The Swedish Army fire steel is the epitome of classic fire starting devices. Developed by the Swedish Department of Defense, this fire steel is used by many different armed forces and achieves a 5400°F spark from it’s magnesium alloy rod. Super durable, the steel is rated for 12,000 strikes, will work when wet and can be used to light anything including gas grills or barbecues. While it comes in black and orange with a plastic handle, we preferred the wood, which offers a nice feel and sturdy grip.
Although he originally used a Swedish Steel like the one above, renowned survival expert Bear Grylls partnered with Gerber to produce a line of survival products including a handy fire steel. The Bear Grylls Survival Series fire starter uses a ferrocerium rod to produce it’s super heated sparks. The entire case is watertight, which protects kindling that can be stored in a container space under the screw off top. Despite the less than desirable color way and appearance the steel actually fits very nicely in the hand and produces a very series spark. This starter also includes an emergency whistle and a guide printed on the side detailed the alpine rescue signal and the standard SOS signal.
Another ferrocerium striker is the nanoSTRIKER from Exotac. This starter comes in five different varieties and weighs only 14.5 grams. By far the most compact of all the fire starting devices we came across the nanoSTRIKER breaks down into three parts and when assembled is barely half the length of the palm. It’s small stature doesn’t effect it’s sparking ability, the petite striker packs a serious punch and throws sparks farther than any of the other steels we observed. Rated at more than 1,000 strikes, this starter, which has a replaceable rod, fits perfectly on a key ring and will barely take up any room in your pack.
But my all time favorite way of starting fire is the Survivor Man steel wool and battery technique. Super simple.