> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Prepping on $40 a Week: Fire Gear & Container



Prepping on $40 a Week: Fire Gear & Container

It's been way too long since our last entry in the $40 a week series, but we're back. Last time around, we talked survival knives. This week, we're focusing on two bug-out bag essentials--a fire kit and a container for cooking and boiling.

Fire Starting Gear
There's a variety of ways you can go with either, and most of 'em are pretty good. For fire kit, I personally like a butane lighter or two, backed up with a ferro rod/fire steel, and with plenty of good tinder.

Raid your junk drawer or mosey on down to the local grocery store and pick up a pack of your lighters of choice--I generally go with Bic lighters of a lighter color. Bics are pretty sturdy and bomb-proof relative to cheaper brands, and the lighter color allows you to check fuel levels. Having two--one to ride in your pack, one that rides in your pocket while you're in bug out mode--is a pretty good idea. Bust the annoying child lock off too.

Bics are about $1 each, so we'll count two as $2. I've added a taped-on paracord lanyard to one of the lighters in the picture. Helps keep it handy.

I supplement the lighters with a ferro rod, just in case. Butane lighters are pretty darn reliable--most have probably found an old lighter on the ground at some point, and often times they're still running. But, stuff happens and they can fail. A good ferro rod won't fail.

The best fire steel I've used is the Ultimate Survival Technologies Strikeforce. You can read about the Strikeforce here. It is a bit more--$20.71 on Amazon at the moment--but it's an excellent piece of gear that will last a long time. If you want to go cheaper or a bit less bulky, there are lots of other good choices out there--firesteel blanks are cheap, and you can make 'em into a DIY project if you want to add a handle.

To get best use out of a ferro rod, you'll need tinder. The Strikeforce comes with one pretty good Wetfire cube, and you can raid the medicine cabinet for some petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Combine and toss into a sammich baggie. There are lots of good tinders out there, but petroleum jelly cotton balls (PJCBs) are essentially free and work pretty darn well.

Cooking Container
The MSR Seagull pots double as in-pack protection and
organizers for smaller kit. Shown here w/ the handle set
in "suspend over fire" mode.
Like fire starting gear, there are a number of routes you can go for a cooking container. I've got a soft spot for the MSR Seagull/Stowaway line of stainless steel cookpots. They're pretty bombproof, have a locking lid and good long handle. You can fold the handle back over and use it to suspend over a fire, and the lid can be used as a  makeshift frying pan or double boiler if needed. It also makes a good, sturdy carrying case for sensitive gear. The pot pictured here is a 1.1L size--I also have the 1.6L, and it's a bit big for pack carry. The 1.1L is $20 on Amazon.

Edited to Add: The Seagull pots are very sturdy, tough things, but they are a bit on the heavy side - the 1.1L weighs in at just of 15 ounces on my scale. Compare that to a 3.65 ounce titanium cup from Snowpeak.

If you want to go lighter weight or cheaper, you may also want to check out the GSI Stainless cup or a canteen cup. Typically no lids, but they will boil water just fine and they nest underneath their corresponding water containers. The Guyot water bottles are another good choice--I EDC one--but they're hard to find these days--Nalgene bought 'em and then stopped making the design. A similar design w/ nesting cup is available from Dave Canterbury's Wilderness Outfitters Archery, but it blows our budget for the week.

$2 for lighters, $20.71 for the Strikeforce, free PJCBs, $20 for the MSR Seagull pot brings us to $42.71 for the week.

We're assuming you bought nadda for the week that we missed, not banked the cash. We should have $16.07 in the bank from prior weeks, so we ding that $2.71, leaving us with $13.36

If you're already set for fire gear...
Go practice starting a fire! Better yet, start a fire using a method you haven't tried before. One of those "must have" skills that you can always improve upon.