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Three Fire Starters

Essential survival gear for the modern adventurer

by Greg Stefano in Tech on 27 September 2011

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Whether it's a casual overnight camping trip or a die-hard weeks long expedition in the wilderness, fire is essential for successful survival or s'more making. While rubbing two sticks together or using a standard lighter might work, it can also lead to blisters and the risk of running out of fluid, leaving you stranded in the dark, waiting for the coyotes to arrive. An excellent addition to some of the great gear in our Survivalist Essentials piece and a necessity for any outdoor kit, is a solid fire steel. Most steel are made from either a magnesium alloy or ferrocerium, a man-made metal with a low ignition temperature. All the steels comes with attached striking devices and a 45° with decent force will throw sparks a good distance and help you get some flames going. We rounded up three exceptional steels that are guaranteed to get your flames going.

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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.

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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.

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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.

There are plenty variations of typical fire steel but the above three are solid options for any survivalist. Just always remember to taker care when using any incendiary device and to keep a large torch handy when trekking through bear country.

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