The other day, someone approached me about helping them select a new knife. I go through my general interview process; what are they going to use it for, how often are they going to carry it, do you know how to sharpen a knife, what is your budget, etc... .
Make no mistake about it... I am a knife guy. There is something about one of man's most basic and simple tools, that allows us to do so many things. Whether a blade is attached to a plane to shave wood, attached to a metal lathe to produce some unique and complex item via a CNC machine, or just in your pocket for when you want to dig out some vienna sausages from the can while enjoying a break in your fishing trip; pieces of metal sharpened down to an apex are all around us in our day to day lives. As I posted in an earlier blog post I am looking for a new knife. And probably always will be, just by just having a knife makes us uniquely human to being with.
As we were going through some options, this individual wanted a sheath so they could carry a firesteel (or ferro rod, misch metal rod) with them attached to their knife. I asked them why do you want to do that, when you could carry and stash a few Bic lighters in their pocket and pack? And their response was "Well, that is cheating." This comment struck me in a weird way. How in the world, is producing fire, in a survival scenario cheating?
This person told me about how Bic lighters were prone to failure, didn't work when cold, could get wet, and gas would leak out.
On the internet, you can find a lot of EDC forums, social media sites and webpages where people post up a lot of their gear; quite a few of them, and mainly a lot of them, people are carrying a lot of ferro rods. I have quite a few dozen of them myself. I have magnesium bars, Blastmatches, Spark-lites, and other fire starting gear. I have started fires before using a bow drill and hand drill. But I would take a Bic lighter over these methods any day.
But when it comes to a survival situation, there is no such thing as cheating. You either come out of it alive, or you do not. There is no middle ground. You either come home to your family or you go to the funeral home. Plain and simple.
It is easy to peruse the internet, see all the new gadgets and gear when it comes to bushcraft, survival and prepping. I am guilty of it too. But take a step back, and really ask yourself what YOU (being you, reading this) actually need versus want. Years ago, our fathers, grandfathers and heck, even the Hadza tribes today, got by with some basic tools, but also with vast and practical knowledge.
Do you really need to have to latest a greatest fancy fire starting do-dad, that super S90V super steel on a new knife, or would your time and energy be better used in practicing with basic gear and increasing your knowledge? That is up for you to decide. I am still learning continuously.
So I'll leave this here. Bic lighters are everywhere. For the price of a firesteel, you can buy 10 of them in virtually every store. Then can last for 1000 to 3000 usages. They can and do work in cold weather. They can and do work after being submerged in water. You can use them one handed. Just observe a smoking area outside an office building during a rain storm, a windy day, in the cold. You'll see people using Bic lighters. Why? They have a deep need to start a fire and lots of practice.
And what a lot of people do not think about - what if you become disabled or incapacitated; can the people in your party or whoever finds you, can they use a Bic lighter? Chances are they can. Even a 5 year old child can use a Bic lighter. Chances are they might not be able to start a fire any other way.
Carry a few Bic lighters. It's not cheating.
Come home to your family.