Do you have a pyromaniac in your life? Or perhaps just someone who loves a good campfire? Well then this is the list for you.
Once you become a firefighter it is assumed at any gathering that you will be responsible for the construction, lighting, and eventual extinguishing of any fire. This is typically fine, because most of us are drawn into the job by a certain fascination with fire. If you know someone who enjoys building fires, be it in camp, hearth, or stove, this equipment list will take their fire game to the next level.
The first step to a good fire is gathering wood. In the forests near the front range of Colorado, there is a huge amount of beetle killed wood. These trees die and stand dead for years, drying out in the wind, before coming down. Really ideal stuff from the moment they come down. They also tend to be quite small–small enough to be taken apart with a silky saw and a hatchet. Anytime you need to gather a bit of wood or split some store-bought firewood, these two will come in handy.
A hatchet is a must have for camping, and this one is a great investment. I bought one of these years ago and it has served me very well. The handle is hollow plastic, so it is quite light, but it is sturdy enough to smash against logs all day, and the head is up to splitting some pretty large stuff if you put a bit of muscle behind it. At only $25, it’s a great deal.
A silky saw is something that most firefighters carry in their pack and make pretty frequent use of. Chainsaws are heavy and run on gasoline, often by the time you get the sawyer to hump the saw up to you and get it running, you could have finished the job with a little bit of arm work. It’s like holding a tiny lightsaber–these saws will impress you with their speed. Excellent tool, be it for clearing a lookout, gathering wood, or doing some light yard work.
The next step is to get that fire going. For that task I suggest two things: a firesteel and some water resistant tinder.
There is something immensely satisfying about starting a fire with a spark and a bit of tinder. It is one more step removed from civilization, one step closer to our ancestry. Sure, you can bring a newspaper and a book of matches, but nothing beats rustling up a bit of dry tinder and knocking a few sparks into it. This particular firestarter is reliable and very light–I keep it in my backpack whenever I’m out because a little fire can be a lifesaver.
In the picture above I am firing a very pistol into some East Texas woods–a great way to start a fire. But assuming you can’t get your hands on one of those, these vaseline permeated cotton balls are the next best thing, and they are very easy to make. A plastic bag or tin of these is another thing I keep in my pack whenever I go out into the woods.
All you have to do is take a cotton ball, use it to scoop up a bit of vaseline, and then work the vaseline into the cotton ball. When done it should be completely covered and saturated with the stuff. To use it, you just tug on one of the edges to expose some of the cotton fibers and then apply flame or spark and it’ll easily take. The system works like a candle, so it burns slowly and puts off a good flame. I usually only use half or a quarter of a cotton ball for each fire. Plus, vaseline is hydrophobic, so you don’t have to worry when using these in wet weather.
Now you’ve got your fire going. You built some sort of tepee or log cabin to get things going, feeding it with progressively larger sticks, but eventually it starts losing its form. The traditional response is to grab another stick or two and try to push things around. This works, but it is awkward. Why not take a lesson from wildland firefighters and put on a nice pair of gloves?
These basic leather gloves are really all you need. This is essentially what firefighters are issued, and with these on you can stick your hands in some pretty hot stuff and hoist burning logs effectively. They will allow you to stick your hand right into the middle of the fire and grab that log that you need to scooch over to keep building your log cabin. But after a really hot grab like that you’ll probably need to take the glove off and give it a minute to cool down before you gra another. Which is why I like these welder’s gloves below.
While the wildland style gloves will suffice, why not invest a few more dollars into a set of these bad boys? The gauntlet-style design certainly reduces the risk of burning your arms or your shirt while you’re fooling around in the fire, and the cotton lining will further reduce your issues with thrusting your hand into a bed of coals to move that log that’s bugging you.
Short of a chainsaw and a hydraulic splitter, that’s all you need. Now get out there and build some fires.
P.S.: If you are interested in any of those products, go ahead and click the links. They’ll take you to the products on amazon.com and if you purchase anything during that session, I will get a little kickback, which helps me continue to produce content. Thanks!