Posted On: 2009-01-06
Having some newspaper or solid lighter (meta tablets, cardboard impregnated with parrafine, etc) helps a lot.
Someone on rec.backcountry suggested to use rests of acrylic plastic. I don't recommend it (I needn't comment on the resulting pollution), but it sure develops a long-lasting hot flame.
We teach our kids to use the small one-year branches at the bottom of the pine (christmas) trees. They catch fire easily even if it has rained or snowed for a week, and they should be removed anyway to give some room and light to the smaller plants in the same area.
My last suggestion is to look for the cut-down remainings of older pines (or equivalent needle trees). They often have a very resinous wood which gives a long-lasting fire, even under the worst conditions. The color of the wood is usually much darker than normal, something between orange and dark red.
It might be interesting to note that making a fire with damp wood is one of the first things a cub scout learns over here (quite naturally: it rains fairly often, and we make a fire at every meeting).