Jun 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm #1275017
I read these lists and everyone seems to prefer mini-bics amd bic lighters. Now I am all for technology on the trail but I have seen enough of these disgarded by campfire rings. I have seen the bic ruined by water on the spark wheel. I've seen them crushed or vented by items in the pack. So I guess my question is.. what is the facination with this unrealiable fire source?Jun 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm #1745765
@fuzzLocale: Sunny San Diego
My mini bic use is based on performance. It has NEVER failed. Well treated gear lasts, plain and simple. Effective, light, and when coupled with a sealed pack of matches, totally dependable for fire. Stick with what works. When there's a fascination with something, especially with this skilled group, it's because its proven, light and often the best thing going…….. Always plan for the what if however with a fire redundancy….. even if it's a little coctail matches in a baggie. Even wet, the mini bic will dry fast and re-ignite.
Proof's in the pudding.Jun 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm #1745767
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Nevertheless, a mini-BIC can be helped by transporting it inside your cook pot so that it can't be accidentally activated. Also, if the weather is very cold, the butane might not vaporize easily unless you keep it in your pants pocket for warmth.
–B.G.–Jun 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm #1745782
@brooklynkayakLocale: Atlantic North East
I have to say that a BIC has proven to be reliable for me as well.
I usually pack one as well as a firesteel. The firesteel.Jun 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm #1745787
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
There are better (more reliable) options than BIC at not much more money. Scripto comes to mind, with a protected valve lever.
P.S. discarded lighters at campsites are not the problem. The people that discarded them are.Jun 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm #1745789
the bic lighter IS a flint and steel. You dont need it to have any fuel or a flame to work. If you are lighting a stove with volatile fuel (alcohol or propane) sparks alone will work. If you want wood fire, you will need firestarter of sort. But alcohol works for that too.Jun 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm #1745790
Cricket lighters rule!Jun 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm #1745798
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"I read these lists and everyone seems to prefer mini-bics amd bic lighters. Now I am all for technology on the trail but I have seen enough of these disgarded by campfire rings. I have seen the bic ruined by water on the spark wheel. I've seen them crushed or vented by items in the pack. So I guess my question is.. what is the facination with this unrealiable fire source?"
I've been using them for as long as I can remember and never experienced any of the problems you mention. It's a matter of knowing your gear, its limitations and benefits, then choosing and using accordingly. As for discarding them at campsites, that's not a defect in the BIC.Jun 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm #1745810
I decided to nurse my inner bush craft and use the sweedish fire steel to light my alcohol stove.
It worked well at home. I could not get it to light in the morning because it was in the low 30s at night. I did bring a Bic. I suppose I should have slept with the fuel bottle.Jun 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm #1745811
i did a little test just now. i took my torch lighter, submerged it in cold water and shook it around for a minute, then tried to light it. no flame. kept trying and dried it off for a minute, and it worked.
honestly i don't know why more people don't use torch lighters. they cost less than 3 bucks, are much easier to light things hard to reach, work better in wind, refillable with butane, and last for years. if my alcohol stove needs more priming, i just torch the side of the can for a bit. i have a mini bic and mini firesteel as backup but have never used them.
people still use matches? =)Jun 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm #1745819
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Mini-bics are cheap and light(0.4 oz.)and they work. I've never had one crushed or vented in the pack. A backup fire source is a good idea, though. In my case, it's a firesteel (0.3 oz.). Both work well in igniting either a canister or alcohol stove. Alcohol is harder to light when it's cold, so I just warm it up for a few minutes in an inside pocket. Presumably, none of us here discards used up lighters or any other trash in the wilderness.Jun 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm #1745837
Personally, I hate Bic lighters. The child-proofing thing they put on the wheel makes them impossible to operate with cold hands. Even if you yank the child-proofing thing off, the wheel is still hard on your fingers in the cold. The fuel must also be kept above a certain temperature to operate as designed, and it's not always easy to do that in cold weather. A lighter as a flint is always going to be inferior to a good flint and steel because it makes a relatively small spark and the wheel will destroy your finger tips if you actually strike it as much as you'd need to start a fire with that little spark.
I bring a flint and steel, plus a film canister full of vaseline-soaked cotton, and a 30-count box of matches in a plastic ziploc. It's a little heavier, but completely waterproof, I can get hundreds of fires out of a single film canister of this material, and I can often substitute the cotton with natural materials. The matches are for lighting stoves and just in case. I haven't carried a lighter in years.Jun 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm #1745840
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
I don't see the problem with them. More lights than the same volume/weight of matches. Easier to use in wind. And I've never even heard of one being crushed in a pack. I've had them leak down when packed tightly in with a bunch of other stuff, but now I just pack it marginally more carefully.
As for finding them in fires… I've found everything from food packaging to clothing in fire pits, but I'm not going to carry the granola in the bottom of the pack, and I'm not going naked.Jun 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm #1745842
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
BICs aren't as good as they used to be but matches have become even worse–they're awful. Piezo lighters fail to light at altitude.
Department of redundancy department has me packing two or three BICs in various places, and this system has never let me down. They DO break, though, while some soldier on for several seasons. It's BIC Darwinism in action.
RickJun 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm #1745844
I've been using the same firesteel for upwards of 4 years now…Jun 7, 2011 at 7:55 am #1745956
@socal-nomadLocale: North San Diego county
I use to love the mini Bic then Bic put that dam# child proof guard on it. It like doing a contortion act with your fingers and thumb. I removed the guard on one mini Bic but it did not work after that I think the guard has a metal piece that will not allow the gas flow to work with out it on the lighter. So I use the regular size Bic and mini piezo Bic lighters instead I rather have something that works than save a few tenth of ounces .
Ps: I was censored by the board before I could post on the board since when did the word "Dam#" become profanity. So I had to use a number sign in place of the letter"N".Jun 7, 2011 at 8:35 am #1745988
@sixguns01Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
I use the non thumb destroying button-starter Bics. Dropped them in muddy puddles and after two/three clicks they started right up. I always carry stormproof matches as well.Jun 7, 2011 at 8:55 am #1745999
@pillowthreadLocale: like, in my head???
I bring 2 mini bic lighters on every trip I take. I bring them because they are, in my experience, reliable and easy to use. I bring them because they are an icon in our culture and I try to be as conscious of my consuming as possible. I bring them because, as mentioned above, they can still function as a flint and steel when empty. That's brilliant design, akin to the escalator…a broken escalator still functions as stairs…
I've never experience them getting punctured, or in some way discharged, in my pack. I bring a spare in case I lose the first one…Jun 7, 2011 at 9:03 am #1746004
@pillowthreadLocale: like, in my head???
On the odd chance that I do lose a lighter on my trips, I take solace in the fact that whomever might find it is receiving a trail gift worthy of the gods. Seriously, the mini bic is a marvel of fire-starting engineering…If I found a working mini bic on a hike, that would be a good day!Jun 7, 2011 at 9:19 am #1746009
I don't know what gargantuan forces you are applying to your lighters but unless I'm actually trying to break it, it won't break. Itd be like saying "whats up with relying on water filters that break if you drop em off a cliff?"Jun 7, 2011 at 9:22 am #1746013
@aaronmbLocale: Central Valley California
Certainly everyone has their own experiences and opinions–informed by those same personal experiences–and I guess I'm just lucky I've not had any of these problems, (save, perhaps, the $1 store junkers).
When I was a rebellious teen-aged smoker and BIC introduced the flint-wheel cover thing, I'd simply rip it off – they all still worked fine, but it was the principle of the matter! It was some of the other cheap plastic lighters with terrible child proof switches and buttons that seemed to fail on me if I removed them. When the BICs went through the wash–and perhaps the dryer without blowing up–they still worked fine.
These days, while hiking, I keep my mini BIC in my kitchen (cook pot setup) where it is safe from crushing. Operating anything small that requires finite dexterity with cold hands can be tricky. I work a lot with my hands so I've fairly tough skin, which probably helps save the inside of my thumb. I don't find the wheel cover problematic and if it's that cold the BIC goes into the pocket for a minute while I setup my drink, food, or a traditional fire. I've matches kept safe and dry in my first aid kit – packed appropriately. A fire steel of some sort is about the only way we can 'not' worry about mechanical or structural failure, but unless we're starting liquid/vapor fuel, proper kindling is required for that fire steel to start a traditional fire (which we are aware of when we decide to pack the 'steel).
It's interesting how we pick and choose gear based on our experiences, opinions, and needs….right down to the basics.Jun 7, 2011 at 10:00 am #1746031
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I use a Bic as my everyday fire/stove starter, with a waterproof match case and a firesteel for backup. The firesteel is in my pocket all the time. I don't carry much redundant gear, but fire starting stuff is number one for survival/safety in my climate.
There was a recent incident where a Washington State Patrol officer and ex Special Forces member was lost while snowshoeing. He forgot his tent and was lost, cold and wet for several days. My first question is why he didn't have a fire.
You can add an o-ring safety to a Bic, so that it goes under the fuel lever to prevent draining the fuel accidentally. I take one to my local auto parts store where they have a selection of o-rings. It needs to be the proper thickness as well as diameter.Jun 7, 2011 at 10:53 am #1746051
Smooth on the thumb and easy to light if your hands are cold.
I agree about the torch comments though.Jun 7, 2011 at 11:29 am #1746065
– If the Bic gets wet it will work again once it's dried.
– The childproof tab is easily removed in seconds with needlenose pliers. Mike Clelland illustrates this in his new book.
– The Bic can be made offgas-proof by seating a close fitting O-ring just underneath the gas switch. See the details here: http://bfelabs.com/2011/02/17/keep-it-simple-stupid/Jun 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm #1746152
Two wet sticks are also unrealiable. Nothing is 100% if you study it long enough. Except America winning the World Series. Oops, Toronto won two, so that's not even 100%. I'll take the mini bic any day. Never failed yet. If you find a bunch on the trail, the lighter is not the problem. Some idiot tossed them on the ground. Lighters have been invented so I use them just like I use cuben fiber and titanium. Most of the times that I have seen a lighter next to a fire ring, there is also beer bottles or cans.
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