1. Cedar Shavings
In my opinion, the stringy shavings from the bark of a cedar tree are the best natural fire tinder. Rub them between your hands quickly to create a small fluff ball of shavings that will light quickly.
Even though you can’t get hold of these in all locations, if you have them at your disposals then they are excellent to use as tinder as the light feathery material inside of them burns like paper. Quick and easy.
3. Birch Bark Shaving
Like cedar, just shave some bark off of a birch tree. The cedar shavings are like stringy wood, whereas birch shavings are basically nature’s paper. Thin, light, and easy to burn. Also very easy to peel off the tree.
Two great products to keep in your Bug Out Bag are “WetFire” and “Fire Paste“. I have tested both of these products and they are ideal for starting fires in any condition.
So TSHTF and you find yourself in the wilderness for some reason or another.
You only have a couple of things you managed to throw into a rucksack.
One thing you don’t happen to have is an axe and it’s starting to get cold and dark and you need a fire.
Now every good fire needs some kindling to help start it up but with no axe what are you to do???
Break out the Ka Bar!
First grab some wood, a hard surface (stump, rock, etc to use as a chopping block) and your trusty sheath knife.
I prefer to use my Ka Bar for things like this but you can use any type of strong sheath knife.
Grab the wood and place you knife at the end of it so it spilts with the grain.
Next pick up a big ass piece of wood and give the end of the knife a good whack while firmly holding onto the handle.
Keep whacking the blade until you make it all the way through the wood and repeat the process as necessary.
Once the pieces of kindlings are smaller you can just use the weight of the knife to spilt them further.
One of the basics to surviving in the wilderness is keeping warm and dry.
The best way to do this is to have some form shelter when the weather craps out or night falls.
If for some reason you get stuck in the middle of nowhere and night is falling or the weather is turning crappy then the most important thing to do is start making a shelter, FAST.
It would have been a wise idea to pack a lightweight tent or even a mere tarp but if you didn’t then you have to make do with whatever you can gather.
This means that you have to know how to construct a simple shelter out of branches, leaves, ferns and any other useable foliage.
Another important factor is when to make a shelter.
In other words don’t wait until just before dark just because you think you know what you are doing.
Anything could go wrong and you’ll find yourself in the dark with a half finished shelter.
Make sure that you give yourself a good hour or even two before nightfall so you have plenty of time to build your shelter, light a fire, etc.
- Having no clue where you are or not knowing how to navigate
So you’re lost eh?
Time to figure out how to find yourself. Literally!
The simplest way is to have a good GPS with you but if you don’t have one or it’s broken then there are other ways to navigate.
The key to navigation is having a backup method to find your way to safety, remember “Two is One and One is None” so never rely on a GPS alone.
Having a good understanding of cardinal directions using the Sun and Stars is also beneficial as is a good ol compass.
Most important thing though is don’t panic and start to run off in any direction, you’re only going to tire yourself out and you could injure yourself if you fall or run straight off a cliff!
So what is the best thing to do??
Get detailed maps of your local area or any area you are heading too and make sure you know how to spot points of reference and use a compass.
- Not knowing how to make a fire
I know people who go into the woods without even a box of matches or a lighter (hell I don’t leave the house without at least one pack of matches in my pocket)
They just don’t get it that if something happens and they need to signal for help, start a fire for warmth, or cook something then they will be up the proverbial creek without a paddle!!
It is vital that when you go into the wilderness, even if it is only for a few hours of hiking, that you have some way to start a fire whether it be a lighter, matches or a flint and steel.
The bottom line is, you need to have something!!!!
You can check out my photo tutorial on lighting a fire with a flint and steel here.
- Inappropriate clothing for the conditions
This would have to be the biggest killer for a large percentage of people who die from exposure.
They pack lightly for a day hike but fail to even throw in a warm jacket because they think they won’t need one.
When you are out in the wilderness ANYTHING can happen.
There could be flash flood and the bridge you walked over earlier is now a pile of sticks, low cloud and rain or snow could roll in suddenly or you could get injured and not be able to walk out.
If any of those things happen and you don’t even have the basics of survival (warm clothing, some water, food and a way to make a fire) then you are as good as dead unless someone managed to find you.
Fire is one of the basic necessities for human survival.
You need it to cook your food, keep you warm and in a survival situation just seeing the flames and feeling the warmth can provide a huge moral boost.
I am almost addicted to stockpiling matches, in fact I have so many packets (each packet containing 20 boxes) that I have lost count, but if you are without matches for some reason then it is vital that you know how to make a fire the old fashioned way with a flint and steel.
Step 1: Gather the following materials.
. Dry grass
. Flint and steel striker
. Small twigs, pieces of bark, etc
. Larger sticks, bark pieces, etc
Place the tinder into the centre of the bundle of dried grass.
Place the flint and steel directly beside the tinder and firmly and swiftly scrape along the flint with the steel until the resulting sparks catch the tinder.
This can take a couple of attempts so continue until the tinder ignites.