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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Gear Review: Pyro Putty Fire Starter

Updated: Mar 7

man wearing camo warming up by a fire at night


“The flames sawed in the wind and the embers paled and deepened and paled and deepened like the bloodbeat of some living thing eviscerate upon the ground before them and they watched the fire which does contain within it something of men themselves inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles. For each fire is all fires, and the first fire and the last ever to be.” - Cormac McCarthy

There's nothing more nourishing for the soul than a campfire after a day spent afield. That special setting where adventures are recounted, drinks are sipped, and bodies warmed. A campfire has the ability to transform misery into luxury and, in the wilderness, being able to make a fire can literally be the difference between life and death.

When I take to the backcountry I always carry a small waterproof "oh-shit" pack in addition to a med kit; nothing outrageous but enough to at least give me a shot in a bad situation. My kit contains waterproof matches, a lighter, cotton balls soaked in Vaseline for tinder, an emergency blanket, a whistle, a compass, a knife, a pocket saw, four to five zip ties, water tabs, and a good length of paracord.

Or at least it used to.

And then I found Pyro Putty. So much easier than the cotton ball-and-Vaseline option. Boasting an unlimited shelf life, a weatherproof formula that can adhere to logs/wood, a 15-minute burn time from a quarter-size ball, and conveniently packed in either a small tin (.5 oz or 2 oz options) or single-use packs, Pyro Putty has found it's way into my "oh-shit" pack, the kit I always keep in my truck, my dry bag for river outings, and at the cabin. The .5 oz can (which can start approximately 20 fires) retails for $5.99.

Pyro putty by a woodstove

What I like:

I had a chance to test Pyro Putty on an eight-day backcountry Montana hunt with my two boys this past fall. While, thankfully, I never needed to break into the "oh-shit" pack, I did use some from my supply stash to quickly start campfires and ignite the wood-stove in the wall tent. A bit unnecessary in the circumstances – more a convenience than anything – but it sure made things easier. When we'd come shuffling back into camp, cold and worn from the long days, we wanted two things fast: food and a fire. Pyro Putty made getting a fire blazing quick and simple. My oldest son, who is a Chemical Engineering major at Montana State University, thought it was the most amazing concoction ever, and I tend to agree. It's light, waterproof, packs small, burns hot and long, ignites easily and sticks to kindling or logs, making it simple to use.

What I don't like:

There's really not much to say here. It's a great product. Perhaps the one drawback is also one of the strengths: it is sticky. And while that means it can easily adhere to logs and firewood it also sticks to your hands a bit which can be annoying.

campfire burning at night

Perfect For: In my opinion, Pyro Putty is an essential addition to any survival kit. If you are an outdoor adventurer, backpacker, hunter, angler, snowmobiler, or overlander, it should should have a place in your pack.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

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