The campfire, a key highlights to every nature lover's journey. Every hiker enjoys sitting around a campfire after a long day, cooking their food, and ending the night with looking at the stars. It’s the centerpiece of outdoors and the source of great laughs and conversation, as well as keep you warm in the outdoors. Without the fire, you and your food will be cold. But, before you can get to enjoying the fire, you have to start it. This is where the challenge can begin.
Everyone has different techniques to start fires quickly, but which ones really work the best? Can a match beat flint and steel? What if you want a multi-use lighter that doubles as a knife? Each fire starter has its pros and cons, but by evaluating them on the ease of use, different types of uses, and whether it is waterproof, you will be able to be confident that your choice will work in the time of need.
Here are three main facets you should consider when looking to buy a firestarter:
- Ease of use: No one wants to be spending a hour trying to start a fire. Usually it is getting close to nighttime, temperatures are starting to drop, and you are needing that fire sooner than later.
- Waterproof: Most hikers do not plan on getting caught in rain or falling into a river, but it happens. Choosing a waterproof instrument can be one of the most underestimated benefits, but do not overlook it. You do not want to be wet, in the dark, and with no fire.
- Multi-use: Essentially, this point is if you want to have a knife that doubles as a firestarter. Having a multi-use tool is more of an option compare to the other two characteristics mentioned above, but can save on weight and space, if needed.
Choosing what type of fire starter:
- Flint and Steel: This option is lightweight, durable, and works in all different types of weather. However, if you are trying to start a fire with an older flint and steel, they can take some time to get used to. Make sure to have practiced lighting fires before needing it. Recommended flint and steel: Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
- Fire Knife: Knife starters can be a great choice for hikers who want to save on space and have it double up as a knife, but can als be a hassle if the steel and the knife are not connected. You do not want to be looking for the steel that has detached from your knife in the dark. Save yourself the hassle and get a knife where the steel twists and locks into the knife handle. Recommended fire knife: Swedish Fire Knife
- Matches: These can almost be defined as “old fashion” now, considering the technology that has emerged. However, old fashion is not always bad and matches still hold a desire with some hikers. When choosing matches, make sure that they are waterproof and that the container holding them is too. Recommended matches: UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit
- Lighter: These are small and cheap and you can purchase one at your local gas station. They will do the job if you are looking to light a stove or do not use it too frequently. The trouble comes if they run out of oil (it takes awhile, but should be considered) or they mechanically break. Recommended lighter: Windproof Lighter
In conclusion, each type of fire starter has its pros and cons and it really depends on which type of hiking and/or backpacking that you are planning on doing. And it depends on whether you are focusing on ease of use, having it be waterproof, or wanting it to double as a knife.
Flint and steel is a strong option, but requires some practice beforehand. A fire knife is great for multi-use, but can be a struggle if the steel detaches from the knife. Matches are the good ol’ faithful, but might not work too well if wet. Lighters will get the quick job done and are easy to replace, but can be a headache if they break mechanically.
Whatever option you choose for a fire starter, it is important that you get familiar with it before taking it on a hike. This will allow you to understand the tool better before getting into crunch time. Don’t let the firestarter be the thing that holds you back from enjoying some quality time under the stars with friends and family.