Friday, May 30, 2014

Gear Closet: Insta-Fire Fire Starting Packs

Having the ability to quickly and easily start a fire in the backcountry isn't just essential, it can be – quite literally – a life saver. That's why backpackers and long distance trekkers should never leave home without carrying a fire starting kit or at least some matches. But a company called Insta-Fire is looking to make it easier than ever to get a fire going in a jiffy, offering products for both around the home, and for hikers. I recently got the opportunity to test out their Fire Starter packs, and came away very impressed with how well they work.

Designed specifically with the outdoor crowd in mind, Insta-Fire can be used in a variety of situations. For instance, it is just as useful in getting a fire started at your campsite as it is in your fireplace at home. A unique mix of lightweight volcanic rock and compressed wood pellets, the product is non-combustable and won't even flare-up when you light it. It simply ignites quickly and easily, providing a good source of heat to get your kindling started.

Putting Insta-Fire to test in the field, I found it worked exactly as advertised. You only need a small amount of the product (about a half-cup) to get your fire started, and once ignited, it burns very cleanly at a temperature that is reportedly close to 1000ºF/537ºC. That is obviously hot enough to get just about any type of wood to burn. The process of starting the fire couldn't be much easier either. You just pour some Insta-Fire into the place where you want to start the fire, then use a match or lighter to ignite the rock portion of the mixture, and within seconds you have a flame. Without adding any wood to the fire, the mixture will burn for about 15 minutes, and it even works in high winds, rain, and snow. That makes it a great option for emergency use in poor weather.

Insta-Fire is sold in a variety of packages, ranging from single pouches, which go for $1.49, all the way up to 4 gallon buckets for $59.95. A pouch is good for four uses, which makes this very economical for use on longer camping trips, and they won't take up much room in your pack. Even if you're an expert fire maker, who has no trouble starting your own campfires, carrying a pouch or two of Insta-Fire is perfect for those "just in case" scenarios. And since it has a shelf life of 30 years, you can keep those packets around for a long time, even if you don't use them regularly.

Insta-Fire is one of those products that simply delivers on its promise when you need it to, which is exactly what you want when you're traveling in the backcountry. It is quick, efficient, and easy to use, and it'll get a fire started in a matter of a few minutes. Most of the time you don't need something that works that fast, but it is good to know it is an option when you do need it. It is also one of those products that is so inexpensive, that you almost can't afford not to have it with you.

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