170: A Winter Overnighter

Show Notes: Episode 170

Today on the First 40 Miles, we took off for 24  hours to enjoy a little Northwest winter backpacking trip.  We’ll share our top 5 experiments plus our brush with death!  And if you’ve ever wondered how to start a fire after a soil-drenching rainstorm, we’ll show you what worked for us.  Then we’ll give you a hack that will make your winter fires burn cleaner, hotter and more efficiently.

All this, and that’s about it.  Today on The First 40 Miles.


  • Dumping the Bucket o’ Calories Audio…

Top 5 Experiments of Our Winter Backpacking Trip…

  • Audio from trip…
  • The gunshots

SUMMIT Gear Review™:   Coghlan’s Fire Disc


  • Sawdust and wax


  • This disc can be broken up into smaller pieces and used a little bit at a time as needed
  • The Fire Disc can also be used to cook—although on the package it says that it will produce soot, which is difficult to get off of pans, packs, clothes and your hands.


  • Weighs 3.5 ounces (99.2 g)
  • 1”x4”


  • Unwrap the disc, light it (do not burn the plastic…)
  • Do not disturb it while it burns
  • Build your fire around it (including wet wood)


  • About $2-3


  • It helped us get a “wet wood” fire started!  This the first time we’ve ever had success starting a fire with wet wood.
  • The Fire Disc burns long enough to get the fire going and for the tinder to dry out the kindling and the kindling to dry out the fuel…

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Drying out Wet Wood

  • After you’ve collected your water-logged wood. Use the Coghlan’s Fire Disc and some of that wet wood to start your fire.
  • Then, contrary to what you’d do on a summer night, circle your fire pit with the wet wood, so the radiant heat of the fire will start to dry it out.
  • You can do this with the tinder, kindling and fuel.
  • Keep an eye on it, to make sure it doesn’t ignite.
  • This isn’t a practice you’ll want to continue on dry trips. Normally you keep your fire wood stacked far enough away that stray sparks won’t ingite your pile of wood.
  • But, on wet trips, keeping your fire wood closer to the fire, lets the warmth of the fire dry out the wood, so it will burn cleaner, dryer, and more efficiently.

Trail Wisdom

Where you find a people who believe that man and nature are indivisible, and that survival and health are contingent upon an understanding of nature and her processes, these societies will be very different from ours, as will be their towns, cities and landscapes. –Ian McHarg