This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.
Why do you need a firestarter?
Part of the 10 Essentials is something to light fire with. If you get stuck out in the wild for any length of time, you’ll need some way to keep warm and be seen. A fire is a good way to do that.
If you are using a stove to cook food, you’ll likely need a way to start it as well. Some stoves come with built-in lighters. These can also fail.
I usually carry a BIC lighter because they’re easy to use and a flint rod for backup. Regular lighters often don’t work if they get wet.
Keep them dry
Lighters don’t work well when they’re wet so keep them in some sort of dry bag out of the elements. If your pack gets soaked will your lighter still be dry?
Bring a backup
Lighters and piezo igniters can break or get wet. Always have a spare on you or at least in the group.
Built-in igniters often fail
Built-in igniters only have one purpose but a lighter or flint can light a stove and a fire.
Bring some dry tinder
If you do need to start a fire and all the wood around you is wet, it’s nice to have some dry firestarter tinder with you. Wax and dryer lint can make good firestarter. Other products are made with dry sawdust and burn for a bit while you get wet twigs lit.