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#284156 - 04/04/17 01:02 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
NAro Offline

Registered: 03/15/01
Posts: 474
Although for years I've carried the "3 device array" of bic, storm matches, and firesteel...and made fire with all of them. Now in spite of the "cool factor", I'm thinking of forgetting about the firesteel in the future.

I just don't see a situation where a few extra bic lighters (waterproofed cases) wouldn't be a better choice than a firesteel. I can't imagine a condition where I'd go to the steel if had a working bic or matches.

What am I missing?

#284157 - 04/04/17 01:29 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: NAro]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3529
Loc: Ontario, Canada
One of the things I like about using my ferro rod is that I can save my more limited quantities of lighter fuel and matches. It also works when it's wet and it's a little more satisfying. wink It took a while to get competent with it, but cotton balls, birch bark and my alcohol stove light so easily with a spark, that I've made it my primary method in most instances. My BIC does get a lot of use, because well, it's super easy too. wink Honestly, on a average day, I don't see either method being easier or more convenient than the other.

Disclaimer: I'm usually out with my kids and want them to practice and be good at all three methods - bic, ferro rod and matches. We're starting to learn flint & steel too, but that's really just for fun and fire prep discipline. I spend more time focusing on teaching them good fire prep, than I do the actual lighting of it.
Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#284158 - 04/04/17 04:16 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: NAro]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5728
Loc: southern Cal
I was recently in a situation where a firesteel was definitely preferable to either matches or a Bic, though it was a bit unusual.

We were doing along term (two weeks) project on Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park, camping out for the period. Due to typically high winds and highly flammable ground over (well dried grass typically, especially in the fall) fires are either restricted or highly controlled. We were cooking in a truck bed, using canister stoves and being very careful with burnables. In those conditions, a smoldering match stick or even a hot Bic, dropped inadvertently, could be a hazard. The quick, hot, but very short spark from a LMF knife was perfect - it lit the stove easily, but extinguished very quickly. And we didn't burn the island down - mission accomplished.

In more normal conditions, I would use either a Bic or matches, but the fire steel worked so well that it just might be my preferred choice in the future.
Geezer in Chief

#284159 - 04/04/17 04:47 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
Treeseeker Offline

Registered: 03/29/12
Posts: 168
Loc: California
You really MUST have an alternate method from a Bic lighter.

Bic's run on butane which has a vapor point of 0.4C. So they will not work below freezing because the butane can't vaporize.

Thus having a firesteel is a good alternative. It works at any temperature.

OK, you MAY be able to get a Bic to work in below freezing temps if you warm it up using your body heat--in an inside pocket or better, in your arm pit. But you aren't going to be able to do this if you have hypothermia.

In warm weather a Bic is simpler and easier than any other method so it is still my method of choice.

#284160 - 04/04/17 07:15 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: Treeseeker]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3529
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I agree, Treeseeker.

I should have clarified my story above. The first BIC was one of those electric ones, and was carried in my pocket. It worked later so wasn't out of fuel. The second was a mini with the child proof device removed, kept in my fire kit. It wasn't out of fuel either. It may have been the effects of cold on the lighters or on my hands, or the problem may have been my adrenaline. wink

I have since ditched the electric and up-sized most of my backup BICs to full size, but still carry at least two methods when I'm in the woods.

Mom & Adventurer

You can find me on YouTube here:

#284161 - 04/04/17 08:00 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: NAro]
haertig Offline

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 1841
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: NAro
I can't imagine a condition where I'd go to the steel if had a working bic or matches.

Emphasis on "working". If your BIC works, sure, use it. It will be easier than a firesteel. It's when your BIC doesn't work that you'll be glad you have a firesteel. A firesteel is not "a replacement for", it is "an addition to".

I do find firesteels better than BICs for lighting things like alcohol burners or propane BBQ grills. You don't have to get your hands down there as close and risk getting burned.

#284162 - 04/04/17 08:02 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
Phaedrus Offline

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 1851
Loc: Great Plains
A fire steel is my first choice; a lighter is second, matches third.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

#284163 - 04/04/17 10:32 PM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
Montanero Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1024
Loc: North Carolina
I carry at least a lighter, UCO storm proof matches and a fire steel. I usually have some in my pocket and redundant ones in my pack.

The key is more in the tinder. Cotton balls and petroleum jelly are great. I also use these in kits:


Quick Fire Or Similar I find in Home Depot at times


Always try them before you go out! Preferably in similar conditions to what you will be facing for real. These grill starters have a good form factor and are usually enough to get a fire going even in wet conditions, if you prep you fire properly.

#284164 - 04/05/17 01:20 AM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 937
Loc: Channeled Scablands
I don't like to EDC a lighter or matches as they are fragile and quite working after being attached to my key ring after awhile. The fire steel always works.

I leave matches behind, Strike anywhere don't anymore.

For backcountry I bring a bic along with the fire steel and plenty of long burn tinder.

#284165 - 04/05/17 02:18 AM Re: Optimum Fire Starting Rig [Re: hikermor]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2714
Loc: La-USA
I carry a BIC and fire steel as my EDC.

When camping, I have a BIC, fire steel, matches, birch bark, esbit tabs, a candle, trioximine tablets, petroleum cotton balls, and dryer lint. Yes, I could be called insecure....

Edited by wildman800 (04/05/17 02:19 AM)
The best luck is what you make yourself!

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