First off, we need to incorporate some kind of matches. I use these matches I found on Amazon.com. This is the UCO Stormproof match kit. If you don't want to use Amazon, you can find them at REI. This match kit features a waterproof container with a rubber seal, a replaceable striking surface, and 25 storm-proof matches that relight even when submerged in water. They are highly wind-resistant and they are extra long to help keep your fingers from being burnt.
Now, you might ask, "Why do I need matches? Fires aren't allowed at Mt Rainier Natl Park." Well, you don't always hike at Mt Rainier do you? Besides, unless you have a camp stove with autostart, you need to light it somehow, right? Additionally, just because the rules say "no fires" doesn't mean you shouldn't make one in the event that you, or a member of your party needs to get warm in a hurry or dry out critical gear. I'm not saying to disregard the rules, but in an emergency, you have to do what you have to do to survive. In the decision of risking a fine for prohibited fire in the park, or a head stone, I'll take the fine any day.
Another item you should always have in your kit, which is not pictured, is a simple bic lighter. You don't need anything fancy. You just need a disposable lighter. They come in handy so often. If using your cheap convenience store lighter for mundane tasks saves you from using your life saving matches unnecessarily, then it's money well spent. Why waste a perfectly good stormproof match to light a stove when it is 65 degrees outside, sunny, with no wind?
Ultimate Survival Tehnologies. It is called The SPARKIE. It weighs less than an ounce, yet it delivers high intensity sparks right where you want them. In the photo above, you see the flint rod deployed. The photo on the left shows the flint rod stowed. The nice thing about this fire starter is that operation of it is completely one-handed. The body is shaped so that the fire starter is held by your index finger and thumb. It's kind of hard to describe the operation in words and pictures, but I will include a video below to show how it is done. It is very easy.
You should also carry tinder in some form or another. UST sends you a wrapped piece of tinder with your fire starter, but I prefer to use dryer lint as my medium for getting a flame going. The dryer lint is virtually moisture free, and if kept in a waterproof bag, it will stay that way. One tiny spark, and it goes up instantly, burns hot, but goes out quickly. You should always gather your fuel, process firewood and kindling, and get dry tinder before you attempt to light a fire. Once you have gathered some natural tinder, process your kindling, and have your fuel logs all prepped and ready, you place the lint down on your tinder and press the fire starter into it. Instant flame. Now, if you do your part to get your fire going, using good fire craft skills, then you will have a sustainable fire. Later this year, I might shoot a series of videos on some survival tasks, but for now, I'll stick to gear and philosophy.
fire paste, which is my favorite for car camping. It is essentially Napalm in a tube. It lights up, burns for a good amount of time, and gets anything around it going with a healthy little flame. The weight of the tube and the paste is 3.75 ounces, so if your situation can bear the weight, go with it. For me, I'll skip the paste when I'm trying to travel 1,000 feet of vertical elevation in 1 mile. I like the drier lint and whatever materials I can scavenge while in the woods.
All of these items go into a common ditty bag with my other ten essentials and small gear. I used to have different bags with compartments and stuff, but in the end, all the gear ended up in one bag by the end of the trip anyway, so I said to hell with it and now I just use one common bag. It saves a tremendous (well in ounce speak) of weight because there is less material with just one bag vs a lot of different ones. Besides, when you go to get your piece of gear, you simply need only grab one bag and all your crap is in it. Get a heavy mesh bag so you can see your stuff inside without rifling through it with your hand. Just keep sharp things either sheathed or separate. One last thing about the bag: make sure it is highly visible so you can see it at night.
Alright, it's movie time.
See, that wasn't so hard, was it? It is very easy to use and they are cheap. You can buy the SPARKIE at REI for about $10 or choose Amazon.com. Sometimes, you can get them for half of what REI is charging. All in all, for about $15 to $20, you have amazing fire starting capabilities at your fingertips that your grandfather... heck, your father could have only dreamed about.