GRAND FORKS — Starting a campfire can be a tricky business without the proper tools to split kindling and ignite the wood.

Wet conditions, windy conditions or both take the challenge to a whole new level. And if you don’t have matches or a lighter, well, good luck.

I recently had the chance to try out a new fire starter product, and I’ll have to say I’m impressed.

“Pull Start Fire,” as it’s called, passed the test with flying colors and would be a worthy addition to any tacklebox or camping kit.

You never know, after all, when you’re going to need to light a campfire with limited tools or under less-than-ideal conditions.

As the company describes it in a news release, Pull Start Fire ignites firewood with the pull of a string — hence the name — and will burn for 30 minutes in light rain, snow and high winds. A single box of the firestarter measures 1 inch-by-2 inches-by-5 inches and weighs in at 4 ounces.

Following the instructions, I started the campfire-building test by looping the green string on one end of the box over a log to secure it. I then stacked small logs in a square-shaped pattern above and around the firestarter.

Logs arranged, I pulled the red string on the other end of the box to initiate the ignition process. There was a loud “pop,” and the Pull Start Fire box started burning.

Even though I didn’t use any kindling, the logs I had arranged around the firestarter soon were ablaze, allowing me to add wood and have a roaring campfire within minutes.

It was that simple.

Granted, the wood I used was relatively dry, but it was much too big to light with newspaper. Without the Pull Start Fire, I definitely would have needed kindling.

My initial test complete, I’m curious to try the Pull Start Fire under more adverse conditions. The literature says it lights wood that’s wet or frozen. After seeing the product in action, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

Pull Start Fire is sold as a three-pack and is available for $17.99 at and, of course, through Amazon. Retail outlets in this area are limited, and the closest stores listed on the website are KOA, 3315 W. 166th St., Jordan, Minn.; and REI, 750 W American Blvd. W., in Bloomington, Minn. No retail outlets in North Dakota are listed on the website.

Cracker of an idea

The Kindling Cracker was invented by a New Zealand student as part of her project for a science fair. (Submitted photo)
The Kindling Cracker was invented by a New Zealand student as part of her project for a science fair. (Submitted photo)

Speaking of kindling, I received a gift a year or so back that makes splitting kindling a breeze.

It’s called the Kindling Cracker, and it’s one of the slickest fire-making inventions to come along in quite some time.

A circular cast iron frame holds the log in place, and a cast iron splitting head in the center of the frame splits the log when hitting the wood with a hammer, mallet or even a heavier piece of wood.

The product has its roots in New Zealand, where a student came up with the idea as part of her project for a science fair.

The Kindling Cracker I received gets lots of use, and it’s definitely one of those “why didn’t I think of that” kind of inventions.

The Kindling Cracker retails for about $90. For more information, check out the company website at

Dokken reports on outdoors. Call him at (701) 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1148 or send email to