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Survival Kits

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  • Survival Kits

    In my Hunter's Ed classes I try to get folks to at least THINK about some sort of survival kit. Any of you ever check out any of the "make your own survival kit" websites?

    I've worked as an EMT in some pretty remote places, and people sure seem to be oblivious to the dangers of the wild.

    I'd like to hear some suggestions regarding fire making. I have a few tricks of my own but I'm always looking for more/better ideas.


    Ride well, shoot straight and be a man of honor.

  • #2
    I have matches in a waterproof case and a military firestarter with small white firestarter material. I also have some cotton balls soaked in vaseline in two old film roll canisters as a fire starter, they burn pretty hot. Of course the first thing to do is learn to make a fire that can take advantage of what you have.


    • #3

      I carry 20 minute road flares (vacuum packed) when I am snowmachining. If you can't get it to burn with a flare, it probably won't burn. They are good for signaling, and extremely windproof too.

      I second the vasaline soaked cotton balls. They work great. The set up also provides you with a small amount of vasaline for lip balm, or whatever.

      The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


      • #4
        When I was a kid we made our own water proof barn burner matches by dipping them in wax. We also dipped some light cardboard like cereal box material and carried some drier lint and had the whole thing vacuum packed down at the meat market so it would stay dry and fit in your pocket.

        Our hunter safety instructor stressed to us not to have all your survival gear in a pack that you can become separated from. He said "at the very minimum have some fire starter kit in your pocket, that way unless you actually lost your pants you'll be able to keep warm."


        • #5
          fire starter

          Can someone go into detail about the different types of fire starter folks are using? One of you talked about just using vasoline on cotton balls in a 35mm film container. How much vasoline does it take? Just dab the cotton ball on the vasoline or does it take quite a bit? Some insight would be great!! Eric


          • #6

            Basically you want to saturate the cotton. I have used cotton balls, but the best thing I found was the little 2" square cotton pads my wife uses to take off her makeup with. They are a little denser than cotton balls and seem to light easier. I burned one in my garage and it burned quite hot for almost 4 minutes.

            The vasaline is great because it is waterproof, and being oil based (petroleum jelly) it burns rather well. I did a demonstration during a snowmobile safety class where I took one of my cotton balls, dunked it completely under water, then proceded to light it with a bic lighter. It took a few seconds to start burning well, but it eventually did.

            The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


            • #7

              Thanks for the info Ak. Will have to experiment a little. Going along with the thread a little I got my first aid kit out to go through. I found out most of my iodine pads, painkillers, anit-infectant had expired last year! It might be a good idea for everyone to look at those dates before heading out!! Not sure if this kind of stuff gets weaker in strength or could make things worse if taken!? EricL


              • #8
                There are lots of great fire starter options - vaseline cotton balls work great. Flares are fun! Nothing is as good as your brain and a little practice.

                I have a blastmatch - think eagle enterprises in Anch might sell them. It gives a pretty impressive shower of very hot sparks and it gives you one handed operation of a firesteel - nice if you get a broken wing.

                Several other various ferrocerium rods (firesteels) - little hunk of hacksaw blade tied to it and reliable hot sparks for years to come.

                I think everyone has one of the magnesium/flint fire starters - I usually carry one of my other options though - much better sparks from ferrocerium.

                Military spark lite - very small unit and sounds like what Bill S. described - I've packed these in some very small pocket survival kits with several pieces of the supplied tinder.

                I made some char cloth a few years ago - pretty neat concept, great small tinder to carry, but I kind of botched the process...maybe I should try again next summer.

                What do I carry though? Usually have cotton balls or commercial stuff for tinder and for fire a butane windproof torch lighter somewhere, a waterproof matches container, and one of the ferrocerium rods as a backup. As alluded to earlier - they are spread throughout my gear so there is always one on me - unless I lose my pants!


                • #9
                  A word about Metal Matches (ferrocerium bars)....they corrode very quickly! I dip mine in a 50/50 beeswax/paraffin solution. It keeps the moisture out until I need to use it and does not impede spark production.

                  IMO Vasoline soaked cotton balls are the overall best fire starter because they are simple and cheap to make, very light weight and they work under just about any condition.

                  An easy way to make them--
                  Put a handfull of cotton balls and 2 or 3 tablespoons of vasoline into a partially sealed ziploc bag.
                  Microwave on low until vasoline melts.
                  Squeeze air out of bag and seal
                  Knead cotton balls until fully coated

                  If igniting VSC's with a sparking device (metal match or dead lighter) don't forget to pull them apart to increase surface area.
                  If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


                  • #10
                    good points Erik - I seem to scrape most of my metal matches enough to keep them in good shape - but I should pull a few out of sealed kits and see how they are looking.

                    Never tried the ziplock trick - next you'll see a bunch of posts from guys with PO'ed wives after they made a mess in the microwave! Definitely want to fluff them up (that's not on the instructions of either ingredient...for some reason)

                    The other one I forgot from my youth was the steel wool and the 9V battery...haven't seen that one in many packs though!


                    • #11
                      I once put a 3/8 inch metal match into my damp pocket and the next day the bar was about a third rotted away and I had a pocket full of green crud--they work great but are sensitive to moisture
                      If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


                      • #12

                        the vaseline and cotton balls are classic. and for a reason, they work. one thing to remember is to use 100% cotton balls. many are synthetic and wont burn the same from what i have heard. coat them well and when you want to use one (and one is all it takes to get a fire going in average conditions) break it in half. you want the spark/flame to hit the dry cotton. that is what starts the fire. it is the vaseline that is burning for the most part. the whole purpose of the cotton is to start the thing burning. break it in half and the slightest spark will get it going. i keep mine in a tylenol bottle. probably holds 22-25 of them. as mentioned earlier, also good to have for lips, cuts on hands,blisters on feet, squeeky back pack fasteners, etc... i found an incredible product made by they have contract with the military for this stuff. it is small one inch by about 1/2 inch blocks of some lightweight white material (solid) and the slightest light on it and it burns like crazy. for a long time too. incredible stuff and i am getting ready to buy another batch of it. they also sell some super nice spark sticks. two different models and the sticks come with tungsten striker built in and have a compartment for one of these fuel blocks. absolutely incredible stuff. nicest by far i have seen yet. the drier lint is a great idea. i have tried that before and its free. small birthday candles are simple, cheap, and work better than you would think. strike anywhere matches in the plastic orange walmart tubes are hard to beat. simple and effective. throw one in every bag you take on a trip. they are dirt cheap and the airport security will confiscate it. but they dont check every bag usually. they busted me big time leaving nome the other week for a 13 day trip up in the noatak preserve. i lost 2/3 of my firestarter blocks and matches. good thing i too 3 times what i needed. dont fly without extra stuff in all the bags. they cant get it all. check out my favorite stuff yet.
                        The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.


                        • #13
                          Fire starter

                          i've taken cardboard egg carton, fill the bottom with lint from the dryer and then pour melted wax over the top to seal the lint in. wrap up in waterproof ziploc and your ready for a fire!


                          • #14

                            Practice, practice, practice........We can have all the things we need but you have to know how to use that stuff in your kit. Practice building those fires after a rain, practice snaring rabbits, practice building a shelter etc. you'll be much happier you did when you need it. I do a survival camping trip at least once a year, it's fun and challenging and gives you a realistic view of a survival situation.
                            I once held the yardstick of anothers perfection, I threw it down and carved my own................


                            • #15
                              White Gas?

                              The other one I forgot from my youth was the steel wool and the 9V battery...haven't seen that one in many packs though!
                              I still carry the steel wool and the 9v battery! It is just on of my backups. I carry 3 backups and one main refillable butaine lighter with spare lighter fluid. The fluid itself works fairly well even on the rainy days.

                              Just a thought. Has anybody tried to put white gas in an air tight container. I know it burns for a good long while. I know you couldn't use a plastic container for it. Maybe a small heavy duty glass jar like the model paint comes in? It just came to me. I have to try and get back with you all.


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