"Fire Rat" from the Swamp

The Swamp Rat Knife Works recently came out with what they call the "Ratweiler."

This knife is the best designed, best made production knife for the money I have ever seen. There are many reasons for this, and their web site had details - including their differentially tempered blade. Practical, rugged and abosolutely reliable, (not to mentioned guaranteed for life) this knife fits my needs perfectly.


With the wet fall we've been having, it seemed a good time to put the new Rat through its fire building paces. There remained scattered showers in the area, and the woods were definitly wet. Using only the Rat and a metal match, I went off to see how well this'd work.

First find some tinder, and here's an ample supply of pitchwood...

This was about 10 minutes into the evolution.

The Rat easily gnawed off a nice chunk - this will greatly enhance our firestarting efforts.

Maybe a minute later...

Next is firewood. A small standing dead is easily pushed over (watch out for the top breaking of and bashing one's head!).

Another couple of minutes...

Chopping out a couple of 18"(+/-) pieces was no problem.

Another couple of minutes, probably 15 minutes so far...

Using a stick, the vegetation and forest duff is dug out, leaving mineral dirt on which to build the fire. In this case, the hole is dug just uphill from a fairly large tree. Once the fire is going, the hole on one side, and the tree on the other will help to reflect (focus) the heat.

Very quick, easy fire lay.

Now one of the lengths is used to beat the Rat through the other, splitting out the dry wood inside.

Again, just a few minutes...

The large tree is used as a "vertical workbench" to split out more dry wood from the middle.

Elapse time, 20 (+/-) minutes.

Using the "Base" and "Brace" method, the pitchwood is prepared for ignition...
... and the metal match ignites it.

Around 25 minutes...

The smaller kindling is added, the brace serving to maintain sufficient air circulation for combustion.
Larger firewood is added, and the fire grows. Here looking uphill, past the tree. The picture doesn't show it well, but there is enough room to sit between the fire and the tree.

A bit over 30 minutes...

The fire is nicely established, and the wet rat basks in the radiant heat of a fire well built!

So, less than an hour, in the rain, using only the Rat and a metal match - it CAN be done. Life is good!

Please keep in mind, not so long ago I could not have done this; nobody is born with these types of skills - it takes training and practice - virtually anyone can learn this!

Do not be intimidated by the "learning curve" for skills like this. Basic principles apply, and once learned, the correct application of these principles results in success...

Nothing, but nothing, replaces practice in developing firecraft skills.

Vary your sources, practice your methods.

More Firecraft may be found here and here.


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