I was teased the moment I pulled the small metal rod out of my pocket.
My students mocked me, asking how something so small and simple was going to get the campfire going. The wood was wet, the students were wet and the temperature dropped to -5 degrees Celsius. Now, when everything seemed dim, even desperate, I was claiming that some blowing device that looked more like a hollowed-out chalkboard pointer was going to save the day.
A couple of deep breaths blasted down into the coals through the EOG V3 Pocket Bellow and we had flames, heat and contentment around the campfire circle. I was an instant hero and this simple piece of camp gear became coveted by every student on the trip.
Seriously, this thing works. I bought it for $20 from the Canadian Outdoor Equipment and I’ve never seen such a simple (and very odd) piece of camp gear that really follows through with its promise. It will get a fire going.
Of course, there are a lot more options to feed oxygen to a flame. Fans made from pot lids or Frisbees, funnels made from birchbark, or even lung-power puffed out straight from the mouth and into the smoldering flames. None, however, are as effective as the Pocket Bellow.
But is it worth $20? Well, the collapsible rod is made of stainless steel. It also has interior stops to prevent the entire rod from pushing or pulling beyond its limit. That’s a brilliant addition. The big bonus, however, is that by the end of our seven-day backpacking trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, all the students were fighting over who was allowed to borrow the bellow to get their fire going. That’s the best marketing a company could ever wish for.
Check out Part Two of the video series on our seven-day college backpacking trip along the Western Uplands Trail—as well as students trying out the Pocket Bellow.