If you’re looking for a camping lighter or fire starter and do a quick search on the Internet, you will get a massive number of results, which does not necessarily make things any easier.
In this article, we’ll evaluate the options and help you select a fire starter that will meet your exact, unique requirements.
Before buying a fire starter, there are a number of things that you need to consider.
● Weather-proof capabilities. A fire starter for camping should ideally be both water- and wind resistant.
● Ease of use. This factor is significant. Individuals that for example have big hands will generally find the more compact starters difficult to use.
● Types of fire starters. You need to look at the differences between flint-based kits and long-lasting matches.
You should also be aware that some fire starters have specifically been designed as a survival lighter and for emergency situations and may not be that suitable for everyday camping use. Although normal BIC lighters will light a fire under ideal conditions, any adverse weather will render them essentially useless.
Our top camping fire starter picks
Type Model Usage
Flint UST StrikeForce 4,000 strikes
Flint Gerber Bear Grylls 8,000 strikes
N/A Pull Start Fire 30 minutes
Flint MSR Strike Igniter 12,000 strikes
Match UCO Titan 25 seconds
Ferrocerium rod Exotac PolyStriker 1,000 strikes
Flint Light My Fire 3,000 strikes
Ferrocerium rod Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL 3,000 strikes
Flint Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set Flint 20,000 strikes
Lighter Zippo Fire Kit 5 minutes
UST StrikeForce Fire Starter
The UST StrikeForce fire starter is a good option if you want a Flint-based fire starter that has more than enough strikes to last you a while.
The heat generated by the starter is rated at three times that generated by a match and it will provide more than 4,000 strikes. Use the striker and flint to get a spark in your tinder and build your campfire around that.
This UST fire starter uses a striker that has been built into the flint’s cap, but the design is safe in that it won’t generate unintended sparks.
● Great design. The compact design fits into a pocket easily or can be worn around the neck by using the lanyard included.
● Affordable. More than 4,000 strikes for the price is a good deal and will last you for several camping seasons.
● Flint isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t like using a flint and striker and prefer a set of matches.
Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
If you embark on adventures where there is the possibility you may find yourself in survival scenarios, it’s a good idea to always have the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter with you as a survival lighter.
This fire starter is very affordable and has been designed with those situations in mind. It’s water-resistant, lightweight, and includes tinder storage. It even has a 100-decibel emergency whistle included.
This flint-based fire starter is rated for about 8,000 sparks. If you plan on using it only for emergencies, you may never have to buy another one.
Whether you’re simply going on a day-trip adventure or are an avid backpacker, it’s always good to carry an emergency fire starter with you. This Gerber Bear Grylls starter is an excellent place to start.
● Big enough to produce solid sparks with each strike.
● Affordable. The price makes it worthwhile for every camper to get one.
● Tinder storage is small. The fact that tinder storage is included is a good idea, but it’s only big enough for one cotton ball.
Pull Start Fire
The Pull Start Fire lighter provides a fun way to start a fire.
Kindling, lighters, or matches are not required. The fire starter, around the size of a deck of playing cards, is simply taken and placed between the campfire logs, and the red string pulled. This will ignite the box which will burn for 30 minutes.
As no kindling is needed it makes starting a campfire very easy.
The Pull Start Fire includes 3 fire starters per pack, which is ideal for a weekend trip. It does however get relatively expensive if you need to buy more.
● Windproof. It will still light your fire in winds of up to 200mph.
● No kindling or lighter is required. A quick pull on the red string ignites the box and starts the fire.
● Only sold in 3-packs. This could get pricey for longer trips.
MSR Strike Igniter
The MSR Strike Igniter ultralight is a flint-based fire starter and is a great tool, especially for lighting gas stoves.
Campers often use Flint-based starters as a backup for when the weather is bad, and the MSR Strike Igniter certainly meets this requirement. It’s wind and waterproof, although it may not be totally effective in situations with massive winds.
It will produce sparks at a temperature of 5,500°F in perfect conditions.
It may however need a few strikes before producing a spark due to its size. This can however be solved easily by practicing using it.
One of the reasons it is so popular is its longevity. It will last up to as many as 12,000 sparks, meaning the MSR fire starter will probably last you all camping season or even longer.
● Lightweight. Very suitable for minimalist camping.
● Great life-span. Lasts for as many as 12,000 sparks.
● The small size can make it a challenge to use.
‘Light My Fire’ Fire Lighting Kit
The Light My Fire kit was developed in Sweden, and this fun fire-starting kit is both easy to use and environmentally friendly.
The magnesium alloy in this fire starter is able to produce power sparks irrespective of the weather or altitude and will help you get a gas grill or campfire lit and up and running easily.
You will however need to make sure you first have enough tinder and kindling available to light a fire properly before you can feed it with more substantial logs and wood.
If you’re not proficient at using flint-based fire starters, this Light My Fire kit will need some practice using before you’ll be able to light a fire easily.
● Eco-friendly. Manufactured from BPA-free materials.
● Smart design. Includes a Grandpa’s Fire Fork, which can be attached to almost any stick while the other end is used to hold hotdogs or marshmallows.
● Not very effective in the wind. Although it will work in most weather conditions, using it in high winds is challenging.
UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit
If you prefer not to use flint-based starters, you should have a look at the UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit.
These matches aren’t like the ones you’ll normally use at home. They are robust and big and can be lit in harsh conditions. They also have a long burn time of 25 seconds, which should be enough to light the kindling around your campfire’s base.
Match kits are however more expensive in the long run as you’ll have to buy more when you run out. The kit contains 12 matches.
If you only had a single match left to light your fire, you’ll want it to be a UCO Titan Stormproof Match.
● Works in most conditions. These matches will light even with 120mph winds or if it’s raining.
● They burn forever. 25 seconds of burning time is long for any match.
● Single strike surface. Will only work with the striking surface included in the kit.
Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set
The Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set is a great buy and it features a flint-based starter with a sizeable striking surface. You may even want to buy two of them with its budget price tag.
The Ferro rod’s big surface makes striking the flint very easy and it will produce sparks just about every time. The size also allows you to get as much as 20,000 strikes, which is very good for any fire starter.
This Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set will pretty much allow you to start a fire in a few seconds providing you have some dry tinder or kindling.
● Affordable. A very good price for the performance.
● Longevity. Produces up to 20,000 sparks.
● Big striking surface. Generates a spark with virtually every strike.
● Time-consuming. There have been reports from campers that a few sparks are needed to light dry kindling.
Exotac PolyStriker Firestarter
The Exotac PolyStriker features a ferrocerium sparker and carbide striker and is ideal for minimalist campers who don’t mind their fire starter having a small profile.
You’ll only get about 1,000 good strikes out of this fire starter due to its size, which is less than competitors. The upside is however that the fire starter takes up virtually no space. The Tungsten carbide striker has been designed to pop into the plastic handle when not in use.
Some campers do find the striker too small. More experienced campers may however only need this Exotac fire starter to get their campfire started.
● Lightweight. Perfect for backpacking.
● Minimalist. You can easily forget it’s in your pocket.
● Tricky to use at first. It’s difficult to use for the first time due to the small design.
Zippo Lighter and Fire Kit
According to many campers, the famous Zippo Fire Kit is a great tool.
The tube design is one of its top-selling features. A storage area for tinder is included and it will stay dry in any weather conditions. The flint wheel at the top is used to create sparks.
Using the Zippo fuel that is included will give you about 5 minutes of burn time.
Not only is this Zippo fire starter waterproof, but it can also float, which can be very handy when camping near water or doing water activities.
● Floats in water. Handy for water activities.
● Includes tinder. The storage container is refillable.
● Affordable. Despite Zippo lighters being expensive, the fire kit and survival lighter prices are very reasonable.
Durable. This is one of the most durable survival lighters available.
● No extra flints. The flint is not very extensive, and will likely wear out faster than other fire starters.
Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL
The Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL fire starter is one of the best-looking fire starters on the list and it certainly draws attention.
It also comes in several colours, including gunmetal, orange, black, and olive. This is a solid fire starter, but it’s also pretty.
This starter is very compact and measures about the size of half a pencil. Some campers do complain that it is difficult to strike due to its smaller size.
The reviews on this Exotac fire starter are mixed. Many campers do however agree that it is handy when needed.
● Multiple colours. Not many fire starters offer so many colours.
● Portable. Can be attached to a keychain.
● Effective striking tool. The tungsten carbide striker and stainless steel seem to last forever.
● Pricey. There seems to be a discrepancy between this starter’s performance and its price tag.
Buying Guide Camping Fire Starters
Before buying a camping fire starter you need to understand some of the ins and outs.
This guide will help you to make a well-informed purchase.
Fire starter types
There are various types of fire starters available for purchase today. Let’s look at some detail of each.
● Lighters such as the Zippo Lighter and Fire Kit are very convenient flint-based fire starters. Some butane lighters use a liquid gas which can run out fairly quickly.
● Matches. The matches talked about here are the heavy-duty camping variety that can withstand even the harshest of weather conditions, such as the UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit. Matches however tend to run out quickly, depending on how often you camp, unlike flint-based starters.
● Flint and steel have been used to start fires for a very long time – since 577 AD. The engineering available today makes it possible to combine the two metals for creating sparks in wet or dry conditions. Depending on its size, a good flint and steel fire-starting kit, such as the UST StrikeForce Fire Starter, can provide as many as 4,000 sparks.
● Ferrocerium rods as found in the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL, consist of a combination of rare-earth metals that produces solid fire-steel. These rods are normally able to provide as many as 12,000 strikes.
Although an electric lighter and disposable lighters may be a handy lighter for home use, not all lighters make the best survival lighters and flint lighters such as a zippo lighter are more suitable as camping lighters.
Ease of use
A fire starter is not very useful if it’s difficult to use.
There are a number of factors relating to ease of use that should be considered before buying.
● Ferrocerium rods can create sparks during just about any weather condition, but it takes a little more time in bad weather. You need to not only make a spark but also need dry tinder or kindling to get your fire started.
● Matches are a relatively easy way to obtain flames to light kindling to start the overall campfire. Mere normal matches aren’t the best option in rainy or windy conditions.
● Compact fire starters tend to have the biggest issues, especially when a camper has larger hands. Although manufacturers strive to keep camping gear compact and light, it can be a big challenge to create a spark and ultimately light a fire if the fire starter is very small. That is the case with the minimalistic design of the Exotac PolyStriker Firestarter.
Waterproof and wind resistant capabilities
All of the fire starters discussed above are rated to be waterproof and wind-resistant to some degree. This is critically important, especially in survivor-type situations. A waterproof lighter is a must for camping and this eliminates normal BIC lighters.
Some starters perform very well in the wind, like the Pull Start Fire which is rated to withstand winds of up to 200mph. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be camping in hurricane-strength winds, it’s good to know that some wind won’t prevent you from lighting a campfire.
You can’t go wrong with a Flint-based starter in terms of it being waterproof.
Some, such as the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter, take it up to the next level by providing waterproof storage for tinder to help you even more when starting your fire.
Weight and size
Most fire starters available today are incredibly portable and light and make a good backpacking lighter. Many have options to clip it to a backpack and you can forget about it until you need it.
In general, the smaller you go the more difficult it may be to create sparks.
Small does not however mean weak in terms of heat. The super-lightweight MSR Strike Igniter is still able to deliver sparks that have a temperature of 5,500°F.