Along with shelter, water, and food, fire is one of the core 4 essentials you need to survive in the wilderness or when the shiz hits the fan.
In a survival situation, away from the conveniences of modern life, you must have a way to cook your food, stave off predators, act as a light source and even help you prepare tools.
15 Best Fire Starters for Backpackers and Preppers
Making fire without the assistance of modern tools such as survival lighters can be difficult though, as you must find the right materials, in ideal conditions to allow you to start the first spark and build an adequately sized fire.
Bear Grylls fire starter is a device with a Ferrocerium rod and metal striker.
It comes with a waterproof storage compartment to keep the tinder-dry when not in use. The lanyard helps to keep each piece secure while you are using it.
The fire starter comes in a kit that contains the starter, lanyard, rod, and emergency survival guide.
A whistle is included in the rod for use during emergencies. Small and compact, this fire starter is portable and easy to use. However, users have complained that the chord it comes with is too short to wear around the neck.
|Black||0.1 kg||9.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches||Ferrocerium rod and metal striker|
- Compact fire starter with a metal striker
- Contains a lanyard to keep the product secure and together
- The emergency whistle is integrated into the lanyard cord
- Waterproof storage compartment for tinder
- It has land to air rescue instructions and SOS
- The design of the fire starter could use some work
- Tough to pull apart when plugged together
- The placement of the kindling needs improvement.
This fire starter makes use of a compact aluminum rod that can be scrapped to create shavings for starting a fire.
It comes with a black flint striking rod and serrated metal striker. To use, you simply use the serrated metal striker to create shavings, place the shavings on tinder (dry leaves, twigs, grass, etc) and strike the flint to create a spark.
The fire starter comes with a bonus compass, is easy to use, and provides enough aluminum shavings for up to 100 fires.
Its main disadvantage is that the magnesium rod is a bit difficult to scrape so it might take you quite a while to get the shavings you need to start a fire.
|Metallic||0.75 pounds||5.5” x 0.2” x 3”||3″ x 1″ solid magnesium fuel bar with flint, Single-sided serrated striker|
- Compact and lightweight design (it easily fits in a pocket)
- Very convenient 2-in-1 design (compass and igniter)
- You can quickly produce sparks with the single-sided serrated scraper
- Magnesium rods with excellent performance
- It isn’t easy to light up the first time
- Sometimes the serrated striker won’t be enough to get the fire started
The Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL is a fantastic, dependable, and compact firesteel. But where does it fit with our wood gear and daily carry?
What we like most about the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL is how little it is while still being functional. You can easily acquire a good hold on the handle of this little daily carry Ferro rod while maintaining a firm hold on its razor-sharp tungsten carbide striker.
You will not damage the nanoSTRIKER XL Ferro rod since it is entirely inside an aluminum and waterproof body. Damage has always been a significant issue for some when EDCing other tiny fire steels.
Returning to the Tungsten Carbine striker, they are undoubtedly the greatest strikers available. They are razor-sharp and retain their edge over time. We wish every firesteel had this striker.
What about the rest of the firesteel? It is incredible. The ferrocerium rod itself produces intense sparks, hasn’t worn down much with use, and can be replaced. And the aluminum body is fantastic. It provides excellent protection for the Ferro rod, but it also provides excellent grip and is precisely made in the United States.
|Blaze Orange||0.06 pounds||3.65 x 0.43 x 0.43 inches||Ferrocerium rod and Nanostriker XL|
- It works well and lightweight
- No fuel required
- Replacement Ferro rod available
- Quality made and well designed
- Comes nicely packaged
- You need to put it on a loop. It can and does unscrew and get lost.
- Difficult to use with gloves on
Even if the ground is damp, the Ultimate Survival Technologies Spark Force Firestarter assures that you can quickly light a fire anywhere and whenever you need it. It is compact and portable and produces sparks even when it is raining.
Many people have trouble starting a fire, and it is much more difficult if they don’t have the right tools. That is where the Ultimate Survival Technologies Spark Force Firestarter comes in — it is simple to use, whether you are a novice or a seasoned outdoor enthusiast.
The most dependable technique to ignite a fire is using a spark lighter. The Ultimate Survival Technologies Spark Force Firestarter has a tiny, flint-based bar that will light a fire even in the most desperate of circumstances, even if your tinder is wet. Take this lifesaver with you since you never know when you need it, particularly in the woods.
This firestarter is a super lightweight firestarter that weighs about 0.06 pounds and is small enough to fit in your pocket or palm. I i’s built to last and is well-made. The firestarter is composed of ABS, a lightweight yet sturdy material.
ABS, an opaque thermoplastic and amorphous polymer that is very strong is used to make the Ultimate Survival Technologies Spark Force Firestarter. ABS is chemically resistant and has a high physical impact tolerance. It is also waterproof so that you may use it in wet or rainy conditions. The material used to make the outside shell is temperature and weather-resistant.
|Orange||0.06 pounds||3.1 x 3.1 x 0.43 inches||Flint-based fire starter|
- You can use it even when wet and in the rain
- Excellent compact striker and rod combo
- Compact and lightweight
- Good economical pricing
- The rod is a little smaller than others which can make it a little more challenging to strike with
It is critical to keep your hiking and trekking gear dry while on the trail. When it comes to matches and lighters, this is particularly important. It will be almost hard to ignite your fire when you set up camp if they get damp.
When you pick the Morakniv Companion Spark 3.9-Inch Fixed-Blade Outdoor Knife to increase the heat, this will not be an issue. This powerful model comes with a unique fire starter. The fire starter is magnesium alloy, and you can expect to endure around 3,000 hits.
This knife is textured to provide a solid grip and fits comfortably in your hand. As a result, you will never have to worry about it sliding from your grasp while in use.
The blade is razor-sharp and keeps its edge for a long time. When sharpening is required, the blade’s design makes it simple. You will not have to worry about unintentionally injuring yourself since the knife comes with a matching sheath.
This model is built to last and is guaranteed to provide you with peace of mind. The Morakniv Companion Spark 3.9-Inch Fixed-Blade Outdoor Knife is backed by a lifetime guarantee. You can replace it for free if it breaks or fails.
|Red||128 grams||9.4 x 4.1 x 2.5 inches||Integrated fire starter made from a magnesium alloy|
- Equipped with a reflective lanyard that allows for maximum visibility
- It comes with a twist-lock handle that makes it easy to carry
- Supplied with a fire starter
- The blade knife is ideal for carving, food prep, and cutting tinder
- It comes with a matching sheath.
- Ordinary build quality may not last long
- Not possible to attach the fire starter to the knife
The Outdoor Element Firebiner is a well-made carabiner with a fire wheel that lights up almost every time. There is also a sharp cutting tool, a bottle cap opener, etc. We were able to ignite a fire in a few seconds each time using tinder from Outdoor Element or other handmade tinder.
The “wheel” lit almost every time, and the blade cut through a plastic rope that needed trimming. We also got a waterproof vial containing tinder which was quite helpful.
The most challenging part was deciding what kind of tinder to start a fire. With the tinder we got from Outdoor Element, we created a fire with only a few sparks. We also had success with some handmade tinder created from cotton balls and vaseline.
We will be taking this along on future camping vacations since it is a fun, well-made “firebiner.” We have started a half-dozen fires using the firebiner while camping in nice weather with dry wood, which is also a fascinating learning curve for everyone.
The Firebiner uses a technology called EverSpark, which is a patent-pending Spark Wheel that makes it easier to ignite fires. This firebiner is the carabiner’s selling point and the inspiration for the name.
|Black Forest||0.07 ounces||3 x 1.5 x 0.44 inches||Firebiner EvesSpark, Tinder, Fire wheel|
- Well made and well-built
- Sparks just about every time
- Multiple uses such as cutting cord and bottle opener
- The fire starter works great
- The blade was very sharp
- You must have an excellent tinder to get the fire started
7. Uberleben Zünden Traditional Bushcraft Fire Steel with wood handle, 5/16″ thick Ferro Rod Fire Starter for Survival
The Uberleben Zunden Bushcraft Fire Steel is a premium fire starter that comes with a wooden handle and a thick Ferrocerium rod.
A braided nylon lanyard, concave toothed scraper, and free 3 ply tinder come with this fire starter to help you get started with fire building.
Customers love this product for the great organic feel of its handle, durability, and ability to create large sparks.
Its major downside is that it requires a mighty stroke to get the sparks going but the great number and size of sparks more than makeup for this.
|Pro (⅜”)||0.11lbs||0.95 x 0.66 x 4.8 inches||Up to 12,000 strikes from thick 5/16″ (8mm) ferrocerium rod|
- Contains a hardwood handle that offers a better grip
- Compact and has space-saving design
- Ferrocerium is the perfect balance between softness and durability
- May arrive damaged due to ordinary packaging
- A little more expensive than a stand-alone fire starter
The UST StrikeForce fire starter is a one-of-a-kind piece of equipment. It not only has a strong striker and Ferro rod, but it also has a little pocket for storing sure-fire tinder. The case provides you with a highly robust and solid grip, especially useful in bad weather. This all-in-one fire starter is excellent for individuals who wish to travel light yet have a reliable means to build a fire.
We wrapped both ends of our StrikeForce with many lengths of 1′′-wide Gorilla Duct Tape. You can use it to secure bandages, secure sticks for a field-expedient splint, and for first aid.
We picked two Micro Inferno Sticks as our sure-fire tinder for the compartment. When coupled with the StrikeForce, you will have a sure-fire in any situation.
The Ferro rod and striker that come with this device are durable and create some of the hottest sparks we have ever seen from a Ferro rod.
Any survival kit and hiking bag should have this item. Suppose you are a member of a military SOF unit that is always on the field. This item is valuable to carry in your kit in case of an emergency or a SERE scenario when your life depends on starting a tiny fire.
|Orange, Yellow Green||0.11lbs||0.95 x 0.66 x 4.8 inches||Up to 12,000 strikes from thick 5/16″ (8mm) ferrocerium rod|
- Works in almost any conditions
- Hard to lose working pieces
- It has a compartment for storing tinder
- The UST Ferro rod comes in a self-contained case
- Requires two hands
- The rod is relatively short, making it a bit harder to use
The Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set produces constant sparks from the first stroke to the last. Because the rod is made entirely of ferrocerium, you may hit every component.
We found the fire pit to be simple to use. Scratch the paint off the Ferro rod and hit with the striker’s edge pressed on the Ferro rod.
You may use the Fire Set at any height and in any weather. It is the ideal complement to your bug-out packs and survival kits.
The gently curved form of the steel striker enables it to nestle against the rod, making it simple to pack and store. It is not like this is a sophisticated machine that needs meticulous attention to detailed instructions to operate. It has two components, and the directions might be as basic as “rub the striker’s sharp edge against the rod.”
Someone not acquainted with the notion would try to utilize the striker’s rounded body against the rod, but a simple glance at the box would clear that up.
The rounded striker, which essentially curls around the rod, is a beautiful concept because it enables you to make a package that is about the size of a heavy ballpoint pen. Most flat strikers hang from the end of the paracord and are not as compact.
These are decent ferrocerium rods. The striker is long enough to be used with the lanyard. It is long enough to produce a lot of nice sparks and ignite flames. It comes highly recommended.
|Black||2.23 ounces||3.94 x 0.43 x 0.45 inches||Ferro rod, Lanyard|
- Easy to use
- The Fire Set strikes at all altitudes and even in wet conditions
- Perfect addition to your survival kits and bug-out bags
- The lanyard is long enough for good sparks
- Somewhat oddly shaped to fit snug with the steel
- Hard to keep the spark still
The Bushcraft Survival Ferro Rod Fire Starter Kit is essential if you prefer camping in harsh weather or on the most challenging terrain. This pack will help you be prepared for the unexpected and includes vital survival essentials for any intrepid outdoor traveler.
The Bushcraft Survival fire starter creates nice, steady sparks, so you can use it to make a fire or light a stove whether you are planning a walk in the Rockies or a family camping vacation.
The fire starter boasts a robust ferrocerium/magnesium mix rod and a handmade cherry wood handle for a secure grip, and the metal striker can withstand up to 15,000 strikes in damp conditions.
Because the fire starter is lightweight and small, and a durable lanyard line links the rod and striker, you may have it in your pocket or attached to your bag.
The Bushcraft Survival fire starting set contains a paracord bracelet with a built-in whistle, a cutting blade, an integrated compass, a bonus micro Ferro rod, and a helpful storage bag if you find yourself in an emergency. You can utilize a hex wrench, a ruler, and a bottle opener with the steel striker.
Make careful to scrape the black protective paint off the ferrous rod before attempting to start a fire.
|Wood||4.1 ounces||8.39 x 3.98 x 1.54 inches||Premium Ferro Rod, Attached Steel Striker|
- Good quality and good value for money
- Reliable fire starter
- Waterproof and windproof
- Lightweight and compact
- You can use the striker as a hex wrench, a ruler, and a bottle opener
- Ferrous rod has protective paint that you need to scrape first
- The compass and whistle do not function well
ESEE Fire Steel for True Flint & Steel Fire is one of our favorites. However, it does get hot, so something between your hand and the steel is ideal. A thick glove, scarf, green leaves, a thick piece of bark, a spare sock, and other items function well as heat insulation.
It hits a Ferro rod hard. It also works well with a lump of flint. We advocate just striking flint with one side of the Ferro rod, keeping the other clean and sharp for the Ferro rod.
It can also be tied off to a lanyard, which makes it easier to find (and harder to lose), tied off to your belt and carried in a pocket, worn around your neck, tied off to a belt pouch kit, and so on, thanks to its design. You can also remove the lanyard using a lark’s head knot, so it will not get in the way of usage.
After everything is said and done, it will fit neatly into your typical char container.
It creates a practically frictionless bearing block, removing one variable from the process of experimenting with novel wood combinations while also saving energy. However, it also has a very efficient Ferro rod scraper and a flint striker. It is also solid since a couple inadvertently falls into the pavement and pebbles with no harm.
Overall, ESEE Fire Steel is undoubtedly one of our favorite primitive fire tools on the market.
|Carbon Steel||0.1 pounds||9 x 1 x 2 inches||Ferro rod scraper and a flint striker|
- It strikes a Ferro rod well
- Ergonomic design
- It can tie it off to your belt and carry in a pocket
- Durable and long-lasting
- It does get hot
The Coghlan flint striker is the cheapest fire starter on our list, costing just $5.02. It is a Ferro rod with a steel striker on a lanyard loop 3 and 7/8 inches long. It features a little plastic handle to hold onto, and when hit, it generates a gratifying shower of sparks. This waterproof tool will light your campfire at any height and survive thousands of strikes regardless of the weather. The ferrocerium rod and striker are linked by a string, making them ideal for camping, hiking, or bushcrafting.
If you like your gear to be as essential as possible, this striker and rod are the way to go. This fire starter is the obvious option for people on a budget. However, the Coghlan flint striker’s simplistic form makes it a bit difficult to operate, and other choices provide far greater simplicity of use. The rod will require scraping before it is ready to use for the first time in the field since it is another fire starter that you need to break-in.
Overall, the Coghlan’s Ferro Rod is a fire starter as simple as they come. There are no frills or gimmicks in the packing. Its greatness stems from its simplicity.
|Black||0.12 pounds||6 x 4 x 1 inches||Ferro rod with a steel striker|
- Very affordable
- Simple and effective
- Difficult to use
- Rod needs break-in
The friendly Swede fire starter is a lightweight, pocket-size fire starter that comes with a braided lanyard and emergency whistle. Each pack comes with one orange and one black fire starter, each with an aluminium rod in a plastic casing along with a striker.
The smallness of this fire starter makes it easy to carry around your neck or inside your pocket. The two main cons are that the sound on the whistle is very low and the rod sometimes falls out of the plastic casing.
|Color:||Shipping Weight:||Measures:||Firestarter components:|
|Black||0.64 kg||5.31 x 1.73 x 1.65 inches||Magnesium Fire Starters – New and Improved Version|
- Features attached chain that prevents it from misplacing
- Flint rod throws hot and accurate sparks even under strong winds
- Comes in compact size
- Improved design
- Made of mediocre quality magnesium that may not ignite easily
- Requires some effort to get a fire going
If you are going on a genuine expedition, you will want to carry the UCO Stormproof Match Kit. These matches are waterproof, won’t go out, and will instantly relight after being immersed in water.
Waterproof UCO Stormproof Matches are 2.75 inches long, providing a 15-second burn time while lowering the risk of burns. They come in a water-resistant ABS plastic box with a changeable striker built into the side. If you put this case in water, it will float; replace it with one of the other two strikers included in the set if the striker gets wet.
While you may be able to find cheaper solutions elsewhere, they will not be of the same high quality, and you should not put your safety in their hands. These are the matches for you if you want a worry-free journey and are willing to pay a premium.
Even in the most extreme weather, this kit is straightforward to use. It also includes an interchangeable, external, and integrated striker. Matches with a longer length provide more excellent safety by protecting your fingers from undesired burns.
|Color:||Shipping Weight:||Measures:||Firestarter components:|
|No color||0.12 grams||3 x 2 x 2 inches||25 Stormproof Matches and 3 Strikers|
- Matches are easy to light
- The durable, waterproof case floats and keeps contents dry and protected
- Up to 15-second burn time
- It comes with a replaceable striker UCO stormproof match kit
- These are some huge matches
- A little on the heavy side for backpacking gear
This is the best-rated fire starter on the market today thanks to its user-friendly features and affordable price. Made up of a magnesium striker and metal rod, it comes with a lanyard and compass and is known to provide up to 15000 strikes.
It also has a loud quality whistle which can be heard over several miles, while the lanyard makes great tinder for starting fires.
On the whole, many users report no cons with this product but the compass is a bit on the small side and tends to wander a bit if air bubbles are trapped inside.
|Color:||Shipping Weight:||Measures:||Firestarter components:|
|Black||0.05 kg||7 x 4 x 1 inches||Magnesium fire starter stick|
- Compact size makes it easy to put into the backpack
- Windproof build makes it ideal for use in different weather conditions
- Comes with all in one fire starter kit suitable for camping
- Great bang for your buck
- The whistle is very loud when used properly and the compass is effective
- The handles may be short
- The compass is a little on the small side
- The lanyard is made of pretty cheap rope
Methods to Start a Fire
Several methods can cause a fire to start aside from using lighters and matches. If you were to go hiking or backpacking, you must be familiar with the different ways you can make fire, in case one method fails.
1. Natural Occurrences
Fire can naturally start because of lightning strikes, meteorites, and volcanic activity. Because of these natural occurrences, plants and animals have learned to adjust their life and behavior to adapt to it.
Humans, since the early ages, have made use of fire mainly for warmth and cooking. The easiest method they used to create fire was to use burning wood or hot ashes from a grass or forest fire. They put in an additional combustible material to keep the coals or fire going as long as they can.
Fire can be made by rubbing combustible materials rapidly against each other until they are head and produce an ember. Once hot enough, the tinder is exposed to the ember to ignite it further. Then, one needs to add more oxygen by blowing on the materials. Doing so will cause the fire to spread further.
- Hand Drill
To make fire using a hand drill, you need a thin, straight wood shaft, a fireboard, and a good amount of tinder. Hold the shaft in a vertical position between your palms. Its bottom tip should be in the carved notch of your fireboard.
Start spinning quickly with downward pressure until you get an ember. A hand drill is best used for making a fire in dry climates.
- Bow Drill
A bow drill works in a similar matter with the hand drill.
You also create friction by rotating a wooden shaft on a wooden board. However, the shaft here is wider and shorter. Instead of just bare hands, a bow is used to drive the shaft to protect the palms and to make the strokes longer and easier.
- Pump Drill
The pump drill works the same way as a bow drill, except that this method uses a coiled rope wrapped around the cross-section of a wooden stake to spin the wooden shaft instead of a bow.
One advantage of using a pump drill instead of a bow or hand drill is that a user can continue operating a pump drill with just one hand while using the other hand to steady and position the work.
- Fire Plough
Another method that makes use of friction is the fire plough.
Materials needed are a long, wooden stick with a dull point and a long piece of wood that has a groove cut down vertically in the middle. Press down the wooden stick and rub it quickly against the groove of the long piece of wood. Do this action repeatedly and in a plowing motion until an ember is produced.
When you hit a fire striker or firesteel using hard, glassy stone, hot, oxidizing metals are produced that can spark tinder. Quartz, flint, agate, or jasper are some of the stones that can be used in this scenario. The steel must be hardened, high carbon, and non-alloyed.
In pre-industrial societies, the flint became the most popular technique of creating flames.
- Ferro Rod and Striker
The use of a ferro rod and striker to create fire date back to the early Iron Age.
Thus, making this fire starting method very ancient. All you have to do is strike the flint on a steel or iron. This action causes the material to shave off very heated small metal pieces. Direct these metal pieces to tinder or char cloth to create fire.
Modern ferro rods and strikers use ferrocerium alloy instead of flint. This material has been proven to create more sparks that burn longer.
This fire starter set is small and light. You can easily toss one or two of them in your pocket or backpack. However, some technique is required to make a fire out of them successfully.
Lighters make use of a percussion-type sparking device that ignites liquid fuels to make fire.
Naphtha or gasoline or commonly used as a gas or liquid fuels in a lighter. This item is one of the more high tech types of survival starters. No repeated manual action is required to ignite a fire.
All you have to do is spin the wheel mechanism using your thumb, and you’re good to go. Aside from being easy to use, it is also small, light, and cheap. There’s absolutely no reason not to include a few of these in your backpack.
4. Compression of Air
Nearly all gases can heat up if compressed.
If you make the compression faster and harder, the gas gets hotter. The gas can become extremely hot to the point that it would be enough to produce fire.
Your diesel engine functions in a similar way. No spark plugs are present, instead, the mixture and fuel and air are ignited through compression when you close up the cylinder.
- Fire Piston
The main principle behind the fire piston is physics’ first law of thermodynamics: energy cannot be created or destroyed – it has to go somewhere.
A fire piston has only two parts: a thick-walled tube and a rod that fits perfectly when inserted in the tube. Modern fire pistons are made of aluminum. Older versions were made of either wood, horn, antlers, or bamboo.
To make fire, insert tinder or char cloth into the tube. Then, quickly and forcefully insert the rod to compress the air inside and heat the cloth or tinder until ignition. Fire pistons are light and portable.
It’s convenient to carry them around. However, once the seal is compromised, the entire device is already ruined. So, be careful in handling them and learn the proper technique when striking the rod to achieve your desired result.
Sunlight, of course, can be used to make fire. By using a lens, it can be concentrated so its energy is focused on the tinder. Lens such as a concave mirror or a burning glass can be used to execute this method.
- Magnifying Lens
As mentioned above, a clear lens can be used as a fire starter. The lens can be made of plastic, glass, or even ice.
This method, however, needs a sunny day and a good lens with magnification power. These requirements are too specific, so make sure you have other fire-starting alternatives. Simply hold the lens on top of the tinder and move it back until a bright white point of light is seen where the sun’s rays are focused. Hold the lens still until you start seeing smoke.
Once enough heat is generated, an exothermic chemical reaction can set itself or tinder on fire. A good example of a material that uses this method is a match stick. When triggered by friction, it’s coating produces an exothermic reaction.
Matches are one of the most popular fire starting mechanisms.
The Chinese invented it over 1400 years ago. Through trade, it spread slowly to other continents. As mentioned, the colored tip of a match stick is coated in a highly combustible chemical. Strike it once on the material located on the sides of the matchbox, and you are good to go.
Matches are good fire starters because using it does not require much technique, energy, or time.
They are also very cheap, light, and portable. You can carry several boxes while on the go. However, You have to be careful in storing and using them because moisture can easily ruin them.