In survival situations, lighting a fire is essential for staying warm, boiling water, or sending a signal. Unfortunately, matches and regular lighters don’t cut it here – they are sabotaged too easily by rain and wind. If you want a reliable way to ignite a fire regardless of the conditions, you should get a well-made backpacking fire starter.
In this article, you can read about the best survival fire starters on the market, carefully picked based on their performance in wet, windy, and cold weather. Choosing the best fire starter can make a huge difference outdoors, so we’ll do our best to help you find the ideal spark for your adventures.
How To Choose A Fire Starter For Camping – Buying Guide
Type: Flint, Ferrocerium, and Magnesium
With all the products we talked about, there can be some confusion about the different materials and their advantages and disadvantages when trying to start a fire. Take a quick look at what each of them is and what it can offer.
Flint: This is a special type of rock that you can strike with a metal to create a spark. However, in newer products, it’s often replaced by ferrocerium because of the spark intensity.
Ferrocerium: This is a type of alloy consisting of iron, cerium, and a handful of other metals. It’s very durable and creates sparks that reach 5,430 °F, so your tinder can easily catch fire.
Magnesium: Great option if you don’t have tinder because the magnesium bar can be scraped off to create highly flammable flakes. However, magnesium itself doesn’t create a spark, so a mag bar usually comes with a separate flint.
Environment (Weather Conditions)
When choosing your emergency fire starter, it’s important to consider the type of environment that you’ll be in. For example, a starter with a magnesium bar is best for wet weather because its flakes will catch fire regardless of moisture. On the other hand, they will get blown away in windy conditions, so a ferro starter with pre-made tinder will do a much better job here.
Size and Weight
When backpacking over large distances, firestarters should be the last thing to add too much weight and bulk to your pack. We paid special attention to this when choosing our products, so almost all of them are less than 5 inches long and weigh under 10 ounces.
Ease Of Use
The whole point of getting a fire starter is being able to light a fire quickly. The best hiking fire starters on our list will create sparks on the first strike, so you won’t have to lose valuable time. Another thing to keep in mind is whether the fire starter can be used with a single hand or you need both hands.
Quick and Easy Access
Since they are designed for emergencies, fire starters need to stay close to hand. Like we’ve said, most of them are very compact and fit easily in a pocket. In addition, we find it very useful if a model comes with an attached lanyard.
Weather conditions won’t always be ideal, and you want the fire starter to work even if it’s wet. Luckily, the best survival fire starters have both striking surfaces made of metal. This way, the friction that generates heat and sparks can be achieved even when wet.
Durability (Rod Consumption)
All of these work by striking one metal surface against another, so they’re going to wear out over time. A ferrocerium stick is quite durable and many of these allow up to 15,000 strikes on a single rod. As for magnesium, one of the downsides is that you’re constantly scraping away from the bar’s surface, meaning that you’ll grind it down eventually.
Q: How Do Fire Starters Work?
Q: How Can I Tell That A Fire Starter Kit Is Reliable?
Q: How Long Does A Firestarter Kit Last For?
Q: Will A Firestarter Kit Work When It’s Raining Or Wet?
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Most outdoor adventures can’t be imagined without a fire – it’s required for cooking meals, boiling water, and, most importantly, in emergency situations. Bringing a backpacking fire starter can make a huge difference if you find yourself in trouble.
We hope that our reviews and guide have pointed you in the right direction, so you can choose the most reliable fire starting tools and be prepared no matter what happens.