End of the Fire Logs: Fire Logs #12, #13, and #14 plus closing thoughts

When I first started doing these fire logs in the beginning of the year, I said….

“I intend to do one fire a week from the start of January through the end of March. I am not trying to teach myself anything exotic but rather to see how well what I “know” and what I have carries over to fire starting in winter weather. The goal is to try something new either in terms of conditions or in terms of equipment used every week.”

I was reasonably successful in this goal. Once we got into March, I had a harder and harder time finding time to write up the results of what I did, but technically that was not part of the goal. For almost all of the fires, I was able to spin them as some kind of success even if some of them were pretty lame. Only Fire Log #13 was a complete failure.

I had planned for this to end with March in part because I knew I would be getting busier around then. As that is indeed the case (in fact, most of this was written in the first week of April but I am only now finding the time to put it up) I am going to try to do a briefer then normal overview of the fires that I have not already covered to close out this series of experiments.

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Fire Log #10: Boil Water With All Of The Toys

There is a chance that I will be using my Firebox Stove (a bigger version of the Nano that I tried on Fire Log #4) for an extended period of time this spring. But before this test, I had yet to try it out.

Honestly speaking the main reason I decided to try it out for this particular goaround is that I was short on time. So I wanted to try to do something I had not done before that would be done and over with quickly. Since the Firebox Stove has an insert that is just for boiling water, I figured a good drill would be to see how fast it would take me to boil water using all the advantages I could ever reasonable be expected to have when camping sans a gas or alcohol stove. The plan was to have a nice short drill that confirmed how much faster things go when you have all the toys.

But as is usual when I try to go fast, it actually took longer to boil water this time then when I did the hypothermia drill.

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Fire Log #8: Making A Legal Fire In A State Forest

If you are going to areas of New York State Land where most people go, you are typically not allowed to make a fire unless it is an emergency. But in the areas of State Land where most people don’t go (which is most of it), you are typically allowed to start campfires as long as you follow the rules. They try to discourage it and they try to point to other options, but as the rules stand now, you can do it.

As with most things in life, there is a catch. As I understand the rules, you only have two choices to get wood for your fire. You either bring it in with you (something that is governed by some stringent rules on where you can get the firewood and how you need to document that you got the firewood correctly) or you have to use dead fire wood found on the forest floor. If I understand the rules correctly, even breaking off dead branches from a tree is not allowed. Needless to say, this time of year and with the weather that we have been having, making a fire under those kinds of constraints can be challenging. For this fire log, I decided to see how challenging it would be.

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Fire Log #7: Zippo Storm Proof Matches Compared To a Lighter

The standard lecture goes like this: If you are going into any kind of wilderness for any reason you need to be able to make fire. To ensure you can make fire, you should bring a fire kit. A fire kit should have a lighter, a Ferro rod, matches, and tinder. This same basic lecture is repeated by all the reputable outdoor skill guys with minor variations. Some people like Dan are satisfied with this basic trio if they are just out and exploring. But Lonnie (who lives in Alaska) adds a road flare to his kit in case he ever needs a fire instantaneously. Josh takes things even further. He seems to strive to have as many possible ways of starting a fire in a small as possible kit. Regardless of how they differ, they all have the lighter, ferro rod, matches, and tinder at the core of their kit.

What I don’t understand at an intuitive level is why the matches? In the theoretical sense, I understand why. More ways of starting a fire are always better. And a good match has fire starting and tinder all bound up in one. But on the logic that more ways of starting a fire are better, I want to have a MAPP torch along with me as well. The reason I don’t carry a MAPP torch is because it weighs too much to be worth what a MAPP torch has to offer.

Now the opportunity cost to carry matches is not anywhere close to being as extreme as that of carrying matches. Nonetheless, in the space that matches takes up, you could have brought something else along. So to my mind, the question is why would I want to bring matches along instead of another lighter or some extra tinder? What does matches have to offer that bringing more of something else can’t compensate for?

Part of the reason I have these questions is that up until this test, I had never started a fire with matches so I had no practical basis of comparison. So for this test, I elected to try to start a fire in as similar conditions as possible between a match and lighter.

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Fire Log #6: Comparing the GobSpark With The Wazoo Ferro Rod.

One of the rules I set out for myself when I started these tests was “to try something new either in terms of conditions or in terms of equipment used every week.” For this test, I came pretty close to breaking that rule. It was the coldest I have ever started a fire and the first time I have ever started a natural tinder fire sort of in the dark (I lit the fire in the dark but most of the gathering of materials took place when it was light enough to see). But otherwise there was not a lot to distinguish this week’s fire from last week’s fire.

My original intent was to compare how long it took to start a fire with the Wazoo Ferro rod vs the GobSpark Armageddon. I was also going to allow myself to use a Silky Pocketboy saw and a fixed blade knife to start some “one stick” fires. But due to getting involved in another project, I almost did not have any time to do anything then run a brief comparison between the GobSpark and the Wazoo Ferro Rod with natural tinder. And all this test managed to do was confirm the GobSpark was miles better at starting a fire then the Wazoo Ferro rod.

Given the size and price disparity between the two of them, this is how it should be and it is no knock against the small little Wazoo Ferro rod. But because I had used both of them in different conditions I had managed to get myself confused as to the difference between them. This test at least straitened me out on that front.

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