Flint and steel fires provide more warmth, even cooking heat, and more light than match-lit fires. At least it feels like they do.

Survival Crate field test- Making fire

It’s impossible to fully appreciate the goods in the Outdoor Survival Crate without the right setting.  We just finished a 3 day field test of the Man Crates survival gear in Desolation Sound Marine Park, British Columbia, which was the perfect setting.

Flint and steel fire

For all the gadgets and advanced technology we have in our daily lives, it’s extremely gratifying to master man’s first technology- fire.  The Bear Grylls fire starter is the coolest thing in this crate, but you’d never know it until you needed it.  As part of our field test we lit all our fires using the flint and steel key and by the end of the trip we had it down to a science.  Let’s break it down.

1. The Set-Up

We saved the packing paper from our survival crate and rationed out a few small strips for each fire.  Find  grass, bark, and soft woods you can strip down- the important things are that the pieces be completely dry and as thin as possible.

The set up

2. The Secret Weapon

It’s hard to get the spark from the flint to catch, even with perfectly dry tinder and paper.  The Bear Grylls  kit includes a small ball of cotton.  Take a pinch of the cotton and spread it out in the center of your tinder.

Cotton is the perfect material to catch flint sparks

3. Striking the Flint

This takes some practice, but the gear is excellent.  Hold the flint key pointing down towards your cotton and tinder, then push down against it with the steel teeth like peeling a potato.  Get the pressure and speed on the key right and the steel will throw off a small shower of sparks.

Point the flint towards the tinder and peel it with the steel

4. Catch the Spark

As soon as the spark comes in contact with the cotton it will light.  If you’ve surrounded it with paper strips or dry grass, the spark will set off a chain reaction and you’ll see flame.  If you don’t have perfect materials for tinder you’ll get smoldering embers and smoke.  In either case the next step is to nurse the flame.

The spark catches

5. Nurse the Flame

Nurse the flame by blowing firmly and evenly on the base of the fire and feeding it your best tinder.  Make sure you have plenty of dry material available and nearby so you can stay close and tend the flame.  Once you have twigs and bark burning you can light progressively larger kindling.

Nurse the flame

After you’ve mastered flint and steel you’ll want to start carrying the fire key everywhere, even if you never have cause to use it in your normal day to day.  You might say carrying a book of matches or a lighter would accomplish the same thing and be more convenient.  Maybe.  Knowing you have the power to make a fire the old fashioned way is much more satisfying.


Tom Hanks – Castaway

 Know a guy that loves camping?  He’ll love the Outdoor Survival Crate.

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