CAMPING & HIKING

Best Fire Starter: 9 Options That Will Keep Your Fire Going

Fire starters review
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

If you are a passionate camper, hiker or just casual lover of the great outdoors, you’ll agree with us that getting out into the wilderness isn’t always easy. You need to be able to take care of yourself and deal with anything that could potentially happen. One of those things that could happen is getting caught in the cold and you need a reliable way to warm yourself up. This is when you need something to help you with building a fire. The best fire starter is needed to get you there, and make sure that you can always get warmed up whenever you’re out in the wilderness.

You want to be able to start a fire whenever and wherever you happen to be, no matter what the conditions may be. The best fire starter will offer a certain level of protection against the elements and make sure that you’ll have warm food in your belly no matter what kind of circumstances you find yourself in. However, not all fire starters are created equal and that’s why you need to know exactly what you’re looking for before you head out into the woods. Lucky for you, we are here to help!

Fire starter features

In this article, we will guide you to make the right choice, by introducing you to some of the most important features that you should look for when buying a fire starter kit. In addition, we have reviewed a number of products that we think should be worth your time and money. Let’s get to it!

Our top picks

Product NameWeightWaterproofStrikesPrice
Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL0.8 ozYes2,000Check price on Amazon
Light My Fire FireSteel Strike1.6 ozNo12,000Check price on Amazon
Gerber Bear Grylls 1.9 ozYes8,000Check price on Amazon
Aurora 440C 0.3 ozYes2,000Check price on Amazon
UST BlastMatch2.24 ozYes4,000Check price on Amazon
Holland Lightning Strike 4.3 ozNo20,000Check price on Amazon
UST Spark Force 4 ozYes12,000Check price on Amazon
SE FS374 2-IN-1 0.3 ozYesLess than 1,000Check price on Amazon
Smith & Wesson Survival Kit1.6 ozNoNot specifiedCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

When you’re looking for fire starters, you want to make sure you have the perfect tools to help you with anything. You want to make sure that you are choosing something that is the right size, the right shape and has the right capabilities. Here are some of the aspects you need to consider before buying a fire starter:

Size

The first thing to think about is the size of the unit you’re going to get. You want something that is small enough you can easily carry around with you and lightweight enough that you can put in your survival bag. However, you also want something that’s large enough to do the job and get you a decent-sized fire when it comes time to get it going.

Fire starter with knife

You don’t want to put up a fire that is not big enough to serve its purpose and needs constant nursing. Your fire starter isn’t always going to be large, but it doesn’t really have to be in order to give you the right size fire.

Material

You want to know more about the material of your fire starter as well. You want something that has a high quality and isn’t going to break while you’re carrying it around in your bag. You want to be sure that, when you want to use it, there’s not going to be anything wrong with it or that it’s not going to fail on you.

This isn’t always a guarantee, but knowing your fire starter is made of something durable will definitely help. Not to mention you can get all different types of fire starters that will do a similar job and you want to make sure that you are only putting in as much work as you want.

How It Works

Some fire starters are simply flint and steel or some form therefore. These types are a little more difficult to use because they require more work, but others are a lot more advanced. Many fire starters are similar to a lighter (but a little more advanced), and will allow you to simply flip a switch and get the flame so you can get exactly what you need.

Fire starter in hands

You’ll definitely be able to choose how much effort you want to put into the process and how easy you want it to be that you get a new fire started whenever you want.

How Much It Works

You’re going to want something that will work at least a few times because otherwise, it’s not going to be a lot of help to you while you’re out for more than a day. In a survival situation, you won’t be able to keep your fires going every night and on longer trips, you might not have enough ‘lights’ to get you by.

With flint and steel, you can create unlimited fires. However, with other fire starters, you want to know how many lights it can produce so you can plan on how to use it during tips. Make sure you check out the limit of the fire starter.

Windproof/Waterproof

You want to make sure the unit that you pick up is going to work when you’re in bad weather. You don’t want it to be put out immediately or rendered entirely useless.

Windproof fire starters

After all, you’re not always going to be outdoors in the best of conditions. So look for a unit that will allow you to get the fire you need when you need it, no matter what’s going on around you. It will be important to keeping yourself warm and safe when there are wild animals around and definitely when the weather is colder.

Price

You are going to absolutely want to look at the price of the unit that you’re getting as well. You want to make sure you’re not spending a whole lot on something with limited use. On the other hand, you also don’t want to completely skimp out on the cost because you could end up buying something that isn’t really as good as it should be.

You need to find a balance and make sure that you’re paying what you’re comfortable with for the quality that you’re going to get. It doesn’t take much to figure out the right balance for you.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Following the characteristics and features discussed above, we put together a list with the best fire starters that should catch your attention. So keep on reading if you want to make sure you have something to light the fire with on your next trip:

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Fire StarterExotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $25

Weight: 0.05 lb

Dimensions: 0.43 x 0.43 x 3.65 inches

Specific features: Small, lightweight, waterproof, self-contained

Best use: Camping, hiking

Description: The Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Fire Starter is definitely a great option when you’re heading out into the wilderness because it’s lightweight and easy to use. The unit is available in several colors and can easily be strapped onto a keyring or a piece of string to wear around your neck.

The rod works just as well when wet as it does when dry and is entirely self-contained and made in the United States. With an easy-to-hold grip the unit uses tungsten carbide and can be used with many different types of tinder to create a spark and a flame.

If you get any kind of rust or damage it can easily be scraped off to continue use as long as you need it. All you need to do is put it in the case and you’ll be ready to take it anywhere. Once you’ve used up the ferro rod, you can purchase the refill kit for around $8 on Amazon.

PROS:

  • Very durable
  • Very lightweight and convenient to use
  • Powerful sparks

CONS:

  • On the expensive side
  • The ferro rod is short
  • The outside coating is not as strong as the inner material

Related: Although the Exotac nanoSTRIKER is very durable and can withstand even rust damage, it’s still best to protect the fire starter from contact with water. Consider purchasing this Exotac MATCHCAP XL Waterproof Match Case. It’ll keep the fire starter dry so you’ll have no problem lighting a fire whenever you need to.

Check the price on Amazon

Light My Fire FireSteel Strike Fire StarterLight My Fire FireSteel Strike Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $15

Weight: 0.1 lb

Dimensions: 1 x 3.2 x 5.9 inches

Specific features: Lightweight, easy-to-use, 12,000 strikes, color options

Best use: Fire building, outdoor cooking

Description: The Light My Fire FireSteel Strike Fire Starter is a great way to make sure you always have what you need to start a fire. The process is easy because all you need to do is strike the pieces together and you can get a 2,980-degree spark no matter what the weather is like around you and no matter what the altitude may be around you.

This device is the go-to fire starter of armies and survival experts around the world. It’s designed to work even in severe conditions such as when your surroundings are all wet.

All you need to do is gather up some dry grass or some paper and you’ll be more than ready, even if you need to light up a barbeque or stove. With approval from the International Survival Instructors Association, this fire starter has no problem getting you plenty of lights with up to 12,000 strikes so you can stay warm and safe from any animals.

PROS:

  • Long-lasting. You’ll get many uses out of it
  • Creates powerful sparks
  • Durable and well-made
  • Will work even when wet
  • Comes with a whistle

CONS:

  • Weak plastic clasp
  • Whistle can be tricky to use

Related: For a similarly-priced fire starter that will also last up to 12,000 strikes, consider the Überleben Zünden Traditional Bushcraft Fire Steel. This one comes with a wooden handle so it may fit more comfortably in your hand, although it may not be as durable as Light My Fire.

Check the price on Amazon

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire StarterGerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $15

Weight: 1.9 oz

Dimensions: 11.8 x 11.8 x 2.8 inches

Specific features: Small piece, lanyard style, includes whistle & storage, around 8,000 strikes

Best use: Fire building, camping

Description: If you’re looking for something that’s going to be extremely easy for you to carry then the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter is definitely what you want. With the low price you’ll have no problem picking one up and the way it fits easily around your neck is helpful as well.

The unit includes not only the fire starter, but an emergency whistle as well. You’ll be able to easily start your next fire because you even get a waterproof storage compartment to hold the tinder that you need in order to get started.

Using the ferrocerium rod and metal striker you’ll be able to get a fire started quickly and therefore keep yourself safe, especially with the safety instructions that are included in the guide.

It’s capable of producing a 1,650°C or a 3,000°F spark that will dependably light any natural fuel – such as tinder – as long as it’s sufficiently dry.

PROS:

  • Comes with a whistle and a waterproof storage compartment
  • Affordable price
  • Compact and lightweight

CONS:

  • Not very durable
  • The sparks are not all that powerful

Related: Gerber Bear Grylls is a well-known brand that produces many high-quality survival tools. Consider purchasing this Gerber Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife alongside the Gerber Bear Grylls fire starter to equip yourself with the necessary equipment to handle any kind of dangers or emergencies that may befall you on your trip.

Check the price on Amazon

Aurora 440C Fire StarterAurora 440C Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $20

Weight: 0.3 oz

Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 1.2 inches

Specific features: Easy to use, small and lightweight, easy to carry, around 2,000 strikes

Best use: Outdoor cooking, camping, fire building

Description: If you’re looking for something that’s going to be easy to carry around, even if you only have space to put it in your pocket, you’re going to love the Aurora 440C Fire Starter. All you have to do is unscrew the top and you’re going to have no problem striking your next fire.

The ferro rod has some magnesium mixed in it, so it creates a more powerful spark than any other fire starters. This fire starter comes equipped with its own blade too, so it’s really easy to use.

You’ll enjoy the durability of this unit. It’s very inexpensive and you’ll have no problem holding onto it either because it’s designed with a rough outside section.

Made in the USA, you’ll be able to attach it to a string and carry it around your neck or in any type of bag. You can use it in any environment you want with the aerospace quality as well as a patent pending for the overall design.

PROS:

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Great design
  • Powerful sparks

CONS:

  • May take some getting-used to

Related: If the Aurora Fire Starter seems a bit expensive to you, there’s another device that also has magnesium mixed into the ferro rod. This The Friendly Swede Magnesium Flint Fire Starter also produces powerful sparks. Although it’s not as durable as the Aurora Fire Starter is, you get three of them in one pack, so it’s a great value for money.

Check the price on Amazon

UST BlastMatch Fire StarterUST BlastMatch Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $16

Weight: 0.14 lb

Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.5 x 4 inches

Specific features: Color options, ultra-hot spark, 4,000 strike

Best use: Camping, hiking, outdoor cooking

Description: The UST BlastMatch Fire Starter comes in two different colors that are both very reasonably priced. Not only that, but it generates a whole lot of heat so you’ll be able to get your fire going easily. You’ll also be able to strike up to 4,000 times so you’ll have no problem keeping it for as many trips as you want to take.

The bar rotates 360 degrees and allows you to target the direction of your sparks. This makes it simple to light up anything you need to without getting caught in the line of fire.

Not only that, but you’ll be able to keep yourself safe by using the safety button which will keep you from accidentally sparking it when you don’t mean to. No matter what the conditions are outside and even if it’s raining you’ll be able to get a good spark so you don’t have any problems getting fire.

PROS:

  • Good for beginners
  • Unique design
  • All-weather

CONS:

  • Questionable quality on the ferro rod
  • Not very durable

Related: If you don’t plan to go looking for your own fuel while in the outdoors, consider carrying some of these Ultimate Survival Technologies Wetfire Tinder with you. Once you’ve got it blazing, it will burn for a long time.

Check the price on Amazon

Holland Lightning Strike Fire StarterHolland Lightning Strike Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $65

Weight: 4.3 oz

Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 inches

Specific features: Lightweight, small, color options, 20,000 strikes

Best use: Fire building, campfires, outdoor cooking, camping

Description: If you’re looking for a great unit that will definitely give you a good amount of heat and sparks, this may just be the right one for you. Available in several colors, the Holland Lightning Strike Fire Starter is moderately priced, though a little higher than some options.

Made in the United States, you can use this to start small pieces of tinder and you could get up to 20,000 strikes out of it so it’s going to last a long time. The refill is easy to find and it’s inexpensive to fill as well so you’ll be able to keep using it once you run out of strikes.

Small enough to fit in your bag, the pieces are connected to make sure you never lose anything and you’re always ready to go. It can be attached to a shock cord for easy carrying. It’s also very simple to operate. You can even do it with one hand.

PROS:

  • Long-lasting
  • Very durable
  • Powerful sparks
  • Great design

CONS:

  • Expensive

Related: If for some reason the Lightning Strike Fire Starter by Holland cannot seem to fulfill your needs, another premium fire starter that may make a good alternative is The Clickspring Fire Piston. It’s around $20 more expensive and is most probably due to the high-quality materials it is made of.

Check the price on Amazon

UST Spark Force FirestarterUST Spark Force Firestarter

Price: Approx. $6

Weight: 4 ounces

Dimensions: 9 x 5 x 2 inches

Specific features: Flint and steel pieces, tinder compartment, color options, thousands of strikes

Best use: Daily use, camping, outdoor cooking

Description: The UST Spark Force Firestarter is inexpensive and offers different color options to match your needs. The pieces are connected and fold together to make sure they are easy to contain and they fit anywhere you want.

You don’t have to worry about being able to find tinder either because there’s even a small section to store a little tinder and keep it dry. The large piece of alloy flint and overlarge steel striker ensures you have enough strikes for thousands of fires.

You’ll be able to easily attach this to a lanyard or slip it right into your bag to carry to your next trip. It’s a little larger than other fire starters, but you’ll have no problem carrying it around and enjoying it. Excellent for survivalists anywhere, you’re going to love how easy it is to get your next fire started. You won’t believe the quality you get for the price you pay.

PROS:

  • Very affordable
  • Built-in tinder storage
  • Built-in striker
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Lightweight and very easy to use

CONS:

  • Weak sparks
  • Not the most durable

Related: This Grizzly Peak Pocket Fire Starter also comes at a very reasonable price. If orange is not your color, the cool black of this fire starter might do the trick. It’s not as popular as the Ultimate Survival Technologies StrikeForce Fire Starter, but you can squeeze more strikes out of the Grizzly Peak Pocket.

Check the price on Amazon

SE FS374 2-IN-1 Fire StarterSE FS374 2-IN-1 Fire Starter

Price: Approx. $6

Weight: 0.3 oz

Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 3 inches

Specific features: Easy to use, inexpensive, small & lightweight, solid magnesium bar with flint, waterproof & weatherproof

Best use: Not a lot of space, not a lot of weight

Description: Probably the most traditional and therefore the most popular method of starting a fire is with a magnesium bar that makes it simple to get going. This SE FS374 2-IN-1 Fire Starter includes not only the magnesium bar and flint but also a small compass that will help you know where you’re going at all times.

Able to easily fit in your pocket, it also comes on a ball chain so you can attach to a keychain as well. This unit is extremely inexpensive and allows you to easily strike and go. It’s even waterproof and windproof.

It may take a little bit to get used to how it works, but it’s definitely going to be a great piece because it has unlimited strikes to keep going and creating new fires all the time. That’s definitely going to be a benefit, especially when you see how inexpensive this unit really is.

PROS:

  • Good set of features
  • Very affordable
  • Produces powerful strikes

CONS:

  • Problems with built-in striker
  • Not great for beginners

Related: The SE FS374 works really well, but you may need to spare some time to learn the ropes first because the first few strikes won’t come easy. In case you don’t have the patience for that, consider purchasing this simple-to-use Nomad Glow-In-The-Dark Fire Starter instead.

Check the price on Amazon

Smith & Wesson Fire Striker w/ Survival KitSmith & Wesson Fire Striker w Survival Kit

Price: Approx. $10

Weight: 1.6 oz

Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 1 inches

Specific features: Multiple pieces, designed to last under tough conditions, low price

Best use: Multi-purpose, camping

Description: If you’re looking for something that gives you plenty of options and not just a great way to build a fire but several other survival tools as well, you’re in the right place. The Smith & Wesson Fire Striker w/ Survival Kit has not only a strong and multi-strike tool to build your fire, but also a variety of other tools.

You get a fishing line, weights, matches, fishing hooks, compass and needles to make sure that, no matter what happens, you’re able to take care of any emergency situation. It’s really a one-stop solution for the outdoor survivalist in you. It’s hard to believe how affordable it is considering all the features you get.

Plus the unit is designed to help you get a good flame quickly and easily, without having to worry about the type of tinder you have available or the other things you need. Just attach it to a lanyard and you’ll be ready to go.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • Comes with useful tools in the survival kit
  • Works great

CONS:

  • The cord is a bit short
  • The survival kit is a bit of a hassle to carry around

Related: Complete your kit with a great folding knife by purchasing the Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S Folding Knife. It’s made of high quality carbon stainless steel and features ambidextrous thumb knobs.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

And that ends our review section. The 9 fire starter options we’ve reviewed are all top-quality products that are guaranteed to work even in less-than-ideal conditions. They are also lightweight and compact so you’ll never have any problem carrying them as a part of your emergency survival kit.

When you decide on the perfect fire starter you’re definitely going to be glad that you have it. After all, your fire starter is going to be one of the most important tools that you take with you on that next trip. So take a moment to consider what you’re really getting and make sure it’s the one you want, even if it’s not one of these.

Fire in the wild

When you’ve had a chance to look it over, make sure that you let us know what you think. What’s your favorite fire starter and how have you used it while you’re out camping? Share your experience with us by posting a comment below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • John L. Streik

    I love Bear Grylls Fire Starter! It is inexpensive and easy to use. As a survival expert and gadget junkie, it’s absolutely my favorite! My wife was also impressed and she managed to make a fire with just 30 seconds of instructions (on her 4th strike). The unit is a bit bulky but is easier to control with the added size, so it’s a fair trade-off. It is highly recommended.

  • Mark Foster

    Glad you like it. It also doubles as a whistle and it’s so easy to use. Novice campers love how user-friendly it is. It’s also inexpensive and with waterproof storage, how can you lose?

  • Patrick Calhoun

    For many times the Lightning Strike by Holland got a fire started when I used it in windy weather with snow on the ground. I have to admit that I find it expensive but with the reputation of the Holland, I looked no further. It is very durable and has easily replaceable parts. It doesn’t matter whether you are in tough, rainy and wet conditions. This will successfully start a fire for you.

    • Mark Foster

      There are certain brands and products worth paying much more and the Holland is one of them. I’ve been in situations where we badly need to start a fire and we’re all drenched! The Lightning Strike by Holland has always worked and I’m very pleased to recommend it to everyone. With a lot of eye catching colors to choose from, the Holland is a favorite and a trusty companion.

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