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GET YOUR GEAR ON: ExtremeStart firestarter.

New from Pine Mountain Fire Products, ExtremeStart firestarter is safe for indoor and outdoor use and burns for about 20 mminutes. (Pine Mountain Fire Products)

Fall is campfire season in my world, but getting that fire started can be a challenge.

Traditionally, my fire-building routine has started with a few rolled-up pieces of newspaper set below small sticks of kindling. Sometimes, the kindling ignites before the newspaper burns out. More often than not, though, the kindling just smolders and then goes out.

Patience has never been one of my virtues, so if the kindling doesn't start after the first try, I'll break out the jug of used motor oil we keep on hand to encourage the flames.

That usually does the trick, but carrying a jug of used oil around to get a fire started isn't particularly practical.

Last weekend, I had a chance to test a few sticks of ExtremeStart firestarter, the latest offering from Pine Mountain Fire Products.

It passed the test with flying colors.

ExtremeStart comes in individually wrapped packages about the size of a granola bar. Starting a fire is as simple as setting a package below a few small pieces of wood and lighting the three arrows marked on the wrapper.

There's no odor or "whoosh" from flammable liquids; just a slow, steady flame.

Each stick supposedly burns for at least 20 minutes but starting a fire never took that long.

ExtremeStart would be a good addition to a winter survival kit or the pocket of a hunting jacket in case of an emergency. I definitely will be keeping a supply on hand.

ExtremeStart retails for $4.99 for a box of 12 firestarters and is available at and several retail outlets across the region. Info:

-- Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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