How important is a survival firestarter? Well, in some instances, it could be a gamechanger or lifesaver.
by Leon Pantenburg
I was not paid to do this review. HollandGuns.com is a SurvivalCommonSense.com sponsor, and supplied the sample “Napalm Tinder” for testing and review. All I ever promise anyone is a fair product test, and I won’t help sell an item I wouldn’t use myself.
Your ability to start a fire can save your life. The inability can cost it.
That’s me, quoting me, several years ago, when I was interviewed on a survival show. Of all the skills a person needs to survive in virtually any wilderness survival situation, fire has to be right at the top of the list.
I did some of the first field testing a while back when the Lightning-Strike emergency firestarter tool first came on the market. I liked the product and concept. When the Mini Lightning-Strike came out on the market later, I ran it through its paces.
I was not nice to either. In one instance, I dropped the Lightning-Strike in the Deschutes River, soaked it for several minutes, then tossed it on shore and stomped it into the sand and mud. After that abuse, the unit functioned flawlessly, and I could easily start a fire on the shore.
The mini got the mud test. I dropped it into the mud at the edge of a desert water hole, made sure it was completely covered and tried to use it. Once the mud was cleaned out of the ferrocerrium rod channel it worked fine. But making fires with wet, muddy hands is not pleasant.
Darrell Holland, owner of Holland’s Shooters Supply and inventor of the Lightning-Strike system, said napalm tinder is the company’s most recent development for survival firemaking.
Napalm, for the non-military types, was used from about 1965 to 1972 in the Vietnam War. The original napalm was a
jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. Napalm Tinder, as sold by Holland’s Shooters Supply, is an entirely different substance, but it is really flammable when used correctly.
“We’ve been requested to make a waterproof tinder for EXTREMELY wet conditions and this is what we’re come up with,” Holland commented. “We use a special fibrous material and binder that seems to cover all bases in regard to this type of tinder.”
In the latest abuse test, I took the Lightning-Strike and some of the new Napalm Tinder, and set it outside in the Oregon winter just before a storm. First it rained, which turned to sleet, and then snow. I left it outside in freezing temperatures for two days. Then, when the temps were in the high teens, I went out to try and start a fire.
The video shows some of the difficulties. My fingers were cold – on purpose – so I could try to fumble through an ignition. Despite all the obstacles and barriers to success I invented, the system worked superbly.
Here’s the good stuff:
Lightweight and compact: The tinder comes in a small, round container with a snap-on top that takes up hardly any space. Once you’ve practiced with the system, you won’t need to use much.
Waterproof: The Napalm tinder itself is waterproof. The tinder is saturated with some sort of flammable, waxy material that means it can’t absorb water. The product is then placed in a waterproof plastic bag for over-engineered waterproofing. It would be very hard to ever get the material wet.
Easy to use: I had deliberately not practiced with Napalm Tinder before field testing. Then, even when it had been in freezing circumstances for more than 48 hours – and me with cold fingers – I was able to get the Napalm Tinder going with virtually no effort.
Concerns about the product?
Would it work under all circumstances? No – nothing in the survival world can be guaranteed to work in 100 percent of the emergency situations.
There is probably some scenario where Napalm Tinder might not be the best choice as an emergency firestarter. I’m working on that. If I can come up with such a scenario, I’ll let you know.
Question: Is this the best firestarting product if I want to just buy some sort of firestarting thingy, put it in a survival kit and forget about it? Will it take care of all my firestarting needs?
Answer: NO!!!! That was a trick question!
No piece of equipment, without the ability to use it, and a lot of practice, will enable you to start a fire.
There are many individual variables in any emergency that affect getting a flame going. These can include wet wood, damp weather, time of year, temperatures, elevation, lack of burnable material etc.
Another set of variables include you personally. Are you alone or with a group? Are you injured? Lost? Getting hypothermic? Dehydrated?
Regardless – everybody needs a reliable firemaking method. I like and use the Lightning-Strike, and a Mini rides in my hunting fanny pack. It might be a good choice for you.