instructional video

instructional video

Two knots and a tarp...

I've put a lot of thought and trial into wilderness shelter building. I love lean-to shelters and wickiups and debris shelters, but the truth is they take a lot of time and even more energy. And there are just going to be some terrains where they are not feasible. That doesn't mean my boys and I haven't made them and enjoyed every minute of it. But in a pinch it's hard to beat a quick tarp shelter. In this video I show how to teach kids one of the quickest ways to put up a shelter and it only takes two knots and a tarp. 

This is the first in a series of videos I'll be doing about teaching kids essential outdoor skills. I'd love to hear what you are teaching your kids and what you want them to learn! Please leave a comment to let me know. 

When I teach my kids a new knot we always tie it several times in a row. Then in a hour we tie it again. Then the next day we tie it again. The absolute best way to make them permanent in your mind is to practice. That's why I created the Colter Co. Know Your Knots practice rope kit. Two high quality climbing ropes make knot tying a pleasure and makes the learning process easier. The knot guide comes in the form of one of our Know Your Knot bandanas. It has 16 essential knots AND serves all the purposes of a bandana at the same time. If you've got a young one picking up the skill of knot tying, this is a good way to get them excited and help them make their skills permanent. 

instructional video

DIY Wilderness Fire Starter

The stage between getting that initial timid flame and a fully established fire can be one of the most challenging. It's where a lot of fires go out. Especially in wet conditions. This video will help you get past that danger zone consistently with just materials you can find in nature. Never worry about getting a fire going again! 

instructional video

How to build a fire when it's wet.

Fire building has long been a passion of mine. It's a foundational outdoor skill. It can save your life! But when it's not saving your life it can just plain make a camping trip. Who doesn't have fond memories of sitting around a campfire watching the embers glow. 

There are conditions that make it hard to get a fire going and in the Pacific Northwest those conditions are here most of the year. It's almost always wet here. I'm going to share a few tips and tricks to help get a fire going in the wettest conditions. 

In this video I'm using flint and steel (my favorite method of fire building), but these principles hold true for however else you want to get a flame. 

I also talk about char cloth and ferro rod as a fire starting method. It's a more modern version of flint and steel. It's a very reliable and powerful fire starting method. We have two kits in our shop that make an excellent addition to any gear list. 

The Colter Spark - Ferro Rod Char Cloth Kit:

The Colter Fire Piston: 

Both come with char cloth kits and provide long term service in fire building. Great to throw into a day pack, bug out bag, or survival kit.

instructional video

Char cloth and fire making with the Colter Spark Kit

I have always loved the art of fire building. It was probably the first true outdoor skill that I felt extremely passionate about. It can be extremely challenging, depending on the circumstances. I spent a lot of time learning about different ways that work in various conditions. As a youth of about 12 years old I learned the skill of traditional flint and steel. It quickly became my preferred method. As part of that I learned about char cloth, which was a game changer for me. 

Char cloth is simply a piece of cloth that has been partially burned in a low oxygen environment. Like traditional wood charcoal. It turns into a spark catching spider web. Any spark that hits it sticks and slowly grows until the entire piece of char cloth is burned. Depending on the size of the cloth that can last up to a couple minutes. That gives you a way longer window to get a flame going! I love traditional flint and steel, but the modern ferro rod certainly has it's advantages. If you've ever used a ferro rod and found yourself frustrated at not being able to get a spark to catch on anything, try char cloth... You will only need one solid strike and you'll capture multiple sparks. Transfer the cloth to your tinder bundle and make sure the glowing ember is touching the dry tinder. I usually fold the bundle around the ember. You've got to find a good balance between not enough contact and smothering the ember. Then gently blow on the ember until it catches and the bundle catches fire. 

As a long time passion of mine, I have had a tin for making char cloth for years. Several different ones, to be honest. Most ended up being bigger than they needed to be. So I set about the create the perfect char cloth kit. It's a small tin so it won't take up very much space, or weight. It is the perfect carrying case and you can use it to make more when you run out. The kit comes with 15 100% cotton flannel squares, ready to be charred. Just place the tin in the fire (or barbecue) for 3 and a half minutes and its ready. You don't have to use the specific ferro rod that comes with this kit. You can use traditional flint and steel, or and old lighter that's run out of fuel. Anything that produces a spark will work.

But the ferro rod with this kit has a few extra bonuses that make it a fire starting powerhouse. The ferro rod itself is backed with a magnesium rod. Magnesium shavings burn at a temperature 7 times higher than a lit match. It can ignite even stubborn damp tinder. Also the handle is made from a resin rich wood that can be shaved off to make excellent tinder if you can't find anything suitable in the wild. Not to mention that the ferro rod can get wet and still work just fine. Try that with matches (actually don't...)

Colter Spark Kit

This kit is a perfect addition to any survival kit, bug out bag, camping kit, or any day hike pack list. Head over to our shop and pick one up for your next adventure!