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Offline HOOP

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Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« on: July 11, 2010, 11:53:29 pm »
I am preparing a long list of main content updates before winter 2011-12 (northern hemisphere), starts.    Stay tuned for the long list.

But the one on the top of my list is about fire making materials and skills for if you fall through the ice in deep cold.  So cold that when you get out, your soaking clothing will be flash freezing and your hands will fast be losing their dexterity.  I would ask that everyone think long and hard about this issue over the summer, and be prepared before winter if you travel on ice where you trek.   It would be great if you could share what you know on this essential topic.     

I have been assessing my kit, and questioning myself very thoroughly about if I could make the MUST-MAKE fire, anywhere, anytime, should I fall through in deep cold.  I always have a fire making kit on me of course, but I am thinking that my kit it is probably not good enough in the deep cold situation especially when solo trekking.   When solo, no one is going to save me.  I have to do it all....or die.   When group trekking, you must be able to save your buddy, and your buddy has to be able to save you.   Are your skills and is your kit, ready?   Does your group know what to do?

I think there are 3 basic options:  (1)  make the fire; or (2) no fire, but get out of your wet clothes, and into your sleeping bag up off the snow on boughs, a tarp, or in a bivy bag, and out of the wind, or (3) a combo of both.   But if I am day-tripping with no sled and only a day pack and light clothing, I have no sleeping bag or bivy. 

I remember Dick Pula's excellent solo trekking presentation at last years 11th Winter Camping Symposium, where he mentioned travelling when hauling sled, with his solo woodstove pre-stuffed with tinder and kindling, and his system for falling through the ice was to set up his Snowtrekker and stove (in about 10 minutes he said), and start a fire inside.  A good system.   But I also wonder about the sled also going through, with the tent and stove all getting wet?  If the ferrules of the poles get wet and ice up, they won�t join, etc.    Worst case would be your entire sled going in and soaking up massive amounts of water.    Its one of the reasons I use a rope harness system on lakes (instead of pole harness) that is not clipped onto my hips.   I like to think I can get out, grab the harness rope, and haul my sled out, which will be floating since my sled bags will be holding lots of air.  But I might have to abandon my sled in the ice hole if I have been immersed for a long time and not enough strength to get the sled out.  So what about the scenario where everything I need to survive will only be what is on my body.   This is truly a very grim situation, but a very real possibility that we  ice trekkers must be prepared for.

Here�s what I have been thinking: 

I have relied on matches in waterproof containers, and lighters all my life for fire starting, but I am not sure these are good enough in the scenario of falling through the ice.   

Matches:  These should be waterproofed (e.g. with nail polish or wax), and you need a dry striking surface that won�t get clogged with the scrapings of the nail polish or wax.   E.g. waterproof sandpaper that is coarse enough, and it in turn also has to be waterproof.    And try working matches with frozen hands in the wind?   And you have to have tinder and a kindling pile ready, as well as your fuel wood.    Can you do this with frozen hands?   

Lighter:   The standard butane lighter is almost impossible to light in the wind.   And butane lighters will not work when the butane is cold.   I always keep a butane lighter in my inner layer chest pocket.  But if immersed in freezing water for several minutes, and then the aftermath of freezing clothes as I stagger to the bush to get off the lake, will it work?   It might break.    I have a hard enough time working the flint wheel with dry cold hands.  I don�t think I could make it spark with frozen hands.   

I bought an expensive Brunton Helios �windproof� lighter last year that I fixed with a long lanyard on my belt.  It is a push button piezo mechanism, so I like to think I could press it, and hold it down for a sustained flame.  It closes and is supposedly waterproof.  But I have my doubts if (a) it is waterproof when it absolutely counts, and (b) the butane would produce enough flame to ignite coarse tinder, or worse just spruce twigs and no tinder.  If the piezo gets wet, its useless.   It could also break.  Preparing tinder with frozen hands is perhaps wishful thinking, so with a lighter, I am thinking you are hoping to luck out with big pieces of papery birch bark where you fall through, or big tufts of fallen, dead black spruce tops that can ignite with an open fame�if you have that open flame that will light in the wind�with frozen hands�.if, if if�

If on a multi-day trip, I have my sleeping bag and bivy which I can rely on, if I can get it unpacked from my sled that is not floating in the ice hole.    But I need a fool-proof fire starting system for frozen hands.  If my Helios fails, I am thinking that the answer is the firesteel and a fool-proof, long burning tinder.

Firesteel plus waterproofed tinder:    With frozen hands and the lighter not an option, I would rely on my firesteel and a fool-proof, long-burning tinder that did not get soaked from my immersion, and that is on my person.   This is the system I will work on perfecting for this upcoming winter.

I lanyard my firesteel with its striker to my belt, and it will work.   But with frozen hands, I might not be able to shred tinder.    I like the cotton balls and Vaseline for firesteel striking.  These are great, but the cotton balls need to be in a container and not soaked.  More weight and bulk to carry on me.   I am going to have to add cargo pockets to my wool Codets!   Or add a belt pouch.  I have an idea for a plasticized waterproofed flat, thin card of mushed cotton plus Vaseline that will fit better into pockets.  But I have to design and field test that this summer.   I like the idea of tinder cards with a big surface, rather than a film container or something I might have to fish out a cotton ball with frozen fingers and getting goop on my firesteel.   

I saw a truly amazing waterproofed tinder on Mike�s �Bushcraft Bartons� Youtube channel.   I am not sure if Mike invented it, but he calls it the �amazing cotton ball�.   He makes it with �gelwax�, which dries rubbery, is totally waterproof and needs no container � hence it can pack easier in pockets.   This is Mike�s �how to make them� video:    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=bushcraftbartons#p/u/32/GptiMIkXodY

This video shows Mike field testing the gel wax �amazing cotton ball�, burning sitting on snow, melting its way through snow for about 15 minutes burn time!!!!
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=bushcraftbartons#p/u/59/4Vq6vw_MDtQ
and another test here:  http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=bushcraftbartons#p/u/39/qv_CVjM4wkA
That one was a hard start, showing that it has to be opened to expose the fibers.
And another test here:  http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=bushcraftbartons#p/u/38/WF-A25vaqIE
In these tests, you can see Mike trying to put it out, but it won�t go out!

I am liking this gel wax cotton ball creation!    It does however need to pulled apart to expose the non gelled fibers inside for the firesteel strike.  It won�t start like a Vaseline ball.  With frozen hands, you might have to open the gel waxed ball with your teeth and one hand.  Provided you can pull it apart, this might be the best fire starting option, since it is windproof and gives you plenty of time for finding more wood while your fledgling fire is started. 

Lets hear your ideas over the summer.    And I look forward to the video when someone is going to show us a real field test, falling through at -30 to -40 and then making your fire.  Any volunteers?   :)



« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 08:51:32 pm by HOOP »
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline canoecountry

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 09:42:32 am »
Wow, thanks for that well thought out post HOOP!! This is a great topic that is worth the discussion!!

Personally, I have a minimum of three "fire kits" with me when trekking as well as a fire steel on my fixed blade sheath. There is one on my body at all times, one in my conover bag and one in the stove. The personal carry and conover bag kkits fit in a small tin and have a small firesteel blank(3/16" X 2.5") , a Wetfire tinder block, waxed jute twine, split fat wood, matches with striker area glued on the inside cover of the tin and a small lighter. In my stove, there is a larger kit that includes a bundle of 8-10" Fat wood sticks, a tube of fire paste, a lighter, and matches w/striker. The start of every trip also has a waterproof bag of wood shavings and a couple small billets of wood in the stove, these are replenished as used throughout the trip so there is always something good and dry, ready to go in the stove. While all of this might add a little weight I feel it is worth it for safety sake.

Here are a couple links to the Wetfire Tinder, the Fire Paste or Fire Ribbon and the Firesteels I use. The Wetfire Tinder will actually burn in standing water and a little squirt of the fire paste/ribbon can work wonders to get a hot fire going quickly even in damp conditions. The Wetfire tinder is strictly for emergency situations while the paste/ribbon gets called into action on a regular basis.

http://firesteel.com/products/FireSteel-Pup.html

http://www.ultimatesurvival.com/camping-hiking/WetFireTinder.php

http://www.fireribbon.com/

http://www.coghlans.com/catalogue/productList.php?catID=9

I will try add some pics of my kits soon.

Here are some pics of my kits.
This is a small tin, that is on my body at all times, I have another usually stashed somewhere else as well. It has everything I need to get a fire started, even in wet conditions, waxed Jute twine, fatwood, firesteel, lighter, matches, Wet tinder and the ranger bands burn as well!!





Here is a crumbled piece of Wet Tinder


The next kit is a little bigger, all the same types of things just bigger. This stays in my Conover bag.




Then there is my knife and firesteel and a few lighters always floating around.







I will try to dig out the wood stove kit and take pics of that as well.

Sorry for the bad images.

CC

« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 09:49:46 pm by canoecountry »

Offline HOOP

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2010, 07:24:31 pm »
Hi Canoecountry,

Great stuff!   I look forward to seeing pics of your emergency fire kits.   I try and get my sled as light and low bulk as possible, so in my old-think, I have never thought of carrying wood or kindling bundles on the sled.  I may have to change my attitude though, because there is no denying the advantage of having that handy in an emergency...if you can retrieve your sled. 

Your post reminded me that I have two of those items you list, buried under debris piles in the basement that I have not used or even tried.   (You know how the basement gets as one gets older � debris piles up!   :-[).   I dug out the Coghlans "tinder" white things, http://www.coghlans.com/catalogue/productList.php?catID=9
from deep within my never-used-stuff debris drawer.   They appear to be cotton balls and have a waxy, greasy feel, but did not slime me, so I was impressed by that.  I placed one in some water, then squeezed and squeezed it, trying to get the water inside it.   I took it out and then used my firesteel and could not light the smooth wet surface.   I expected that.  I then pulled it apart to expose some fibers, and it caught with the first strike, and burned "wet" no problem, and for a long time.  I like it.   With frozen hands, I might have to use my teeth to pull it apart with one hand, but that's OK.  Thumbs up to the Coghlans tinder.   

I wonder if I can make it cheaply with cotton balls and a mixture of paraffin and Vaseline petroleum jelly?   On the Web I have heard about various mixtures of paraffin to VPJ of 1:1, 2:1 and 3:1, the more wax, the less greasy it is, and the more waterproof it is, but the less free the fibers are for catching a spark.    There is a critical tradeoff there somewhere.

I found an ancient tube of the Coghlans fire paste in my debris drawer.  The paint was peeling off it, and it may be an old lead base, so I hope their newer tubes have better paint!   I squeezed some out of the rather narrow opening.   I am not sure this would be do-able at -30 to -40.  It might be rock hard?   It caught a spark in this summer heat no problem, and burned fairly well.   I am throwing out this old tube with flaking paint (which sticks to everything), so I won't get to test it in my freezer to see if it is squeezable in deep cold.   But I am thinking with freezing clubbed hands, I don't want to be squeezing a tube.   I would lose the screw lid in the snow, etc.

For fun, I tried my firesteel on hand sanitizer, and woodstove starting gel.  The hand sanitizer was very marginal, burning with a small almost invisible flame, and easily blown out, and it did not last long.  These are only half to � alcohol, and the other ingredients might freeze solid.  Thumbs down to the hand sanitizer.

The woodstove starting gel took a spark easily and burned hotter, with a bigger and visible flame.  I was able to blow it out, but it was much better than the hand sanitizer.    I need to test this after deep freezing it.   

I don�t have the Wetfire.   Wetfire has a good rep from the Web, and I have seen videos of it burning on water and catching a spark.  So it should burn on snow.   There is the packaging issue with frozen hands.  One has to crumble a piece off to make a powder before striking.   Do-able with the firesteel itself with frozen hands.   It is relatively expensive though.    Hiram Cook, amateur stove tester extraordinaire, has a Youtube channel where he tested the Wetfire and a much less expensive competitor, called Weber lighter cubes.   He lit the Weber cube wet (crumbled) with a Blastmatch, and it was his conclusion that it was the same substance, more or less, and far less expensive.    http://www.youtube.com/user/hiramcook#p/u/29/EsZTHIlJdOEHe was testing it more for using like an Esbit cube for cooking, but he did light it with a Blastmatch firesteel.   I will have to look for that product around here.

I don�t think that my standard �easy� kit based on matches and lighter, and no tinder, will be good enough for the falling through the ice scenario, especially solo.   I absolutely will need a fool proof tinder carried on me, and that is waterproofed, and easy to use with frozen hands.   With frozen hands, I can�t see using my knife to prepare tinder, or using matches, or anything fancy that requires dexterity.  The lighter issue I covered in the previous post.  I might be dying from the pre-onset of hypothermia, some frostbite maybe setting into the finger tips, and I will need to start a fire under extreme duress, after having been immersed in freezing water for perhaps a considerable time.   I think for the extreme situation, I will only be able to barely grasp my firesteel, and throw sparks into a for-sure tinder pile designed for a firesteel spark, that I will have to have on me, and that I can dig out of whatever pocket or container it is in.

I have heard very good things about the shredded jute twine, so will have to try that with the paraffin.  Any tips on how to mix it so that the fibers stay exposed, but waterproof?  Is it ready to catch a spark, or do you have to re-shred when you want to light it?   

I am going to have to get me some fatwood, and those Coghlans �fire sticks� and see how they work.   I imagine one would have to shred the �fire sticks� though to catch a spark?  Hiram Cook made some fatwood shavings by using a table top pencil sharpener!  Brilliant!   Link here: http://www.youtube.com/user/hiramcook#p/u/28/iYAfBz4t1sIHe lit it with a Blastmatch, although it took a few strikes.
It is not true �Maya dust�, which is powdered fatwood or pitch, but still they were much finer than a knife could make.   And here with a plastic pencil sharpener, but the shavings were not fine enough to light with a firesteel � he needed an  extra cotton ball:  http://www.youtube.com/user/hiramcook#p/u/49/5RqPpXr7YtQ
I would still need to waterproof fine fatwood dust-like shavings, so I will have to think about how to do that, and keep it fine enough to catch a spark.  Maybe mix it in with some blended VPJ and paraffin?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 08:45:04 pm by HOOP »
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline been digging

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2010, 08:09:20 pm »
How about carrying a few roadside flares for emergency fires?   I have never tried to light a fire with one; in fact, I've never even used one before.  It just seemed like something that might be easy to light and would burn long enough to light a pile of sticks. 

Offline cousin Pete

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 08:45:05 pm »
Hello HOOP:  Thanks for bringing up this topic.  I am going to have to re-read a few times the comments made by you and Canoecountry.  On the trip that I did this year with ice travel, I took the following precautions in case I fell through the ice.  For starters I had ice claws around my neck.  This should greatly speed up the time required to get out of the ice.  I have lighters in my side pockets next to my body.  I also keep some additional lighters and matches in pockets next to my body but in zip lock bags to keep them water proof in case I fall in the water.

I also carry a zip lock bag with fine dry birch bark mixed with cottom balls soaked in vaseline.  In this same bag I also have fine resin soaked shavings from the stumps and roots of very dead jack pine and red pine.  This bag is placed in a second zip lock bag and is in the cargo pocket of my wool pants.  

I also, carry a small bundle of larger pieces of resin soaked red and jackpine obtained from the roots and stump regions of the very dead trees.  

At the start of all trips I carry a bag with enough fine and dry birch bark for about five fires.  I collect additional birch bark as I come across it.  

I also carried my axe and saw in one of the conover’s bags for quick access.  

On future trips I plan to keep a full change of clothing in one of my conover’s bags.  

I think that I may need to consider loading my stove with enough wood to get a fire going.

I am going to re-read the posts made by you and Canoecountry and check out the links that you guys provided to see if I can take some additional precautions.  

Thanks guys,
Cousin Pete
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 11:20:44 pm by cousin Pete »
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Offline crooked knife

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010, 08:29:48 am »
I don't know about everyone else, but I usually carry a whisper-lite stove with a small bottle of fuel for those random times I want to get some water boiling fast.  I don't necessarily use it, but since it doesn't take up much weight and space it's nice to have when you want it.  My other thought about keeping a bottle of fuel is that if you need to start a fire fast all you have to do is get the wood for the fire, pour it on and light.  It will readily take just about any spark or flame to light even in the deep cold.  Which is part of one of your questions, what device do you use to start the fire if it's wet and your wet and starting to loose dexterity.  Nothing is fool proof for starting fires.  I beleive quantity would have to prevail.  What I mean is make sure you have a LOT of different options on your person and gear.  Fire making devices are cheap for the most part and fun if you ask me.  Half the time I'm looking for my lighter since I usually have a million pockets on different layers and constantly taking clothes on and off so I just make sure to have a lot of lighters, matches, flintsticks, etc all over.  On my person, in my gear bags, with the food, with the woodstove, with the whisper-lite, etc.  Some of them are in plastic bags, some of them aren't. 

I'd say that 95% of the time I am with other people when I'm winter camping, so odds are that if I fall through or my trekkin buddies fall through one of us will still be dry and able to help.  There are the times though when one ventures out alone without your gear to explore and enjoy the landscape and leave the buddies back at camp.  And if you fell through far from camp and got everything you had wet, boy you'd be in a heap of trouble then.  At that point it's just up to your fast thinking and experience to either get back to camp, or if you're too far away, get a fire going.  That magic device for starting a fire would have to be dry and servicable at that point.  And that's what it comes down to, moisture kills everything for fire.  Everything that you need is going to have to be dry.  And you're ability to think and act fast before you start to loose your dexterity in your fingers is what is going to save you. 

Now at -30 or below we're talking severe problems.  Because even if you start a fire you're going to need enough wood and it's going to have to be a BIG fire in order to warm you up if you don't have your tent and woodstove.  And if your clothes are wet, they'll freeze fast.  The smart thing would be to carry an extra set of dry clothes with you in a waterproof bag of some sort.  Then you can get dry, warm insulating layers on and wring out your outer layers the best you can before they freeze and start drying them around the fire.  On your sled, it would be easy enough to keep dry clothes in a waterproof bag or container of some sort.  Though in all honesty, I'm not going to go around all winter always prepared for a mid winter dip.  If the conditions are real harsh, windy and cold, I'll usually be taking it easy anyways.  Our slavish mentality toward schedules is what will be ones demise ultimately, or at least a large increase of risk taking behavior. 

I'll have to think more about this and report back.

Joe E


Offline pinecones

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2010, 01:12:30 pm »
This is a challenge!*

When I think of myself being in a scenario with:
- ¾ to full body immersion
- air temp well below freezing
- travel through snow
- alone
- over a ½ km from camp or cabin
- just a daypack and contents

I think the odds are very long that I would survive without outside help, EVEN if I took action.

A cold water immersion chart states that in water temp of .3 C (32.5 F):
- loss of dexterity occurs in under 2 min.
- exhaustion or unconsciousness occurs in under 15 min.
- expected time of survival while immersed: under 15 min. to 45 min.

I think the odds should improve if my circumstances were different, such as: limited partial immersion (leg, legs + ab), or I was with someone who knew how to help, or I was much closer to camp with a cold stove already prepped with tinder, or I had a sled at hand with additional insulating outer clothes and sleeping bag easily accessable.

I hope I never have to try this, but here’s my 1, 2, 3 if the SHTF in the worst way…

Among contents of daypack/bag or on person: 1. PLB, 2. heavy-duty space blanket and 3. big fire kit.



1. Getting out of the hole, weighed down by wet clothes and a pack full of water would be a feat. But I would now be inside a serious medical emergency. Not the time for a display of bushcraft. Loss of dexterity is a given. I’d put my thumb on the red button of the PLB. Whether help comes in 2 hours, or 24 hours… my odds have improved. And I would have no regret in signalling. The conditions have already been met for the PLB’s usage.

2. Heavy-duty space blanket is durable and easier to unfold than lightweight models. Getting wrapped up and protected from the windchill takes less than a minute, and helps slow my decline.

3. Big fire kit. Suitable for camp use, but good for this scenario too. Being able to get this into action with hamfisted, frozen hands is critical. I tested this setup with taped fists and thumbs and managed to do OK. Opening and striking the firelighters was also doable. The goal is a big, hot, fast fire that only needs some bigger scrounged lumber added. Warming my hands, chest and head improves the odds again.

Inside:

Fatwood and vaseline cotton balls. Cheap, effective and dead simple to use. If you don’t mind black smoke. I wouldn’t fuss with individual cotton balls – light the whole pack.

I've tried others, but my choice of ignition is still Coglan’s Firestarters. So easy. I’ve never had them fail, rain or shine, and they keep well. A single stick burns five minutes and has the flame head of about 5 matches together.  Keep the box only half full – it's much easier to open in a rush – just squeeze to open. And definitely pre-cut the pieces into singles and doubles.

The old aluminum windscreen wrapping everything up is there initially to prevent the contents of the tin from spilling out when you open it up in a hurry.

Trangia aluminum storage tin. I would begin a fire right inside it. The combined area of lid + bottom = 10” x 8”.

I waterproof tins like this using vinyl tape. This is the same stuff as black electrical tape. Tip: after applying tape all around the seam, pull out an extra 4” or so, double it back on itself, then lay down the end. Now you can get a bite on it and remove the tape with your teeth – works very well. Also, I’m a believer in labelling home made kits like this, including first aid kits.



This is an alternative carry and waterproofing method. SealLine fanny pack. The Trangia tin fits perfectly, with room for dry hat and gloves.




* Disclaimer: I am a n00b
« Last Edit: July 16, 2010, 10:36:11 am by pinecones »

Offline HOOP

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2010, 09:46:51 pm »
Those are great looking fire kits!

I like Crooked Knife�s idea of throwing on liquid fuel.  But one has to be careful with that!    White gas is known for some really nasty accidents when people use it for fire starting, because its so volatile and vapours may be all around you before ignition.   I wonder about using stove alcohol?   It is known for slow starts on alcohol stoves in winter, requiring priming.  It might not burn to long either.  I will have to test it this winter.     Carrying a 125, 250 or 500ml bottle of it for a splash start up fire is maybe not too heavy to carry?   I wonder about gasoline?  It might be safer, being less volatile.   Kerosene may also not vaporize well to take a spark from a firesteel?   If kerosene leaks into your gear, its really, really bad news too.    There are the liquid fire starting gels, which I mentioned that I would have to test at home using the freezer, to see if they are still gels in deep cold.

A sled kit should be relatively straight forward to prepare with a variety of tins or plastic containers.   Maybe a new trekking rule for group trips should be that everyone�s sled has a waterproofed tinder rich fire kit, no exceptions.   But for the kit that needs to be on me when solo tripping then I am thinking of a small tin that can be taped dry like what Pinecones has shown.   I am thinking I would like something a tad smaller than the Trangia tin for wearing on me or inside my daypack.

I am really liking the look of the Maxpedition M1 gear pouch for a fire kit bag.  I think I should be able to quickly attach/detach it from my anorak waist sash, or  pants belt, or straps on my daypack.   It looks like it can be clipped or strapped anywhere.   A small waterproofed tin for crush-ables, and then bagged or otherwise waterproofed stuff, including a small nalgene of liquid fuel, could be stuffed in it. 

Re clothing:  When sled hauling on trips, I always have a spare set of clothes packed on the sled � these are must-have whenever you are ice travelling, and for hot tenting should you have a tent fire.  So I have that angle covered.  But I solo day trip with just a daypack without the full change.    I do however always have a waterproof bag in my daypack with dry socks and gortex socks, and dry mitts.   The goretex socks would go over my dry socks against my skin, and my woolly wet outers would be wrung out and worn over the gortex.  My boots and wet wool socks would keep in some heat, and my feet would be dry.   The dry mitts would get me back to camp in good shape, after I had my warming fire done with, and would help me while I make that fire�if I could get them out of the bag and on my hands. 

« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 08:44:12 pm by HOOP »
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Offline northernbc

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2010, 08:43:50 pm »
it was mentioned before but i will say it again. a roadside flare with the nail removed and inside  a plastic ziplock bag will be tour best bet for this scene. it burns hot ond will start burning wood that is not dry.these are awesome fire starters.and just the flare itself will provide enough heat to get your fingers working again.

Offline Tomd

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2010, 09:10:20 pm »
Hoop, I have a small Primus Micron canister stove. It uses either the bigger canister or the half size one. With a small canister, it will fit into a small Primus pot. This stove has a piezo starter and it takes only a minute to screw the stove onto the canister and get it going. How it would work if emersed in water, I don't know, but it would be easy to carry one in a small waterproof bag. There are a number of small stoves like mine on the market.

Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.
http://www.rei.com/product/617046

Offline Beep

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2010, 10:45:29 pm »
Hoop, I have a small Primus Micron canister stove. It uses either the bigger canister or the half size one. With a small canister, it will fit into a small Primus pot. This stove has a piezo starter and it takes only a minute to screw the stove onto the canister and get it going. How it would work if emersed in water, I don't know, but it would be easy to carry one in a small waterproof bag. There are a number of small stoves like mine on the market.

Also, REI sells waterproof matches that are like sparklers-they will burn even when wet and will spark on any rough surface. They burn for about a minute.
http://www.rei.com/product/617046


The problem with any canister stove is that the boiling point of the fuel (necessary to get a gas instead of a liquid to the burner head) is not all that low.  Butane boils at 31° F (0.5° C) while the common canister mix, Isobutane, boils at 11° F (-12° C).  This issue with canister stoves is generally why white gas (e.g. MSR Dragonfly or XGK) stoves are preferred for deep winter weather.
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Offline Tomd

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2010, 10:53:54 pm »
Beep, What was I thinking?  I forgot for the moment you guys are out in weather far colder than I am here in California. However, if it's warm enough to fall through the ice, it might be warm enough for a canister to work. I've used mine down to about 15F. Thanks for the reminder.

Offline Wayland

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2010, 10:22:50 am »
Some interesting thoughts here which I have not had to consider. (In the UK only a fool would walk on ice because it's never cold enough for long enough to be safe.)

In my canoe kit I have Waterproof matches in a ziplock bag, regular matches in a waterproof container, Wetfire, tindercard, cotton balls soaked in Vaseline, fatwood sticks, a firesteel and a sealed petrol lighter. This is all in a tin wrapped in a piece of rubber inner tube and there are pieces of innertube in the tin as well.

The rubber is waterproof and burns well if a little smokily. It serves as a middle tinder/kindling between something light-able with a fire steel and the first wood kindling in my set up.

In really cold conditions the innertube wrap might be fiddly but can easily be cut away if needed.

In my pockets every day I always carry a waterproof match case and usually an Exotac firesteel if I'm wearing a jacket. A bit fiddly, but always there and I usually have a few Wax dipped pinecones packed in with my cooking gear.

Offline crooked knife

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2010, 05:21:07 pm »
Beep, What was I thinking?  I forgot for the moment you guys are out in weather far colder than I am here in California. However, if it's warm enough to fall through the ice, it might be warm enough for a canister to work. I've used mine down to about 15F. Thanks for the reminder.

Falling through ice can be quite independent of air temperature.  Ice conditions are quite variable when you throw in the equations of water movement, water temperature, and the fact that after a light snow everything looks the same on top.  Even though the ice you may be stepping on was open water the day before.  I'd be cautious to come to the conclusion that falling through ice happens mostly when it gets warm.  I've gone through at -20 before (in shallow water near springs).  Just my 2 cents.


Joe E

Offline Tomd

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Re: Falling through the ice: MUST light a fire!
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2010, 08:48:29 pm »
Joe, I thought about that later as well. Just shows how little I know about up where you guys are. I've got a couple of white gas or multifuel stoves as well-the Optimus Nova, Svea 123 and an MSR XGK, which will burn almost anything.  The XGK is probably the most reliable. I've had the Nova freeze up on me in what for you all is mild weather - around -5C. (The little filter in the hose froze, but I took it apart using the tool that comes with it and fixed it, by just taking it out.)