Okay, I admit it, there was a time when I would practice starting fires in all different kinds of weather conditions so that I would be able to start one with a maximum of two matches. I am pretty sure I still could do that given the right preparation, but the question is, do I really want to do that when I am at a campground or when I am backpacking and need a fire?
Not so much nowadays in all honesty. I like knowing that I can, but 9 times out of 10, convience wins out over fire making skill and I use some sort of fire starting material to speed the process along.
For me, I like to always have an easy way to start a fire in my backpack, whether I am day hiking or backpacking. Fire starters can be very useful for an emergency or after a long hike in the rain when you do not want to be fighting the elements. Other fire starters are I have used include the fire paste where you have to carry a tube of the stuff or small fire starter sticks. These are not bad items to have along, but depending on how much weight and space you may have in your pack, they can be a bit heavy or bulky. Grate Chef's individual FireStarters packets are small, only about two and half inches square and only weigh a few ounces. They are thin and easy to pack into the emergency kit that I keep in my backpack and I just keep them wrapped up in a small ziploc bag. The FireStarters do not use lighter fluid as an ingredient, so the packets themselves, while having some odor, do not have that strong lighter fluid smell associated with some fire starters.
To use the packet, simply place it where you are going to start your fire and light the package with a match or a lighter. The non-toxic contents (which include aliphatic hydrocarbons, urea based resins and paraffin) ignite as the packaging burns. The FireStarter burns steadily for about eight to ten minutes, which is more than enough time to get a fire going in just about any condition if you have got your fire preparation done beforehand. The packets will even light if they are damp, though much more moisture than that and you will have trouble getting them going.
While the FireStarters were designed to be used to start charcoal fires for grilling, they do work quite well as an emergency (or not so emergency depending on your desires) for camping and backpacking. I also used them to start a charcoal bbq a couple of times and it is nice to have a charcoal fire to cook on without the lighter fluid smell and taste on your grilled food that lighter fluid will sometimes leave.
In the end
I have used the FireStarters on several different occasions in the woods and these little packets make fire starting a lot faster and saves on some of the time that starting a fire usually takes. I now carry two or three of them with me in the emergency kit that I keep in my backpack depending on the length of my trip. I know I would not use them to always start fires, but having a foolproof fire starter so small and so lightweight with me is something that deserves a place in my backpack.
We received a free sample of the Grate Chef FireStarters for review here at Adventures in the Outdoors.