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Backpacker Bible: Make Fire

When disaster strikes in the backcountry, don't pin your hopes on prayer. Your ability to spark a flame could be the difference between survival and six-feet-under.
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Magnesium Block
Need convincing to pack this failsafe firestarter, which combines spark and tinder in one ultralight package? Magnesium burns as hot as 5,400°F, which is almost three times hotter than a standard flame. It even burns under water. The technique: Scrape a small pile of magnesium shavings (Cody Lundin packs the end of a hacksaw blade to avoid damaging his knife), and ignite them using matches, lighter, or the striker included with the magnesium block. To create a spark using the striker embedded in the magnesium, scrape it with your knife (if that’s all you have) or hacksaw blade. Tip: Pull back on the magnesium block, holding the blade in place, to prevent your hand from accidentally slipping forward and disturbing the tinder. Magnesium blocks cost less than $10, and practice makes a huge difference in performance, so buy two, one to train with and the other to pack. 

Thou Shalt Not: Waste a good fire. Make gourmet s’mores: marshmallow + peanut butter cup + graham cracker. Plus scotch.

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