A Guide To The Best Fire Starter
Any compact survival kit should contain a few staples: a high quality flashlight, a small first aid kit, a solid folding knife/utility knife and a reliable fire starter.
Staying warm is going to be of the upmost importance if you ever find yourself in a pinch. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere you have three objectives; staying hydrated, fed and warm. If you can tick all three of those of your list you’ve got a damn good chance of surviving whatever shit storm you’ve wound up in
Unless you’re going to pull some Bear Grylls shit and start a fire with the bow method we recommend carrying one of three things in your survival kit.
Best Fire Starters
Strike Anywhere Matches
Strike Anywhere Matches – Most of the time when someone tells you that “they don’t make them like they used to” they’re full of shit and can’t remember how they used to be made. Strike Anywhere Matches are the exception to that rule, they’ve had to cut back on the combustibility thanks in large part to our obsession with suing one another.
That said, Strike Anywhere Matches are still probably the best option for having in a dire situation. We’ve found that the Best Strike Anywhere Matches are made by RedBird. If you’re planning going this route, you’ll want a water tight holder as well.
Can be used in any weather condition
Can be lit using just about anything – rocks, buttons on jeans, a bone and even on smoother surfaces.
Useless if they get wet
Fire Starter: Ferrocerium Rod and Metal Striker
My survival kit always includes Strike Anywhere Matches AND a Ferrocerium Rod.
The reason I like to have a ferrocerium rod is in case of an emergency. Generally speaking you’ll be able to use your matches but in the event that you run out or they become damaged you’ll be glad you picked up another small fire starter. These rods take a bit of practice but can be used in any weather condition.
They can be struck several thousand times before having to replace them. That means you can start a hell of a lot of fires.
A little bit of rain isn’t going to permanently damage the rod
More difficult to use
Having several Butane lighters is another solid addition to any survival kit. That said, unlike the previous two it’s not a must-have. Generally, lighting a fire is easier with a match, but if you get in a pinch a lighter can come in handy. I also find a lighter handy when I need a flame for a continuous 10-15 seconds to melt shit or provide a brief light. Sometimes it’s simply not practical to light a fire.
Can provide light in a pinch
Easy to use
Strike Anywhere Match Reviews
Redbird Strike Anywhere Matches
It’s become increasingly difficult to find my favourite brand of Strike Anywhere Matches, Redbirds. As a result I’ve taken to buying them in bulk off of amazon (they’re actually cheaper then what I used to buy them for).
These aren’t the old Redbirds, the kind you could literally light in your pocket. However, they still work quite well and with some practice you should be able to light it with just your thumb – the gold of standard of lighting procedures!
Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches
For the price these matches are difficult to beat. With some practice you’ll be able to light these suckers on just about anything. They’re probably not as easy to use as the Penley or Redbird brands but with a little practice they consistently light.
If my life was dependent on it, I would probably want to have Penley or Redbirds but again they’re much more expensive.
Penley -Strike Anywhere Matches
Expect to pay a little bit more for high end strike anywhere matches. A general rule of thumb, if they’re as cheap as normal matches they probably work as well as normal matches.
Unless you’re an outdoor enthusiast you’re not going to burn through a ton of these. Even during the summer months when I find myself outside a box often can last me a month or two.
Penley’s matches work pretty well. Again, if you’re trying to light them on a rock it’s going to take some practice and patience – something I would suggest you play around with prior to leaving for your 14 day wilderness survival trek.
The Best Ferrocerium Fire Starter Rods
Many folks wrongly refer to a Ferrocerium rod as “flint”. Flint is very hard rock, where as a ferrocerium rod is steel which sparks at a much higher temperature then flint.
I’ve never had any success starting a fire with flint or the bow and drill method. Invest $15 in a fire starter – they can be life savers.
Light My Fire Original Fire Starter – Just the Basics
This small compact unit contains a ferrocerium rod and a metal striker. I’ve owned one of these units for several years and have never had to replace the rod.
It’s perfect for lighting barbeques, camp fires or stoves. And of course it works even when it gets wet (it’s still pretty tough in damp conditions due to wet tinder). That said it strikes at 3000 degree C which at the very least makes it possible to start a fire assuming you can keep your wood and tinder dry.
Schrade SCPEN4BK Survival Tactical Pen with Ferro Fire-Starting Rod and Whistle, Black – Pen, Weapon, Fire Starter and a…. whistle
This is probably my favorite utility tool in the bag. It combines a tactical pen which of course is slick for writing and defending yourself with a fire starter kit. Inside the pen there is a ferrocerium rod and you can unscrew the tip to reveal a fire striker. Boom you’ve got fire, your got ink and you’re got an ass kicking device.
Pretty damn hard to beat if you ask me. Oh and it also has a whistle, but it’s not worth a damn it sounds like a faint conductor whistle.
Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter
The Gerber Fire Starter is another solid option for your standard rod and striker. I like the small compartment that is has to keep your tinder dry and accessible. Once again, this tool tries to incorporate a whistle, which is pretty pitiful sounding.
Magnesium / Ferrocerium / Firesteel Fire Starter
This unit, made by MT survival has one feature I particularly like, magnesium. Magnesium is terrific tinder (arguably the best) which can just be shaved off.
You can actually buy magnesium rods separately, which is what I normally do. During tough conditions you’re going to be thanking me if you’ve decided to pick up a few sticks of magnesium, this stuff flat out works.
Butane lighters are tricky, there is a reason I recommend them AFTER matches and ferrocerium rods. They’re just not as reliable. If the o-ring shifts or becomes loose your fluid evaporates, at altitude they can have issues and of course if it is windy or rainy you’re going to have problems as well.
If you’re going to rely on butane lights make sure you buy extra butane.
Survival Waterproof Peanut Capsule Lighter Cigarette Cigar Refillable Oil Lighter Torch Key Chain
So far I’ve had pretty good luck with these lighters. They’re really cheap which makes buying a handful of them more reasonable. I’ve only had the lighter fluid evaporate once which is saying something. They don’t come with fluid so make sure you pick some fuel up with it. You can use the standard zippo fluid.
Windmill Delta Stormproof Lighter
I’ve had some success with this lighter going in pretty strong winds in the past. With that said, lighters of this nature take a lot of abuse from reviewers because it’s failed them – so I’m going to say it one more time.
Butane lighters will occasionally let you down, make sure they’re not the only fire you’ve got!
You’ll also need to grab fluid for this sucker. It’s a big price tag but it’s as reliable as a lighter can be.
Aside from that either carry a bunch of Bics or Zippos. Another handy tip if you want to buy Bics in bulk call the airport they often sell the ones they confiscate which probably amounts to hundreds a week.