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In an emergency, fire can mean the difference between life and death. Not only can fire be used for warmth or for cooking food, but fire can also be used to sterilize water for drinking and signaling rescuers of your location. Being able to start a fire is a must in any emergency or backcountry situation. There are numerous fire starters on the market, and this article will go through our top 10 best fire starters for your potential emergencies

Product FAQ

Before we move on to our list of the best fire starters, we will take a moment to answer some frequently asked questions on the subject.

1. What Is an Emergency Fire Starter?

An emergency fire starter is a device that can be used to create the spark needed to start a fire. Most of the emergency fire starters on our list use a sparking bar that is struck with a metal striker to produce sparks. These sparks are directed at tinder; the tinder may be chemically treated and come with the fire starter, or it may be naturally sourced from the environment. One of the best fire starters on our list does not use sparks but compressed air to heat a charred piece of cloth to 500°F, making it smolder. This cloth is then used to start a fire.

2. What Else Is Needed to Start a Fire?

Fires need much more than a spark to burn. If you find yourself in an emergency and need a fire beyond a fire starter, you will need tinder and fuel for the fire. Fuel is the easiest to understand. Dry wooden logs and branches are the most common type of fuel for an emergency fire, but other dry plants and even animal dung can be used.

As for tinder, many of the fire starters on our list include chemically treated tinder pellets that can get the larger pieces of fuel to burn, but tinder can be gathered as well. Ideal tinder includes small sticks, dried grass or leaves. These can be piled and the spark of the fire starter directed at them. Tinder can also be produced with a knife by cutting larger pieces of wood into very thin strips

3. What Are Some Important Safety Tips for Backwoods Fires?

If you are making a fire in the backwoods, you must always be vigilant against allowing the fire to spread. Always clear the area where you plan to build your fire of any flammable debris. Use rocks to create a fire pit to help ensure that the fire will not spread and make sure that the area above the fire is clear of tree branches. Keep water on hand at all times to douse the fire should it spread, and before moving on, douse the fire completely. Never leave a smoldering fire. If there is any smoke at all, it could still come back to life.

How We Reviewed the Best Fire Starters

To provide you with the most critical information on the best fire starters, in our review, we looked at the following: features, price, where to buy, and warranty. The features we prized in our reviews were the ease-of-use, lifetime of the product, and the sparker used in the fire starter.

Overall Price Range

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The overall price range on the best fire starters is $10 to $100. Each fire starter was given a price rating of $, $$, or $$$, where $ indicates a price at the lower end of the range, and $$$ indicates a price at the higher end.

What We Reviewed

  • UST Sparkie Fire Starter
  • Exotac nanoSTRIKER
  • Lightning Strike Mini Fire Starter
  • Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter
  • Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
  • Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston
  • Zippo Emergency Fire Kit
  • Aurora Fire Starter
  • Fire-Fast Trekker
  • UST BlastMatch Fire Starter

UST Sparkie Fire Starter

UST Sparkie Firestarter with Built-In Carbide Striker and Spring...
  • DIMENSIONS: 2.3" L x 1.25" W x 0.6" D and weighs 08. oz
  • RELIABLE: Generates sparks three times hotter than a normal match; spring-loaded flint based bar will last over 100...
  • CONVENIENT: Lightweight and designed for one-handed use; Ignites a wide range of tinders; sparks can be generated in...

Features

An innovative one-handed flint-based fire starter, the UST Sparkie Fire Starter features a rugged design with a spring-loaded flint bar that has a lifetime of over 100 strikes. Ultra lightweight, the flint rod collapses into the case for ease of transport. As it is designed for precision use, it can directionally target its sparks so that more of them will hit your prepared tinder even in adverse weather conditions, earning it a spot on our list of best fire starters.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The UST Sparkie Fire Starter is protected by a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.

Exotac nanoSTRIKER

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter, Black
  • Ultra-portable for key ring, pocket and neck carry
  • Replaceable 1/4" Ferrocerium rod works when wet
  • Up to 3000 fire-starting strikes

Features

Among our list of the best fire starters, the Exotic nanoSTRIKER produced the largest sparks, making it one of the easier fire starters to use for starting a fire. This is a pendant-style fire starter that would make for a good addition to a keychain or could be hung from your backpack when in the backcountry. Utilizing a tungsten carbide strike control with a ferrocerium and magnesium rod, it can spark upwards of three thousand times in its lifetime.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Exotic nanoSTRIKER is protected by a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty against defects during the manufacturing process.

Lightning Strike Mini Fire Starter

Lightning Strike Holland's Blue Mini Fire Starter
  • The new Mini Lightning Strike is a smaller, lighter version of our standard Lightning Strike. It is the ideal tool where...
  • The Mini Lightning Strike is available in Black Ops, Dark Blue, Fiery Red & Forrest Green. The housing is anodized...
  • The ferrocerium rod generates a large quantity of sparks. It is locked in the barrel of the Lightning Strike with a set...

Features

The Lighting Strike Mini Fire Starter is one of the higher end models among the best fire starters on our list. It uses a ferrocerium rod that generates a lot of sparks for such a compactly designed fire starter. It also features a storage compartment for chemical tinder, but as with all the other best fire starters on our list, it can be used to burn naturally sourced tinder such as wood shavings, dry grass or moss. It comes preloaded with enough tinder to start about a dozen fires when used correctly.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Lightning Strike Mini Fire Starter is protected by a limited lifetime warranty.

Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter

Light My Fire Original Swedish FireSteel Army 12,000 Strike Fire...
  • Durable - Army model lasts 12000 strikes
  • Produces a 3000°C (5,500°F) spark
  • Works when wet

Features

Another of the Ferro rod strikers on our list of best fire starters, the Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter is a multi-tasker, as it is a fire knife. It features a fixed-blade knife with a blade made from hardened stainless steel and a handle made from high friction TPE rubber that is also anti-slip. The fire starter fits into the handle of the knife and is made of magnesium that produces a spark at over 5000°F. This lasts for approximately 3000 strikes. As a knife is an essential survival tool, the combination of a knife and fire starter gives you two tools needed for survival in one package.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Light My Fire Swedish Fire Starter is protected by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects during the manufacturing process.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter [31-000699]
  • Compact fire starter with ferrocerium rod and metal striker
  • Lanyard to keep product secure and together
  • Emergency Whistle - Integrated into lanyard cord

Features

Unsurprisingly, given it was designed by the noted British adventurer, TV personality, and survivalist Bear Grylls, the Gerber Bear Grylls compact fire starter is on our list of the best fire starters. With its small size at only 4.8 inches long and weighing only 2.6 oz, this compact fire starter uses a ferrocerium rod for large sparks and features a waterproof compartment for keeping tinder dry. It also includes a Bear Grylls pocket survival guide that can instruct you on how to deal with survival situations beyond getting a fire started.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Fire Starter is protected by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston

Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston
  • MADE IN THE U.S.A Primary or backup fire starting tool
  • Great fire starting device that uses air
  • MADE IN THE U.S.A

Features

Of all the best fire starters on our list, the Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston uses the most unique system to start a fire using only air and a piece of char cloth. The cloth is placed inside the tube of the fire piston; the fire piston is then struck against a hard surface with such force that the air inside compresses. This compression of air raises the temperature up to 500°F—high enough to ignite the char cloth. Once the smoldering char cloth is removed, it can be added to tinder and create a fire.

One benefit of this method is that the fire piston can be reused indefinitely as long as you have the char cloth to use in it. The char cloth itself can be made at home as any cloth made from plant fibers that have been charred but not burned will work. It is also one of the more elegant looking among the best fire starters on our list, with its piston enclosed by hickory.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston is protected by a lifetime warranty limited to manufacturing defects.

Zippo Emergency Fire Kit

Zippo Emergency Fire Kit
  • Zippo flint spark wheel
  • Includes 5 easy lightweight paraffin wax-coated cotton spark tinder; ignites with spark or flame and Burns up to 5...
  • Ergonomic design with textured grip; water-resistant storage

Features

Zippo might be best known for their lighters, and the Zippo Emergency Fire Kit uses the same flint striker used in their more famous lighters. The kit also includes five lightweight paraffin wax coated cotton spark tinders that burn up to five minutes. It is bright orange and floats, making it ideal for emergency situations as it can easily be found should you drop it. Because it floats, it can be easily recovered should you lose it in water. On the downside, the spark wheel is not ideal for lighting naturally sourced tinder, so starting a fire after you have run out of the included specially made tinder tablets can be difficult.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

Zippo protects their emergency fire kit with a two-year warranty limited to manufacturing defects.

Aurora Fire Starter

Aurora Fire Starter 440C Silver
  • Quality tested and ensured for maximum durability
  • Designed with only the toughest, roughest users in mind
  • Comfort and Performance come hand in hand with Rothco

Features

The Rothco Aurora Fire Starter is one of the longest manufactured fire starters on our list of best fire starters and for good reason. It features a compact and durable design that makes it a favorite among those who use fire starters often. Its fire rod is made from a combination of both ferrocerium and magnesium, ensuring that you get a big spark no matter the weather. It could be snowing, raining or blowing wind, but the Aurora fire starter will get the job done. It does not contain a storage compartment for chemical tinder but can easily be used with the naturally sourced variety.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Arora Fire Starter is protected by a lifetime warranty.

Fire-Fast Trekker

Fire-Fast Trekker. Best Emergency Waterproof Survival Fire Starter....
  • FERRO ROD made in Althofen/Austria combine a century of craftsmanship with high tech expertise to produce ferrocerium...
  • MILITARY GRADE MAGNESIUM ROD used to create a burst of intense heat and flame kickstarting a fire even in the worst of...
  • HARDWOOD HANDLE crafted for sure grip even in the dead of winter. The handle can be scraped to produce dry tinder –...

Features

The Fire-Fast Trekker features an elegant design with a wooden handle and dual fire rods, including one made of ferrocerium and another made from a military-grade magnesium alloy. The ferrocerium rod provides for large and easy-to-use sparks in normal conditions while the military-grade magnesium alloy rod can provide sparks in adverse conditions when the ferrocerium rod would fail. The striker/scraper is made from hardened steel and sharpened to ensure the greatest amount of sparking, but won’t cut your skin. It does not come with its own chemical tinder but can be used easily with naturally sourced tinder.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The Fire-Fast Trekker is protected by a 1-year warranty limited to manufacturing defects.

UST BlastMatch Fire Starter

Aurora Fire Starter 440C Silver
  • Quality tested and ensured for maximum durability
  • Designed with only the toughest, roughest users in mind
  • Comfort and Performance come hand in hand with Rothco

Features

This contender for the best fire starter can be operated with a single hand. The UST Blastmatch Fire Starter uses a flint rod and tungsten carbide striker that can produce directional sparks with the press of a single button. Small and lightweight, it also features a bright orange color to ensure that it is found easily should it be dropped and can last up to a thousand strikes before the flint bar is used up. Working both wet or dry, it is ideal for all manners of emergencies.

  • Where to Buy
  • Warranty

Amazon

The UST Blastmatch Fire Starter is protected by a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects in materials and workmanship.

The Verdict

While all the best fire starters on our list could be used for lighting fires in emergencies, there are a couple we consider superior. These are the Lighting Strike Fire Starter and Fire-Fast Fire Starter. Both fire starters use Ferro rod and strikers to create sparks, but the Fire-Fast Fire Starter also uses a magnesium rod, making it the best for starting fires in adverse weather conditions.

Another standout on the list was the Campfirepiston Hickory Fire Piston. Because it uses a fire piston instead of a striker, it can be used indefinitely, as long as you have enough char cloth to ignite. As char cloth can be made yourself by charring plant-based cloth, this is the fire starter that can take the most amount of use.

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