Posts Tagged With: bushcraft fire skills

Camp Craft Challenge: The One Billet Boil Up

by Todd Walker

Camping is a time to renew friendships and experience the fellowship of kindred spirits. There is no other place quite like the glowing sticks of a campfire to rejuvenate my soul.

Camp Craft Challenge- The One Billet Boil Up - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fun times at Georgia Bushcraft campouts are often around a fire. Fire challenges, to be more specific. Most competitions consist of bringing a container of water to a rolling boil. There are other ways to gauge the woodsman’s or woods-woman’s firecraft skills, but none are more important (or fun), in my mind, than boiling water in the woods. With hot water, a camper can disinfect creek water and cook squirrel stew while sipping hot coffee, tea, and cocoa.

To prepare for these fire challenges, I’m known for collecting a trash bag full of “smalls” (pencil lead and pencil size twigs). Gathering enough twigs to boil water in under three minutes can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on how sidetracked I become in the woods. Squirrel! 

Collecting resources on woods treks is wise. However, you won’t find me walking through the woodland with a 55 gallon bag of sticks unless I know there’s an upcoming water-boil competition. With that being said, I’d like to introduce, and challenge, our readers to a time-honored way to boil water which incorporates ax, knife, and fire skills…

One Billet Boil Up

One-stick-fires are not new to me. However, I discovered the interesting history behind this challenge on Chris Noble’s site, Master Woodsman. Chris is always willing to share his wealth of woodsy knowledge at our campouts and his website. Find more on the history of this challenge here and here.

Challenge Guidelines

Here’s what you’ll need. Keep in mind that these are challenge guidelines not competition rules. You’re only competition is you for the sake of testing your skills.

  • One dry wood billet (species of your choice) around 6 inches in diameter and about one foot long – I used a standing dead red cedar billet for my challenge
  • Sharp ax or hatchet
  • Sharp knife
  • Bush pot or tin can large enough to hold one quart of water (32 ounces)
  • Kitchen matches (strike anywhere type)
  • Timer and camera (optional) if you’d like to share with us

I filmed the challenge on our channel if you’d like watch. The previously mentioned Master Woodsman links have useful video examples. Those guys and gals are fast!

Disclaimer: I’m well aware of the competitive spirit among my camping buddies. Should you take the challenge, know that you are using sharp cutting tools which do not discriminate about what they cut… fingers, shins, and hands included. If you are new to ax and knife work, spend time learning to properly handle these cutting tools. You are responsible for keeping appendages if you take this challenge, not us. No prizes are involved, so keep it safe.

Challenge Strategies

With my normal twig fire for water-boiling, surface area is guaranteed. Not so with a solid log. You must create surface area from the log as quickly and safely as possible. Split off a few one inch shingles from the round with your ax. Cut one of the shingles into smaller pieces. Immediately create shavings or fuzz sticks with your knife or ax from one of the smaller pieces. Light these shavings/fuzz sticks with a match as soon as possible. If you’re match goes out without achieving ignition, you’re allowed another match.

Split down more wood to begin building a log cabin fire lay around the fire. Use the smallest split wood to lay over the fire inside the base of the fire lay. The object is to build a couple of layers of burning kindling inside the log cabin.

Place the water container on top of flames supported by two of the cross pieces of the log cabin. Blow the base of the fire as needed to fan the flames.

Build the log cabin up to the top of the container with more split wood. Use what’s left of the original billet to split off four shingles. Lay the shingles against the fire lay in teepee fashion to trap and funnel the heat around the water container.

Just as a blacksmith billows air into his forge to increase the temperature, lay on the ground near the base of your fire and blow. This should only be done if your container is positioned on a steady log cabin structure. You wouldn’t want hot water falling and hitting any part of your body… another inherent risk.

Camp Craft Challenge- The One Billet Boil Up - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My tin can is somewhere in there.

Once you’re satisfied the fire lay is sustainable, stand back and get your timer ready. Stop your timer once you have a rolling boil in your pot. Side bubbles around the edges of the container does not count as boiling. The entire surface of the water should be dancing and rolling with bubbles.

If you take the challenge, be sure to let us know your results. On social media, use the hashtag #OneBillitBoilUp so we can find you. Remember, the only prize you’ll receive is enhanced camp craft skills. Have fun and be safe!

Additional Resources

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain

by Todd Walker

Mother Nature is neutral. She does not care if you’re able to survive what she throws at you. That’s her nature… uncaring, unpredictable, wild and beautiful.

7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I love a rainy night. But, come on! When I started this article, it had rained 16 out of the last 17 days in Georgia. Figuratively and literally, we were soaked to the bone. Nothing outside was dry… tinder, kindling, and fuel were saturated… perfect weather for some survival training.

You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can learn skills to survive her storms. I recently wrote about three skills that forgive your shortcomings in Core Temperature Control. All three are important. But if you could only work on one of these skills, I would recommend fire craft.

Why?

Fire covers a multitude of ‘sin’ in your survival skills. ~ Me

Here’s my short list of what a sustainable fire can do for you…

Becoming a proficient fire crafter requires practice. Even in optimal (dry) conditions, a Bic lighter won’t start a sustainable fire if you don’t do proper fire prep. Add rain to the equation and your attention to detail becomes crucial.

You need an edge.  Every person who successfully burns stuff in the rain has that edge. That edge is the difference in… staying warm vs freezing, signaling rescuers vs staying lost, living vs dying.

I don’t have any magic tricks up my sleeve for burning stuff in foul weather. The few secrets I do employ are outlined below.

Burning Secret #1

Cheat!

If you’ve read or watched any of our emergency fire craft stuff, you know I promote cheating. Fire is life and you’d better be ready and able to cheat death. That’s the kind of cheating you’ll be proud of.

Here are a few of my fire cheats…

Carry a minimum of three different ways to generate the initial heat needed for ignition. I wear my dedicated fire kit on my belt. This pouch contains three sources of ignition…

  1. Bic lighter – open flame
  2. Ferrocerium rod – spark based ignition
  3. Magnifying lens – solar ignition (no good in the rain)

But wait, there’s more!

7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Three more fire tools

Dig around in my haversack and you’ll find a head lamp and steel wool for electrical fire. Unbuckle my hygiene kit and a small bottle of hand sanitizer offers a rapid chemical reaction (exothermic) for fire. There’s also a redundant Bic lighter wrapped in duct tape hanging from a zipper in my pack. This last item is a self-contained ignition and tinder source for foul weather fires.

Burning Secret #2

Find dry stuff.

No brainer, right? It’s not as easy as it sounds after a few days of Georgia gully washer.

I’ve had my share of foul-weather fire fails from not carrying some form of dry tinder material in my kit. Wiser now, I carry stuff that gives me that edge we talked about earlier.

7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Gorilla Tape ~ the magic foul weather fire starter

In my foul-weather fire starting experiences, Gorilla Tape gives me that edge. Using duct tape is like pulling fire from a magician’s hat! Once lit, a ball of tape will provide the heat needed to drive off moisture and bring wet kindling to ignition temperature. The wetter the wood, the more tape you’ll need. Keep in mind that small stuff ignites faster than large stuff.

Other not-so-secret sure-fire starters in my pack include…

  1. Commercial fire starters
  2. Homemade fire starters

Burning Secret #3

It’s all about that snap!

Cheating on fire prep is a loser’s game. Spend as much time as necessary to collect 2 or 3 times more small stuff than you think you’ll need. Cutting corners collecting smalls in a dry forest is forgivable. Do it in the rain and you might end up fire-less.

Where do you find smalls in a rain-soaked wilderness? Dead twigs hanging off the ground is the best place to start. When collecting smalls, if they don’t give an audible “snap”, put it back. You and the trees are soaked to the bone. The last thing you need on your fire lay is green sticks.

When it’s raining, I’m not particular about what tree the smalls come from. A few of my favorite trees that give me small fuel, even when the tree is alive, include (remember, they gotta pass the “snap” test)…

  • Cedar – Low hanging branches often have dead twigs and the bark, even when wet, can be brought to ignition temperature quickly when processed into fine fibers.
  • Beech – I find lots of pencil-led size kindling on these live trees. If you’re lucky, you might find a clump of black sooty mold to help extend your fire.
7 Secrets for Burning Sticks in the Rain - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Black sooty mold hanging from a Beech tree

If you’ve acquired basic knife skills, you can quickly create your own smalls from inside larger fuel logs. Baton an arm-size log into halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc. until you have a pile of dry fuel.

Burning Secret #4

Burning stuff in the rain blows.

Literally. It’s very likely that you’ll have to pump air to the base of your wet-weather fire. When is the right time to blow?

Blowing on a gas-based fire like a birthday candle removes the fuel (gas from melted wax) and extinguishes the flame. However, wood becomes charcoal after burning off gases. Blowing on coals will only raise the temperature of the fire. You may need to blow on a small bed of coals to nurse the fire along with wet wood.

There’s a bit of technique involved in blowing on fires. Remember that heat rises. A chimney uses this principle to draft air up from the bottom of the fireplace and out the top. Blow air horizontally at ground level not from the top of the fire lay.

Be careful not to inhale smoke. Turn your head away from the fire and breathe in fresh air. Positioning your kneeling body up wind helps. If you have a long piece of tubing, which I don’t carry, it will safely add distance between your face and the flames. You’re not going to have time to craft a fire tube from river cane when you need a fire in the rain. Just kneel down and blow.

Burning Secret #5

Cover your fire.

A tipi fire lay is one of the best fire lays to cover your fledgling fire. Properly constructed, a tipi fire takes advantage of the chimney effect to dry wet wood and provide some needed shelter to the fire beneath. Slabs of tree bark can also be added to the outside of the tipi like roof shingles.

I’ve also used a larger log to shelter a fire in the rain. Lay the log perpendicular on top of two rocks or larger logs with the fire beneath. A large flat rock on top will work too.

Stuff tinder and kindling under your rain gear, a piece of tree bark, or in your haversack/backpack until you’re ready to light the fire. Stow your best smalls between your knees and under your crotch as your prep your fire lay… especially if you’re making a one stick fire. The dry smalls you’ve created should be shielded from rain.

Burning Secret #6

Build a base.

Wet ground saps the heat from fire. Lay a foundation of sticks or tree bark on the ground to keep your tinder material off the wet earth. The base is the spot you’ll place a your metal water container on to boil water once the fire is established.

Burning Secret #7

Practice.

That’s right. You’ve gotta get wet to practice burning stuff in the rain! Don’t miss out on your next rain storm. Throw on your muck boots, a poncho, and go start a fire. You’ll learn some valuable foul weather lessons in fire craft.

Got any tricks up your sleeve for burning sticks in the rain? Do share!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dragon Fire Tinderbox: The Secret of Pyro Super Heroes

by Todd Walker

Some people make fire craft look easy. Rain, sleet, and snow doesn’t seem to effect their fire super powers. It’s like they’re the Superman or Wonder Woman of campfires.

Dragon Fire Tinderbox: The Secret of Pyro Super Heroes - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

There’s always a catch though…

Super heroes usually have a weakness (Superman ⇒ Kryptonite). Wet tinder is the kryptonite of every fire-crafter no matter their skill level. That’s why experienced outdoor guys and gals carry dry tinder material in their fire kit to give them an edge when Mother Nature pitches a hissy fit. I’ve been humbled by her more times than I’d like to admit.

The times when it’s cold and wet out there is the time you need fire the most. It’s also the hardest time to find dry stuff for your fire!

Here’s a solution that provides dry, reliable, natural tinder material that’ll turn you into a pyro super hero on your next outdoor adventure or emergency situation…

Dragon Fire Tinderbox

I first heard of this small family owned Wisconsin company about a year ago. Since then I’ve watched Daryl and Kristina innovate a simple concept to serve outdoor enthusiasts.

The products they design are all-natural (no petroleum-based accelerants) and packed in recycled pouches and boxes. Materials are harvested from dead trees, plants, leaves, fungi, and other natural sources. If you’ve ever collected these resources yourself, you know the amount of work it takes to find the best combustible material.

I ordered the Dragon Fire Tinderbox Extreme Pouch, Dragon Fire Cone, and one of their nifty t-shirts. Daryl also sent me a packet of Chaga Tea. I’m keeping the Dragon Fire Cone and Chaga Tea to use with my grandson for our next bushcraft outing as a fun teaching tool.

About half the contents displayed

About half the contents displayed

 

The Extreme Pouch is full of fine, medium, and coarse tinder material with several different fuel-size chucks of hardwood. A Dragon Fire Tinderbox match book, sealed in a separate resealable bag, is included as an ignition source. My pouch had a one inch section of birch limb covered with flammable resins and rolled in fine tinder to prevent it from sticking to other material in the pouch. This kind of hand-crafted item is a fire-ball in and of itself.

It even contains shavings and chunks of Osage Orange from a bow Jamie Burleigh built at this year’s Pathfinder Gathering.

Here’s a video review Dirt Road Girl filmed recently at the Dam Cabin:

Benefits of the Extreme Pouch

It’s called Extreme for a reason. This resource contains everything you’d need to start several sustainable fires in all weather conditions – ignition source, tinder, kindling, and fuel. The bag alone is a valuable resource in wilderness self-reliance. Made of thick, resealable food-grade aluminum, one could press this container into service for disinfecting water by stone-boiling (see Larry Roberts video), cooking dehydrated camp meals, or keeping small items dry.

Teaching Tool

You can’t take shortcuts when building a fire with natural materials. One of the challenges of teaching my 8-year-old grandson fire craft is the importance of processing his tinder into fine, medium, and coarse layers. The Extreme Pouch contains each of these, and, as an added bonus, there are tinder materials not found growing on our Georgia landscape… Chaga, flax tow, and white birch to name a few. I plan on using these to teach Max our local alternatives to our northern neighbor’s fire tinders.

Daryl and Kristina also make a product that’s sure to get young children interested in the art of making fire…

The Dragon Fire Cone! Kid’s love ice cream. What kid wouldn’t want to set an “ice cream” cone on fire? Max and I will let y’all know how it burns after our next outing.

Photo courtesy of Dragon Fire Tinderbox

Photo courtesy of Dragon Fire Tinderbox

Emergency Fire Kits

Winter is coming and we’re sure to read stories of stranded motorists on backcountry roads trying to survive ’til help arrives. A bag of Dragon Fire Tinderbox would be a great asset for all emergency vehicle kits. No worries about chemical accelerant leaching and spreading vapors in your car trunk. This stuff is all-natural material!

White Birch bark is loaded with combustible oils

White Birch bark is loaded with combustible oils

Oh, you don’t have to be a master woodsman to start a life-saving fire with this bag of natural tinder. Daryl hand-picks and processes the best material so it’ll ignite with one match (matchbook included in pouch), ferrocerium rod, Bic lighter, magnifying lens or other ignition source.

 

Camping-Hunting-Backpacking

The convenience of opening a pouch of ready-made tinder is pure gold when I’m groggy and needing my coffee fix on the trail. I’m a much better camping buddy after I’ve had my cup of Joe. Weighing in at just over 9 ounces after this review, the Extreme Pouch won’t take up much room in your pack and stays dry in the heavy-duty resealable bag.

9.02 ounces

9.02 ounces 

Some state parks prohibit the collection of firewood and tinder material from camping areas. You have to bring your own or buy marginal tinder and fuel from the park ranger station. I can tell you they won’t have anything near as effective for lighting their bundles of firewood as you’ll find in a pouch of Dragon Fire. It’ll save you the time (and embarrassment) you’d spend rummaging through your neighbor’s trash looking for paper products to get your fire started.

What’s the secret of Dragon Fire Tinderbox’s pyro super powers?

It’s the people behind the product. What you don’t see when you open a pouch of Dragon Fire is all the prep this family owned company puts into the most important layer of your next fire… tinder.

Both Daryl and Kristina are experienced in the art fire-making. Years of camping in the style of early American fur traders, without modern camping conveniences, taught this couple pioneer skills… and the need to harvest the best tinder material.

By ordering from Dragon Fire Tinderbox, you’ll not only receive some of the best tinder on earth, you’ll be supporting an American owned family business. Click on this link for Dragon Fire Tinderbox products and ordering info.

They’ll make great preparedness gifts for Christmas!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

How to Build 4 Down-N-Dirty Campfires

by Todd Walker

Fire don’t care about pretty. It eats ugly. In fact, fire loves chaos.

How to Build 4 Down-N-Dirty Campfires - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Imagine the first pre-history people to harness fire. They didn’t have a Boy Scout manual open on a rock referencing a proper fire lay or ignition sources. My guess is they watched in fear and awe, time after time, generation after generation, as wildfires destroyed all forest litter, tangles, and animals in its path. Fire’s appetite for chaos was observed, and, in return, unveiled its secret to changing useless stuff into useful stuff.

The need to shiver in the cold and huddle in darkness passed with one spark, dry wood, and a windy day. The idea of fire was now alight in the mind of primal man. An idea so powerful it would change the course of mankind and modern civilization.

Going back to our wild roots in the woods, none of us would opt to leave the warmth of a campfire for a wet, cold, dark existence. No. Fire is our companion. Our comfort. Our tool.

The usefulness of this tool in outdoor self-reliance and living should be more than a hobby in the preparedness community. Fire is life out there! So is the fire that mysteriously flows through copper wire to power your home. This technology of fire was fueled by observations, ideas, questions, and notions from the first harnessed spark many years ago.

Fire craft continues to be a top priority for survival and thriving in both short and long-term situations. The building blocks are the same. Fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to live… and a bit of chaos.

How to Extinguish Your Child's Fear of Fire with a Single Match | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Every fire is built with these three sides

A breakdown of the science of combustion is in order…

Fire Triangle

We modern mortals think we’ve “evolved” past our simple ancestral fire-makers. Gas grills ignite with the push of a button. Convenience leads to forgetting fundamentals though.

Fire craft fundamentals, however, never change.

Heat (Ignition Sources)

  • Open Flame Ignition – Bic lighter and matches
  • Spark Ignition – Ferrocerium rod, flint and steel, rock on rock
  • Solar Ignition – Magnifying lens and fresnel lens
  • Friction – bow drill, hand drill, etc.

There is always air and sticks available in the woods I roam. But heat is the most difficult to come by, especially with primitive methods.

Here’s the science stuff – less the chemical equations…

To burn sticks, enough heat must be applied to drive moisture from the wood in the form of steam. Even ‘dry’ wood contains some moisture. Once the gas escapes, the white cellulose chars and turns to black charcoal. It’s the charcoal mixing with oxygen that produces the radiant, hypnotic flames. This heating process chars more cellulose on surrounding sticks to create a sustainable fire.

Here’s the practical stuff…

When teaching my grandson to build his first fire with one match, he asked why we had to collect all the tiny, pencil-lead size sticks for our fire. A quick demonstration trying to ignite a one inch diameter stick with the open flame from a match answered his question. The match stick, his heat source, was consumed before the large stick reached ignition temperature. Fuel size matters!

Once we had an established campfire, he watched that same fuel stick burn easily. Larger sticks take more heat to burn. Surface area was the key for him to start his one-match fire.

Surface area becomes even more important with spark ignition or coals from friction methods. Only the driest, finest tinder material should be used. Inner barks, leaves, grasses, seed heads, and other fluffy stuff should be used to build a tinder bundle with the coarser material on the perimeter and progressively finer (hair-thin) in the middle. This is where your sparks or coal will land to ignite the bundle.

Oxygen

As mentioned earlier, air is the easiest to come by. Burning sticks requires air. Take this side of the triangle away and you create charred material and lots of smoke. Which is good to know in making charred material for your next fire. But we want flames.

Fuel

The analogy of a fire’s meal plan can be found in the first post of our Bombproof Fire Craft series. We won’t rehash it here. But we need to cover how to arrange these three meals so flames can eat and grow into a sustainable fire.

My Top 4 Campfires

There are more ways to build a campfire than ways to use one. In colder, northern climates, you may need a long-fire the length of your shelter to sleep warm through the night. In my temperate Georgia climate, the following campfires work just fine.

No matter what style you build, do it safely. Clear a 4 to 5 foot area of all combustible material where you plan to build your campfire. Look up to make sure low hanging limbs aren’t directly over your spot. A fire pit, rock ring, or trench are handy for containing campfires. A container and nearby water is an added safety measure.

A fire’s meal plan consist of these three ingredients:

  1. Tinder: stuff that produces the initial flame – fine, dry, fluffy stuff
  2. Kindling: the next meal is smalls – tiny twigs to pinky finger size sticks
  3. Fuel: by now a coal bed of smalls will ignite thumb-size to larger sticks as a meal to satisfy your fire’s appetite

Ground conditions may require that you build a platform or bed to prevent your tinder from absorbing moisture and sucking heat from your initial flame. Use bark or a row of dry thumb-size sticks large enough for your tinder bundle to rest.

#1) Twig Fire Lay

When I need a fire that’s hot and fast, this is my favorite down n dirty fire lay. It’s ugly but remember… Fire don’t care about pretty!

Down n Dirty Twig fire

Down n Dirty Twig fire will boil 32 ounces of water in under 5 minutes easily

Collect a double armful of dead-hanging smalls (pencil lead to pencil size). Bunch them together in a two foot bundle the diameter of a soccer ball. Break them over your knee in the middle forming an A-frame. Balance the bundle with the tip of the A-frame pointing up over your tinder source.

Light the tinder and let it eat. As it burns through the smalls, toss more kindling on top like Pick-Up Sticks. Fire loves chaos!

#2) Split Rail Fire Lay

This fire lay is basically half of a Log Cabin fire lay.

Split rail fence with a platform to keep the tinder off the ground

Split rail fence with a cedar platform to keep the tinder off the ground

Stack thumb to wrist size fuel alternately to form a corner about 5 to 6 inches tall. The gaps between the fuel should look like a stacked wood fence. This allows plenty of air flow. Lay a large bundle of pencil led size twigs on top of the stacked corner. Ignite your tinder material inside the corner and roll the twig bundle over the top of the flames and let it eat.

Once the tinder is lit, roll the kindling over the top of the flames

Ready for ignition

As the flames lick through the top of the twig bundle, lean progressively larger fuel in the corner split rail fence. You’ll end up with a Lean-To fire lay as you add the larger fuel.

#3) Tipi Fire Lay

Tipis are ingenuous in design. The conical shape allows intense heat to rise up through a progression of kindling to ignite larger fuel. Tipi fires can burn even in rainy conditions. Tight placement of log-size fuel shelters the coal bed while allowing enough air flow for a long burning fire. This style is also useful for drying wet firewood.

Lean smaller kindling against the square platform above the tinder in tipi fashion

Lean smaller kindling against the square platform above the tinder in tipi fashion

Four small Y sticks can be used as supports to build a raised pyre (pronounced like fire) to keep tinder off the ground and support the preceding pencil size kindling poles of your tipi. In the above photo, the tinder is under the pyre. Either way will work.

Now you’re ready to lean small kindling poles around the tinder material and pyre at the center of the tipi. Leave an opening in the tipi to light the tinder. Continue building on top of the first layer with progressively larger kindling to fuel-size material interlocking at the peak. As it burns, the inner layers will collapse to create the coal bed needed to ignite the fuel poles. Keep adding fuel poles to maintain the structure.

To fuel logs, one with a Y on top offers a sturdy frame for the tipi

Two fuel logs, one with a Y at one end, offers a sturdy frame for the tipi

#4) Lean-To Fire Lay

Like a lean-to style shelter, you’ll need a large log to brace the kindling and smaller fuel material on to create a pocket for your tinder.

IMG_3263

The brace log is heated and charred as the kindling burns and lasts a long time before being consumed. The brace log can be turned to shield or funnel wind depending on the need.

A front view of the Lean-To with larger fuel

A front view of the Lean-To with larger fuel

Once the fire burns down, add another larger fuel log parallel to the brace log and you have a ready-made platform for cooking over the coals.

Practice Makes Permanent

Notice I didn’t use the word perfect. There are too many methods and variables involved in fire craft to ever perfect the skill. But like all good fire-makers, you have to spend time Doing the Stuff to make the skill permanent.

A recent text gave me the pleasure of some much-needed dirt time with my buddy, Kevin Bowen, who wrote a recent article on Horace Kephart and Classic Camping for our blog. He helped me process cedar and tulip magnolia bark for tinder material, collect smalls, build the fire lays, and used his magnifying lens (solar ignition) to bring the tinder to flame.

Kevin using solar ignition

Solar ignition saves other fire resources

Now to blow the tinder bundle into flames

Kevin blowing the tinder bundle into flames and placing it under our Twig Fire Lay

Success!

Chaotic success!

I purposely didn’t include other worthy fire lays in this article. Now it’s your turn…

If you have a favorite fire lay not mentioned here, share it in the comments. We’re always learning together!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

49 Outdoor Skills and Projects to Try When Camping

by Todd Walker

49 Outdoor Skills and Projects to Try When Camping - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Planning your spring outdoor adventure?

Try these skills and projects, even if it’s in your backyard. In fact, your backyard may be the best place to start your journey to outdoor self-reliance.

Burn Stuff (Combustion)

Practice in wet conditions. If it ain’t raining, you ain’t training

Cut Stuff (Cutting Tool)

 

Shelter Stuff (Cover)

Avoid Stuff

Forage/Harvest Stuff

Tie Knots and Stuff

Eat Stuff

how-to-make-modern-mountain-man-mre

Jerking water buffalo

Make Outdoor Stuff

39 Self-Reliance Skills and Projects to Try When Camping | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Firewood processed with the take-down bowsaw

Wilderness Self-Reliance Stuff

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Iris and Dave Canterbury being gracious as usual.

Let the fun begin! Get out and stay outdoors.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Milestone Post #500! The One Stick Fire Challenge

by Todd Walker

You’ve helped us reached a milestone – today marks our 500th article here!!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire ChallengeDirt Road Girl and I want to thank each of you for supporting us on our self-reliance journey! We’re closing in on 1,000,000 visits. But the numbers aren’t what matter to us. Freely passing on knowledge, skills, and lore is our heartbeat of this site.

We express our deep appreciation for your support for our family – especially the prayers and thoughts you sent DRG’s way as she beat stage 4 cancer! We are HUMBLED and burning both ends of this second chance at LIFE!

Appropriately, our 500th post covers one of my favorite topics: Fire!

The One Stick Fire Challenge

A few months ago Justin Wolfe issued a challenge on his YouTube channel (grierwolfe). The purpose of the challenge was to make a sustainable fire with only one stick/log. An interesting concept and survival skill indeed. I love a good challenge and Doing the Stuff of self-reliance so I was in.

The guidelines (not rules) are to use one stick and one or two cutting tools to make fire. You’ll also need an ignition source. I’ve only seen ferro rods used in this challenge so that’s what I chose.

Tools

Here’s my break down on the tools I used:

  1. Knife – Condor Kephart
  2. Saw – Bacho Laplander folding saw
  3. Combustion – Ferro rod (the big one – 6″ Long x 1/2″ Diameter)

Wood

Your choice of wood is determined by available resources and the degree of difficulty you prefer in the challenge. For an easier fire, select any soft wood like cedar, pine, or poplar. Up the ante with oak or hickory.

The location of my personal space (shelter) is loaded with poplar and cedar. I chose a dead-fall limb from a poplar tree about the size of my forearm.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Using a plumber’s vise to hold the wood for sawing a one foot length of poplar

Others have used larger diameter logs for the challenge. Most of my shelter was built with dead cedar which I had available. But I went with poplar. Both cedar and poplar have bark that can be processed into fine fibrous material to form a bird’s nest. I noticed that Justin used a larger section of cottonwood but chose not to use the bark for his tinder bundle.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no rules or time frame in this friendly challenge. What matters is that we are trading theory for action by Doing the Stuff to improve our skills. Watching and doing are worlds apart.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Processing the round via the baton method

A benefit of building a personal space or base camp is furniture. I took advantage of the wood anvil and cedar rounds for my work station. Begin by splitting the wood with a your cutting tool. Batoning a knife, machete, or axe works.

You want to process three sizes of wood from your one stick:

  • Pencil-lead sized (smallest – feather stick curls and scrapings)
  • Pencil sized (small)
  • Thumb sized (largest)
Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bird’s nest

Tinder Bundle

There are few ways to create a good tinder bundle for this challenge. Use the outer bark if it’s fibrous like poplar or cedar. Processed down, the bark makes this challenge a bit more easy. Only use the sap wood and heart wood of your stock for more of a challenge. Either way, process enough pencil-lead to feed the fire from your tinder bundle.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Twist and rub poplar bark and separate the inner bark fibers

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Time consuming but well worth the effort

Feather Sticks

On a few pencil sized pieces, I shaved curls by propping my knife-hand on the anvil and pulling the stick towards me. I’ve found this technique coupled with a very sharp knife works well for curling smalls. On thumb sized fuel, I brace the stick at an angle and carve down the stick with the length of my blade to create the desired amount of curls for the feather stick.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Creating feather sticks

Take the time to process enough curls and shavings to add to your lit tinder bundle. More time was spent on processing the bark for the tinder bundle than any other part of the challenge. This step is even more important if you choose not to use the bark fibers. In that case, use the spine of you knife to scape off fine sawdust into a pile that will catch a spark from a ferro rod.

Dang, I’ve got to start recording this stuff on video. That’s a goal of mine this summer!

 Fire Lay

There’s really no best fire lay for this challenge. I used a twig fire lay which resembles the corner of a stacked split-rail fence. This allow ample air flow to feed the fire which is started in the corner. If the ground is wet, be sure to lay your tinder bundle on top of a few pieces of thumb size wood.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Fire lay

Ignition

With the tinder bundle in place and processed wood close at hand, shower sparks down on the bird’s nest. Processed into fine fibers, the poplar bark caught fire on the second pull of my ferro rod.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Ferro rod ignition

The bird’s nest won’t burn for long so be ready to feed the feather sticks and shavings on top of the blaze. Follow those with the pencil-lead and then pencil sized sticks. Make sure not to smother the flame. As the smalls ignite, place the thumb size fuel on top.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Adding smalls

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

Burning fuel

Again, let me encourage you to practice safe procedures when using cutting tools. Cut away from your body and never in the Triangle of Death (between your thighs from knee to crotch).

Have fun practicing your bushcraft skills. We’re all at different levels of mastery. As you hone your skills, add more challenges in a controlled environment (backyard or personal space) remembering that perfect practice makes perfect.

Have you taken the One Stick Fire Challenge? Want to? If so, let us know your results.

Thanks Again!

To close, DRG and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and willingness to share the stuff you’re doing for self-reliance and preparedness! Y’all rock!!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

Thank you for Sharing the Stuff!

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

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