Thousands of years on from that time when cavemen would have first discovered it, the need to light a fire is as strong today as it was then. When you’re out camping it can be essential to start a fire in order to keep warm, cook food and boil water so getting the best survival fire starter is essential.

In order to find one of the best backpacking fire starters for you though there are a lot of different aspects to consider and none more so than what type of starter you require. After that there other important considerations such as ease of use, weight, consumption and many more.

That’s where this guide is here to help, as we answer all of your questions to ensure that you’re fully informed before making your buying decision. We have also looked through fire starters reviews to show you the best products on the market so you’re able to choose the best camping fire starter for you.

How To Choose A Fire Starter For Camping – Buying Guide



Before you buy your emergency campfire starter it’s important to know what type of environment that you’re going to be in and the weather that is going to be around. This can obviously have a huge impact on your ability to build fires as any damp or wind can heavily affect a fire’s ability to perform.

While you may see a product as notice that it says it’s ‘waterproof’, that might not always mean that you are able to light a fire when it’s raining. That’s because some products require you to make your own tinder in order to start a fire.

If you’re trying to light a fire with a ferrocerium rod then you might have difficulties with that as even the bright hot sparks might struggle to create anything if the tinder was damp. This could probably be done but it’d take a more time and effort than you’d hope it would.

In damp situations it’s probably best to take a magnesium starter with you as this would mean that you are able to have a ready-made tinder there which is going to be able to be lit in wet conditions. The problems with the flakes that come off a magnesium rod though are that they can be easily blown in the wind until they are lit.

There are other options too such as a pouch which will be able to be lit and then used to help create a fire but require an extra lighting measure such as a match. It’s clear then that you have to match the situation that you are in and check your environment. Of course it is probably asking too much to have every single type of starter but if you’re constantly going to be camping in a specific type of environment then it makes sense to get the starter which most closely matches that.

Supplemental Equipment

Sometimes you need additional material with which to start a fire or help you along the way. If you have a ferrocerium rod for example then you might struggle to make a flame if it has been raining as you would have to search for some tinder which is dry enough to light.

This can be very difficult so bringing along something like a few cotton balls for example might be a good idea as these act as good tinder while to start to work on creating a bigger fire. One good tip is to apply a petroleum-based jelly to the cotton ball which will help it to burn hotter for longer.

There are other things that can be used to help create a lasting flame such as an alcohol-based sanitizer and sometimes you have to be creative if conditions aren’t ideal. If making fire is going to be a crucial part of your trip then taking matches and some starter pouches might work as a great backup should something go wrong.

Item Access

Whenever you’re taking gear with you it’s always important to put it in the most convenient place and sometimes the order can be confusing. You need to pack your bag efficiently so you are able to get to your vital items straight away and don’t have to go rummaging through gear that isn’t essential.

With your starter, this depends on how often you aim to be using it. It could be that you’re at a camp which is going to have a gas grill and you want to carry one in your bag just in case of emergencies or it could be that you intend to use it every day and therefore you need it as close as possible.

A lot of these fire starters are highly portable and can easily be placed in any pocket of your backpack or it can even be tied to the zipper on the outside of your bag. If you really want it in an emergency and are worried about losing your backpack then there are fire starters that you can wear around our neck or simply put on your keychain.

Ease Of Use

The whole point of getting a starter is for the ease of use. Unless you want to start learning how to create fire the way they did it thousands of years ago then you’ll want a firestarter which is going to be able to get a fire going quickly and efficiently and without much fuss.

Most of these products are very well-designed and have a very simple system of striking one thing next to another in order to create a spark. If you’re using magnesium then this has some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ease of use with the advantage being that you don’t have to worry about finding tinder as you’ll get that from scraping off the magnesium.

Not only does scraping off the magnesium take time, but it also produces delicate flakes which can easily be blown away and can be very frustrating. This is where striking against a ferrocerium rod though can be really easy as in dry conditions the intensely hot sparks can get a fire going very quickly but in more damp conditions you might have to spend more time striking it until it lights.

Away from their primary job there are other aspects of these products which can add to their ease of use as well such as having a handle which is easy to grip and a product that you are able to use single-handedly. Some have added features too such as a compass or a bottle opener which can make them a highly convenient product.

Ease of use is something that is very important for these types of products and all the one that he have looked at are well-designed but you also have to look at the situation that you’re going to be in so you can determine which type of starter is going to be the easiest to use in each situation.


With the main types of starter that we have looked at here, there can be a lot of confusion about what each product means and the role that it does. One of the key things to clear up is what is meant by the word ‘flint’ as often this was used to accurately describe a piece of hard rock which was then struck by a piece of steel in order to create a spark.

The problem here is that ferrocerium is often described as flint but will produce a significantly hotter spark than the traditional flint starter would. If you see a product described as this then you need to double-check that it is what you are looking for. Flint and steel are able to create a spark whereas ferrocerium and steel will be able to create a much more ferocious one.

Then you add magnesium into the mix as well, as this is a material that can be scraped off in order to create tinder which will then be ignited by a spark. To confuse things further, this can be done via a few different methods as long as a spark is created.

To try and simplify it, you have two options of either striking a ferrocerium rod on your own tinder or striking a rod onto magnesium flakes. Both these methods are great at starting fires so it’s a case of working out which one is going to be the best for you.

Of course there are other methods out there as you can just simply take matches with you or a lighter. Sometimes though it can be hard enough to light a candle or a cigarette with one of these options so starting a campfire would be extremely difficult. If you are carrying one of these then it’s a great idea to bring along a firestarter pouch which you can then ignite and will give you a burn time to then start a fire.

Whatever the type you want to use, you just need to match it to your situation and work out what your personal preference is going to be. Sometimes it can be a great idea to carry two different options just to ensure that you have all bases covered and maybe have one on your person and one in your backpack just in case any accidents happen.


If you’re looking for a firestarter then it’s most likely going to be because you’ll be doing a lot of backpacking and therefore weight is going to be of significant importance to you as you aim to keep everything as light as possible, while the difference of a few ounces might feel small, all those ounces that you save in your backpack and add up to a significant weight.

This is also the reason that you might be looking into an alternative fuel source as carrying any propane for a burner would take a lot of effort, as would bringing any charcoal. Having a starter allows you to have a little device that you will be able to use at any time without it weighing you down.

Some fire starters are bigger than others though and you might want to look for one that you can attach onto a key ring or even place it around your neck. Some of the products we have looked at here weigh less than an ounce so it’s going to be a very lightweight option. If you’re not going to be doing as much backpacking then this isn’t going to be as much as an issue.


Weight is related to bulk in many ways but just because something is bulky doesn’t mean it weighs a lot and just because something is small it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be light. When you are backpacking it’s important to consider how bulky your items are going to be and exactly where they are going to go.

If you want to start a fire in order to make food then another alternative would be to take a portable grill with you. If you’re going to be backpacking though, even a portable gas grill is going to be highly inconvenient to take around with you everywhere that you go. Other options are going to be more difficult to carry too which makes these types of fire starters even more attractive.

Most fire starters are very low bulk so will be easily carried to wherever you need to be. Some have a lower profile than others though, so if you’re really tight for space then you will want to get one with the lowest possible bulk and a 3X1 inch starter would be ideal for you.


It seems like an obvious statement that a product which is made out of rock or metal is going to be waterproof but when you see this in relation to a firestarter they are not talking about its ability to let water through it but are instead talking about whether or not it works in the wet.

As most people know, friction causes heat. You might have seen it in movies or those survival programs where a person is spinning one piece of wood into another in order to generate heat which they can then use to start a fire. Doing it with two pieces of wood though is a lot harder than creating a spark between rock and metal.

Due to the two hard surfaces, the friction will quickly generate a lot of heat and therefore burn away any damp that is on your starter. This is why almost all of the products will be able to claim to be waterproof as it doesn’t take a lot for the two surfaces to generate heat. If it is damp though, it’s still important to find some dry tinder, otherwise it’s going to be very hard to start a fire.


These fire starters generally work by one thing striking against another, so it makes sense that it’s going to wear out over time. A ferrocerium rod is quite durable and there is a good chance that once you buy one, you’ll use it for life. If you are a heavy user of your firestarter or get a compact model though, then this might wear out very quickly.

One of the downsides of relying on a magnesium rod is that you’re constantly scraping away from their surface which means that they aren’t going to last for as long. Taking spares is a possible solution as then you know that you’ll be able to find a replacement should anything happen to your existing starter.

Whatever means you have of starting a fire, it’s clear that consumption is going to be an issue whether that is with lighters, gas, fuel or matches. In relation to those options, using a rod firestarter is going to be one that doesn’t have a fast rate of consumption meaning that you can use the same product for a very long time.


Whatever firestarter you’re using, you want to make sure that it’s compatible with what you are doing and what you are trying to achieve. If you have a backpacking stove then it’s not going to be wise to try and use a ferrocerium rod to start it.

Equally, it would be foolish to take matches onto a trip if you think that they’re going to help you start a campfire in wet and windy conditions. This is all about taking a common sense approach to your camping experience.

Once you have made that choice then it will be much easier to do whatever you wanted to do and have a safe and easy camping trip. Not only do you need to know your starter but you also need to know all your equipment and work out what it needs to get going.

Magnesium vs. Flint vs. Ferrocerium

If you’re using a traditional flint and steel starter than you are going to find it very difficult to start a fire, this is a method that has long overtaken by other methods of lighting a fire. This is because lighting a fire with just sparks from flint is very difficult unless you have tinder which is highly flammable with only just a few sparks.

One material that is highly flammable with just a flint and steel is magnesium so if you have a magnesium rod then this is going to work to start your fire just because of how easily those magnesium flakes are going to ignite with just a few sparks to get them going.

If you have dry tinder though then the quickest method of starting a fire would be with a ferrocerium rod as the red-hot sparks that come from it are going to light a lot of tinders which makes it a great option and it will work in any conditions as well. The only downside to this is finding that dry tinder after it has been raining.

Of them all, the ferrocerium rod is probably going to be the one that gives you the greatest results for most of the time as you don’t have to worry about shaving off those magnesium flakes and can just get the fire burning straight away.

Another option is using the firestarter pouches and while these can be effective, they’re also liable to not work if they have been subject to a bit of wet and this can obviously affect matches too. One great thing about a ferrocerium rod is that you can drop it in some water and will create sparks a few seconds later.



Q: How Do Fire Starters Work?


Fire starters work in the way that they have for thousands of years where two objects create friction on each other which then generates heat which can then be used to generate a flame. In respect of most of these fire starters, that is a piece of metal striking against a piece of flint or ferrocerium in order to create a spark.

This spark then needs to go onto some tinder. If you have a ferrocerium rod then this will be onto any tinder that you have collected and if you have a magnesium rod hen this will be scraped from there. These are both methods where all you have to worry about is carrying your campfire starter and you don’t have to worry about any gas, charcoal or propane.

Q: Is There An Age Limit To Buy And Use A Fire Starter?


In all 50 states, a minor is allowed to buy a firestarter and with good reason. At the end of the day, this product is simply a few blocks of metal and rod. There isn’t anything too dangerous to is and it’s not as if it can be used as a weapon so there is no age limit.

Creating a fire in such a way can take and patience so you don’t have to worry about them being in the hands of minors. In fact, it could be a great learning experience for them to start their own campfire and get more experience with being outdoors.

Q: How Can I Tell That A Fire Starter Kit Is Reliable?


Whenever you buy a product you want it to be reliable and that is no different went it comes to a firestarter. If you’re out there in the wilderness and can’t get a fire going, then it can be a huge problem as you could be left without any food, warmth or water.

Thankfully these types of products are highly reliable as there is not a lot that can go wrong with them. Obviously all products aren’t created equally though so it’s important to check those customer reviews to ensure that other people have had positive experiences when using it.

Q: Are Fire Starters Safe To Use In Closed Spaces/Shelters?


If you’re using a product which creates sparks then the answer to this question is going to be a no. The sparks from a ferrocerium rod are extremely hot and if they got in contact with material such as your tent then this could easily burn it.

The answer to this question is more about whether or not you should be creating sparks near any flammable equipment. If you were in a cave or some other space where there was no fire risk then this isn’t going to be as much of a problem but you need to know common sense and realize just how hot those sparks can be.

Q: How Long Does A Firestarter Kit Last For?


A ferrocerium rod is going to be able to last you for a very long time as they don’t wear away very easily. The exact amount of time they will last for varies from product to product depending on the thickness of the rod and how often you need to strike it. These types of rod though are going to last you for a very long time.

Magnesium rods don’t quite have the same level of level of longevity as you’ll obviously be scraping off the flakes in order to start your fire but you’ll still be able to get a lot of use out of them before you have to replace it. Other fire starters such as the pouches are a one-time use product so you’ll be wanting to take a few with you if you consistently wanted to start fires.

Q: Will A Firestarter Kit Work When It’s Raining Or Wet?


One of the greatest things about having one of these ferrocerium or magnesium products is their ability to be able to strike up a strong spark even when it’s raining. If you are in these types of conditions then the firestarter isn’t going to be the problem but your tinder might be.

You still need to make sure that your tinder is going to be dry enough for you to be able to light it. With a ferrocerium rod it might be wise to bring something like cotton balls onto your trip and if you’re using magnesium filings then you need to ensure that they are well protected from any wind so they aren’t blown away.

Q: Should I Spend A Lot On A Firestarter?


Another great thing about these products is that they are relatively cheap so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank in order to buy one. You still get what you pay for though and in paying that little extra you could well get a product which is easier to use and has more features.

Due to the cheap nature of the product it can sometimes we a great idea to get more than one firestarter so that you always have options available to you. You could combine one of the more featured models with one of the simpler models and store them in different places or between your group so you know that nothing can go wrong.

Globo Surf Overview

Creating a fire is at the heart of most camping trips and using fire starters which will be able to do the job quickly will often make your camping trip a much more enjoyable one. All the products that we have looked at today will work perfectly as a backpacking campfire starter as they are all light in weight and have a low profile as well.

If you’re looking for a waterproof campfire starter then any of the rod types of starter would work perfectly as the friction of the rod would soon burn off any damp that it might have. An emergency campfire starter will be able to create a spark in any type of conditions so you don’t have to fret about the weather.

Whether you’re just looking to create a campfire at the end of a day or you are looking for an emergency starter, these products will be ideal for both circumstances as they will be able to quickly start any fire as these fire starting tools won’t let you down even in a harsh environment or in damp conditions.

Choosing the best backpacking fire starter for you means taking a lot of things into account such as the type which we went into detail before as well as the weight and size of the product. You need to match your starter to your situation and your environment so you know that you’re always getting the best results time and time again. It might also be a great idea if you’re in a group for different people to have different types of starter.

Once you have chosen the best product for you then you can head out onto your trip in confidence knowing that whatever happens, you’re always going to make the fire that you need. Hopefully this buying guide has given you all the information that you need to you know exactly what you are looking for so that you can order that backpack knowing that you have the top rated survival starter kit for you.

More Camping Reviews:

Globo Surf Fire Starters Reviews

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Rated 5/5 based on 1 customer reviews
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For my last camping trip I made a mistake and forgot to take a fire starter kit. Thank you for the great reviews and helping me find the product which best suits my needs.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!