Looking for a way to test your fire building skills? Try lighting a “one-match-fire”. This feat of fire building is even more impressive in wet conditions, windy weather, and in other scenarios that increase the difficulty for fire making. Use some or all of the following ten techniques and you should pass this mountain man test with flying colors.
1. Protect the match from the wind. Many one match fires fail before the match even gets close to the fire lay. Use your body and hands to shield the infant flame of your match stick from the oncoming breeze.
2. Start burning from the upwind side. This tactic allows the breeze to push the heat and flames through your fire lay.
3. Light it close. Strike your match very near to the fire lay, so that it doesn’t have to travel very far. You should be kneeling or sitting right next to your fire lay when the match is struck.
4. Light the fire low. Since the fire likes to climb as heat rises, make sure you have your match at the base of the fire lay.
5. Have a backup in place. This can be extra tinder, some wood shavings, Vaseline soaked cotton balls, or anything else that can save an ailing fire.
6. Start with a fire starter. Don’t be afraid to use a fire helper in cold or wet weather. Fire starter cubes, fire packets, fire paste, or some drier lint from home could be a life saver when the weather turns wet or cold (or both).
7. Pay attention to detail. One match fires work best when you make sure that each part of the operation is as flawless as possible. Everything from striking the match to building your cone shaped fire lay should be executed smoothly and flawlessly.
8. Go overboard on tinder. The center of your fire lay should be loaded with dry, dead, fluffy plant tinder. Truly, you can never have too much tinder.
9. Use a cone shape. A one foot tall cone of small twigs, kindling and tinder will be your best approach to the one match fire. Avoid low lying or flat fire lay shapes.
10. Burn dead conifer twigs. Pines, firs, spruce and most other needle bearing trees have sticky sap in their wood which is very flammable. A good ball of tinder and some dead evergreen twigs should get your fire going from one match, even in damp conditions.
How do you build your one match fires? Please share your back country secrets in the comments.