So many of my backcountry rides are at higher elevation. I've learned that most modern day gas lighters don't work at high elevation. They are just worthless. So I never carry one.
Matches have evolved. I really hate what they have become. As a boy, I remember lighting matches on my pant leg, zippers, with thumb nails, in addition to striking on a rock or pretty much anything hard. Todays matches really challenge the term "Strike Anywhere" It just seems that match makers have been forced away from white phosphorus tips to other safer materials that really don't strike as well. As a boy in scouting we learned to light a fire with no more than 2 matches. Today, it takes 4-5 stick matches just to find a match that will actually flame up and stay lit for more than the red match tip. I don't know if it regulations governing the chemicals or just the fact that most matches are made in china anymore that results in such poor quality.
Since I ride 12 months of the year. I often find myself in cold situation that could cause hyperthermia if I was not prepared. We've had horses go down or stumble causing their riders to come off while crossing water. Even in July, at 10,000 foot elevation it might be 35-40° if you are wet, you can die from hyperthermia. So being able to start a fire quickly to warm up and dry off is a primary lesson.
Fire starting materials are standard items I carry in my cantle. I carry matches and usually some kind of fire starter to help get wood burning. Dryer lint soaked in parafin wax, wood shavings soaked in a little coal oil, sometimes a small bottle of charcoal Briquets starter fluid. If I have time, I will gather the pine needles, shave the wood shaving and start the fire, If I'm wet, cold and needing heat right now, I get out what ever I brought to cheat with and get a big going fast.
My cantle pack contains a waterproof match case with 40 or so matches in it. A space blanket, and usually 2oz plastic bottle of some flamible liquid. People die if you can't start a fire in my part of the world. Try falling off a horse into a river at 10° to truely understand how fast you need a fire.
Last edited by Painted Horse; 11-28-2011 at 10:03 PM.