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I got a stove called the Overmont stove as a gift a while back... its a stick stove that is actually flat when disassembled and very light. I actually tested it during the COVID lockdown, it boiled a cup of water (standard GSI cup) in about 6 minutes. I love it!!!

 
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Some steel wool and a D cell battery can get a fire going. Even a cellphone battery if you are in a pinch. If you need fire absolutely nothing is a cheat.
 
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What elevation are you looking at? I think the AT maxes at 5,000 feet. Make sure your cooking methods are ok at whatever altitude you will hiking at.
 

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What elevation are you looking at? I think the AT maxes at 5,000 feet. Make sure your cooking methods are ok at whatever altitude you will hiking at.
Exactly. Altitude means everything. Case in point, two sets of hurricane matches. They're called "stormproof", and sometimes they are.
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This first set of matches is Pro-Force brand, and they do pretty good, until you get to 8,000'. After that they aren't so reliable. They'll light, but smoulder until the ignition compound is used up, then they're out. The higher in elevation you go the harder they are to light. Around 10,000' it's 1 out of 3 will light.

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This set is under the UCO brand, and I have never had them fail me, upto 12,800'.

If you want THE best cheat, have more than one source. Me, I carry several different types of matches, a Bic lighter or two, and flint & steel. In my Ready Bag I also keep that list plus another flint & steel, not to mention matches, lighter and flint & steel on me. Redundency pays off. Besides, they're ultra-light.
 

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One or two of these carried for if you absolutely must get a fire going under adverse conditions. I carry one in a polycarbonate tube with vinyl end caps to keep it dry even if submersed, just in case nothing else will work.



 

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I have a zip-lock baggie with dryer lint/vaseline combo and another with a cut up tire tube if starting a fire is difficult
 

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It may be more cheating than your use to but I use a propane torch with a 1lb tank to start fires now. Obviously not back packing.
 

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For decades, my wintertime emergency fire cheat has been an MSR small aluminum fuel bottle (325ml / 11 oz) full of white gas. This for when I'm carrying a white gas stove in wet or dry cold snow conditions.

Screw fire making tinder and nurturing some barely lit nested twigs. This after I break through the rotten ice of some winter pond or a snow cornice overhanging an icy stream... and get soaked. Instead, rapidly gather the nearest available wood fuel into a tipi campfire pile... dribble the center liberally with gasoline, and hit it with a lighter or metal match. Flame On! Instant fire. When the wind is howling, doing this gets instant results (while also incorporating a suitable wind break dug out of snow or created in the lee of a big log or boulder) . BTDT.
 
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