If you’re in a survival situation, you’re already having a bad luck day. As we all know from experience, bad luck just seems to pile up. Call it Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”) or call it whatever you like. When it rains, it pours. So on that fateful day when you get lost or hurt in the backcountry, that’s also a prime time to lose your lighter or find that your matches are soaking wet.
Now a belief in Murphy’s Law may seem fatalistic at first, expecting doom before it happens. But expecting the worst can give us a solid reason for redundancy, which is a valuable tool in your survival toolkit. If you’ve ever been in the military or law enforcement realms, you’ve likely heard the saying “two is one and one is none.” This is a great reminder to help you plan for old man Murphy. In the military or LE framework, by carrying two weapons, you still have one functional weapon if one jams. Moved over to a survival scenario, by carrying multiple fire starters – you still have a firestarter left if one gets lost or broken. This is how I explain it to my survival classes here in Virginia. “By carrying three fire starters, you have one to break, one to lose, and one to use.” I’d also recommend that you mix it up. For example, carry a Bic lighter, a box of waterproof matches and a ferrocerium rod. Keep them in different places too. If they’re all in your backpack, which gets lost, you’re screwed. But if you have one in your pack, one in your pocket and one somewhere else – you’re ready for mayhem. By carrying three fire starters, you now have a Plan A, B and C for survival fire building, providing a serious safety net and a generous helping of mental comfort.
Carry an ample supply of weather-proof tinder material too (like fuel cubes or Vaseline soaked cotton balls). Then, when you get lost or immobilized by injury, you’re virtually guaranteed to be able to build a fire. Simply spark up a blaze in a visible place and hang out nearby until rescue arrives.
Find out more about my hands-on training (and fire making classes) at www.AdvancedSurvivalTraining.com.