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A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
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  1. #1
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    Default Flint and steel...really needed?

    Hello everyone,

    I've told some friends/family about my April start on the Appalachian Trail NOBO and have been asked about what I'm bringing to start a fire. Actually, it's what are the 3 things that you are taking to start a fire. My answer was a mini bic and maybe a book of matches. How many of you carried a flint and steel? I've ordered a flintstones rod magnesium off of ebay for under 2 bucks but don't really think I will need this. What do you think?

    A

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    Never saw anyone carry a flint and steel. I did fine with two lighters, ideally in different locations so that if one gets wet the other is hopefully still dry. If your lighter burns out you'll surely not be far from somebody with one you can borrow. Careful with basing your gear list on what friends and family suggest you carry, the #1 gear question I got prior to my thru hike is why aren't you carrying a handgun.

  3. #3

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    Lighter is a flint, steel, and fuel source combined.
    Lighter, and matches , is all I take.

    Fires are not LNT, and should not be made if you ask me. Too many think they need a stinky fire every night. It gets in hair and clothes and you smell for days.

  4. #4
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    I too carry a mini Bic and a book of matches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Lighter is a flint, steel, and fuel source combined.
    Lighter, and matches , is all I take.

    Fires are not LNT, and should not be made if you ask me. Too many think they need a stinky fire every night. It gets in hair and clothes and you smell for days.
    Fires are included LNT practices, you can visit LNT.org web site for ways of minimizing their impact and their usage, but unquestionably acceptable under LNT guidelines. Choosing not to have a fire is also equally ok under LNT guidelines.

    The smoke helps when a shower is not available, a smoke bath is far preferred to body hiker funk. That it lasts is a benefit, not a flaw.

  6. #6
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    Either two mini bics or one lighter and matches. Backup is fully sealed in case of emergency.

  7. #7
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    A mini-Bic and a match safe full of "waterproof" matches. I have nothing but respect for the outdoorsperson who can make fire with flint and steel, but it's not exactly UL. (Of course, neither is my fire piston....) Whatever you carry, make sure that you KNOW that you can make a fire with it when the chips are down.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

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    Thanks all!
    That's what I thought...
    mattjv89.....yeah my .40 Glock with 1 mag of 14 hollow points and level 2 holster comes in at 37.6 oz...that's like carrying an extra tent!

    A

  9. #9
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    I carry a mini bic in my food bag and keep a backup one in my first aid kit. Bics almost never fail, the biggest risk is losing them.

    To me those firesteel type strikers are primarily a novelty. They do a great job of keeping boy scouts occupied in a productive fashion while outdoors (I probably went through 10 of them in scouts), but there are just far more practical ways of making fire for my purposes.

    There are some people who swear by firesteel for lighting my alcohol stoves, but that's not my are of expertise.
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 10-17-2015 at 20:29.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontiki View Post
    Thanks all!
    That's what I thought...
    mattjv89.....yeah my .40 Glock with 1 mag of 14 hollow points and level 2 holster comes in at 37.6 oz...that's like carrying an extra tent!

    A
    Consider going UL, this stuff weighs less than half of standard .40S&W

    http://www.ammunitiondepot.com/Liber.../liberty40.htm
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontiki View Post
    Thanks all!
    That's what I thought...
    mattjv89.....yeah my .40 Glock with 1 mag of 14 hollow points and level 2 holster comes in at 37.6 oz...that's like carrying an extra tent!

    A
    A Ruger LCP .380 weighs 9.4 oz. You can get a Kel-Tek or NAA down to around 6 oz (I think in .22 LR). That said, I don't carry when hiking, if I felt that was necessary, I would find another sport.

    As for "flint and steel", is that the same thing as one of these? I always carry this thing, and have started fires (with vaseline-soaked cotton balls) and many times an alcohol stove with it.

    IMG_0586[1].jpg

  12. #12

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    On a typical thru-hike of at AT, you should ever need to start a survival fire if carrying the proper equipment. It's kind of the same reason you don't need a survival knife, your carrying a shelter correct? You shouldn't have to ever build a survival fire because you have insulation to keep you safe.

    I still carry a ferro rod and striker while backpacking because I'm a pyro and enjoy practicing my bush craft skills. I also use a wood cooking stove so I'm lighting fires often.

    Bic lighters are the bomb though. Tough, reliable, cheap, and can light many fires. If its cold and won't light. Stick in under your armpit for 5 minutes. If it gets soaked and wont light. Dry out the flint by spinning the striker wheel on your pants. Over and over again about 20-30 times. This will dry out the flint and will light again.

    For a thru-hiker, I think the best fire kit would be a mini-bic in the hip belt pocket, accompanied by another mini-bic in a ziplock in the the first aid kit.

    For "fire starters".. I stopped carrying them. There are at least 5 things in my pack I can use to start a fire. Hand sanitizer and tp is the first items that comes to mind in my pack. Nature also provides fire starters everywhere.

  13. #13

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    So much talk about Bic's here! I love it! My own play on that is how I keep my back-up mini Bic: I seal it in a vacuum food bag (foorsaver-type, cut down to small size) with a zip-tie under tied under the gas release so you can't accidentally release all the gas and it's always good to go.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    I carry a mini bic in my food bag and keep a backup one in my first aid kit. Bics almost never fail, the biggest risk is losing them.

    To me those firesteel type strikers are primarily a novelty. They do a great job of keeping boy scouts occupied in a productive fashion while outdoors (I probably went through 10 of them in scouts), but there are just far more practical ways of making fire for my purposes.

    There are some people who swear by firesteel for lighting my alcohol stoves, but that's not my are of expertise.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm one of 'some people,' since I've hiked with Elf a few times.

    I carry a couple of Bic's and occasionally use one, but for lighting my alky stove or dropping a spark into some fire starter for a campfire, the firesteel is my 'go to' device. I don't have to worry about it getting wet, or about having it in an inside pocket in winter.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  15. #15

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    I camped out in the mid forties last night.Bic works a lot better when you put it in your waist band for a few minutes.Alkie stove was reluctant to go first thing this morning but a piece of pine straw left to burn in it did the trick.Last night's campfire(well established fire pit on private property) was accomplished with a birthday candle and a small piece of paper from a Packit Gourmet meal.Just spike the candle in the ground,add the paper and a hand full of twigs to start and you're done.I have all manner of primitive and modern devices but for convenience,Bic and a Birthday Candle is hard to beat..............

  16. #16
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    Fire starting is a skill worth having. But flint and steel work great in books and other fantasies and without a lot of practice not so great in real life.
    Miles to go before I sleep. R. Frost

  17. #17

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    A ferro rod w/knife is a super easy way to get sparks to light an alcohol stove, but using it to start a camp fire is an exercise for boy scouts, not something a sane person would bother themselves with.

    Really, a camp fire in general is a chore/responsibility and I'm usually too busy hiking or sleeping to want to bother with it. Carrying a warm enough sleeping bag is a lot easier.
    Awwww. Fat Mike, too?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kontiki View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I've told some friends/family about my April start on the Appalachian Trail NOBO and have been asked about what I'm bringing to start a fire. Actually, it's what are the 3 things that you are taking to start a fire. My answer was a mini bic and maybe a book of matches. How many of you carried a flint and steel? I've ordered a flintstones rod magnesium off of ebay for under 2 bucks but don't really think I will need this. What do you think?

    A
    Especially early in your hike, unless you're the first one at a shelter or campsite, someone will likely already have a fire going. If you lose your bic and your backup, yogi a pack of matches from another hiker - there will be plenty of other hikers on the trail. Then buy a replacement at the next town.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  19. #19
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    Knowing how to and being capable of starting a fire is a lifesaver. A ferro rod and steel is a good back up for the unthinkable.

  20. #20
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    Is it necessary? No. A lighter is truly all you will probably use. Then again, having a firesteel handy can make all the difference in the right circumstances. Me, I carry both but primarily use the firesteel to light both my alcohol stove, gas stove and wood fires. I bring my own tinder; I don't try to gather it on the spot and light it with the steel. That would take quite a bit of preparation when a little lint and cotton ball will do the trick rather nicely.
    2,000 miler. Still keepin' on keepin' on.

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