Author Topic: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..  (Read 45092 times)

Offline Tuxdad

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A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« on: August 29, 2010, 02:28:24 PM »
Which would you use first ??

Was reading a thread on another thread about what 2 tools you'd choose in the bush, and it got me to thinking..

Now we all know the old standby of "2 is one, and one is none", right ??

Ok, here's the scenario..

You're out in the bush, and you need to get a fire going.. Now let's suppose this is during a SHTF type situation..

You've got your kit with a flint and steel, a ferro rod, and a lighter, along with the ability to do fire by friction..

My question is which would you use ?? Would you take the easy way out and go with your lighter, or would you save the easier options as your last resort and go with the friction fire or flint and steel ??

Myself I'd go with attempting my friction fire first and save the others for more pressing times.. At the same time I'd be keeping my skill up to snuff .. Plus you could make more char material for later fires if the need arised..

Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this !!

Tux
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 04:30:32 AM by cohutt »

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2010, 02:40:30 PM »
Sorry forgot to mention non-emergency, just basic survival..  ;D

Offline Darkwinter

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2010, 02:40:50 PM »
During an emergency, you need to get a fire going fast.

Lighter.

Offline Darkwinter

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 02:43:25 PM »
Sorry forgot to mention non-emergency, just basic survival..  ;D

Basic survial IS an emergency.  :)

When I go backyard camping I test my alternative methods, but when your life can depend on fire, get it going fast.

Offline mxitman

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010, 03:28:54 PM »
I would probably use the lighter, but if I had good dried tinder bundle then maybe the ferro rod... I can get a fire going quick with one if I have good tinder. I would always save the friction fire method as a last resort when you have time and energy for it. I'm not very good at it, last time I tried a bow drill took me 1.5 hrs.. and lots of energy to finally get a good ember that would light up.

Offline drthumbs

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010, 07:09:46 PM »
Lighter

I am very skilled in fire sparked based fire making.  I have on a number of occasions started a fire faster with both flint and steel and ferro rod than a challenger with a lighter. But that was for braggin rights.  The situation above is not the time fro establishing bragging right.  I would use the lighter YMMV

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 07:38:50 PM »
Again this is NOT an emergency folks.. Yes it's true TS Has HTF, but where you are in the bush there's not a danged thing you can do about it.. Your ife is not in danger from being a little chilly, you have yourself a shelter built, and there's NO immediate danger .. You simply might wanna cook up your fresh caught game or something..

So why would you use a lighter first off when you are in no danger of freezing ?? Are you mainly keying in on the whole TS Hitting TF idea  ?? Remember you have other options ...

Offline Darkwinter

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Re: A Question Of Forestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 08:34:13 PM »
I think this is going off topic a bit, but since you asked.

I would use the lighter because anything could happen.  Fire is life.  You could fall in a river, it could rain.  Hypothermia can happen even in the summer.  When you are wet and in the wind your core body temp can lower quickly.  I went camping in the rain last week.  Late August.  And I was shivering.  If I had not had a fire I could have easily developed hypothermia.

Plus you want to waste as few calories as possible.  Make a fire easily.  Save those calories for hunting, foraging, building shelter, or signaling for help.

Even if it is not a SHTF situation, if you are out of reach of people, alone in the wilderness, you want to get a fire going quickly. 

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 06:07:46 AM »
I agree.  I'd use the simplest methods first to conserve energy.

The thing to remember is the SHTF situation is most likely not going to be permanent.  It may be a week, it may be a month, it may be a year but at some point things will eventually improve (unless its "The Road" but that is the least likely type of scenario).  Even if they don't improve or return to some semblance of normal, you should not be in survival mode the entire time, you should be past survival mode and working on sustainability and improving beyond just the basic needs for survival.  Building more permanent shelter, growing and saving food, etc, etc.

So yes, i'd use the easiest methods first (Say the lighter lasts for 2 or 3 months starting 1 fire a day if needed), then moving on to the other methods.  Hopefully by the time the lighter is used up, you will have gathers wood and tinder and built enough shelter to keep the tinder dry and easy to start, etc.  If not, your not trying very hard to survive  ;D

+1 for the thread.  It does provoke some thinking on the matter which is always a good thing.



Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2010, 08:24:32 AM »
As someone from another forum said, it's about balance..

If you use the flint and steel first or the ferro rod, are you not saving those same calories ?? Now I could see if you were in a snow storm, or stuck out when there's freezing rain or whatever coming down, yes use the lighter by all means.. But in the scenario I posted, you have your shelter built some fresh caught game, and it may, repeat MAY get a little chilly that night..

The non-emergency, but survival thought, I believe I should have explained better(sorry)..

 For example, you're out in the bush and you have a radio and you hear that TSHasHTF.. You're maybe half-way or a few days into your trip.. From your location there's not a danged thing you can do about it.. It's gonna maybe take you a few days or weeks to get home because maybe you got dropped by a friend and they've been given a certain time to come back to pick you up... Their priorities just changed because of what happened.. They may be bugged(or bugged out) in for a good while because of the situation.. All they can do is hope you're ok while they also survive and try to get to the pick-up point on the day you're gonna come home..

Yes, you know what has happened, but is there anything you can do about it other then make your way home or to the meet up place safely ?? No, there's not.. You have a good set of tools and a (HopefullY) good set of skills to get you through this and that is all.. I would think that, we'd have to think in the mind set that your buddy may not be able to pick you up at the agreed upon spot, since TSHasHTF, and play it all by ear and do your best to get back home to your family(if you can) or whomever safely as best you can..

Hopefully I explained myself a little better ??

 

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2010, 08:37:26 AM »
For probably close to 20 years I carried a magnesium firestarter and nothing else.  I learned to start a fire in under five minutes with it and that was normal.  In the last five or so years I've gotten lazy and recently when I tried to start a fire with magnesium, it took at least 20 minutes (not enough patience, scraped too little material, would get a brief flare up, but not enough to ignite my marginal tinder).  For that reason, I think there's some value in making yourself doing it the hard way most of the time, but you're really working against human nature.  Given the choice, we'll always take the path of least resistance.

After my 20 minute experience, I opted to change what I carry.  I now carry a ferro rod and keychain aluminum pill bottle with one vasoline-impregnated cotton ball.  I get a much more reliable first-strike fire, but honestly, I think it's a poor choice.  I should at least carry a small magnesium rod as opposed to just a ferro rod.  I'd still have the same ferro rod, but have another good way to get a fire started, even after my cotton balls are gone.

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 11:51:26 AM »
This I'm seeing as very true about human nature.. We will try and take the easiest path..

Nothing wrong with that, but we also have to think about what we may use for making this fire.. Would we use something that we could replenish or will we use what we can NOT replenish  ?? Some folks are looking at this as a factor of calorie burning.. Well in your gear you have a number of ways to get a fire going that would be just as easy on the calorie burn as another, and are replenishable..

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2010, 12:01:31 PM »
The trick has always been for me just what to carry when I want to travel light and minimalistic.  When I know I'll have no plan-B, magnesium is always my default.  For instance, I do some trail running and while I rarely get more than 3-4 miles away from the closest road, there's a chance I could turn and ankle or otherwise have to hunker down for the night.  When you run, everything bounces, so I travel with minimal kit.  My standard running kit is a disposable poncho, magnesium firestarter, CRKT neck knife, 7' of reflective parachute cord, a tiny Black Diamond headlamp, and a 10 oz. water bottle.  Anything more and I get chafing from the bounce of my hip pack.  There's a lot of things I'd like to add, but I know I can make it through the night (during the summer) with those items if I had to.  I don't have room for redundancies, so there's no place for a lighter than might leak out all it's gas if the lever gets stuck down, there's no place for matches that might get wet or I might run out of them if faced with wet tinder; whatever I carry just has to work.

Offline drthumbs

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2010, 12:49:02 PM »
I hear ya Tux


Fact of the matter, I cannot recall the last time I started a campfire, charcoals for the grill, or anything with a lighter.  I am still a smoker and I do light my cigarettes with a lighter 99% of the time, but I often use flint and steel to light them as well.

Because I am a smoker I always have a lighter or two with me, but I keep a ferro rod as part of my EDC on my keys.

Give hat flint and steels is my favorite method and I had it one me, I would likely go with that.  But that is now a part of my EDC, so next in line would be my ferro rod or steel wool and a battery.

I also carry a credit card sized fresnel lens in my wallet as part of my ECD, but don't use it or even think of it often.

I have made friction fire, but don't own the skill, so I would not likely even try. I only have about a 70% success rate when I have a proven kit, and no higher than 30% when I am gathering materials.

And then there is always that lighter.  IMHO, the disposable lighter is the most reliable and effective fire making tool ever devised by man.  The average lighter with be able to start between 1000 to 3000 fires. If it runs out of fuel, it can still be used for the ferro rod it contains.  It is not the first thing I reach for, but it is my ultimate back up.






Offline phuttan

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2010, 07:33:52 PM »
I'd start with the most difficult for me and then work to the easiest for me, so I'd start with friction. I'm out of practice.

Pat

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2010, 07:55:57 PM »
Brother Doc,

I was amazed at how many folks who owned the bow drill as well as the hand drill techniques would STILL save them as a last resort, and go with a lighter right off the bat.. To me that's a bit mind boggling, as you have more then one way to start a fire why go with the one that's hardest to replace ?? Why not the fire steel, or flint and steel, atleast with them they may last longer, and with the flint and steel you can make more char material..

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2010, 09:08:03 PM »
As I said above, I don't expect a survival situation to be permanent and even if it was a TEOTWAWKI situation, I would be moving beyond basic survival as quickly as possible.  Basic survival is just that, the absolute minimum needed to survive.  Once I had basic shelter, food, heat etc,  I would be working toward bettering my situation.  It should not take months or years to do that.  Survival mode is just the beginning.  A lighter is quick and easy, something to use when you need quick and easy.  Once you have spent weeks or months building shelter, gathering food and improving your situation beyond just the basics, you will have more time to expend using other methods. 

I can start a fire with steel just about as easy as I can with a lighter so the two are interchangeable.  However, my Ferrite/magnesium starter or the little ferrite rod on my keychain will most likely still be there when needed.  (Simple device not much to fail on it)  If I have a lighter and carry it around without using it for an extended period of time, there is a chance it may fail, (Seal leak, ferrite fall out, spring break, wheel nob break etc, etc).  A lighter to me is disposable.  I would use up matches first as they would have the lowest estimated lifespan in bad conditions.  Then I would use the lighter for as long as it lasted (Probably months if not a year or more) with the 2 in my bag or the 1 in my pocket.  If I don't have my situation bettered and more sustainable by then, then i'm not working very hard at getting beyond basic survival and improving my situation, let alone working on survival at all. 

In any situation, once you have "Survived" the initial event.  You have to improve, sitting around just surviving at the minimum is pointless.

The way I look at it.  Survival is just the first step of the rest of your life.

Hope that was a bit more clear.  I know what I'm trying to say, just not sure if its coming across well. 

Again, this is a very good topic. I've enjoyed some of the points of view and will most definatley be working on my primitive fire starting methods, but again, as a last resort.   ;) ;D

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2010, 09:23:52 PM »
Apologies Tuxdad.  I missed your second post.  In a Non Emergency or Non Survival situation, If I had time to play around, I might try a bow or other manual method just for the practice.  Since I have the lighter on me, I can always use it if I get too tired or if I prove to myself to be a miserable failure at the bow :).

But in any kind of survival situation, I would still follow my previous post.


Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2010, 06:40:32 AM »
No apologies needed Brother,  ;D

Just remember even if you fail with your  hand or bow drill that powder can be stored or used since it will take a spark as well.. Went thru many a months learning the bow drill, still not the greatest but learning along the way.. On avg it takes me about 1.5 to 1 mins to get a coal and that's with taking my time and just keeping a steady pace.. I found this in an interesting vid on yt a few months ago(Be glad to share the link with you if anyone's interested)..

You make VERY valid points on the lighter as well as survival.. In a scenario as I described I try to make sure I keep all my tools wel taken care of but there's always a possibility of Brother/Sister Murphy poking their heads up and causing trouble for us, for their entertainment..


Thanks to everyone on sharing their thoughts and input on this subject..

Offline Who...me?

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2010, 09:45:23 AM »
Well I don't carry a lighter so I would not use one at all.  While I do have storm matches my go to tool is and will continue to be my BlastMatch.   I have played around with alternative fire starting devices/techniques while messing around out back just to have the skill if I would ever need it, but if I was out in the wilds I would use what I know works without fail.

My fire kits all contain the same items.

A BlastMatch   http://www.ultimatesurvival.com/camping-hiking/BlastMatchFireStarter.php

A Bush Buddy stove  http://www.bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html

A small plastic peanut butter jar filled with tinder

A large plastic peanut butter jar filled with assorted dry wood for the stove. (in case its raining or wet I can start a fire with my supplies and use that to dry wood on site)

All told with containers my fire go to kit is only about 1 lb and with it I can have fire in less than 2 mins from opening my pack to fire.

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2010, 03:26:32 PM »
Brother WM,

You rock !! I've often thought of carrying a small amount of wood as back up for that very same reason !! Most folks seem to think it'd be too much of a hassle.. I say but isn't it just as much a hassle if you have to hunt for wood in an emergency or you have a wet wood issue going on ??

I keep about a fistfull of dry small wood on hand in my kits to cut down on having to make them when hiking, and I am in a habit of collecting a little tinder as I hike also..

Keep up the good work and thanks for your input !!

Offline Ditch

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2010, 10:26:27 AM »
I carry a small tin box (3'' x 5'' x 1'') from a craft store as my fire kit.  In it I have windproof/waterproof matches, a windproof/waterproof butane lighter, a few sticks of Fatwood, a tiny Nalgene container with Vaseline soaked 100% cotton balls, and a few Wet Fire Packs.  There is also a few waxed cardboard strips, a ferro rod and custom made striker.  Wrapped around the outside of the tin box I have some cut strips of a bike tire tube so they look like rubber bands (they produce a darker smoke if needed.)

Now, knowing that I have all that to use, I would not just yet resort to anything in the tin.  I would want to keep it available for as long as possible in case I needed something very quick to light a fire.

l would first build a slight windbreak where I wanted my fire using dry rocks or larger logs.  Then on to gathering plenty of dry materials to keep it going (assuming its not raining in this scenario.)  I would then utilize primitive skills to start the fire and this would not only help me stay warm until the fire gets going, but it keeps me in tune with skills I never want to lose, not to mention improve on.  I would rig a cover over the fire to prevent it from going out in bad weather, and this would help keep hot coals safely contained while I would search for other needs (more wood, water, food, animal runs, etc.)

Having the items for starting a fire does not mean they would be the first things I would use.  There is the flint from rocks, fire plow, bow and drill, eyeglass lenses, etc. to use first, so as not to dwindle the emergency quick start items in my tin box.

One other thing many let slip their minds is the lint in the pocket and your own hair to start a fire.  Even shaving a sliver of material from a garment hem can do the trick on igniting the flame if all other materials are wet.

I would secure the fire I started and if I had to move on, I would take a little bit of the fire with me.  Some hot coals or embers in the tin box I kept everything else in.  I would just dump all the tin box contents into my pocket temporarily so I could use the box.  I just don't like the idea of using the actual gear I carry unless there is absolutely no other means.  I like the idea of always having a backup for everything.

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2010, 05:32:33 AM »
Good stuff Ditch !!

Not sure if I mentioned this before but even if you fail with getting a coal, the powder you produced will still take a spark, so you're "good to go" on your firemaking skills.. I'm still working on my fire carrying skills, but getting better..

Thanks again  :)!!

Offline kr66p6r13

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2010, 02:03:50 AM »
fires a fire, the method used will be dictated by the specific details of the situation. having resources & options make a helluva difference in any survival situation. if there is no impending doom (like hypothermia) save your lighter for when you DO need to make fire in a hurry.

Offline Ditch

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2010, 01:10:17 PM »
Good stuff Ditch !!

Not sure if I mentioned this before but even if you fail with getting a coal, the powder you produced will still take a spark, so you're "good to go" on your firemaking skills.. I'm still working on my fire carrying skills, but getting better..

Thanks again  :)!!

I really should place a piece of char cloth wrapped in wax paper in the tin box since I still have a little room.  I have other things that I have used but don't have in the tin right now.  Magnesium shavings, shavings from a stick I ran through a pencil sharpener, and some pellets from a pellet stove.

The suggestion on the powder produced is always excellent. 

Offline Who...me?

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2010, 07:42:36 AM »
Found some fatwood for sale for 1.20 a pound and ordered a 10lb box.  The best natural fire starter that exists and actually cheaper than some of the home made variety's I have used.  10lb will last me for a LONG time.

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2010, 08:35:32 AM »
I keep a small tin with a couple pieces of charcloth ontop as back up, in my pocket with my edc..

Good stuff !! We've got a few boxes around the house always, as well...

Ditch it's all about sharing the knowledge Brother !!

Offline joeinwv

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2010, 08:53:47 AM »
If I had already secured shelter, food, water and fire - then I might practice a hand or bow drill fire start.

It is a valid skill to have and practice, but if I am stuck in the woods I am not going to waste 2 hours getting a fire started. Maybe if you live in a really dry climate with perfect tinder you can fabricate and start a fire easily this way - living in WV this is not usually the case. Today it is about 60*F and rained all night - good luck getting a fire going with a hand drill today.

I would light the fire with the lighter or ferro and spend my time working on shelter, signaling or setting traps. To me, this is a skill to practice and own so you have it as a last resort, not a first option.

Offline Ditch

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2010, 06:14:06 AM »
Just a note on finding dry fire materials.  Sometimes even in the most humid and wet environments, you can still find dry materials.  Just locate places that rain cannot hit or where runoff cannot go.  Obviously ground materials are going to be wet or too damp and will smoke like crazy.  Green materials are just about useless, except for certain evergreens such as pine.  The resin or pine pitch inside burns very nicely (And can be used for torches too).

The idea is to look under large trees with lots of dead fall materials, and use these.  Branches that have fallen and are leaning against others are more likely to house dry materials inside even if they appear wet outside.  Peal back wet bark and use the dryer core materials. 

So, as a fire starting priority, make sure you can locate enough dry tinder for the fire to start with regardless of the method you opt for.

Offline Tuxdad

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Re: A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2010, 09:25:24 AM »
If I had already secured shelter, food, water and fire - then I might practice a hand or bow drill fire start.

It is a valid skill to have and practice, but if I am stuck in the woods I am not going to waste 2 hours getting a fire started. Maybe if you live in a really dry climate with perfect tinder you can fabricate and start a fire easily this way - living in WV this is not usually the case. Today it is about 60*F and rained all night - good luck getting a fire going with a hand drill today.

I would light the fire with the lighter or ferro and spend my time working on shelter, signaling or setting traps. To me, this is a skill to practice and own so you have it as a last resort, not a first option.

As stated in the scenario Brother, you've got yourself set up for the evening with shelter and such, all you'd like to do is get a fire going to cook up your fresh caught game(whatever that might be), and maybe take the chill in case it got chilly during the night..

I live in south central Pa, so I can relate with wet wood or damp wood of right now.. A bow drill fire still can be done but you'll just have to work a bit harder to get it is all. Better to learn it and perfect it while you have other options then to wait until you have no other option, wouldn't you agree ?? The most time it's ever taken me to get a bowdrill fire going was about 30 mins.. That was with my collecting my tinder as I hiked in...

I've gotten into a habit of always collecting a little extra tinder as I hike in just as a rule of thumb, you can never have enough tinder.. I also collect a small twig bundle as well, since emergencies happen too freaking fast at times and you might need some in a hurry .. Yes I have a little carried already but again every little bit helps..

Also I might add, if you have the tools for doing so, split down some wood.. It's usually just the outside layers that are wet, unless you're in a monsoon type area of course..

Here's a couple of links to foul weather fire making that helped me a great deal, before trying them out in the bush..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJwozxaX_SY&feature=player_embedded#
http://www.youtube.com/user/iawoodsman#p/u/32/c90jBC31lrU

Now, I'm not saying to pitch your lighter, but in a long haul situation where you're gonna be out in the  wild for a good long time, you might wanna save you lighter for more dire times like you being hyperthermic, or wind and rain coming down and your other firemaking tools are just not cutting for some reason..

That lighter along with all the rest of your gear from this point on until you reach safety or a trading area or find other tools should be taken care of with the utmost diligence, because for the simple fact you are NOW on yor own hook.. These are your tools for getting you outta this mess, or atleast lessen it a bit..