Fire and Water

Fire and water

Some of my best memories of outdoor adventures with my old man are lighting a campfire and sitting round it when the sun went down. The irony is that that heart-warming camp fire can also get out of hand and destroy the beautiful forest you’re camping in!

Since the dawn of time fire has held a fascination for all men and when we get out on our adventures some of us revert back to our cave-man ways. When I get home from a three say hike smelling rotten as a chop that’s certainly what my missus would say I do!

Lighting a fire isn’t as easy as you see in the movies. Rubbing a couple of old sticks together doesn’t magically create a roaring camp fire and even experienced outdoor types need some gear to fan the flames. Although lighters may seem easier and more convenient they can be temperamental, run out of fuel or let you down when damp. A high quality butane lighter is a good option if you want to rely on a lighter. Storm proof matches light when wet and are even windproof but need a special striker. So called ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches are great on any rough surface but they must be kept dry and this isn’t always possible. No matter which model you choose matches are a must, especially in backcountry regions or wilderness zones. Don’t think you’ll get away with the matches you pick up free in your local bar either! Fire is a must have, a literal life saver, and you need a reliable means to start it.

Another option is to take a ‘fire starter’ - designed to sustain a flame for more than a few seconds without burning your fingers. It’s another piece of kit to carry but a fire starter is good in all weather conditions and they start a fire quickly and efficiently. Some outdoor enthusiasts also carry flint in case of an emergency. Shaved off with a knife it turns heat from any source into a flame. A quick tip here - never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire. Dangerous and unpredictable, these liquids are more suited to burning down entire forests than boiling water for a cup of coffee!

Let’s talk about the other key element us outdoor types rely on – water. Whether you are planning a day hike or a week long adventure it’s always a good idea to take more water than you think you'll need. Some of my mates prefer to use their pack space for food but expereicne tells me water is your better option. Although you're going to get grumpy without tucker you can live for weeks without food but only a few days without water.

You may be planning on finding water along the trail but make sure you know what you’re doing first. Look at water purifier tablets or water filters and make sure you know how to use them before you set off. They are a good option for long adventures but you must follow the instructions properly for them to work. Also you may find the water doesn’t taste as good as you’re used to so give it a test at home before you’re trip.

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