As an adventurer and backpacker, I have learned it can be hard to find the right gear at times that is reliable enough and gives me what I’m looking for. Below I have a list of 7 different fire starters I have tried out. Hopefully, these reviews will help you choose the right one!
#1 Lightning Strike Fire Starter
This is personally my top pick on this list. It costs a bit more than other fire starters, but I think its completely worth it.
It’s well produced from a solid aluminum tube. It comes apart where on one end the Firestarter encloses your tinder keeping it completely dry inside.
The opposite end has a hollow tube with the ferro rod attached to the base of the tube. There’s a slot to take the striker and slide it over the rod keeping it aligned and with the ferro pole for maximum touch and sparks.
What’s so great about this layout is the fact that the ferro rod being housed within the tube CONCENTRATES the sparks such as a gun shot into a narrow area that almost guarantees to ignite your tinder on the first try, every time.
Another thing to pay attention to is it’s completely produced here in the great ‘ol US of A, so you know that its a super high quality product. This fire starter is the best emergency fire starter you can have so if you are serious about going out and having the best gear, this is it.
#2 Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston
The campfirepiston is another firestarter you may want to pay attention to. Firestarters are based on an ancient origin and their simplicity relies on very basic concepts of physics you probably learned in physics class.
Trap some gasses in an immovable space and compress these gasses extremely quickly under massive pressure and they’ll heat up — a lot — enough to ignite combustible substance inside.
Fire pistons can be used indefinitely as long as you keep the leather or rubber seal on the piston and you just have to feed it a small piece of tinder such as char cloth, cotton balls, or a little bit of fabric.
Put the piston into the cylinder, then slam your hand down on the piston, then ditch the now-ignited part of tinder in to your fire-starting bundle.
The Campfire Hickory FirePiston includes plenty of and several spare o-rings, enough to endure several years of flames.
It’s really an inspiring illustration of amazing efficiency, and it operates a lot like a diesel engine. The Campfire piston is quality made here from the USA and is a fantastic selection for a camping or backpacking fire starter.
#3 Fire-Fast Fire Starter
The Fire-Fast is among the greatest survival fire starters ever made. That’s a fairly bold claim I know, also it’s a tiny bit more money than other fire starters, but in my opinion is well worth every penny.
It is well made with a solid wood handle that is 3 inches long for easy gripping, even with gloves. It has one of the most significant flints of any fire fighter in almost 1/2 inch broad. Wider flint means more sparks and faster, simpler fire beginning.
The Fire-Fast Fire Starter eliminates the requirement for matches, lighters etc and functions in any conditions even entirely wet. If you can not find any tinder, you can shave some wood from the handle and use that.
1 other thing to know is it is 100% produced here in the united states, so you know its quality created. Don’t enter the woods or camping without one!
#4 Magnesium and Ferro Rod Combo
Magnesium is a shiny grey elemental substance that, when excited, will burn with intense intensity. Magnesium is used in matters such as sparklers, welding rail paths, and other applications requiring complete loads of heat and energy.
Magnesium is extremely caustic in powder or shavings though very difficult to light in mass. For those reasons a ferro pole and magnesium stick combo is a great fire beginning basic for several reasons.
Magnesium is watertight — as is ferrocerium – and the two will do their jobs when wet. These devices work by scraping (scrape, don’t shave or cut) the calcium block until you’ve accumulated a pile of magnesium shavings.
Then, simply use the ferro rod to strike a shower of hot sparks down on the magnesium to make an intense flame that will burn about… 5,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
The SE FS374 is in my view the ideal magnesium fire starter you can find. It’ll light a fire in any weather and is almost fool proof. Can’t ask for more.
#5 Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
Often when people ask me, “What is your favorite fire starter?” I simply respond with this answer.
Even if the gas runs out you can remove the shield and light fires using the sparks.
They are inexpensive, compact, and you can carry enough of them to get fires began reliably for many years even in a small survival kit.
The single time Zippo lighters are not the most sensible option is if you are choosing a fire starter for exceptionally long-term use. To get a well-rounded survival kit, I’d probably pack a couple of Bic lighters, a fire piston (leather seal), plus some rope of choice.
Zippo lighters will get you started for your first months or weeks, fire piston will endure an whole lifetime time if used properly, and rope may be used for a bow drill when everything else fails.
#6 Bear Grylls Compact Fire Starter
If you watch the Discovery Channel at all you have probably heard of Bear Grylls and his show Man vs Wild. Its actually a pretty great show. In case you have never seen it, it is worth watching. So is his passion starter just using his name and charging a premium for this?
Actually no, it really is a quality product, and I don’t think it costs more than other fire starters, in reality it is cheaper than many which are much less good. The flame starter is compact at roughly 3 1/2 inches and approximately a 1/2 inch thick. Making it ideal as a spare or backup fire starter, but it works well enough to be your main method for starting fires. (I would recommend that the Lightning Strike however)
It’s a simple 2 part design. The situation made from anodized aluminum that will not rust or corrode. The ferrocerium rod is easy to hold with a rubber coating, even with gloves on. Of course the most important issue is; Why does it produce sparks and lots of these?
In that respect, yes! It works just as advertised. Just rub the textured aluminum case against the ferrocerium rod, also it produces lots of hot sparks, lighting your tinder, usually on the first try. The lanyard makes it easy to attach to a backpack or belt loop, and it works regardless of the conditions.
#7 Solid Gas Fire Starters
There are many alternatives available for solid-fuel flame starters like Hexamine or other good chemical tabs. This one, however, is a great and affordable option that ought to cover lots of the fundamentals of a great fire starter.
Keep in mind this isn’t an ignitor — to ignite this you’ll need one of the other methods we’ve talked about.
Construct a fantastic tinder bundle and fire improvement and nestle this solid fuel tab in the bottom to ignite the heap.
Just one shower of sparks by the ferro pole (no magnesium required), or use of a fantastic fire piston tinder and tinder bundle, should find this fuel source burning.
Don’t be fooled, though, you’ll still need to build your fire package carefully and intelligently to avoid a failed attempt.
This could be my all-time favourite option of fire starting substance for survival or camping. There’s not much to it, and it’s insanely powerful and productive. Here is the idea.
Buy some petroleum jelly and cotton balls in bulk to save money
Melt the petroleum jelly in a double boiler
Hold cotton balls by a corner and then dip half of the chunk into the petroleum jelly
Put aside on wax paper to cool
Repeat until you have an apocalypse-proof heap of petroleum jelly-infused cotton balls
These little guys are inherently waterproof due to the petroleum jelly (though the non-soaked end of the cotton ball can get wet, it will nonetheless ignite fairly easily due to its fibrous nature).
Keep a couple in an older medicine bottle or other container to prevent getting petroleum jelly on everything. Additionally they burn like a candle and also will burn with a continuous, even flame for many minutes.
Place cotton ball under your tinder bundle or pile
Pull apart the fibers of the cotton ball to help spread them out — this will help with simple ignition
Light the non-petroleum jelly side of the cotton ball with a shower of sparks, or a Fast light from the Bic
The cotton will burn like a candle wick and melt and ignite the petroleum jelly which will burn for minutes
These tiny fire starters are cheap and almost fool proof.
How to Decide on a Fire Starting Tool
There are plenty of variables which will help make or break your choice on which fire beginning method to use.
If you are backpacking or creating a small and practical survival kit, then weight is going to be a element in your choice. Sure a 20-pound propane cylinder using a weed burner attachment is a great fire starter, but it just does not make sense. They are trendy, though… Most fire starters for survival and softball, however, are rather light.
Again, for backpacking and survival portability is usually tantamount. Fire starters are available in all shapes and sizes but carrying around a pre-made bow drill is usually just not feasible. Consider what you are going to use the firestarter for and how you plan to pack or take it.
Many flame starters are inherently waterproof such as gas soaked cotton balls, wax fabric, or ferro sticks. Some, however, aren’t such as shredded cedar bark, char fabric, along with other various tinder components. Think about choosing an inherently waterproof fire starter or storing your fire-starting components inside a watertight container.
No, not smoking, consumption as in how quickly are you going to use up the fire starter? Ferro rods last almost forever although they can be eventually worn out. Other approaches such as mini Bic lighters will be consumed much quicker.
Then there are approaches like a fire piston which will not be worn out (presuming you maintain them). For survival, then you might choose to consider a non-consumable fire starter.
Ease of Use
If you are likely to simply carry around a knife and some string or rope with the intent of earning a fire bow each time you wish to start a fire, then you are going to need to practice until you’re a master so you can be certain your abilities won’t let you down.
Other methods are insanely simple like the older Zippo/Bic lighter. Some things, such as the hand drill, need very few substances but extremely high levels of knowledge and skill. What fire starting method makes the most sense for everything you really want to do?
If your goal is to light your backpacking stove together with your preferred fire starter, then a flame piston or bow drill could be bad choices. You would need to bow drill a few embers, light some tinder, construct a small fire, and then light your stove working with a burning rod.
That is simply just not practical, plus a miniature Bic lighter would make much more sense. On the reverse, if you’re building an end-of-the-world survival kit, then you are probably going to need some Zippo/Bic lighters as well as two or three non-consumable fire-starting methods like a fire piston and some rope for a bow drill.
The best way to Begin a fire using a Ferro Rod fire starter:
Pros and Cons of Each Type of Fire Starter
Flint and Steel (Ferrocerium Rod strikers):
Pros: They are small and mobile.
Cons: If your using the older flint and steel sire newcomer, then they could take some practice to learn how to use effectively. The more recent Ferrocerium strikers are a lot simpler to use and require little practice to use them.
Pros: They are easy and use, powerful and therefore are just rather cool to use.
Cons: They rely on a rubber seal at the chamber to generate the compression. If it gets cracked or dries out, it becomes useless. It requires some practice to use and find out ways to get the char cloth out quickly to light the tinder.
Pros: They are cheap, small and mobile, everyone knows how to use them.
Disadvantages: One time usage, and are destroyed by water. Even the waterproof wax covered suits don’t always work if they become wet.
Pros: they’re small, portable, cheap and work well. They need no ability or practice to utilize. This is 1 fire starter you must always keep with you.
Disadvantages: Mechanical, they break easily. If they get wet, plus they require gasoline, should you exercise, they’re useless. Newer electrical lighters work better when moist, but still rely on lighter fuel and don’t always work as advertised.
There are tons of factors to consider when choosing the best fire starter based on your preferences. If you are backpacking and simply want to light a backpack stove, then a basic lighter will do the trick better than anything else.
If you’d like a fire starter that will last a really long time, then I would recommend purchasing a fire piston and learn how to use one.
Ferro rods and magnesium sticks are simple, powerful, inexpensive, and easy to use so you can never really go wrong with that selection. Just make certain that you practice before you need to use them!