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Updated by Modern Warrior on Apr 17, 2017
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Survival Fire Gear Firsthand Reviews

So you’re interested in some fire survival products and have decided to do a little research before you go out and buy. Awesome! In this article I’m going to review some of the various products I’ve used over the years and give you my general opinion on it. It’s worth noting that I don’t have ties to any of the companies or products I’ll review below. I will provide inline links and receive a small commission if you buy the product through the link, but that’s it. I’ll even provide links to the ones I don’t recommend….sometimes you just have to learn for yourself.
The review below will not be an overly technical review, but more so a reflection on my opinion and experience with the product. Some that I like you may not and vice versa. So please look over the list, feel free to share your thoughts on them as well. Most of all, regardless of what method, technique or equipment you choose to go with; PRACTICE. Acquiring the skill for fire building is much more important and challenging than simply buying some equipment.
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bayite 1/2 Inch X 6 Inch Drilled Ferrocerium Rod Flint Fire Starter Steel Survival Kit with Toggle Lanyard Hole 15cm

Though this list is not in any particular order, this item made it on here first because it is what first comes to my mind when I think ‘fire tools’. I am a huge fan of the trusty ferro rod and would rank them # 1 among choices. Getting a good steady repeatable spark is quickly acquired with very little practice. These come in under hundreds of different brand names and sizes. I’ve had success with everyone I’ve used. I will mention that this is a case where size matters. At least in respect to ease of use. You can (relatively simply) get a fire going with a small one (it’s all about technique). That said you’ll get much better spark with a 6 inch rod and impress your friends as well.

The one that I’ve actually linked to here was chosen because of the size and the cost. It’s a good deal for the price. One final note: A lot of these come with strikers (you run it along the side to get the spark) included. I personally prefer, and find it a lot easier to use my knife so that is not a concern for me. If it is for you then you would want to select one that has a small striker included.
From Manufacturer
• Length: 6"; Diameter: 1/2 inch.
• Compact fire starter designed to light fires in any conditions
• With a 4mm Lanyard Hole, use it to keep product secure and together
• Provides up to 3000 degrees C spark in any weather, at any altitude. Durable, lasts for approximately 12,000 strikes
• Bare rod only, no lanyard or other accessory included

UCO Stormproof Matches, Waterproof and Windproof with 15 Second Burn Time - 25 Matches

Matches in general are more than enough to start a fire. Those that have issues with accomplishing this typically haven’t properly prepared the tinder bundle. It’s not that the spark isn’t there, but rather the tinder is insufficient to catch it. That said not all matches are created equal and the UCO Stormproof Match is the daddy of all. I first had these introduced to me at a tradeshow and was very impressed. The guy demoing them would strike it, bury it in sand and then pull it out still lit and burning. These matches definitely give you an added advantage over a typical. They operate wet as well.
From Manufacturer:
• Matches are completely stormproof
• Burns despite wind or rain
• Will burn underwater
• 1 box, 25 matches per box
• Extra strikers included

Ultimate Survival Technologies BlastMatch Fire Starter (Orange)

I know quite a few people and have met many that love these. I’m personally not a fan as I find them somewhat bulky and awkward. This is basically a ferro rod enclosed in a push-striking mechanism. If you remember above I prefer to utilize my knife. All that said I will give it one (due) accolade. Its design allows for a one handed strike. In a survival situation where you find yourself down one arm this could be a significant help.
From Manufacturer:
• Revolutionary one handed design an advantage when injured
• Sparks three times hotter than a standard match
• Spring loaded rotating flint bar
• Thousands of strikes
• Use in all weather conditions, great for backpackers hunters snowmobilers and off road vehicles

Survival Life EverStryke Perma-Match Fire Starter

I have mixed feelings on these little guys. They’re not bad, but they’re not great either. I used to order these in bulk from China and sell or give them away at some of our trade shows. Ultimately they work like a hand strike zippo lighter. The business end looks like a match tip with a little fabric wick. When you strike it, it holds the flame and does so reasonably well. They are very cheap and I have them thrown in a lot of my stuff (primarily because I bought them in bulk). The con is that they are cheap construction so I’ve seen some that didn’t seal well and the fuel (whatever you choose to fill it with) evaporates. All in all they are an OK item. I would not spend more than $5.00 on one as you can find them cheap with a little looking around.
From Vendor:
Tiny and lightweight, this waterproof permanent lighter is an inexpensive, nifty gadget. Just add several drops of ordinary lighter fluid, let the wick get wet, gently strike the side of the case with the tip of the wick and get a good steady flame! Lasts a long time with just a bit of lighter fluid.

Coghlan's Magnesium Fire Starter

There is a good chance you’ve seen these around as they seem to be on the shelves at a lot of big box stores. For the cost they are a pretty awesome little tool. They are basically a scrapable magnesium block that also contains a ferro rod for striking the spark. The magnesium acts as an accelerant and provides you a nice hot flash burn once the spark hits it. For the cost these are great to throw in all your extra bags, cars, etc..
Note: I’ve read some bad reviews on these and also have seen students struggle with them. From my experience this is because they consider this a kit that will get a fire going. Partly due to marketing of the product. This product does not alleviate the need for a good tinder bundle. The magnesium assist in giving you more flash (spark) for your strike, but will burn out very quickly. You still need a good tinder source as well.

From Vendor:
• To start fire. simply scrape starter with a knife and ignite the shavings
• Uses magnesium, a flame source of 5400 degrees F
• Affordable, essential gear for camping, backpacking, backcountry treks, emergency preparedness, and more

TITAN SurvivorCord | SAFETY-ORANGE | 100 Foot Hank | Military 550 Paracord (3/16" Diameter) + Fishing Line + Waxed Ju...

So a quick disclaimer on this product. The one linked here is not the one I’ve uses. Furthermore the one linked here has a lot of non-fire features that seem attractive (they were not part of the one I’ve used). Awhile back I received about 100 feet of 550 paracord that had a waxed line of what looked like thin yarn incorporated as one of the internal strands. I was asked to test it out and told that it is supposed to be great for getting a fire going. All in all I consider it a big fail. At least in the area of fire production. The wax does not catch easily (obviously) therefore you couldn’t really use the yarn as an initial tender. I suppose if you had a steady flame you could light the waxed cord and let it burn like a wick. All in all I was absolutely not impressed with the product. The product listed here however seems to have some additional features that do seem worth checking out, especially since the manufacturer seems to state that it still holds to the 500lb strength. Nonetheless as a fire device I consider it a fail.
From Manufacturer:
• PATENT PENDING DESIGN - Our exclusive design adds 3 survival strands to TITAN's trusted Military 550 Paracord
• FISHING LINE - Includes a single transparent, 25 lb test, high strength mono-filament fishing line
• WAXED JUTE - Waterproof twisted fiber strands are designed to quickly start fires in an emergency
• MULTI-PURPOSE WIRE - Our proprietary Conductive alloy is strong, conductive, and non-magnetic. Perfect for small Snares and more!
• THE TITAN PROMISE - We're an American Veteran-Owned business, and all authentic TITAN products have a LIFETIME GUARANTEE. If you're unhappy with our products in any way, we will completely refund your purchase. No questions asked.

Pioneer Char Tin, Flint & Steel Fire Kit, Zombie Tinder

This is a good one to cover as it lets me hit on a few items together. I received this kit for free at a request to try it out. Flint & Steel is truly taking it primitive and it’s a great skillset to have if nothing else for the novelty of it, and who knows maybe you could find yourself in a situation where you’re relying on it for a fire. I personally find other options much more suitable to pack as I don’t want challenging in a survival situation. I much prefer to lean the options in my favor as best I can. Char-cloth is something I do typically throw in my kit here and there….mainly because it’s relatively simple to make (and virtually free). That said, I’m going to probably going to infuriate some survival enthusiast when I say I’m not that crazy about char-cloth (though a virtual necessity when trying to catch a spark from flint/steel). It is good at catching and giving you a very slow burning spark and serves its purpose well to that end. Regardless of that fact I prefer to pack a more effective method. My personal favorite is dryer lint (or cotton balls) rubbed in petroleum jelly. Not only does it catch the spark very well, it also burns for a very good amount of time. As far as hobby, novelty, or just personal interest I think these type of kits (or buying/making the stuff) is great. It’s just not my personal go to for a survival bag or situation. Check out a pretty informative video on the topic of Charring here.
From Manufacturer:
• Premium hand-forged, high-carbon steel striker. RCH 58-61. This steel can throw a LOT of sparks.
• Hand-made, oiled, ginned cotton char that will take even the weakest of sparks.
• Natural flint rock CAUTION VERY SHARP! Flint rock will vary in size.
• Over 6 feet of natural jute twine to be used as tinder.
• 3 OZ push-top, reusable tin with a sturdy ranger band.

UST Wet Fire Tinder, Pack of 12

A lot of people I talk to that are outdoor enthusiast swear by WETFIRE cubes. To be completely honest I have minimal experience with them. As I’ve said earlier I prefer to use other methods…just preference I guess. As far as these go they catch easy and are useful on getting your spark to catch and hold longer for a more challenging tinder bundle. I’ve read (though haven’t personally experienced) that it’s important that you don’t let the seal break on their packaging or they will with time become inert.
From Manufacturer:
• Wet fire tinder
• Extinguishes instantly
• Will burn longer when wet
• Burns even when wet
• Burns longer when wet
• Burns at over 1300 degrees yet cools instantly
• Eight individually packed cubes in a solid leak proof formula

9

Tinder APP

Tinder APP

This is a unique type of tinder as it sits on an application on your PC or phone. Depending on numerous variables and your personal attributes this tinder can be very effective at igniting a spark. I do caution you however that excessive use could lead to potential burns. Both metaphorically and the kind that require potent antibiotics.

Dragon Fire Tinderbox

So I received a package of this from a friend of mine. He received it in one of those monthly crates you can subscribe to. I was honestly surprised to find this was even a thing, but it is. You can actually buy natural well aged tinder. The stuff included was a great tinder source, however I would not recommend anyone buying tinder. If you are too lazy to learn how and gather your own tinder then you definitely do not have the survival drive needed to survive in a real situation. That said, I’m not knocking anyone who bought it to check it out and use it for whatever reason, but it is foolish to rely on a purchased source of tinder. It’s free and everywhere. All the above said the company has other products, some of which look pretty interesting. I can’t blame the company for selling tinder if there’s a market.
While I’m not a fan of buying tinder I am an advocate of pre-gathering some and keeping it in your kit. All within reason. I personally do not carry a full tinder bundle, but do always keep a tobacco can full of petroleum jelly soaked cotton. I utilize this to give me an advantage on less than optimal tinder sources. It essentially allows more leeway on the tinder I gather because rather than requiring a fleeting spark to catch I’ll be working with a burning flame. Even if you’re a prepper and want to stock tinder at home there is no need to buy it. Simply go out and gather it and put it up to dry out in a safe area of your home. It should go without saying that this is (or will eventually be) a potential fire hazard so store it accordingly.
From Manufacturer:
Dragon Fire's Tinderbox is constructed to be a single use fire starter, designed to be used by anyone no matter their skill level at making fires. All natural, it is safe to use indoors and in cooking fires. Each tinderbox contains at least 3.5 to 4 ounces of dry tinder and is constructed & layered in a design that will give you at least 12 to 15 minutes of flame. Just open the box, place it among you stick and logs, light the string and sit back. The Tinderbox is perfect for everyday use as well as for those who want the convenience of a quick fire without the hassle. As with all our products, there are no petroleum-based additives in the tinderbox. Everything is made from natural products & safe for the environment, including the box and the label.

Live Fire Original - Emergency Fire Starter

This is an interesting item that I’ve shared a love hate relationship. It was another item given to me to test and did not have any directions. Over time and learning the product I’ve grown to like it, though I don’t really use it often. Though labeled a fire starter it is a fire assistant. You need your own initial spark (heat) source and then it acts as an intermediary fuel source to help you get your tinder or kindling going. The lid allows you to control the flame as needed and snuff the flame so you can reuse the item on multiple fires. Initially I had a hard time getting it to accept a flame let alone a spark. After some experimentation I came to find that you really have to scrape/fluff the wick material to get it to catch. Once you do that it catches pretty well.
From Manufacturer:
• 3.11" long x 1.38" wide x 0.39" tall
• With its slide top lid, live fire can also function as a candle when needed
• Burn times average 30 minutes with the lid completely removed, and much longer when the lid is used

Smiths 50635 Pack Pal Tinder Maker with Fire Starter

This is a pretty novel little item. It’s basically a small cheese grater attached to a box with a Firestarter attached by lanyard as well. All in all it does what it says and allows you a little compartment for storage as well. It can be used to grate down some good fat lighter (or whatever you choose to call the resin soaked wood) to mix in with your tinder bundle. I’m somewhat of a big movement kind of guy and don’t care for intricate task in the woods, or at least prefer to minimalize them where I can. For this reason I prefer to use my fixed blade knife and gather my shavings that way. Different strokes for different folks………literally in this case.

Above are just a small representation of what’s out in the marketplace that you can buy to assist you in your quest for a wilderness fire (note we mean a fire in the wild; not catching the woods on fire). Though a small representation it is a good representation of the various products out there. Many you come across will be similar in nature or variations of these products. At the end of the day play around with them and see which ones work best for you and make sense for your adventures or reserves. Most of all practice and enjoy the journey as much as the destination, unless you’re going to prison in that case you should enjoy the journey more and under no circumstances pack powdered soap. Until next time
  • Shane Blevins is a career US Army Soldier and founder of Omega Group Consultants LLC. He joined the Army in 1995 at the age of 19. In 1999 he assessed and was selected to join the 160th SOAR (A) and spent the next 14 years in Special Operations. In 2013 he was offered the Senior Enlisted position at the US Army SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School and happily accepted the challenge. Having a great passion to teach and for survival training it was the perfect fit to culminate his military career. During his military career he has served combat missions and trained in most corners of the world to include better known locations such as Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa .

    Omega Group Consultants is at its core an adventurous survival oriented organization. All of our courses, services and programs can be associated with at least one of the core fundamental building blocks of a warrior. Those four fundamentals are;

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