Best Fire Starters – My Top 7 Picks!

Fire StartersIn any type of emergency situation, starting a fire is often an important part of survival. Even if the emergency is not life or death, often being able to start a fire can significantly increase the comfort level of everyone involved. In a bug out situation or if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere, being able to start a fire may be a life or death matter.

There is a lot to consider when planning what fire starters to get for what part of your emergency preparedness. You might want water proof matches in a waterproof kit with some dry tender for your bug out bag. And if fact you might want to have one of those in each of your preparations. But in planning for a longer term more remote type emergency, you might run out of matches. Something like a flint striker (and knowing how to use it) might be crucial.

In this article I am going to focus on a variety of solutions that you can keep with you for different type situations. I will include what I think are the very best for their category. Below I list each of my top picks all in one place for you. I also turned each item into a link that if you click on it it will take you down to a picture and description of each item. Once you click on one of the links, any time you want to get back to this overall list simply hit your browser back button.

No. Lantern Name Type Best Features
1 Exotac NanoStriker XL Ferrocerium Rod Light, Compact, Waterproof & Very Good Quality
2 Arcadia Gear Fat Boy Ferrocerium Rod Large, Long Lasting, Throws Big Sparks
3 Zippo Typhoon Matches Kit Waterproof Matches Waterproof Case, Matches Burn Even When Wet
4 Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army Ferrocerium Rod Light, Compact, Very Good Quality
5 Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife Ferrocerium Rod FireSteel Rod & Knife Combination, Very Good Quality
6 UST Blastmatch Fire Starter Ferrocerium Rod Does Good Sparks, Can Use With One Hand
7 SURVIVE Permanent Match Ferrocerium Rod Uses Lighter Fluid, Easy To Light.

Now I am going to go through each of these fire starters and tell you the pros and cons of each one. Hopefully this will save you some time and help you find the exact fire starters that will work the best for each possible scenario you are wanting to plan for! That is my goal at least with this article. Okay are you ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Exotac NanoStriker XL

Exotac NanoStriker XL
Exotac NanoStriker XL

The Exotac NanoStriker XL is my top pick for a long term use situation. It is quite small however so if you are planning for a really long time of survival use you may want to consider one of the bigger ones we talk about below. The Exotac NanoStriker XL is small, very lite and convenient.

What I really like about it is that the way it closes up both the Ferrocerium Rod and the carbide steel striker so that you literally can submerge the whole thing in water and the rod and striker stay totally dry. The other thing I like about it is that it is so small and compact. To me this is ideal for a 72 hour kit or bug out bag. Its only downside is you will need to also carry some tender, because you cannot carry in it.

So this is not something you want to depend on if you plan on living in the wild for a year or longer. You will go through the ferro rod before then. So you either want to have multiple extra rods and strikers (you can buy them separately) or a bigger ferro rod and striker.

2. Arcadia Gear Fat Boy

Arcadia Gear 3/4" x 6" Large Diameter Ferro Rod Fat Boy
Arcadia Gear 3/4″ x 6″ Large Diameter Ferro Rod Fat Boy
4 Directions Bushcraft Fatwood
4 Directions Bushcraft Fatwood

Okay this Arcadia Gear Fat Boy is your end of the world Armageddon type scenario ferro rod. The particular ferrocerium metallic mixture has a high content of magnesium so this baby throws off a lot of molten 5,500 degree Fahrenheit sparks. It is rated for 35,000 strikes. Starting a fire with this is really easy as far as ferro rods go.

The reason I call this your end of the world ferro rod is because this thing is 3/4 inch thick and 6 inches long. This will last a very long time. This is not one you want to throw in your back back for your long hike because this baby weighs close to a pound.

The other nice thing about this very large ferrocerium rod is that it still sparks well even when wet. Obviously you are going to want your tender to be dry, but the sparks don’t stay wet with the 5,500 degree temperature these magnesium filled sparks fly down at. This rod is not good for every situation but in my humble opinion it is one that a prepper can not do without.

A very popular tender nowadays is fatwood. Here is the 4 Directions Bushcraft Fatwood that a lot of people like using with these big ferro rods. You scrap some shavings off of the fatwood and these hot sparks light them really well.

3. Zippo Typhoon Matches Kit

Zippo Typhoon Matches Kit 
Zippo Typhoon Matches Kit

A good waterproof match kit like the Zippo Typhoon Matches Kit, is something that I believe you need to have for those days when you need a quick easy flame. This an especially important item for something like a bug out bag or 72 hour emergency kit. My favorite thing about these matches is not only will they light after sticking them in water, but if you take the burning match and stick it in water it keeps burning under water.

When you pull it out of the water all you have to do is shake it and the flame starts back up again. Now obviously no nucklehead is going to stick their matches in water on purpose. But if they do get wet it is reassuring to know that they will still work.

Another great thing about this kit is the case has a rubber seal and when screwed on it is water tight. And there is a compartment on the bottom that screws off and you have a rough place made for striking the matches against. This product was well thought out and constructed. Out of all of the waterproof matches out there, this is my first pick.

4. Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army
Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army

The Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army is also very small and compact. This is another great one for putting in a bug out bag, 72 hour kit or taking on a back packing trip. The nice thing about this one is the ferrocerium puts of about a 5,400 degree spark (compared to an 800 degree spark with steel and flint) so it makes lighting a fire much easier.

Like all small ferro rods they can be more difficult to start if you are very cold. Particularly if your hands are cold and you are shaking. This has nice thumb grips on both the ferro rod and the striker which makes holding onto it with cold hands easier.

Another nice thing about this one is on the end of the thumb grip it is a emergency whistle, so I guess if you need to call for help that would be very helpful. Also the cord on this one is nicer than what typically comes on lower end models. This one is quite good quality and cost about $18 or $19 dollars as I recall.

5. Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife

Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife
Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife

Okay now here is another one from Light My Fire that I really like. It is the Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife. Not only does it have the Light My Fire ferrocerium rod that snaps nicely into the handle, but the knife is actually a really good knife as well.

This is basically the same FireSteel as the 2.0 Army above. And hayou use the back of the knife (which is quite sharp) as your striker. The blade of the knife is the Mora Swedish steel. So if you have seen a Mora knife before it is the same stainless steel. It holds its edge really well like their other knives do.

The sheath comes in different colors however the orange one pictured here is very popular since it is easier to see if ever dropped on the forest ground at night. The blade has the Swedish cut and taper which I like a lot. And the knife feels quality and it is shaped nicely to fit well in the hand.

One other really nice feature is the knife clicks into place when you stick it all the way into the sheath so the knife stays in and does not fall out. The sheath is plastic like most of their sheaths, but this one feels quite solid and decent quality. The belt clip is like their normal ones and fits and works well.

6. UST Blastmatch Fire Starter

UST Blastmatch Fire Starter
UST Blastmatch Fire Starter

The UST Blastmatch Fire Starter is my least favorite of these 10 fire starters. But some people really like these one handed type of units so I thought I would include one here. Of the ones that I have seen this is the one that appears to be of a higher quality. UST also has a smaller one they call the “Sparkie” but I have heard that sometimes the plastic case will melt on that one. That is why I have steered away from it.

How these work is the ferrocerium rod is spring loaded. So if you see in the picture on the left the rod is sticking out of the handle. When you close it the rod retracts all the way into the handle. To get sparks you hold the orange hadle in your hand and touch the end of the ferro rod on a hard surface next to your tinder. You push into the rod with your thumb as you bush down on the handle so that the rod retracts back into the handle. This motion rubs a carbide steel piece inside the handle against the ferro rod and the sparks fall into the tinder.

The nice thing about these units is if you have a hard surface you can use this with one hand. It can be more difficult to use if you do not have a hard surface to press against. You can grab the end of the ferro rod with your finger and pull it into the handle. This will work and many people use it this way to start fires. Just remember the sparks are extremely hot and once in a while people get burned using it this way.

7. SURVIVE Permanent Match

SURVIVE Permanent Match
SURVIVE Permanent Match

The SURVIVE Permanent Match is a completely different approach to fire starters. This falls into the category along with the water proof matches as something great for a 72 hour kit or bug out bag. It is not something for long term because it uses regular lighter fluid and you will eventually run out of lighter fluid like you would with a cigarette lighter. In the image to the left it shows a 5 pack.

Now how these work is the inside is hollow and you fill it up with regular lighter fluid. If you can see the twist off cap on top of each one, you unscrew that and there is a steel rod that goes down into the fluid. Coming out of the end of the steel rod is a bit of fibrous material that soaks up the lighter fluid. There is also a piece of steel next to the fibrous material.

On the side of the fuel container there is a ferrocerium rod and the steel on the end of the rod is your striker. As you strike the steel against the ferro rod the lighter fluid in the fibrous material ignites and you hold it in your hand like a mini torch or match. It burns for quite a long time. Then when you are done you simply blow it out and stick it back into the container of fluid and screw on the lid tightly. This is reusable as long as you still have lighter fluid.

Final Thoughts

The one thing I would like to stress here is that in my opinion there is no one solution to all of your fire starting needs. When preparing for possible emergencies you need to have a quick down and dirty way to effortlessly start a fire under the worst of conditions like waterproof matches and or a permanent match. But you also need a compact light weight ferrocerium rod for your bug out bag. And finally I believe everyone should have a large ferrocerium rod that will last a long time for long worst case scenario type emergencies.

One last very important thing I need to mention. It is imperative that you practice with the ferro rod options above so that you know you are competent at them. You do not want to be trying to figure out how to start a fire with them in the middle of a rainy, wet and cold crisis. Thank you very much for reading this article. I sincerely hope that the information was helpful.

Related Articles: “Best Camping Lanterns – My Top 10 Picks!” and “The Best Fire Starting Tinder


Hi! I’m David. For most of my life I have been interested in emergency preparedness. Over the many years things have changed a great deal. From freeze dried food, to LED lanterns, preparing for an emergency has never been easier. The continual research I have done over the years have become the basis for this website. Now it is one of the most trusted sources to learn about emergency preparedness. Read More

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