Last updated: July 9, 2018 at 13:14 pm

fire starter featured image

When going into the great outdoors, one has to equip himself with all the necessary items – such as the map, a fresh supply of water, a full tang blade knife, and other necessities. What about a fire starter? Most of the time, you won’t need this item to get the fire going. But in case you’re injured, lost, or if it looks like the heavy rain won’t stop anytime soon, a quality fire starter might become the dividing line between a complete catastrophe and a happy ending.

Thousands of years ago, the first humans used simple flint stones to create fire – and we continue to do so (well, in some cases at least). Even though the fundamentals of doing this haven’t really changed that much, the process became much more refined throughout the years and various innovations have been implemented. Modern fire starters are manufactured by reputable brands and having one is an absolute necessity if you’re a serious outdoor enthusiast.

In this article, we’ll show you the best options available and introduce you to their pros and cons. You will be able to compare this year’s best fire starters for survival enthusiasts and choose one that’s ideal for your needs. Read on!

If you’re in a hurry, check out the Überleben Zünden – Pro 3/8″This ultimate fire starter kit will help you in most outdoor and everyday situations. The perfect balance of durability and weight, you won’t regret if you get this one for yourself.

Product Image
Name
Main Feature
PriceRating
 
Überleben Zünden product imageÜberleben Zünden• Durable construction
• Easy to use
$9.9/10Check Price
Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL product imageExotac nanoSTRIKER XL• Waterproof body
• Tungsten carbide striker


$$9.8/10Check Price
Lightning Strike Fire Starter product imageLightning Strike• Unique pen-style design
• Lightweight
$$$9.5/10Check Price
Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter and FireKnife product imageLight My Fire• Includes a stainless steel knife
• Very durable
$$9.3/10Check Price
The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Easy Grip Fire Starter product imageFriendly Swede• Well-designed and rust-free
• Affordable
$9.0/10Check Price

Top-Rated Fire Starters Reviewed

Überleben Zünden product image
Design
Quality
Price

Überleben Zünden – Pro 3/8″

In simple terms, this fire starter is nothing more than a thick ferrocerium rod connected to a wooden grip, accompanied by a simple striking tool. These elements are all that’s needed to make a fire (well, besides the suitable tinder), hence the simple looks.

Even though there’s little difference between the market’s most popular fire starters, there are still two notable things about Überleben Zünden. First, its wooden handle offers a very firm grip and looks a lot better than the plastic grips. Second, the striking tool that comes with it can also be used as a mini multi-tool. Besides being used to make sparks, it can also be used as a ruler, hex-wrench, and a bottle opener. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?

Once you scrape away the model’s protective coating, the Überleben Zünden will allow you to create fire like a professional. All you need to do is to rake the included striking tool along the rod and produce showers of sparks.  It is no wonder that this model is a favorite of so many outdoors enthusiasts – it’s an absolutely amazing product that looks and works just as advertised.

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to use
  • Lasts for thousands of uses

Cons:

  • Usable rod is only 2.5″ long
Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL product image
Design
Quality
Price

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter

What would you do if you were stranded in a dark, damp forest with nothing to light a fire with? Let’s say you have some matches in your pockets – but unfortunately, they are as wet as everything else on you. What do you do? You will not have to ask yourself this question with a quality fire starter in your backpack – the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL is a fine example.

Known as one of the most famous manufacturers of these products in the US, Exotac has made a pretty good job with this model. It’s the larger version of their original nanoSTRIKER fire starter, and it’s a product capable of throwing large amounts of sparks up to 500 °F. The thing that makes this possible is the model’s replaceable rod, containing magnesium and ferrocerium and being the key element that distinguishes this fire starter from the competition.

Other things worth mentioning are the tungsten carbide striker, an additional set of O-rings, a split ring for carrying keys, as well as the fact that nanoSTRIKER XL is waterproof (hence the O-rings). Working like a charm and being capable of starting a fire more than three thousand times, the nanoSTRIKER XL definitely deserves our recommendation.

Pros:

  • Strikes up to 3,000 times
  • Waterproof body
  • Tungsten carbide striker

Cons:

  • Not for beginners
Lightning Strike Fire Starter product image
Design
Quality
Price

Lightning Strike Fire Starter by Holland

A reliable, heavy-duty fire starter that’s capable of creating large showers of hot sparks, this model offers a serious value for the money. Those planning hiking into the wilderness or having a weekend camping trip should consider it for purchase – it’s one of the best out there.

Made in the US and sporting an innovative, high-quality design, the Lightning Strike Fire Starter comes with a durable anodized-aluminum body which easily withstands any kind of rough treatment. The model’s metal striker is connected to the cap with an elastic cord, while its oversized ferrocerium flint can produce up to 20,000 strikes no matter the weather.

The model’s ferrocerium rod can be replaced when needed, and the company allows you to purchase refills for it online. The fact that this unit is so compact and lightweight (7″ x 1″ x 1″, 1.6oz) make it highly portable and easy to carry around in the pocket. Another great thing about it is that it can be purchased in several attractive colors, such as Forrest Green, Splash Red, Dark Blue, and others.

In conclusion, the Lightning Strike is a very reliable model that creates fire with just a couple of strikes – it’s the perfect addition to everybody’s survival kit.

Pros:

  • Unique pen-style design
  • Weather-resistant
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Expensive
Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter and FireKnife product image
Design
Quality
Price

Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter and FireKnife

As the name suggests, this kit combines the popular Light My Fire starter with a simple survival knife, which is pretty interesting and something that immediately caught our attention. This company is certainly among the most famous fire-making brands on the planet, so this kit undoubtedly deserves a more in-depth look.

The fire starter itself is one of the best you can get – it’s a very durable product that creates seriously hot sparks whenever they’re needed, no matter the altitude or weather. The model’s improved design is extremely useful when trying to make a fire in very cold temperatures – the company guarantees that it will last for at least 12,000 strikes, which is a very impressive number. Its durability is guaranteed by its outstanding construction, as it was made out of high-quality pyrophoric alloy which contains cerium, lanthanum, magnesium, and iron.

The included knife, on the other hand, is as equally impressive. It has an anti-slip, high-friction rubber handle and a stainless steel (12C27) blade, and is very sharp. It comes with a proprietary scabbard and is guaranteed to be of great help when you’re deep in the wilderness.

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Striker and flint attached via the lanyard
  • Includes a stainless steel knife

Cons:

  • Rather soft ferrocerium rod
The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Easy Grip Fire Starter product image
Design
Quality
Price

The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Easy Grip Fire Starter

Fire-starting products manufactured by The Friendly Swede are held in high regard by many outdoors enthusiasts due to their innovative design, great functionality, and the affordable prices. We have decided to take a look at one of their most popular kits, which contains two fire starter rods, two steel strikers, and one 17.5″ chain.

All of these items arrive in the company’s signature white box, together with a simple instruction manual. The ultra-durable flint fire strikers can be of great assistance to any hiker or camper since they work at high altitudes and in all weather conditions (such as rain and snow). Their ferrocerium rods are rust-free and ultra-strong, which makes them highly suitable for bush-craft, camping, and similar outdoor activities.

The flint lighters throw large showers of sparks just as well, no matter how windy the area you’re in currently is. The handy strikers and the lengthy ferrocerium rods make this kit ideal for both the beginners and experts.

Other things worth mentioning are the ergonomic handles on fire starters and strikers, the lifetime warranty, and a truly reasonable price.

Pros:

  • 2 x fire starter and striker
  • Well-designed and rust-free
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Handles are somewhat flimsy
Things to Consider When Buying Survival Fire Starters

Things to Consider When Buying Survival Fire Starters

When buying your very first fire starter, remember that there are a couple of key elements you should look for. Here are the most important ones:

  • Weight

If you’re always carrying small and practical survival kits to your backpacking adventures, the weight should be one of the most important factors in your choice. Fortunately, most of the market’s popular models are quite light, so finding a model that’s easy to carry around shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Ergonomic Grip

Trying to light a fire during cold temperatures makes it hard to maintain a firm grip on the striker and the fire starter’s rod. For that matter, try to get models with extra-large or ergonomic handles – they make these things much easier and remove the frustration.

  • Strikes

The number of strikes shows how many strikes a certain striker or a blade can perform before it needs to be replaced. Those that hike or camp just a couple times a year will find models that provide up to 5,000 strikes sufficient for their needs, while the professionals and more experienced survivalists should look for models that can provide from 15,000 to 20,000 strikes during their lifespan.

  • Weatherproof, Water Resistant, and Waterproof

Getting a fire starter that’s resistant to elements is of crucial importance if you’re a serious outdoor enthusiast. Try to obtain a model that has been designed to withstand accidental water immersion and extreme temperatures – such models continue to perform even after they’ve been dropped into water.

  • Additional Features

Besides providing sparks that will help you cook your food and get warm, some fire starters come with extra features that turn them into great survivalist tools. Some of these features are SOS instructions, compasses, emergency whistles, can openers, lanyards, and similar things.

Four Ways to Test your Fire Starter for Backpacking

Four Ways to Test your Fire Starter for Backpacking

One could easily say that the combination of ferrocerium, alcohol, and cotton balls make a pyromaniac’s dream. For that matter, we’ve decided to put these fire starters to a test – we did it rigorously, carefully, and with repetitive use – here are the results:

  • Cotton Ball Test

To make sure these things actually work, we had the cotton balls drenched in alcohol. As far as we’re concerned, this is the quickest and easiest of determining how each of the fire starters works, and allows one to get a pretty good feel of each starter’s functionality and ease of use.

Along with this test, we’ve decided to make a preliminary gauge and do a comparison of the spark production. How bright and how far do the sparks of each strike rod fly from?

  • Spark Test

Like we already mentioned, ferrocerium, which is a sparkler of an alloy, is capable of producing some firework-worthy shavings. Magnesium, on the other hand, creates shavings in a similar way but with far fewer sparks. Flint works in an entirely different way.

We built up a couple of shaving piles to judge the results. We carefully set the sparks to tinder and then carefully determined how each of the types handled the flames.

  • EDC (Every Day Carry) Test

Every backpacker agrees on the importance of EDC items. Is it practical to carry a fire starter that’s bulky and hard to find space for? Not really. For that matter, we have spent some time carrying each model, clipping them to keychains, tucking them into backpacks, and going everywhere with them like most people do with their smartphones.

It is quite surprising how much this factor can matter. Even though you might really like your 8″ model in the beginning, once you have to cram it into your already stuffed backpack you are bound to change your mind. Fire starters of an EDC size that can be carried in your pocket are much more convenient.

  • Waterproof Test

As you can see in our reviews, some fire starters are advertised as waterproof or weather-proof. Are they really? There was only one way to find out the answer to that question – we had them submerged under water and then immediately tried to start a fire with them. In case you purchase a waterproof model, don’t forget to test if it’s really resistant to moisture. You don’t want to have your starter let you down while in the middle of a damp forest!

Conclusion

We can safely say that these types of products are as dependable today as they were hundreds of years ago. Whether you use a combination of ferrocerium rod and scraper or flint stone and magnesium chips, a quality fire starter is truly a crucial part of every good outdoor survival kit.
Now that you have seen what are the best fire starters that today’s market can offer, it’s time to make the ultimate decision. Each of the models we’ve tested is good in its own way, and each of them comes with a specific set of advantages that separate it from the competition.
Your choice should depend on your needs – if you’re a serious outdoor enthusiast, we recommend getting Überleben Zünden. This is, in our opinion, the best fire starter that money can buy today as it excelled in every field we tested it in and made a truly lasting impression. It’s a great deal and a wise investment – you won’t regret buying it!

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