Fire piston

10:44 a.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I was just wondering if anyone here uses a fire piston? I met another hiker in the woods this weekend and he was using a fire piston. I had never seen one, other than the internet or tv. He swears by it and says he can use it in almost any conditions. Im not sure he was being honest as he makes and sells them. Any info would be great. Im considering getting one to put in my kit but also to show my kids another way to make fire. They are nice and light, should I replace my heavier magnesium/ferrocerium rig with one of these?

11:39 a.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I have an old fire piston that was passed down in my family from my great great grandfather. I use it often. Mine is the type that uses waxed jute twine for the seal vice a o-ring.

They do work, work extremely well, and will indeed work in almost any conditions. You can make an ember out of completely soaked punk/rotten wood with 10+ compressions or so. You can make an ember out of completely dry wood pieces in 1 compression. For me, on average it takes me 2-3 compressions to make an ember.

Now here is the important part. Anyone can use a fire piston to make an ember, its not hard at all. However, you need very good fire starting skills to successfully make a fire with a tiny ember. It takes alot of preparation, and you need to make yourself a nice little birds nest typically to make it possible. So while you can make an ember on demand, its much harder to make a fire on demand without good basic fire starting skills.

When I go out I typically have a lighter, a flint and steel, and my fire piston.

The critical thing with a fire piston is the seal. You need one with a really good seal, and I strongly recommend the ones that use string vice an o-ring. The o-ring ones wear out extremely fast IMO, the string ones are cheaper in the long run and I usually carry twine with me on trips so I also have material to make a birds nest out of.

Hope this helps some.

11:57 a.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I've seen many people use all kinds of crazy methods to start fire on the trail, never seen anyone use a fire piston though.  One guy once was trying to start a canister stove with a fire steel unsuccessfully, I then pulled out my trusted bic lighter and started the thing right away. I have yet to find a more convenient method of starting fire than my bic lighter, it has yet to fail me, I've heard stories of ppl that due to cold weather could not light their lighter, but those are very specific cases.  Another thing I bring with me are a few cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, those two together work wonders! I do keep a fire steel and waterproof matches as a backup just in case, but seriously, unless you are just having fun with the thin, practicing your skills, or wanting a conversation starter, all those ancient methods are more of a frustration and waste of time and energy than anything.  That's just my opinion though...

2:16 p.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I made a fire piston on my lathe a while back. It worked for a little while before I broke it. I made it out of scrap wood. I want to make another one out of hard wood when it cools down a bit. It's still over 100 outside on most days.

Are you going to use one with rubber seals or an old design that uses man made cordage? I would never replace a fire starter. I only add new ways to make a fire. 

I have lighters, 8"x11" Fresnel lens, fire steel. I used to have the fire piston.

4:42 p.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Interesting piece of equipment

7:47 p.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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I always carry a bic lighter. I actually carry two I keep a small one in my kit. I only want to use a fire piston for the fun of it. I make a fire with my magnesium and sparker on a regular basis. I try to stay in practice so if I have to I can with some proficiency. Ive never been in a situation where a bic wont work, I might have to warm it some first but it works.

8:35 p.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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gimme matches and a trioxane tablet.

6:04 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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Trailjester said:

gimme matches and a trioxane tablet.

Might want to add in a brick shelter so you can start that fire in a 60MPH wind...


6:25 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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havn't had any problems so far - we don't get too much of that blustery back east weather here in the san jacintos in california, anyway i'm a wimp hiker- when the weather gets bad I stay home!

6:27 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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If looking for a highly reliable fire starting system I suggest this combo of ignition source and kindling materials.  I carry it in my survival pouch.  Otherwise my daily fire starter is the handy, trusty Bic lighter.  I carry three, "just in case."

7:15 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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During the winter I carry a beretta m-9 tactical lighter. It will light in 60 mph winds, I have never had it fail. Ive had to warm it to make it work, but it works at way colder temps than a bic. I just think the fire piston would be a good tool to have in my pack. I want to be able to make fire as many ways as possible.

June 22, 2018
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