Best Fire Starter Kits
As every outdoors enthusiast of any level knows, a fire starting kit is one of, if not the most important tool to carry. Unpredictable and adverse weather conditions often call for the need to make a fire on the spot. Whether it be for warmth or cooking meals; the ability to make fire depends on the fuel source around you and a reliable fire starter. This list compiles the preferred kits on the market today based on their ease of use, interaction with different tinder materials, longevity, heat intensity and spark. Many times, a combination of two or more are recommended to bring along with you on any excursion, securing your capability to produce precious fire.
Our Top 3 Picks
10 Best Fire Starter Kits
HOLLAND`S LIGHTNING STRIKE FIRE STARTER
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.
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.
As mentioned above, the Lightning Strike owes it efficiency to the design of it 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
Ease of use and wear
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.
We can`t help but mention the design of this fire starter here as well. 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.
You really can`t go wrong with a fire starting kit of this caliber. One may choose to carry another brand and make, but as reviewed in most cases, you may find yourself going to your Lightning Strike Fire Starter before using any others, for your first, and probably only attempt at making a fire
- Unique design
- Very efficient fire spark and intensity
- Wide range of materials to use with
- A bit on the expensive side
LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE KNIFE
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.
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.
Ease of Use and Wear
One of the contributing factors to successfully using this knife as a fire starter, maybe 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 life span as a fire starter.
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.
The Swedish Fire Knife, makes the ideal companion due to the dual nature of the product and the reliability of its components.
- 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 backup
Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
The price for the Survival Series Fire Starter kit is made easier to consider thanks to its weigh, 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
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
Ease of Use and Wear
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.
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.
Many people prefer to have this fire starting kit as a backup, or as an easily accessible spot locator, for emergencies.
- Compact design
- Included whistle for emergencies
- Originally hard to maneuver
EXOTAC NANO STRIKER XL
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.
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 relatively wide surface.
Ease of Use and Wear
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 over exposure 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 life span of over 3,000 strikes.
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.
For anyone looking for a respectable fire starting kit, or simply to add a dependable option to their arsenal, the Exotac Nano Striker XL offers a compact structure and light form and its hands down one of the best available options in the market.
- Available in four different colors
- Enhanced grip
- Stylish and compact
- Noted to best as a backup fire starter
- Rod is prone to break
Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starte
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 it 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.
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.
Ease of Use and Wear
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.
Proved to work well with most tinder in moderately moist conditions.
Buyers looking for their first fire starting kit will find a smart, convenient option with the Survival Spark fire starter. More seasoned enthusiasts will look for it for its dependability and multi-tool characteristics.
- Low cost and versatility
- Long rod makes it easy to use
- Not the best rating when compared with similarly priced kits
UST Sparkie Fire Starter
Considering the mechanics of the UST Sparkie and its intended use, It is an enticing option due to its low price. The light weight which also adds value to the model, is complimented by its small design
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.
Ease of Use and Wear
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, which is a can be a common injury.
Best used with dry and fueled dipped timbers in close proximity
Light weight and easy to carry at a low price. These are some of the features that make products such as the UST Sparkie a no brainer when looking for a fire starting kit.
- Lightweight (0.8 Ounces)
- Compact 2 ½” (retracted)
- Brightly colored
- Short Life span (only about 100 strikes)
UCO TITAN STORM PROOF MATCHES
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.
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.
Ease of Use and Wear
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.
This kit was tested successfully with many different types of tinder
There are other similar options in the market to compare with this particular item, but few would argue the superiority of the UCO Titan Storm Proof matches over them.
- Water and wind proof
- Limited use per pack (25 matches)
- Not the most compact
UST FIRE STRIKER
The UST Strike Force is ideally priced for those who prefer a more traditional method of striker rod combo in contrast to its similarly priced brother in the same category, the UST Sparkie. The addition of a lanyard makes it so that cap and rod are always together and not easily lost.
As mentioned in the description of the item above, UST is a reputed American company with a long history of the outdoor community and a catalog to match.
The spark generated by the Strike Force has been noted to burn intensely with little help from outside sources.
Ease of Use and Wear
The handle of the Strike Force may take some time to get used to but it was found to be easy to master. The thick ferrous rod is rated for well over 4,000 strikes, but its length may hinder the quickness in which you can start a fire.
This kit was tested successfully with many different types of tinder
Following similarly built fire strikers, The UST Strike force is an excellent companion to any expedition.
- Storage compartment in the handle
- Long lasting
- Can be uncomfortable to use for some hands
Aurora Fire Starter 2SA
The Price of Solo Scientific`s Aurora fire starter becomes a minor factor when features such as its aircraft class aluminum, and its powerful spark heat come into the scene.
Solo Scientific boasts a mission statement of innovation with its products
Burning at 5,000 degrees of fire starting heat, its spark is described in most reviews as having both intensity and volume, which guarantees fire with only a few strikes.
Ease of Use and Wear
With its 3.6” length and ¼ inch ferrous rod, the Aurora Fire Striker can be worn around your neck with the help of some paracord. Rated for 4000 strikes, its durability matches that of some of the pest options in the industry.
Reacts well with most kinds of timber
- Security level 15
- Lighted key
- Weighs a bit more than expected
LIGHT MY FIRE SWEDISH FIRE STEEL
The price of the Fire Steel, while similar to other entries on this list makes it affordable due to its bare bones composition.
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.
Ease of Use and Wear
Stripped of all unnecessary weight and sheathing, the rod is kept exposed and constantly attached to the iron striker by a length of paracord.
This fire starting kit reacts well with most timber.
Anyone can count with on the ease of use of the Swedish Fire Steel, but some would make the case that it serves best as a backup kit to keep in addition to another fire procuring element.
- Simple design
- Very light weight
- Constantly exposed rod makes it susceptible to breakage
Criteria for Evaluation
Consider the environment you will be exposed to on your trip
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 are 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.
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. When using this method, however, it is recommendable to limit the handling time as the cotton ball may become very sticky, resulting sometimes in equipment damage or a burning injury when not handled carefully. 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. For this method it is important to note that due to the “wet” nature of hand sanitizers, flints and spark based fire starters may not ignite right away and so items such as matches may be best to use in combination with this approach, for quicker results.
Think of the ease of access with which you will carry your items of choice
One of the areas that much debate and attention is placed on by outdoor enthusiasts all over is the placement and order of the gear in the pack. There are a multitude of websites and forums dedicated exclusively to the subject of gear placement in anything from an EDC (every day carry) pack to an Everest expedition size backpack. The efficiency of your gear is then left for you and your strategic knowledge of your pack`s pockets, attachments and compartments. In this part, we aim at thinking about some of the more general aspects of this very important skill in relation to a fire starting kit.
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 chain rings. 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. In events such as loss of your backpack, or item breakage, for example, a backup fire starter kit will bring reassurance that even though you may find yourself temporarily relieved of some items your ability to quickly create a fire will not be compromised.
Ease of use
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.
Q: How can I determine the reliability of a fire starter kit?
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 any 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.
Q: Are fire starters safe to use in closed spaces/shelters?
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.
Q: What is the average shelf life of a fire starter kit?
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.
Q: Can I use a fire starting kit when wet?
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 aswaterprooff 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.
Q: Are reliable fire starters expensive?
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.
An efficient, well made, reliable fire starter kit does not have to be break the bank. The more affordable options available do not always mean shoddiness. For a well informed, avid, and perhaps more importantly, responsible outdoor person, the proper fire starter will be valued for its aesthetic comfort, tried and true reliability and familiarity. And so he or she will always find the best fire starting kit at the right price.