The executive have decided to start pushing the idea of building Bug Out Bags by focussing on one component every meeting for the next several months. By showing different examples of an individual component, ranging in price and quality and then explain advantages of one example over others, we hope we can show our members how easy (and cost effective) putting together a BOB can be.

This thread will be updated every month with pictures and a bit of information related to the topic of the month. Our members can heck back here for a refresher, or if someone wants to join part way through, they can use this thread as a primer to get started.

Take note, this is written from a Canadian perspective, from a resident of southern Ontario, your millage my vary in regards to price or store specifics.

September - Water

We're starting with water for a few reasons. One, it's one of the first things you cannot live without. By the rule of threes, you can only live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, etcetera. Two, it's a cheap item to store, in many cases, good water containers can be found for under $5. Thirdly, we've got to start somewhere.

Water containers come in many different sizes, 500ml to 1L. For our purposes, 1 litre is ideal. It is the minimum level of hydration you should be consuming in a day when supplies are rationed. In a survival situation you will very likely need more than one liter, more likely, 1 liter plus 1 liter for every hour of strenuous activity (activity that makes you sweat) or for each hour you are exposed to extreme heat (temperatures that make you sweat).

Now you know what to expect of your water storage, what are you going to keep it in? Your cheapest option, is garbage, more specifically, recycling. A Gatorade bottle is a thick plastic container capable of withstanding some abuse and refilling. The same could be said of a 1L pop bottle. The problem with most disposable water bottles is that they are designed for faster breakdown in landfills, with thinner plastics and weaker lids. One of the most sturdy "disposable" bottles around are probably the dollar tree Gatorade knock off bottles. The next step up from a recycled bottle, would be a dollar store reusable bottle. Under $2 cost, taxes in, these bottles are designed to be reused, often marked BPA free, and are of generally stronger construction. These bottles may often develop leaks in the seal as their first sign of deteriorization. Past this step, we begin to get into more long term products. A $10 Nalgene or Camelbak bottle goes a long way, many people using them for years on end. Considered by many to be indestructible, these lightweight bottles offer a sturdy product for years of service. Another option in a comparable price range, is a stainless steel bottle. Kleen Canteen being one of the top brand names, a stainless bottle totes the advantage of being able to boil water within the container. Be aware of the difference between stainless steel and aluminum. Aluminum being a softer metal, it is more susceptable to dents and damage. Aluminum cans have also been linked to alzhiemers and other medical conditions. Check metal bottles for clear printing or stampings which say what material was used. For someone looking for a more military look, Nalgene offers a USGI canteen in the same durable plastic as their regular bottles, at a comparable price. Also rebranded canteens under the Blackhawk brand are available in "black, tan and olive drab" colours. This is the same Nalgene quality of materials, in more subdued colours. The most expensive water container available would be a hydration bladder. Quality brand names (Camelbak, MSR, or platypus) can be found starting at $25 on sale, to upwards of $50 depending on size and durability of the design. These bladders are very fragile in comparison, but offer a lightweight option for people who want to carry more than 1L of water. It is recommended you carry a back up, hard container in case a failure were to occurr to the bladder.

Many of these containers (Nalgene, Kleen Canteen, USGI Canteen) offer stainless steel (or sometimes titanium, if you're willing to pay for it) nesting cups. Which fit over the bottle snugly, to reduce bulk. These cups provide you with a vessel to boil water in, allowing you to purify water and refill the container, even from questionable sources.

So there lays your options with drinking bottles, balancing the cost with performance is up to you. Two schools of thought when it comes to buying gear: "buy once, cry once" meaning buy the highest quality gear available, treat it right, and you should have it for life, or "one in hand is better than two in store" meaning it's better to have a cheap version of something ready to be deployed than not have anything because you're saving for the latest and greatest. Striking a balance between the two works best for me.

Lastly, I'll mention bags briefly off topic. The reason I didn't start with information on picking a bag is simple: you don't know the size of bag you need until you actually accumulate the gear. Until you acquire the majority of your items, there's no point in considering any sort of pack. Until that point, any old back pack will do. Even a designated cloth grocery store bag will serve you well.

Thanks for checking in, looking forward to seeing everyone's choice of water carrier next month when we discuss options for food in the bug out bag.
Last edited by BullOnParade on Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
BullOnParade

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Re: ZSC:003 Builds BOBs

Post by BullOnParade » Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:47 pm

At this months meeting we discussed several available options for food to be put in a Bug Out Bag. A few things to consider when you are deciding on food for your bag include cost, weight, calorie density, and cooking requirements. You also want to be sure that you're packing food that you like. A lot of people think that they'll be able to eat anything when the time comes and just pack food ignoring personal preference. In a disaster situation, you will be under heavy duress as it is, you will want good foods that comfort you. Next you need to think about just how much food you will need. on average, a person should be eating 2000 calories per day under normal day to day activities. A person who is not under excess activity, can operate under rations of about 1200 calories per day. If a person is under sever stress and exercising daily (as could be expected in a bug out situation) will require an increase of caloric intake, often 1000-1500 calories more per day.

First, we discussed canned goods. This is food everyone is familiar with, it's in nearly every home in the western world and probably the majority of those in the east too. This food has modest shelf life, often longer than one year. People are familiar with it, and have favourites. There are many faults to canned goods as survival foods. Canned food is heavy. The amount of food required to survive even one day is going to weigh a lot, let alone the weight of food for three days or more. A lot of this weight comes from the bulk. Foods preserved in water and syrups are needless to say, going to be bigger and heavier than foods we will talk about in a moment which have been dehydrated and vacuum sealed.

Next up we talked about Mountain House type dehydrated camp foods. These foods are available in all speciality camping stores and many box stores. Many complex dishes are available with minimized effort. These packages are usually sold in servings for one or two people, and require a set amount of boiling water to be added to the package of dehydrated food. After a few minutes in the water, the foods are rehydrated and edible. Many can probably see a major problem with these foods as main source of nutrition in a survival situation: they require copious quantities of water. On top of that, they all have a high sodium content, and that added salt to your diet will require extra water to digest. Where these flaws are not an issue, is for the prepper who is set up to filter/clean water during their bug out. If your bug out plan takes you along a route which allows you to clean water on the move. Otherwise, the added strain of water supplies makes this food a burden. These options are typically a 7 to 10 year shelf life, which is a great option for food you can forget about cycling out of your bag.

Another common food for bug out bags is military rations known as "Meals Ready to Eat" or commonly referred to as MREs. Typically only found in surplus stores, they can occasionally be found at costco. These prepackaged meals offer a full meal, entrée, drink and snacks in one box plus cutlery and heater pack. Different countries produce different menus, we're lucky that many surplus stores in Southern Ontario often get options produced for the American military. One easy to fix problem, is the added weight and bulk involved in these meals. By removing the excess packaging, cutlery and food that you don't like, you can cut a lot of the excess weight and bulk from this option. Advertised as having a 5 year shelf life, but if you're purchasing from a surplus store, those for sale to the civilian market may not have five years left.

One final option we covered were lifeboat rations. I cannot find any local (Canadian) retailers, so I was forced to order on line. Sold in 1200, 2400, or 3600 calorie packages, these are the most calorie dense option you have at this time. Different brands having different flavours, Popular Mechanics compared different brands here.We opened a package of mainstay bars and let members taste, much like a lemoney sugar cookie. There are many advantages to this food over others; Not thirst provoking, light weight, and calorie dense. But having only one flavour of food for 3 days will get boring pretty quickly.

You may consider snack foods, in many cases, snack foods you're used to from the grocery store. As before, you need to consider shelf life. Granola bars, chocolate and candy can all be a great moral booster in times of stress. Many of these things will expire faster than your main choices of food. I personally choose m&m's, the candy shell keeps the chocolate from going waxy faster than a typical chocolate bar. Others opt for hard candy, which may be more resistant to heat extremes.

Some people think they will hunt or fish as their only means for sustenance. This is, quite simply, setting yourself up for failure. a better alternative, is to augment your packed food, but don't rely on it alone. An alternative to spending your limited time standing on a shore with a stick in your hand, is to set a bank line (a line tied to shore with a hook) which can work for you, while you do other things. The alternate to actively hunting is to set traps. One option you may consider for a bug out bag is a rat trap (oversized mouse trap) with a hole drilled in the corner. The hole is used to tie the trap down so that if you happen to catch an animal which is too big for the trap, you don't lose your trap.

So there's your options on food. Next month, we'll talk about clothing and shelter.
BullOnParade

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Re: ZSC:003 Builds BOBs

Post by BullOnParade » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:44 pm

About time that I put up some notes from the discussion at this months meeting on clothing and shelter:

I've lumped clothing and shelter together because both are designed to protect you from the elements, and if you have a good selection of one, it safeguards against the failure of the other. Your bug out bag should have a minimum of one full change of seasonally appropriate clothes. A prominent member of these forums, Woods Walker's forum signature currently reads "There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing." You may consider extras of underclothes, and I highly recommend extra socks. Clean, warm feet are not just important to staying mobile and healthy, but are key to maintaining morale too. These clothes need not be new, off the shelf items. We're talking about something to wear when you have nothing else, you'll be grateful for those old jeans and baggy hoody when you can't get into your home because of a fire. If you don't have any old clothes around, or you don't think what you have is suitable for a disaster scenario, consider thrift stores. For the cost of a new pair of jeans at the mall, you could pick up all the clothing required for your BOB and should even be able to consider technical fabrics better suited to disaster situations.

Layering is an easy technique which allows for temperature management in most conditions. A good base layer to wick and manage moisture, insulating layers, add here when the temperatures drop, and an outer shell to protect from the elements (wind/water proof). As temperatures change, you can remove or add layers to the system to regulate your comfort.

The layering technique works even better if you can build off a base knowledge of different fabrics and their properties. There are thousands of special fabrics out there, and new fabrics are constantly being developed, so I will briefly talk about a few major players in the technical clothing game:

Cotton: Soft, cheap, available anywhere, and it breathes great. Cotton is known for its ability to absorb moisture, but it is not very effective at managing that moisture once it's absorbed. Usually, the garment becomes heavy when saturated in moisture and takes a lot of energy to dry. The process of evaporation causes cooling. Because cotton takes so long to dry, it is a lot more time cooling down the person wearing it. For these reasons, I recommend reserving cotton for limited applications, typically warm, dry climates.

Polyesters/misc synthetics: These fabrics used in technical clothing are great for managing moisture (think Under Armor/competitors). They pull moisture away from the skin, disperse it evenly for maximum effective evaporation, perfect for base layer/next to skin (NTS) clothing. Often available in compression or relaxed fits, to suit different applications. In a layering scenario, compression styles have the benefit of an added layer without much bulk, they also offer more effective moisture management, as the fabric is constantly in contact with the skin. Synthetics have a few shortcomings; many people find them uncomfortable, the fabric is not as soft as cotton, and looses its silky feel after several washes. The fabric is heat sensitive, if you are looking for clothing to wear around a camp fire, I'd recommend against synthetics as they are easily burnt, even a small ember could put a hole in your shirt. A large ember could even melt the material to your skin causing sever burns. And lastly, they smell; the fabrics are often treated with anti-microbial coatings which wash out after several uses. These coatings help the garment manage the left behind odor after the sweat is absorbed, and the water content evaporates from it.

Fleece: I will touch on fleece briefly on its own, even though it is another synthetic. This material is considered an effective insulating layer, capable of repelling light moisture. It is still a synthetic, and still subject to heat sensitivity of other synthetic materials, but still a viable option as an insulating layer.

Wool: wool is a favourite amongst many outdoors enthusiasts for one quality in particular; it will insulate even when wet. A quality wool sweater is worth its weight in gold in a wet climate. Wool can be knit into thin, lightweight NTS layers, allowing one to avoid syntheics if you're not a fan. Wool is also less susceptable to bacterial growth, so the stink of synthetics. The number one complain of wool fabric is that it's itchy, there are several ways around this, one is to wear something between your skin and the wool, this is a great opportunity to apply a long sleeved synthetic or even cotton shirt for comfort, allowing the wool to do the work of protecting from the elements. A special type of wool known as "merino wool" is another way to avoid the itch. Grown on special sheep in New Zealand, this wool is often woven into high end technical clothing for outdoors enthusiasts, even underwear. When wool is woven this fine it is less notable as an insulator, and more of a breathable base layer without any of the disadvantages of synthetics. Here's some discussion on Merino wools http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... erino+wool.

Moving on from clothing, there are a few things you should consider when considering a shelter. Smaller spaces are easier to keep warm, the ground will steal your body heat, so always protect yourself from it. An uninsulated air mattress will turn into a pocket of cold air underneath you in the worst conditions, and can keep you from staying warm, be sure your ground pad is built for cold weather, or solid foam. Heating inside of a shelter is not something that should be taken lightly, these small spaces are not designed to have fire or propane heaters inside of them. Risks of uncontrolled burns or carbon monoxide poisoning are very real possibilities if you are not careful. If you're considering a shelter of natural elements, it's not cheating to add an extra layer of water proof material such as a plastic tarp, drop sheet, or even cut up garbage bag to help protect you effectively. Also be aware of the bugs in Ontario. Most commercial shelter options offer but netting of some sort, and without it, mosquitoes and black flies will likely carry you away if you're out in that season. Use of man made materials also includes bug netting which can make your night sleep infinitely more enjoyable.

Lastly, as a bridge between shelter an clothing, I will discuss a few quick points of sleeping bags, the major choices out there. A few tips and tricks to make your sleeping bag feel warmer can be read here:http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... 14&t=70270.
Shape: rectangular, mummy or barrel. Rectangular bags are just that, big squares of fabric, folded in two and zippered shut on two of the remaining two sides. Mummy bags are tapered to fit your body and often have a hood which comes up over your head. Scientifically, mummy bags are allegedly the warmest option. Barrel bags fit somewhere between the first two, a bit of extra leg room compared to mummy bags, but not as much as a rectangular bag.

Fill: Down or synthetic are the two major fills used in sleeping bags these days. Down is warmer and lighter, but if it gets wet, it loses its loft (aka fluffiness) and doesn't insulate as well. Synthetic is more bulky and heavier, but more resistant to the elements and cheaper than a down bag of equal temperature rating.

A final note on sleeping bags, when not being transported, it is recommended that sleeping bags be stored open, hung from a coat rack if possible, not in the compression sack so as to avoid compression of the fill over time.
BullOnParade

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Re: ZSC:003 Builds BOBs

Post by BullOnParade » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:45 pm

Another month of working on our bug out bags, this month we discussed some finer points of fire craft.

First, three basic sizes of materials are required to build a fire efficiently, their names will probably sound familiar;
Tinder
  1. No thicker than a pencil
    the length of your outstretched hand
    you'll need a bundle as big as both hands in an "O" shape
Kindling
  1. As thick as your thumb
    length of your forearm, elbow to wrist
    you'll need a generous armload
Fuel
  1. At least as thick as your wrist
    as long as your arm
    you'll need a pile at least knee high for one night's burn
It is good practice to collect all three fire building materials and have them easily accessible before you start the process of building a fire. It is easy to be overwhelmed when facing the task of starting a fire and start to work on your tinder without having an kindling or fuel ready to feed the flames. This is especially true of people who are trying start fires with a natural method, such as a fire drill or fire bow (I won't be going into any details on these techniques as they far exceed the scope of this thread. If you have interest in these techniques, YouTube is your friend). The suggested collection amounts above are somewhat liberal, but will be more than enough to build a strong fire, and be sure the fire is hot enough to burn the next larger material before you start to feed that to the fire. As a quick side note, if you intend to cook on a fire, I recommend a second armload of kindling, as this size of stick burns hotter and faster than fuel to produce a better bed of coals for easier heat management.

A general rule commonly used in survivalism is "the rule of three's". colloquially expressed as "one is none and two is one", the basic idea being, if your bag contains a single item, or way of doing something, and that item or method fails, you're stuck. However, if you carry multiples of important equipment, or multiple methods for achieving a single goal, even if one fails, other options are available. I do not personally employ this technique in much of my BOB, except fire craft. I personally advocate the practice of carrying three fire starting materials, and three fire creating processes.

Fire Creating Processes
  1. Flint (Bic style) lighter - An easy to find, reliable fire creating process. These lighters are cheap, available everywhere, and produce a flame on their own. Be cautious of throwing these into a BOB loose, if something manages to depress the plunger on your lighter in your bag, you may find yourself with nothing but an empty lighter when you need it the most. This is preventable by wrapping a small ziptie around the body of the lighter, just under the plunger, preventing it from being activated unintentionally. If done right, the same zip tie can be reused in between fires. An advantage to this lighter over electric lighters, is that even if the fuel is gone, the flint will still produce sparks, which is enough for a person using the right tools and technique. These lighters are available in so many different patterns and colours, you can find one to suit your personality, but if you're purchasing one for the sole purpose of being in a bug out bag, consider something that will be easier to see if you drop it. Green's and black's may look tactical in your prep gear, but will quickly be lost when you set them down during a fire starting session. White is no good if you have snow, and orange can disappear into a backdrop of freshly fallen autumn leaves. I personally like unnatural florescent colours, or something that's been wrapped in a design with many colours for ultimate visibility no matter what conditions.

    Wind resistant flint (Zippo style) lighter - The original wind resistant lighter, a great classic style for every day use or long term prep. But in my personal opinion, falls short for a basic survival kit. The largest problem I have with the Zippo style lighter is that they cannot be stored with the fuel inside of them. The fuel storage in a Zippo is not air tight, and the fuel will evaporate if the lighter is left unused for long periods of time. Are there ways around this? Of course! Packing your fuel separately is the easiest, Zippo even sells a keychain fuel canister for this purpose, but this takes up extra space in a BOB that I am not typically willing to give up when so many self contained solutions exist. I will also note that a lighter which requires regular refueling is less of a concern to smokers or people who use their lighters on a daily basis, as they will be in the habit of monitoring the fuel and will know roughly how long they get out of a refill. Are there advantages to the Zippo? You bet; it is nearly impossible for the Zippo style lighter to open/leak/become discharged because something pushes on it in your bag. The lighter can burn just about any burnable liquid from Zippo brand lighter fuel (of course this is what they suggest, since they make more money off of it) to diesel fuel. I used to work at a company that used 99% alcohol for cleaning, we ordered it by the 55 gallon drum, a coworker used nothing but alcohol in his Zippo. The lighter is difficult to blow out (but not impossible) and flints and wicks are relatively easy to find and replace. They're also easy to light without any fine motor skill because you do not have to hold a plunger, you could probably start this lighter without two broken arms (in fact, I just successfully lit my Zippo with my feet, Don't ask me how I'd get my boots off with two broken arms). And like a flint style disposable, even if you are without fuel, you can still use the flint to produce sparks, which are all that is needed to someone who has practiced their fire craft. I happen to know that canuckdiver uses a zippo in his fire starting kit, he simply carries an entire canister of fuel in his kit.

    Electric lighter - This lighter is very similar to a flint style, but instead of a flint showering sparks into the fuel, depressing the plunger triggers an electric spark inside of the nozzle. This design is often considered easier to use than a flint style lighter as less pressure or speed is required to activate the lighter. This is beneficial if you need to start a fire for warmth, you may not have the motor dexterity required to light a flint lighter. These lighters are also typically a slightly stiffer plunger (since the plunger is doing two actions) so it may be harder for the plunger to become depressed inside your pack and release the fuel.

    Torch style (windproof) lighter - These lighters produce a flame that is more concentrated, hotter, and resistant to adverse weather conditions than a flint or traditional electronic style lighter. A wide variety of windproof lighters exist in a very wide budget range. I have bought many windproof lighters in the $20-40 range that have all failed earlier than I would have liked (some as early as five lights). I have seen windproof lighters in the $60-120 range, but have been afraid to spend that kind of money given my track record with the cheaper models. While I'm sure the ZippoBlu line is built to the same standards as the rest of their products, and has a lifetime warranty, I cannot bring myself to spend the $80. However about a year ago, I started seeing windproof lighters in Dollarama (obviously, for $1). I was a little skeptic at first, but I bought one for testing. While not the most robust lighter I've ever handled, for the price, I do not think it can be beat. I later found models at the Dollar Tree with flip up caps which cover the plunger and nozzle. These are great for a bug out bag since you don't need to worry as much about something depressing the plunger and releasing the fuel. Be aware, if you go this route, test the lighter in the store. I once bought a full box of 25, and 5 out of the package would not light, Dollarama and Dollar Tree have a no refund/no exchange policy.

    Fire steel - one of my favourite fire starting tools, and a great technique for someone who wants to learn more advanced firecraft. While many brands are available, even in box stores like Walmart or Canadian Tire, most of my experience is with Light My Fire's Sweedish FireSteel and I'd like to put an order in to http://www.Firesteel.com one day for an assortment of smaller firesteels to leave in many different kits. The reasons I like the firesteel is its reliability, they work just as well after being submerged in water for 3 days as they do out of the package, you cannot say that about nearly any other fire producing methods. A firesteel requires a scraping tool, most will be sold with one and all but the cheapest are effective for this purpose, but to me, it is one extra thing to carry. I prefer to use the spine of my knife to strike sparks from the firesteel, using the blade is a quick way to dull your knife. (be aware, not all knives will work this way, some have too much of a radius on the spine and do not provide a good scraping surface, test all gear you expect to work together before you need it to work together). Practice with a firesteel is essential, just perfecting the angle at which to hold your scraping tool will effect the quality and direction of your sparks. A quality fire starting material is required to take these sparks to a flame, I have never seen conditions dry enough in Southern Ontario to start flame from a firesteel to tinder directly.

    Matches - Given all of the options listed above, I almost consider matches obsolete. Even strike anywhere, "windproofed" and "waterproofed", a match is a twig with a burnable material on it. The only advantage of a match is that you can hide a few matches in a very small space, as long as you don't feel the need to protect it from the elements. I'll note, I recall a particular episode of Survivorman where Les Stroud split a match down the center to essentially double his fire starting abilities. If you must go with matches, I must advocate for wooden, strike anywhere, "storm proofed" matches. Or make your own "storm proof" matches by dipping them in liquid wax or painting on a layer of clear nail polish. Given a choice of any fire starting method I've mentioned here, matches would be my last choice.
Fire Starting Materials
  1. Candle - a basic tea light candle from the dollar store will burn for several hours if it is protected from the wind. These simple fire starters give you a lot of time to build a fire around them, and are easily restarted if they become snuffed during the building process. If you plan on leaving candles in your BOB be weary in hot weather, the inside of your pack may become hot enough to melt the wax inside of your bag and make a mess.

    Sawdust muffin - a home made option for someone looking for something simple, start with melted wax (for easy clean up, I recommend a double boiler made out of recycled cans), mix in wood chips and saw dust, and pour into a muffin tin lined with paper muffin cups. These are essentially a homemade candle which burn hotter due to the extra "wicks" from each burning piece of sawdust.

    Petroleum jelly cotton balls - (once again in a recycled double boiler) melt petroleum jelly into a liquid on a stove top, stir in cotton balls, pull them out (use some sort of tongs, the petroleum jelly will be very hot) and store in an airtight container (film canister, pill container from old prescription, etc). If you carry petroleum jelly and cotton balls in your first aid kit, you can make these in the field without melting the jelly, but they will burn slightly faster, and can be somewhat messy.

    Char cloth - bacpacjac did a nice right up about making char cloth indoors, so I won't go into details on that here. This technique can provide hundreds of fires with a little prep work from home, and a retired tshirt or jeans.

    Drier lint - There's a reason you have to empty the lint trap on your drier regularly, it's a fire hazard! Take that dried out cotton, put it in a zip lock bag, and throw that in your BOB for a simple fire starter.

    Natural materials - Starting a fire without any man made or packed in fire starters makes you feel at one with nature. It can even be done in wet conditions, just pick it up early on the trip. If you want to start a fire with natural materials when things are wet, put the materials in your pocket early in the day and your body heat will dry things out through the day. Some materials work even when soaked, like birch bark. The bark in these trees have a natural oil that repels water, even if you dunk it in the lake, it will catch fire with ease. If you can't find birch trees near you, look for standing dead wood. Trees that die without falling over absorb less moisture. And lastly, without any of these things, try shaving off the outer layers of wood, the odds are the wood will not be soaked through to the core, shaving off the outer layers exposes the dry wood and gives you something that will start easily.

    Commercial built starters - There are several fire starters available in stores, even Dollarama offers a compressed sawdust fire starter. While these options do work, things can be found around the home for much less than you'd pay in stores, and very seldom work better than something you make yourself.
As this set of posts are aimed at the absolute beginner, I should remind everyone the importance of clearing the site before starting a fire, especially if your area of operation (AO) is a dry climate. Keep an eye out for exposed tree roots, as root fires can burn a long distance underground and actually set a whole tree, and then forest on fire.A ring of rocks make an excellent traditional fire pit, but one of the best pits I have ever seen was actually in a triangular shape, and I'll tell you why. The fire burnt inside the inscribed circle, but the points of the triangle were great places to set wet and punky wood without putting it on the fire. Because the wood wasn't in the fire, it did not smother the flames as wet wood can do, but it was close enough to the heat that it could dry out before the fire burnt down enough to be recharged.

Two common techniques for beginner fire starting are the "Teepee" and "Log cabin" methods. Each technique has its advantages.
Teepee
  • To build a teepee fire, start by leaning your tinder materials against each other to form a rough teepee shape. You can fill the teepee with dry grass and other natural fire starting materials. On a windy day, a piece of bark can be placed around the outside of the teepee to guard your fire starting method from being blown out. Don't forget to leave a small opening in one side where you can introduce your fire starting method.
Log cabin
  • Again, just like the title suggests, this starting construction requires the builder to assemble a frame from your tinder and kindling by placing sets of parallel sticks on top of a set of perpendicular sticks. The end result is a nest in which you can place your dry fire starting materials. This technique isn't as easy to protect against from the wind, but it has easier access of introducing fire starting technique to materials.
Tools to aid in fire craft
  1. We'll talk about tools more in depth later, but here's a list of tools that can be of value while building fire
    Knife - A large knife can be used to process wood, strike ferro rods, or create fire starters from natural material.
    Hatchet/Saw - Goes without saying, these are great for procuring wood of various sizes.
    Steel Barbecue tongs - Even cheap sets from the dollar store are great for managing coals, moving food on and off the fire, or placing logs.
    Length of hose - A small diameter hose of about arms length allows you to blow onto dying coals and restart a fire without getting your face too close to the heat.
    Small fan - I'm lazy and opt for a small battery powered fan from the dollar store to restart dying fires. Try to keep battery operated tools to a common battery size, regardless of size. The fewer sizes you have you stock, the better.
BullOnParade

Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.

Urban BOB/Range (& Bailout) Bag/EDC/Vehicle Kit

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