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Best Fire Starter: Surviving The Wild

John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

Fire has been important in the survival of mankind from the very beginning of time. Even before we discovered fire for cooking and boiling water, fire has been used by our ancestors for warmth, to drive off animals, and for lighting. Unlike ancient men, modern men have lots of technological advancements so surviving in the wilderness is relatively easier now. Aside from camping equipment; we can start fires easily with the best fire starter.

Camping has always been a great way to enjoy nature and the wilderness. For people who love camping, the fun starts during the planning. There are meals to organize, equipment to pack and activities to plan.

If you’re planning to cook meals during your trip, a dependable fire starter is essential. Once you have a fire going in your campsite, it will be easier to cook meals, provide potable drinking water, drive off wild animals, provide warmth, and use it as a signaling device or for lighting.

Product Name WeightSizeSpecial FeaturesPrice
Gerber Bear Grylls2.4 oz11.8 x 11.8 x 2.8 inchesLanyard, waterproof storage compartment, emergency whistle.Check price on Amazon
Friendly Swede Magnesium4.48 oz0.5 x 3.3 x 5.3 inchesWorks in any condition: rain, snow or high altitude.Check price on Amazon
UST Sparkie0.64 oz2 x 5 x 6 inchesField tested, one handed operation, lightweight and compact design weighing around 1 oz.Check price on Amazon
Light My Fire Swedish1.6 oz1 x 3.2 x 5.9 inchesLights fires in any condition, can produce 2,980° sparks, compact, lasts up to 12,000 strikes.Check price on Amazon
UST Strikeforce0.6 oz3 x 5.5 x 6 inchesSpecial alloy flint bar can be used thousands of times, WetFire tinder.Check price on Amazon
Titan Paracord Survivor5 oz0.87 x 1.5 x 5.12 inchesFull-sized ferro-rod can produce 3,000° sparks, handle made with 9-foot patent-pending SurvivorCord, emergency whistle, lifetime warrantyCheck price on Amazon
Überleben Zünden1.8 oz0.95 x 0.66 x 4.8 inchesUp to 12,000 strikes, 5/16″ (8mm) ferro rod, 100% hardwood handle for textured grip, 3,000º C spark can be used in any weather and altitude, 550 paracord lanyard long enough to wear on neck, perfect for EDCCheck price on Amazon

Features to Conside Before Buying

When it comes to deciding on which fire starter to buy, you need to be aware of the main features and ensure that you’re getting a quality product that is worth what you pay for it. You might think that there can’t me much difference, but there is.

Size

The first thing is the size, not only do you want a portable fire starter, but also lightweight. The idea is for it not to be heavy as not to add weight to your bag, but also to fit inside that same bag. However, it mustn’t be too small, otherwise you won’t be lighting a decent fire. Imagine yourself in a cold evening outdoors, trying to light a fire to keep warm and cook a meal.

A Fire Starting Tool and a fire in the background

If your fire starter is too small, you’ll be battling for hours before you can get a decent sized fire going. In the meantime, it’s cold and you’re hungry. So to recap, the fire starter doesn’t have to be big, but you don’t want a tiny one either if you’re planning on a big camping trip.

Material

What is the fire starter made of? That matters and a lot. Most fire starters have two main components, which are the flint and the blade. You want the blade to be made of iron pyrite or another metal, as it is what produces the spark. The flint must be of a material that burns at high temperatures, like magnesium or ferrocerium.

Outdoor-Tanto-knife and firestarter tools

Then, with that out of the way, you want the rest of the fire starter, like the grip or handle, to be made of a durable and reliable material. You don’t want to be dealing with cheap metals that won’t last, or will get ruined when they get wet or receive too much sun,

Durability

By durability we mean for how long it will work. Whilst camping, not only will you be lighting a lot of fires to cook or at night, but you might also find yourself in a survival situation, and you definitely want a good fire starter. If it is a traditional flint and steel fire starter, you can light unlimited fires, but it will take longer.

Firestarter tools on the ground

If you went for the ones, which generate lights by themselves, then you want to know how many strikes and sparks it can make. A good amount is 12,000 for a fire starter that can then last you for quite a few camping trips.

Weather Use

This feature depends on you and what is your plan, are you going camping in a very dry area? Or do you know it might rain or be very humid? You want to make sure that the fire starter is made for the place you’re going. Some are specifically built for dry, wet or even snowy conditions, which is good. You only need to plan ahead and buy the one that will fit your trip.

Price

Price is always a concern for anything you buy. You want to make sure you pay a reasonable price for an item that will payoff. Make sure you don’t spend too much money on a fire starter that can produce 20,000 strikes, when you’re only going on a short camping trip.

Image presenting magnesium fire starter pocket knife tinder pile

Plan smartly, if you’re just a beginner, balance it out by getting a reliable one but not too advanced. If you see yourself camping continuously, then go ahead and buy one that has 20,000 strikes.

Other Features

Does it have a good safety grip? It is normal to lose the grip whilst holding the rod. Now, most fire starters come with a crosshatched design for a better hold. However, make sure the design makes it easy to hold while in use.

Other options are a lanyard, emergency whistles, instruction manual and protective cases. All of them can come in handy.

Top Fire Starter Choices

Gerber Bear Grylls Gerber Bear Grylls

Price: Approx. $15

Weight: 2.4 ounces

Dimensions: 11.8 x 11.8 x 2.8 inches

Specific features: Compact fire starter with ferrocerium rod and metal striker, lanyard to keep both together, small waterproof compartment for tinder, SOS instructions and survival manual.

Best use: Camping, hiking.

Description: The Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is a collaboration between survival expert Bear Grylls and outdoor company Gerber Gear. This fire starter is a must if you are camping, scouting, hiking or backpacking. It is small and compact and can last many years even after many uses.

This fire starter from Gerber and Bear Grylls is constructed from waterproof material so you can use it even after it gets wet. It has everything to get a fire going. Simply pull it apart and strike the metal striker to the ferrocerium rod while keeping some tinder nearby.

Speaking of tinder, it has a small waterproof compartment where you can store some tinder so that you are ready anytime. But perhaps the best feature is the simplest of all: a lanyard to keep the rod and striker together at all times.

At just 5 inches in length and weighing 2-3/5 ounces, this fire starter can easily fit your backpack or pants pocket. Purchase of the fire starter also includes the Bear Grylls Pocket survival guide loaded with survival basics to help you until rescue comes or you can rescue yourself.

PROS:

  • Emergency whistle
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • Not very resistant or durable

Related: The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a common add-on for all the adventurous campers out there.

Check the price on Amazon

Friendly Swede Magnesium Friendly Swede Magnesium

Price: Approx. $16 (pack of 2)

Weight: 0.28 pounds each

Dimensions: 0.5 x 3.3 x 5.3 inches

Specific features: Works in any condition: rain, snow or high altitude, durable ferrocerium rod and steel striker, compact with easy grip, lifetime warranty from Friendly Swede.

Best use: Camping, hiking.

Description: Start a fire anywhere with a shower of sparks using the Friendly Swede Magnesium Fire Starter. This fire starter works in different environment and can start fires even when it is raining, snowing or if you are at high altitude.

This fire starter is extra long so that the user has an easier time striking and produce more sparks. The steel striker is extra strong, so it won’t bend or break with normal use. But, despite its long size, this fire starter is light and compact, making it an ideal tool to have along with you during camping, backpacking and hiking.

The product’s best feature is the easy grip ergonomic handles on the striker so even the most frozen hands can make a fire. It is easy to hold and the long length of the rod makes it easier to produce a shower of sparks. Best of all, Friendly Swede offers a lifetime warranty on this product.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to light up

CONS:

  • Handles fall off with time

Related: The Shoreline Marine SL522 Survival Whistle is a very good match, as in any survival situation you might not only need to light a fire, but an emergency whistle can help you get found or guide those looking for you.

Check the price on Amazon

Ust Sparkie UST Sparkie

Price: Approx. $7

Weight: 0.04 pounds

Dimensions: 2 x 5 x 6 inches

Specific features: Field tested, one handed operation, lightweight and compact design weighing around 1 oz, can generate up to 3x heat compared to ordinary matches, a carbide striker with flint based bar for over 100 strikes, can generate sparks in extreme weather conditions.

Best use: Camping, hiking.

Description: UST Sparkie the survival fire striker from Ultimate Survival Technologies is a very affordable yet dependable fire starter. Weighing in at around 1 oz, this is a must have for any adventurer.

It was designed to ignite in adverse weather conditions so even if Sparkie gets wet you can just wipe it down and start over again. The striker is made from tungsten carbide, which allows for one-handed operation.

It also features a rubberized grip to give the user better control. For better storage, the bar retracts inside the body the spring-loaded flint bar rotates 360° for even wear. Sparkie is also brightly colored so that you can find it easily in camp.

Finally, it comes with a built in carbide striker and a spring-loaded flint based bar what will help it last over 100 strikes. Not bad. Oh, plus it’s made in the USA for those who believe homemade products are better quality.

PROS:

  • Very easy to use as it produces sparks very easily
  • Compact

CONS:

  • Not a very long lasting spark

Related: Ultimate Survival 1WG0412 WetFire Tinder Tube is commonly bought together with the fire starter, one complements the other.

Check the price on Amazon

Light My Fire Swedish Light My Fire Swedish

Price: Approx. $16

Weight: 0.1 pounds

Dimensions: 1 x 3.2 x 5.9 inches

Specific features: Lights fires in any condition, can produce 2,980° sparks, compact, lasts up to 12,000 strikes

Best use: Hiking, camping.

Description: The Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter was originally developed for the Swedish Army. This best fire starter can produce sparks up to 2,980° making it possible for the user to make fire in any weather and altitude.

Not only is it used by the Swedish army and other military groups, it is also a favorite among backpackers, survivalists, campers, hikers and backyard barbecuers. The FireSteel is easy to use. Simply pile on some kindling nearby and force the striker down the FireSteel. The resulting sparks are so hot, it can create fire even when it is wet.

You can use this fire starter not only for cooking and starting the fire, but also as a signal as well thanks to the bright sparks. Aside from lighting your campfire, it can also be used for your stove and gas barbecue grill. This fire starter is easy to use and produces a lot of sparks making it a good investment considering the price.

PROS:

  • Whistle as a bonus
  • Good price
  • Good sparks
  • Very compact

CONS:

  • Only one grip orientation
  • The ferro rod wears out quickly

Related: The UCO Stormproof Matches is a convenient add-on to buy with this fire starter. It gives you the back-up option of starting a fire with a more traditional method: matches.

Check the price on Amazon

Ust Strikeforce UST StrikeForce

Price: Approx. $19

Weight: 0.6 ounces

Dimensions: 3 x 5.5 x 6 inches

Specific features: Special alloy flint bar can be used thousands of times, WetFire tinder compartment, sparks 3x hotter than a standard match, can be used in any weather condition, lightweight.

Best use: Hiking, camping.

Description: This fire starter is a must-have for any survivalist or camper. The UST StrikeForce Firestarter is exceptional and works in extreme weather conditions. Weighing in at less than 4 oz, this fire starter is lightweight so you can carry it with you on your different adventures.

While tinder is typically not included when you buy this product, there is a waterproof tinder compartment to make it easier for you to start a fire in case of emergencies. This fire starter is recommended by survivalist Dave Canterbury and many other survivalist like this fire starter because it has fewer parts that can break down.

It has good quality flint which will last you a long time. The StrikeForce is made of sturdy construction and is brightly colored so that it is easy to find. It also comes with a chemical fire starting media as backup. The lariat keeps the flint and striker together so that you won’t lose them easily.

PROS:

  • Very cheap
  • Sparks can be generated in the rain
  • Very small and portable

CONS:

  • As it is so small, it doesn’t light fires that quickly

Related: UST Wetfire Tinder is the ideal partner for this fire starter. It will allow you to start a fire anywhere, even on humid environments.

Check the price on Amazon

Titan Paracord Survivor Titan Paracord Survival

Price: Approx. $22

Weight: 5 ounces

Dimensions: 0.87 x 1.5 x 5.12 inches

Specific features: Full-sized ferro-rod can produce 3,000° sparks, handle made with 9-foot patent-pending SurvivorCord, emergency whistle, lifetime warranty.

Best use: Camping, hiking.

Description: Most of the things you need in a survival situation are in the Titan Paracord Survival Fire-Starter. This fire starter is trusted by the military and survival enthusiasts.

This fire starter does not just start fires thanks to its 3,000° sparks, it also features a 9-foot patent-pending SurvivorCord that is composed of paracord, snare wire, fishing line and waxed jute so you can easily access all of these via the handle during emergency situations.

It also features an emergency whistle that produces high quality and high decibel sound that you can use during rescue and emergency situations. Incorporating 6 of the most commonly used survival tools in one compact fire starter, this tool is a great addition to your EDC and emergency kit. At 5″ x 0.5″, it is one of the largest ferro-rods on the market today which also makes it easy for you to start a fire quickly.

PROS:

  • Strong ferro rod
  • Great size
  • Emergency whistle

CONS:

  • None

Related: The Titan Survivor Fire-Starter is a good add-on for the camping experts. It can bind tools together, or be melted, or used for many other purposes.

Check the price on Amazon

üBerleben ZüNden Überleben Zünden

Price: $16

Weight: 1.8 ounces

Dimensions: 0.95 x 0.66 x 4.8 inches

Specific features: up to 12,000 strikes, 5/16″ (8mm) ferro rod, 100% hardwood handle for textured grip, 3,000º C spark can be used in any weather and altitude, 550 paracord lanyard long enough to wear on neck, perfect for EDC, survival, camping and outdoor use.

Best use: Hiking and camping.

Description: The pricing, hardwood handle, and dependability make the Überleben Zünden Fire Steel a premium survival item. This fire starter has the ability to produce 3,000º C sparks thanks to the high quality and good length ferrocerium rod.

You can use this fire starter in any weather and altitude making it a good tool to have in survival situations. The wood handle is also a nice touch and makes it easy to grip even if your fingers are frozen. The braided nylon lanyard is also long enough to wear on your neck so that it is easily accessible to you at all times. The hardwood handle, makes it very easy to grab and manipulate, as well as making it more durable.

The concave tooth-shaped scraper makes it easy to use and start fires thanks to the shower of sparks this fire starter can produce. The bright sparks can also be used as a signaling device.

PROS:

  • Best reviews
  • Big spark
  • Good price for value

CONS:

  • None

Related: The Bahco Laplander Blade is a good add-on to the fire starter. For the more experienced campers or hikers who need to fix or cut something, it’s very reliable.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping It Up

It is always good to have a survival fire starter just in case you find yourself in a do-or-die situation. A good fire starter can help you build a fire for warmth, ward off predators at night and signal help just in case you can’t rescue yourself just yet. Keeping one with you as an everyday carry (EDC) item is also ideal in case of emergency, so be sure to include in your belongings.

Image of everstryke match pro lighter

Have you had any good stories with some fire starters, not included in this list? Please consider leaving a comment down below and sharing them with us. We’d love to hear about other products that customers have had success with.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Deb Summers

    I would add that it is a good idea to try out your method of fire starting, or product chosen, before you get yourself into a situation in which you will need it. Knowing how to use it will be very comforting.
    I can say from experience, however, that trying that the method of rubbing two sticks together to be quite strenuous and dependent on conditions and the type of sticks chosen.

  • Larry Allen

    The rod of the Titan SurvivorSteel should last a lifetime. The ferro rod is 5 1/8″ long and 1/2″ wide. It throws a lots of sparks and can start fires quickly. The craftsmanship of this product is excellent so I won’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone on the fence about purchasing. The well-made survivor cord lanyard is just an added bonus with its waxed fire starting jute, enclosed wire, fishing line, and the high quality 550 paracord. However, I would have liked an option to buy this with a bright orange survivor cord lanyard versus the black lanyard so finding the rod in case I dropped it wouldn’t be difficult.

  • John C. Porter

    I can very well relate to the ‘stick method” of starting a fire! It’s difficult, as you can imagine and quite stressful – especially when you’re in a dire situation. When I was a teen, I remember my Dad letting me practice with my brothers on how to make a fire from scratch! Needless to say, once you get the hang on it, you’ll feel more confident with your new skills. When a survival situation happens, you won’t feel that nervous when you do need to start a fire using only two sticks.

  • John C. Porter

    HI Larry and thanks for dropping by. I agree with you on this one – the Titan is a very durable rod and is quite a sound investment in quality gear. Any other features that stood out for you?

  • Joyce Grant

    Trust me you do not want to be caught in the wild without a reliable fire starter. That is my UST Sparkie Fire Starter is one of the first items I tick off the checklist. I used to use BlastMatc but it is a bit bulky so I switched to UST Sparkie which is a lot smaller and I can use it with just one hand, but I always carry more than one since the packaging says it’s only good for 100 strikes. If you don’t mind the size, BlastMatc is a solid fire starter too.

  • John C. Porter

    This little guy surprises everyone! Don’t let its small size fool you, the UST Sparkie can ignite in the toughest conditions. I love how I can easily grip its rubberized frame and the bright color ensures I can readily find it among my things. I always carry one when I go on my camping trips.

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