Whether you need fire for camping, scouting, or hiking expedition, going off the grid, or you want to prepare for “just in case the world comes to an end,” the need to create fire has been a human necessity for eons.
Not all survival fire starters are made equal, making it hard to decipher which is the best that suits your needs. From ferrocerium rods to flints to magnesium bars, we understand that it can be confusing to choose which survival fire starter best for you and your needs. Because of such, we’ve compiled a list of the best fire starters on the market.
In a Rush? The Winner after 15 hours of testing is:
1 Holland Lightning Strike
If you’re looking for a high-quality survival fire starter, the Holland Lightning Strike Standard Fire Starter is perfect for you. This survival fire starter comes with preloaded tinder for 20-30 fires, a replaceable ferrocerium rod, and a shock cord attached to the cap.
Preloaded Tinder for 20-30 Fires
The Holland Lightning Strike Standard Fire Starter is preloaded with tinder for around 20-30 fires. Not only is this addition an absolute necessity for fire starters, but it also shows that this fire starter can carry a generous amount of tinder in comparison to others on this list.
Replaceable Ferrocerium Rod
This is another feature that separates the Holland Lightning Strike Standard Fire Starter apart from the others on the list. The ferrocerium rod can be easily replaced if the rod is to become worn.
Cost and Value
Because of its high-quality design, replaceable ferrocerium rod, and a large compartment for tinder storage, you are definitely getting your money’s worth. With proper care, the Holland Lightning Strike Standard Fire Starter can last you a lifetime.
2 Boker Plus 09BO778
The Boker Plus 09BO778 is also a magnesium fire starter with a compact, portable keychain suitable design. It is made with high-quality material and features an integrated compass in the body.
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Buyers of the Boker Plus 09BO778 are ensured to never be without a firestarter. With this limited lifetime warranty, you are guaranteed the most value for your buck!
Manufacturers crafted the fire starter to feature a compass integrated into the Boker Plus 09BO778 Fire Starter body. Having a compass at your disposal is a definite bonus in case of an emergency and lack of cell phone service.
Cost and Value
For its top quality design, low price, high-grade material, portability and ease of use, the Boker Plus 09BO778 Fire Starter is a must-have essential for all outdoor enthusiasts.
3 Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
The Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is a game-changer. With its compact design, ease of use, and warranty of over 8,000 strikes, this is the essential tool for both outdoor recreation enthusiasts and survivalists.
The Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter features a ferrocerium rod and metal striker, security lanyard, a waterproof compartment for tinder, and an emergency whistle integrated into one small compact design.
Priorities of Survival Pocket Guide
Alongside the fire starter kits comes a “Land to Air rescue instructions and SOS” guide as well as “Priorities of Survival” pocketbook, containing Bear’s own survival essentials.
Cost and Value
With its low price and inclusion of a “Land to Air rescue instructions and SOS” guide as well as “Priorities of Survival” pocketbook, the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is a top choice in terms of quality, cost and value.
4 UST BlastMatch
With a 360 rotating flint bar and built-in carbide striker, the UST Blastmatch Fire Starter is a one-handed operation. Effective, easy to use and requires minimal effort.
The UST Blastmatch Fire Starter features a one-handed operation design minimizing the effort for its users. This design feature also allows users to manipulate the tinder with ease, ensuring the start of a quick, solid fire.
360 Flint Rotation & Built-in Carbide Striker
With a 360 rotating flint bar, users are guaranteed an even wear of the UST BlastMatch Fire Starter for many years to come. The flint bar also folds down into a cap, preventing any accidental fires.
Cost and Value
Because of its one-handed operation, the UST BlastMatch Fire Starter is perfect for those who are injured or have an immobilized arm. This design does not compromise the generation of large sparks and lasting fires.
5 Aurora Fire Starter 440C
Small enough to be worn on a keychain, the Aurora Fire Starter 440C is suited for outdoorsmen in need of a reliable and durable fire starter.
Compact Design Suitable for Keychain
The Aurora Fire Starter 440C is a magnesium fire starter meant to be worn on a keychain, featuring a small hole in the metal cap for portability. Ensuring you will never without an emergency fire starter.
Reliable and Durable
Despite its size, the Aurora Fire Starter 440C is both reliable and durable. It produces large lasting fires and has been tested to work in any environment.
Cost and Value
Serving the purpose as a true emergency survival fire starter due to its keychain portability, the Aurora Fire Starter 440C is worth the purchase. Its design ensures that you will never go without a fire starter.
Both seasoned outdoor recreation enthusiasts and survivalists know that having a portable fire starter is vital in purchasing a survival fire starter. Anything too large or bulky defeats the purpose of survival fire starters.
Differing scenarios define your idea of portability and should be considered when purchasing a fire starter. Portability may mean something different than you in comparison to someone who wants to have a simple fire starter always at their disposal.
Ease of Use
Having a fire starter that is difficult to use or requires a learning curve can defeat the purpose of purchasing this product. It is important to purchase a fire starter with a minimal to no learning curve and one that does not require much thought for its use.
If you find yourself in need of fire yet cannot manage to get your fire starter to function properly, you’ll be up a creek. This is why ease of use is another factor that is important to consider when purchasing a survival fire starter.
A quality fire starter should be manufactured with top-grade materials. Whether the fire starter is a ferrocerium rod, magnesium bar or flint, the standard of the material determines the longevity of the fire starter and the strike and spark.
Both the rod and barrel should be taken into consideration. The barrel on the enclosure should always be made of flame-resistant material. The rod/bar, whether ferrocerium, magnesium or flint, should also be made of top-grade material as insufficient material could pose as a safety hazard or be ineffective.
For a fire starter to be effective, it must generate large, lasting sparks as well as a large number of sparks. At minimum 4,000 strikes per rod, at best 8,000+ strikes per rod. Or concerning a magnesium bar, the magnesium should be “soft”, allowing the user to scrape the material to create tinder easily.
Effectiveness too entails that the rod as the capacity to not only generate sparks but also generate fire on the even most stubborn of tinder. If using a magnesium bar, effectiveness entails that the bars scrape enough magnesium to serve as tinder and burn effectively to produce a fire.
A durable fire starter must be made of top-grade material, both the rod/bar and barrel are determinants. The last thing you need is to purchase a cheaply made fire starter that breaks upon immediate usage.
Moreover, something that may be overlooked but is absolutely vital, a proper O ring to ensure the rod/barrel is protected from the elements will ensure that you’ve purchased a durable fire starter that will last a lifetime.
Considering Your Choice of Rod/Bar
Ferrocerium rods, flints, and magnesium bars are not the same. They are each made with different materials so they each have their own pros and cons.
Ferrocerium Rods (or Ferro Rods)
Ferrocerium rods light up fast. They are long-lasting, weatherproof, shockproof, and come with a handle. However, it is important to consider that ferrocerium rods only produce sparks so it is vital to always have tinder in using ferrocerium rod fire starters.
Flints are often mistaken as ferrocerium rods, yet these two are not the same. They do not produce as large as a spark, however, when used in conjunction with other materials such as steel, they can generate a great magnitude of spark and therefore produce fire.
Magnesium bars are lightweight, convenient, long-lasting. While they do not produce a spark on their own, magnesium bars burn at a very high temperature are also waterproof. However, making magnesium shavings takes time. Magnesium bars require you to scrape shavings as they function like tinder. This could be problematic in the case of windy weather.
Compartment for Tinder
A compartment for tinder is not vital, however, it is undoubtedly a plus to have this compartment to serve as a backup for tinder in an emergency. It is also important to consider purchasing a survival fire starter with a large enough compartment to store backup tinder.
Other Factors to Consider
Because they serve the purpose of aiding you in emergencies, the weather elements will be unknown and up to mother nature if and when you find yourself in an emergency.
Both ferrocerium rods and magnesium bars are always guaranteed to work even after being soaked in water. Flints also work when wet, however, keep in mind if you purchase a flint with a striker, the striker may
Always purchase a high-quality, grade-A material fire starter, whether it is ferrocerium, flint or magnesium. You are guaranteed to get your money’s worth when choosing quality.
It is not worth taking the risk of purchasing a cheaply made fire starter that risks breaking upon usage, quick erosion due to the elements, or lack of sparks. This defeats the purpose of having a fire starter.
Not all are made equal! It is important to consider the brand when purchasing your fire starter.
There are countless knockoffs of popular brands, so do be wary of this when making your purchase. If you buy your fire starter online, ensure that the vendor is from the brand and not some secondary vendor masking a knockoff as the real deal.
While portability is concerned with how something is to be stored/carried/etc with ease, size is concerned with the overall feel in hand. If you are someone with larger hands, it may be best for you to purchase a larger fire starter to avoid a lack of grip, resulting in an inability to ignite a fire properly.
Furthermore, if you are someone with much strength, it may be best to purchase a larger fire starter to avoid breaking the rod from the barrel. While this situation may not occur, some have plastic barrels that could pose a problem if the fire starter is smaller.
Accessories are not key factors but do provide additional benefits. Some firestarters come equipped with a compass, some with an additional striker, some with compartments for tinder storage or survival guides.
In any given situation of emergency, being fully or overly equipped is always better than having nothing at your disposal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does a ferrocerium rod last?
A: With proper care and use, a high-quality ferrocerium rod could last a lifetime. However, to prolong the lifespan of a ferrocerium rod, it is important to keep up with its maintenance. Handling it with care and using the right tinder will enhance its lifespan. Store it in proper conditions after use, and be sure to enclose the rod, keeping away from the exposure of the elements.
Q: How long does a magnesium bar last?
A: Magnesium bars are incredibly long-lasting as they will not deteriorate or corrode over time. However, despite this lack of deterioration or corrosion, magnesium can erode in saltwater. Be sure to store the bar away from saltwater.
Q: How do you use a ferrocerium rod?
A: Ferrocerium rods operate by gripping the rod’s handle and striking a sharp surface along the edge of the rod. This will generate a spark and with proper tinder, this spark can be used to produce a fire.
Q: How do you use a magnesium bar?
A: Magnesium bars serve as both tinder and a generator. Through scraping the magnesium bar with a sharp object or knife, you create the tinder. Upon scraping enough magnesium from the bar (generally about the size of a penny or nickel will suffice), gather the magnesium together into a small pile. With the same tool used to scrape the bar, strike it against the bar, near the small pile of magnesium. This will generate heat and create a fire.