Best Fire Starter Kits
When going camping, hiking, or heading into the great outdoors, in general, you want to make sure you have all the necessary gear you need to have an enjoyable time but also to ensure you are safe. One of the most important things you want to make sure you have as part of your gear, aside from food and water, is a way to create a fire. Even in the summer months, when the sun drops the temperature can get quite chilly and it is always good to start a fire, not only to stay warm but to keep critters away. This is why having a fire starter kit in your gear is a smart move.
- HOLLAND`S LIGHTNING STRIKE
- EXOTAC NANO STRIKER XL
- GERBER BEAR GRYLLS
- LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE KNIFE
- UST BLASTMATCH FIRE STARTER
- LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE STEEL
- UST SPARKIE
- UCO TITAN STORMPROOF MATCHES
- ZIPPO EMERGENCY FIRE KIT
- SURVIVAL SPARK MAGNESIUM SURVIVAL
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. HOLLAND`S LIGHTNING STRIKE
Very efficient fire spark and intensity
Wide range of materials to use with
A bit on the expensive side
The Lightning Strike Fire starter is considered by most to be the fire starter of choice. It`s unique design consist of a polished aluminum encasing a ferrocerium rod. The design of the case gives the lightning strike superiority over other kits, as it makes the spark “shoot” out of it in a concentrated burst of sparks which make attaining fire a breeze.Read more
When it comes to brand recognition, Holland has established itself as a reputable dealer for many outdoor gear items and accessories. Customer reports also show that customer service and satisfaction is something they take seriously and they are 100% behind their product.
The Lightning Strike owes it efficiency to the design of its case, which acts as a sort of spark cannon from which a concentrated spark burning between 4,000 to 5,000 degrees, can be aimed at your tinder of choice.
As for the tinder reaction, during field tests with materials ranging from cotton balls, to leaves and brush and even thicker twigs and small branches, The Lightning Strike was able to get them burning without much effort needed, as the make of the casing allows for full contact with the rod, making the consistently strong spark.
Ease of Use
The Lightning Strike is made of polish aluminum which protects the rod inside from overexposure to hits and falls preventing damage from breakage. Water resistance is about the average you can expect from using other ferrous rods, and its watertight compartment can carry up to 12 cotton balls included in your purchase.
While it is on the higher end of the spectrum price wise, the ease of use of the lightning strike and its reliability, along with its sleek design, makes the price easier to take. As it is rated for over 10,000.
2. EXOTAC NANO STRIKER XL
Available in four different colors
Stylish and compact
Noted to best as a backup fire starter
Rod is prone to break
The Exotac Nano Striker XL is the latest entry model in this line. Following its predecessor, The Exotac Nano Striker, the ferrocerium rod increased diameter gives it a longer life span and increased spark. Added features to its design make it more reliable when confronted with wet conditions and the availability of colors gives plenty of good-looking options to everyone interested in one.Read more
Well established, American made, Exotac, is a widely reviewed small company based out of Georgia in the USA. Customer reviews list them as very customer satisfaction oriented, with a good deal of care being placed in solving any questions and providing solutions for customer questions or concerns.
Burning brightly at about 3,000 Celsius, The Nano Striker XL achieves spark intensity with ease due to the wide diameter of the rod. Weather conditions seem to do little to dampen the friction of the striker and the amount of spark produced by has been noted to cover a relatively wide surface.
The spark produced by the Nano Striker XL reacts well with most timbers, having been tried successfully with wood shavings, grass, wood chips, and more flammable materials.
Ease of Use
The anodized aluminum body on the Nano Striker XL, aside from being made to have a great look, includes o-rings in its design to better protect it from overexposure to the elements and has been enhanced for better grip, making it easy to handle even without the help of gloves. The 3.6” replaceable rod tests well after being exposed to water, with a lifespan of over 3,000 strikes.
Starting at a very convenient base price, The Nano Striker will be a very attractive option due to its design, which perfectly balances utility, compact size, and good looks.
3. GERBER BEAR GRYLLS
Included whistle for emergencies
Originally hard to maneuver
American Made Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter Kit, offers a very decent option for an easy to carry, multi-purpose tool that comes handy in a tight spot. Light and backed with a lifetime warranty, makes it a decent inclusion to our list.Read more
US-based Gerber has been known for many years to be a source for affordable, durable equipment for those starting to venture into a more active, serious outdoor lifestyle.
The ferrocerium rod on the Bear Grylls fire starter has been tested to produce a good amount of spark, though references hardly pinpoint the exact amount of heat.
Using the Gerber Bear Grylls fire starter with tough tinder such as wood chips and pellets may require some practice and mastering of striker to rod movement, but with the help of fuel imbued materials, it should provide fire in little time.
Ease of Use
The thickness of the Bear Grylls handle is found by most to be very comfortable, which most find it to be convenient since it requires some skill to get it to spark successfully. The inclusion of a very loud whistle makes it ideal to have it ready for quick access in case you need to have your location know by wildlife or others; and it comes attached with a paracord, included with the fire starter, which also helps to keep all its components together.
The price for the Survival Series Fire Starter kit is made easier to consider thanks to its weight and look of the model. The inclusion of a whistle, which can be a much-needed item in dire situations is a neat feature included with this item.
4. LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE KNIFE
Knife, fire starter combination makes it versatile.
Higher spark levels obtained from use with knife blade
Comfortable grip design
Fire starter is best to use as a backup
For buyers looking for the often preferred combination of fire starting kit and additional multi-tool combo, options such as the Swedish Fire Knife by Light my Fire, offer optimal use and value to the devoted outdoorsman.Read more
Sweden native company Light My Fire has, since 1995 established itself as a reputable company, offering a wide arrangement of outdoor products all over the world. Customer service satisfaction ranks as one of the more decent, considering that the company is still based on Sweden with a little official distribution in the US.
The spark on the Swedish Fire Knife burns at an intense 5,400 Degrees (Fahrenheit) from its magnesium rod, originally designed for use for the Swedish Department of Defense. Tested in adverse weather conditions, the spark warrants success at close proximity with the tinder.
The tinder reaction with the Fire knife is the average one can attain with most magnesium strips. One thing to note, however, is that in some cases, it was tried successfully in high altitudes with a variety of tinder.
Ease of Use
One of the contributing factors to successfully using this knife as a fire starter may be allocated in the design of its handle. The high friction rubber make of the grip makes it extremely comfortable to securely apply a good deal of strength from the dull edge of the blade onto the magnesium rod, procuring and powerful spark from its strike. The rod was designed to reach up to 3,000 strikes, giving it a decent lifespan as a fire starter.
Considering that the price tag on the Swedish knife affords the buyer more than one tool for his purchase and that the class of these tools count as some of the more essential in any outdoor expedition, the argument for this fire starting kit is almost none.
5. UST BLASTMATCH FIRE STARTER
May require practice for efficient use
It only takes one hand and a spark of fire is made with this flint-based Blast Match. All one needs to do is press the button and press the flint against a hard surface and sparks will fly.Read more
The flagship Ultimate Survival Technologies BlastMatch Fire Starter has done very well among testers, buyers, and campers alike. Ratings tend to be very high on sites like Amazon and remain this way. It's safe to say, this brand has made a name for itself.
It offers sparks in all types of weather conditions and will light up 1000 times. The sparks are 3 times hotter than a normal match. As for tinder reaction, this kit was tested successfully with many different types of tinder.
Ease of Use
The UST Blast Match Fire Starter is all about convenience. It only takes one hand to light it up. Many reviewers agree that the striker is most effective after scraping off the black coating.
This is a simple product from a trusted brand and comes at an affordable price. We think it is well worth the small investment.
6. LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE STEEL
Constantly exposed rod makes it susceptible to breakage
The second entry by Sweden`s Light My Fire, The Swedish Fire Steel is the same kit featured in their popular Swedish Fire Knife. Many reviews find this kit as an excellent addition to any pack even when not paired with the Fire Knife.Read more
There is little to add to describe the good reputation and mission statement of Light my Fire. Buyers can feel confident that they are getting a product conceived with endurance and trustworthiness in mind.
The Ferron rod on the Fire Steel has the same rating and spark found on the Swedish Fire Knife, burning at an intense 5,400 Degrees (Fahrenheit) from its magnesium rod.
Also, this fire starting kit reacts well with most timber.
Ease of Use
Stripped of all unnecessary weight and sheathing, the rod is kept exposed and constantly attached to the iron striker by a length of paracord.
The price of the Fire Steel, while similar to other entries on this list makes it affordable due to its bare bones composition.
7. UST SPARKIE
Lightweight (0.8 Ounces)
Compact 2 ½” (retracted)
Short lifespan (only about 100 strikes)
The UST Sparkie (Ultimate Survival Technologies) is a welcomed addition in the line of kits prefer for its utility. Affordable, light and compact. It comes in a bright orange color making it easy to locate when needed.Read more
UST Brands has under its belt, a long history with the outdoor community, and for the last 80 years has churned out a wide range of tools and equipment focused on its demographic. Based in the USA, buyers will find direct customer service for any issues or concerns.
The strike action from which the models gets its name produces an intense spark from the retractable flint rod. For the tinder reaction, it has been shown that this device works best used with dry and fueled dipped timbers in close proximity.
Ease of Use
The manufacture of the Sparkie makes its use a single hand operation, achieving a spark when struck in proximity with the tinder. This unique feature is a much-welcomed relief when confronted with the possibility of being able to use only one hand.
Considering the mechanics of the UST Sparkie and its intended use, It is an enticing option due to its low price. The lightweight which also adds value to the model is complemented by its small design.
8. UCO TITAN STORMPROOF MATCHES
Water and windproof
Limited use per pack (25 matches)
Not the most compact
A welcomed variation to this list, are the UCO Titan Storm Proof Matches. Some will argue about their entry in this category, but their reliability and ease of use put them head to head with the other options on this list.Read more
Seattle-based UCO Gear was founded in 1971 and focuses its products on certain areas of the industry and it offers a limited warranty on all of its products.
The flame intensity of these matches averages the burn of three matches put together, while this may not sound as much, consider the timber used and the fact that these matches, with their 4” length, can burn even after submerged in water.
Also, this kit was tested successfully with many different types of tinder.
Ease of Use
The UCO Titans light up with the smoothness and ease of any regular match, but that is probably where their resemblance stop. With an estimated burning time of about 15 seconds, it strong flame provides intense fire generating heat.
With the limited amount of uses you get with this purchase, some will argue against the price for the UCO Titans. However, qualities such as heat intensity, their ability to keep aflame, even in extremely wet conditions, will quickly put any buyer at ease.
9. ZIPPO EMERGENCY FIRE KIT
Incredibly easy to use
Water seal protection
Some feel the plastic is a bit flimsy
The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit is exactly for what you might imagine. Place this reliable lighter somewhere in your car, first-aid kit, or anywhere else that you may go for a last-minute fire supply. It can also be used, of course, as your main source of fire.Read more
Zippo has been THE brand in lighters for many years, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
The main feature of this lighter is it's convenient, simple use that almost anyone could manage. While the Emergency Fire Kit may not spark up as hot as others, it is a reliable source of fire in almost any weather condition. Reviewers have found that this product reacts well with most kinds of timber.
Ease of Use
The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit comes with four water-resistant tinder sticks and has a reliable flint wheel recognition. It's easy to use, but the capper on this fire starter is that its water-resistant seal and the fact that it floats.
With the confidence you have with a trusted brand like Zippo, this fire starter is worth the money even though it is slightly costly.
10. SURVIVAL SPARK MAGNESIUM SURVIVAL
Low cost and versatility
Long rod makes it easy to use
Not the best rating when compared with similarly priced kits
The Survival Spark Emergency magnesium fire starter is another affordable option for anyone looking to make sure they have a fire starting kit on them at all times. It comes with a small built-in compass, making another useful tool to keep within reach at all times.Read more
Not much information is available on the manufacturer.
The spark on the Survival Spark is rated to produce strong, wind resistant flash that will ignite with ease.
As for its tinder reaction, it has proved to work well with most tinder in moderately moist conditions.
Ease of Use
The rod of this kit measures a lengthy 5.5” magnesium rod with making it one of the more durable kits rated at approximately 15,000 strikes. This design makes it easy for someone less familiar with a spark based kit to rapidly gain experience with this method of fire making.
The Survival Spark fire starter kit is another entry on the more affordable spectrum for fire starting kit in the market. It comes equipped with a whistle and a compass increasing its value for its price. The compass, though an often underrated tool, will be a much-appreciated tool for any outdoors person with a penchant for survival gear.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Checking out a brand's reputation before investing is always a good idea. Some brands are notorious for creating unreliable products or only excelling in one area of expertise.
Another factor to always take into consideration is a brand's return policy, warranty, and customer service. The brand of a product also plays into the durability. There are many manufacturers who will repair or replace a malfunctioning product.
You will notice a few big name brands on our list here, such as Zippo, and a few lesser-known brands. As always, we have thoroughly researched each product and given you our honest opinion the manufacturer and the product itself.
What good is a fire-starter if it isn't effective? For this section, we researched the spark intensity and the tinder reaction of each product. While some fire starters may be too intense or just not quite what you are looking for, others may be too weak. It is good to have an idea of how and when you will be using your fire starter before deciding which intensity is right for you.
While the great majority of fire starting kits share similar designs, there may be aspects in shape and size in which you may find comfort with some more than others. Often times, ergonomic efficiency may depend on things such as grip, stability, or even the size of the item in relation with your hands. Some products, while designed to be used single-handedly, may be found by someone to be more efficient if operated with both hands. Preferences may also be found in the style of the kit as some products offer multipurpose tools to match the tasks at hand. Knife, fire starter combos in which the tinder or magnesium block can be stored in the knife`s handle, are a common example of these multi-tool combos. Some may even be found to include other survival equipment such as compasses, matches and mini flashlights, making you less dependable on single purpose items. More experienced outdoorsmen will consider a product based on its specifications; things such as manufacturer`s standards, the product`s efficiency under hard stress and even warranty. In some cases, a fire starter kit may come with a manufacturer protective coating, which requires wear before the product is placed in service. It is for this reason that is it essential to familiarize yourself with your new gear and try out / test the equipment for possible defects and deficiencies, before heading out to your next outdoor adventure. An unexpected malfunction with any item can easily turn your exciting and enjoyable outdoor experience into a painstakingly difficult one; so when buying new equipment of any kind, it is best to try it out and have some fun with it at home or in your backyard.
When traveling for long distances or periods of time, the weight of a specific item can be a cumbersome thing to ponder. Thankfully, in our day and age, the majority of products leaves the outdoor enthusiast relieved that a fire starting kit may weigh less than few ounces and occupy little space, even when traveling with more than one kind, leaving the fuel source as the biggest concern about a kit, but one which can be easily remedied as it can be found during any part of an expedition, and so not always needed to be constantly carried.
There's no reason to burn your money when investing in a new fire starter kit. If you plan to use your fire starter often and want something long-term and reliable, it may be worth it to you to spend a bit more. If you have never owned one before and just want to see how it works for you, perhaps a cheaper version or a set of Titan Storm Matches would be a good option for you.
When looking at the price of these items, it is important to notice how many uses you can get from each product.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Factors ranging from terrain to specific packs and personal preference play a very important role when selecting how and where in your back you will carry your fire starter. This part of your preparation will come into play when planning where and when you decide to settle down for the night, find yourself in need of heat, or to simply cook a meal. Many of the choices available make it comfortable for you to carry them safely and securely on your favorite backpack, chest pack, pockets, and even chainrings. The design and weight of most starters in the market make it possible for you to be able to carry more than one at any time, giving you plenty of options to choose from.
There are multiple ways with which you can help create and maintain a good fire. Many people choose to carry cotton balls which, due to their compact size, are a very helpful item to include in your list of items to carry. Cotton balls become even more effective when combined with petroleum-based jellies such as Vaseline. Applying Vaseline to cotton balls makes it burn hotter for twice, even three times as long as non-dipped cotton balls, making easy work of starting a campfire.
Another item commonly used to aid in fire making is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer found in most emergency kits. Applying a small amount to your chosen material will help extend the flame increasing the chances for a successful fire.
Other Factors to Consider
When venturing outdoors, it is recommendable to always be aware of existing/approaching weather conditions. Even when going out into known trails and areas, the seasons can, in some places, make considerable changes to the terrain in short amounts of time; in addition to temperature, altitude, wind, dryness, and moisture of the terrain you will cover, many consider the development of rain, snow, fire warning levels and such when selecting gear.
This knowledge becomes crucial when using your fire starting kit as the kind of tinder available to you may change depending one or more of these factors. Wet conditions due to rain and high humidity levels may limit the use of materials such as wood from twigs and branches easily found in woodsy areas. While many find a magnesium fire starting kit to be not as easy to use, most consider it to be the smart choice for this type of environment due to the high heat levels at which it burns. In contrast, one may prefer a ferrocerium rod for normal to dry conditions, and its ease of use. The availability of your tinder will depend on the conditions we mentioned before; during a winter camping trip, for instance, one may find it difficult to find dry wood and kindle to start a fire with. In combination with the fire starter of your choice, you may carry an additional fuel source to help you make a fire. Depending on the area you live in, conditions such as altitude could have a strong influence when trying to make a fire. As elevation rises, much-needed oxygen becomes more scarce, which can present a challenge when trying to fire up your pit.
Frequently Asked Questions
As mentioned in the comments above, the reliability of your fire starter kit will depend on a variety of aspects ranging from personal to circumstantial elements. Great importance is placed here on the trial period of the fire starter or starters of your choice. Many similarities with one kind of product may not remain constant when switching or trying out a different one. The amount of spark produced by a steel rod from one brand may differ from another, the same can be expected with flint based products. The reaction with different types of tinder is something that should also be tested out thoroughly in order to determine the ideal fire starter for each. This will help in adding to your general knowledge they kind of materials you feel most confident working with, making it easier for you to decide what to look for during an expedition. For these reasons, getting to know how well your fire starter kit will work for you may involve a period of trial and error, after which you will find yourself with solid knowledge on how to effectively use your equipment, as well as recognizing what is available to you in your immediate surroundings.
While there are examples of fire producing gear such as stoves and radiators, many of which are designed to be used safely within an enclosed space and even made to match some tent specifications with the same, if not more efficiency, than a fire starting kit; the nature of them, whether they be ferro or magnesium rods, matches, or flints, makes them a very different kind of fire making equipment not suitable to operate within a tent or other types of similar enclosures. Because of the materials from which many of these are made, they are not rated to sustain the kind fire one can make with a fire starter.
Sparks, when ignited at close proximity of, or on tent surfaces, can be responsible for severe equipment loss or damage or even set your gear aflame. It is for this reason that a fire starting kit is best when used in open, well-ventilated areas.
Most kits in the market are designed for multiple, continuous use. Some items on this list, for instance, are designed for 3,000 strikes or more making them a long lasting item in your outdoor equipment. That being said; as with any item in your camping/hiking gear, a level of maintenance and care will secure longer lasting durability for your fire starting kit.
Some items may need a bit more care than others. A flint striker, for instance, works best when kept free or dirt and debris, as any obstruction by foreign agents may prevent the flint from creating a spark. Other products may not suffer when hit with dust or dirt, but any contact with oil based products, commonly found in some fuels and vehicle maintenance items, might make them slick with an invisible layer of grease and take away the friction needed to originate a spark. Other less conspicuous ways to contaminate your fire starting kit, may come for touching some foods, which may be rich with much-needed fat and oils, but can dampen the efficiency of your kit. It is for this reason that is recommendable to periodically inspect your equipment, even during an excursion to avoid malfunctions or misfires at any point.
There are some very impressive options in the market for this category. For those looking to endure extremely wet weather conditions, the availability for water resistant or water proof fire starters maybe limited to flares and storm proof matches. For the backpack fan, the options will be less focused on striker based fire kits and placed more on items such as waterproof matches.
The burn and lasting fire of any specific brand is something to keep in mind as the burning time on these is determined by the size of the match. Different brands offer different sizes with varying burn times, making the size and amount of matches to carry another factor to analyze before deciding on a specific kind.
A well made, tested, reliable fire starting kit can have relatively steep price tag when compared to similar products in the same line. Many times the look and brand of an item will have heavy influence in the price of a kit. It is easy to forget that the materials used in part of their assembly; things such as the handle, striker, case design and such, have more to do with the effectiveness of a fire starting kit than one might think. The magnesium rod on a model may come with a sturdy plastic handle and an attractive price tag, but the user may come to find the handle uncomfortable and hard to hold after a period of time. In a different instance, the attractive, milled aluminum handle and case of another model may have additional uses, but the price tag on it could seem like a stretch.
There are two main types of fire starters available on the market today. You have flint and steel, and you also have magnesium fire starters. The question is, how do they work?
Flint and stone: If you envision Fred Flintstone starting a fire, you aren’t totally off track with how this works. In a fire starter, it will utilize flint’s friction against steel (kind of like a nail file). From this friction, sparks fly.
Magnesium: A much more commercially viable option of the old tried and true flint and steel option of a fire starter is the one that uses magnesium. In this version, the basic structure is the same. The steel strikes against the magnesium bits to create sparks.