Starting Fire with Steel Wool and a Battery

It always useful to have a back up (or two) and the know-how to start a fire when you forget your matches or they get wet in a rain storm. This battery method looks so simple. I knew that fine “0000″ steel wool burns easily with a match even if is is wet. But this is one more ultralight tool for that all important fire for cooking for keeping warm. Be sure to keep a fresh battery in your pack.


Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Hand Warmers – A Summer Treat

I head off soon for a backpack in the Granite Chief Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. With some snow still on the trail and nights at 8,500 feet expected to dip into the 30′s, a hand warmer isn’t such an odd suggestion as an added comfort for very little weight. As a kid, I had a , small polished metal heater that comes with a felt bag and lasts all day on a single fill of lighter fluid. There’s no flame, but lots of heat. What got me thinking about this was when I donated blood yesterday and the nurse gave me a disposalable hand warmer — a tiny pillow filled with some unknown material — to keep my hands warm so she didn’t have to squeeze a cold finger really hard to get that drop of blood needed to test my iron. A smart idea and made me think that it would be ideal for the “essentials bag.” If nothing else, you’ve got them for an emergency.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Ultralight Backpacking Headlamp Built into Cap

LED CapI love gadgets. The latest, from a newspaper clipping my wife dropped on my desk, is a cap with four LED lights built in (sample at left has only two, but the Amazon.com version below has four). One of the reasons I became a ultralight backpacker, besides the weight reduction, was the elimination of stuff from my backpack. It would take many paragraphs to describe all the items I carried when I first started backpacking in 1998. Let me assure you, you can put huge amounts in a 5,800 cubic inch, 7.5 pound Dana Design Terraplane: 60 pounds or more, in fact. As they say, less is more.  Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Make Your Backpack Light in 2007 – One of the “Ten Essentials”

The list of essentials seems to expand and contract, but conventional wisdom a long time ago figured out “must haves” for survival and / or comfort. One is a pocket knife.

If you’ve read any of my posts you know I big on looking for alternatives, especially lightweight or ultralight weight versions.

I have two beautiful Swiss Army Knives and love them. BUT they weigh four ounces each and I don’t need all the extras they offer. So I purchased for 99 cents a small knife with plastic handle I found in a clear plastic bin on the counter of my local hardware store. It was put there to be an impulse buy. But it’s been a trusty little friend, weighing a half ounce. Great for cutting cheese, salami, or cord.

Another gadget I’m adding to my “essentials” this year is a pair 3″ Deluxe Folding Scissors from Simplicity Pattern Company. Available in most drugstores, they weigh less than a half ounce and fold down tiny — about the size of two quarters.
A Lightbackpacking.com Ten Essentials
What are the other essentials?

Map, compass, flashlight / headlamp, extra food, extra clothes, sunglasses, first-aid kit, pocket knife, waterproof matches, firestarter.

Several sources say there are four more you should consider: water / filter / bottles, whistle, insect repellents or clothing, sunscreen.

Survival specialists say you’re most powerful survival weapon is common sense — it’s cheap (free) and weight-free.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.