matchless chemical fire
Matchless Campfire Fire Starter. Tim MacWelch

My philosophy for fire starting is simple and practical: use whatever you have. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be fussy about your supplies and gear when you have the opportunity. When your survival is on the line, you should always stack the deck in your favor.

I have always been a bit of a pyro, and have never been monogamous with just one fire starting method. I’m a fan of historic methods like friction fire, as well as true flint and steel. And I’m practically in love with the Bic lighter. It will kindle a blaze in weather that would quench all other ignition methods.

But those aren’t the only tools in my toolbox. I’ve always been fascinated by chemical fire starting, too. So when I saw this fire starting kit at a recent gun show, I had to pick it up. With a name like “Matchless Campfire Fire Starter Kit” emblazoned across the bag, how could I pass it up? Let’s see just how well it works.

At first glance, the kit seemed a bit big and heavy (8 ounces and 6 x 9 inches). So right off the bat, it’s not meant for ultralight survival kits. As soon as I opened the zip-top pouch, a strong whiff of pine odor hit my nostrils. A 5-ounce bundle of fatwood was the culprit, and a good sign that the manufacturers were on the right path. Fatwood will burn for a long time, and it’s generally impervious to water.

Upon emptying the kit, I found 2 vials of liquid (one clear and one red). There were also two plastic canisters of rusty red powder (one large and one small). There was also a very easy to read set of instructions. The steps included the removal of contents and the combining of the two powders in the larger canister. Next, we are advised to place the fatwood sticks around the large canister, and then drip 4 drops of the clear liquid into the powder. For the fastest reaction, add one drop of the red liquid. That’s it. I did as instructed, and it really did work. I even saved half of the fatwood for future use.

So here’s the takeaway. This kit is fun and easy to use, and it worked as promised. But it’s a single use kit. At $8 per fire, it’s hardly practical. I’d rather have eight butane lighters for $8. This octet of Bics could give me several thousand campfires for the same price. But all that aside, this kit was still really cool to play with.

Find out more about the Matchless Campfire Fire Starter Kit here.

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