Imagine the grid is down. A CAT 5 hurricane just rolled through and took out the grid. Everyone thinks the power will be up in a few hours. But it turns into painstaking days. Now it’s weeks.
This situation isn’t that far from reality. I’ve experienced weeks of power outage in a major metropolitan area on the east coast. And with the power out, everyone had some kind of a fire going.
Why Is Fire Starting So Important?
Having the best survival fire starter is important. Of course, what “the best” means, is anyone’s guess. So what I did was come up with a few criteria that I think are essential to any fire starting survival kit. Criteria that will withstand any situation.
Criteria For The Best Survival Fire Starters
The criteria aren’t that complicated. But these do well in situations that may come your way in a disaster.
Your solution needs to be lightweight. If you have a bug out bag or fanny pack survival kit, you’ll have no room to carry extra stuff. So precious weight and space saving gear are the things you’ll want. Every one of the items on this list are lightweight and small.
Doesn’t Need Refilling
We don’t want something that needed to be refilled last week but didn’t get done because we forgot to do it. Also, in some solutions there’s the little issue of evaporation or use. Some devices allow the fuel to evaporate. That wont work. So each of our solutions avoids that problem.
The best fire starter has to survive being under water. Who knows what hurricane or tsunami might be around the corner. Your bug out bag might end up at the bottom of a river for a few hours. So water resistance is essential here.
Creates A Spark Every Time
This is about the ignition source. All we want the fire starter to do is create a spark. Building the fire is another thing. Think about it. You might get a spark but then screw things up by not knowing how to build it into a flame. So the criteria here is this. The device must create a reliable spark.
The Top Contenders
After looking at the criteria, I’ve come up with what I think are the top 3 survival fire starters bar none. So let’s dig in and look at each one.
Top Fire Starter #1: Aurora
The Aurora is simple and rugged. It’s built out of a 1/4″ diameter flint steel rod with magnesium built into the rod. You can wear the Aurora on your key ring or on a lanyard around your neck. The Aurora is from Solo Scientific. It’s purpose is to start a fire in just about any wet or dry environment.
The 440C is made from solid machined lightweight aircraft aluminum. It has knurling to give you a good grip. With the magnesium rod and striking blade, the Aurora Fire Starter 440C is only 1.6 ounces and under 4″ in length.
The key to the Aurora is the striking blade. The 440C has the striking blade built into it. So it’s not hanging on a string like other units. This won’t break off or get caught in other equipment. Also, the 440C striking blade doesn’t take off much material from the steel rod. So you don’t have to replace the rod that often, if at all.
All in all, I’d say this is a unit worth getting. For the people who have had problems with it, the issues are more of an inability to figure it out. There are just too many people that trust this thing with their lives to ignore it.
Top Fire Starter #2: BlastMatch
The BlastMatch is my favorite. I’ve got one of these and goes everywhere I go. The concept is so simple. It’s a Ferro rod and a striker built into a single unit. But what makes it especially nice is that it can be used with one hand. This can be critical in an emergency if one of your hands is out of commission.
The BlastMatch was created for Air Force fighter pilots who could find themselves in rough terrain. It was also meant for mountain climbers who are stuck in alpine conditions. If injured, it would make for simple operation. Also, it never runs out of fuel and always lights in the wind, snow or rain.
If you are looking for a ferro/mag beginner unit, then this is it. It’s one of the best you can find.
I was pretty surprised when I saw that some people couldn’t start a fire with the BlastMatch. That’s unbelievable. Because when you see the shower of sparks come out, you’ll be amazed.
Matter of fact, one person said they punched it 50 times and couldn’t get it to work. It got to the point where the plastic casing got so hot that it melted.
Seriously, when I brought mine home, I thought I’d test it in the bedroom. So I punched it down into my hand, and a bunch of sparks came out. Nothing got burned, but it surprised me at how effective it was.
So when someone says they have a problem making fires with this, then I have to question their basic fire making skills.
Now one issue is the striker. It is a small piece of flint mounted on the plastic casing. And it is known to have broken off while in use for a few people. But it isn’t a common issue. Seems pretty solid on my unit. It’s one of my favorite pieces of gear if not the favorite.
Top Fire Starter #3: Storm Matches
This is a match on steroids.
You can light one, dip it in a cup of water and it wont go out. Matter of fact, stick one under water for 4 seconds. They have been known to flame right back up after they came out of the water.
Storm matches have a 15 second burn time, so they aren’t like your typical match. But they are not like a candle either. You’ve got to move with storm matches. But they work every time and in every situation. These are military grade matches.
Another cool thing is that these will fill a room with smoke. So you could potentially use storm matches as a mini signal smoke flare!
Holding Storm Matches The Right Way
Here is something to think about. You need to hold these matches a certain way. For instance, if you hold them horizontally or down turned, the chemical fuel will ignite the wood. This will give you a shorter burn time.
But if you hold it upright the wood won’t catch fire and give you a longer burn time. The thing is, once it hits the wood, it wont be windproof or waterproof anymore. It will just burn like a normal match.
I’ve seen Coughlan, REI and the UCO brands. The REI ones look a lot like the UCO matches. But UCO gets tons of great reviews. If you want a good bargain, you can find a small waterproof container with storm matches online for under $2.00. They aren’t UCO but that’s OK. The key is just to get started.
Conclusion For The Best Survival Fire Starter
In an emergency these three contenders are obvious choices for your survival kit. Each one is lightweight, doesn’t need refilling and is reliable in all circumstances. And If you outfit your fire making gear with all three, then you’re assured of a fire every single time.
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