Backpacking

Pocket Bellow Collapsible Fire Tool

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20-inch lung-powered telescoping bellows

Anyone will tell you that a roaring fire is an essential element of camping. Starting a fire is often another story, especially if your wood is wet. I don’t recall how I discovered these Pocket Bellows but they have been a game-changer for me. Instead of blowing into the fire directly to stoke it, this telescoping tube allows you to maintain a safe distance from the fire while directing oxygen exactly where it’s needed. No more dizziness from hyperventilating, no more coughing from inhaling smoke, and best of all no more singed eyebrows. After seeing mine in action, several of my friends who use wood stoves have bought their own, claiming the bellows drastically reduce the time needed to kindle embers and the amount of soot on their pots. If you’re not convinced there are countless 5-star reviews on Amazon and Youtube; most negative reviews seem to focus on the semantic use of the word “bellows” or feel that the product is essentially an overpriced car antenna. As the manufacturer points out (and I will attest), the edges are chamfered so they don’t cut your lips, the blend and thickness of the steel will not rust or kink, etc, so a lot of thought went into the design. For about $13 and 21g of weight, this should be a no-brainer addition to your backcountry arsenal.

-- Nabhan Islam 11/16/17