All campers, hikers and mountain climbers, as well as survivalists, will attest that the most important part of any kit is the fire starting equipment. Without fire, you are limited in eating, and without a proper clean water supply, you cannot boil your water for drinking. A firestarter kit is the most important part in wet cold or steamy, humid environments, even more than a combo tool component.
List of Top-Rated Firestarters for camping
Note that I did not change the manufacturer’s designation of “magnesium” since it would confuse you to see me call it ferrocerium and then find magnesium instead. However, based on the above explanation, you will at least understand the difference between the two.
The Best Firestarters for camping Reviews
This is the Fire-Fast Inferno Magnesium & Euro Fire Steel Ferro Rod
The Inferno is a lovely little combo unit that comes bundled properly with a wood divider separating the harder ferrocerium rod from the softer magnesium rod.
The Magnesium rod is made from a 97% pure metal and is 3/4-inch in diameter and 4 inches long.
The Ferrocerium rod is 3/8-inch in diameter and 4 inches long.
This whole combo weighs 6 ¼ ozs, and with the wooden sheath comes with and the overall length of 7 5/8 inches.
The sheath is made from sturdy hardwood, and this model comes with a special steel flint designed to produce instant sparks from the ferrocerium rod.
- Wooden sheath with the wood divide
- Ferrocerium rod
- Magnesium rod
- Steel Flint
This is a classic survivalist kit, it’s on the upper price bracket, but that’s due to the materials used and the exceptional hard wood sheath that makes it easier to grip and store the kit.
This is the LightArctic magnesium Fire Starter Survival Multi-Tool with Tinder
The LightArctic magnesium Fire Starter Survival Multi-Tool comes with exceptional design features and includes a much sought after fast igniting tinder component. This model is designed to last up to 15,000 strikes and comes with a complement of components to support an effective operation.
The kit comes with a ferro-magnesium rod, a saw-toothed metal striker, a built-in compass with a whistle, and a waterproof aluminum capsule for any tinder material. The kit comes with two long-lasting cotton paraffin tinder packs and a carrying cloth bag.
There is also a waterproof aluminum capsule for holding the tinder material, which is great even when you finish the supplied tinder.
- A ferro-magnesium rod with striker
- An aluminum dry storage capsule for tinder
This is a great model it comes with a ferrocerium rod, not a magnesium one as marketed on some sites and is an exceptional model to carry and use.
This is the Ralix Sharp Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle
The Ralix Spark is also sold under the Sharp Survival name and comes with exceptional qualities. This is a ferro-magnesium rod that combines the excellent sparking powers of iron with the ignition characteristics of magnesium.
This model provides a 15,000 strike rod with the striker, a small compass and a whistle, which are all excellent companions for any outdoor activity.
- Exceptional quality and design
- Compass, 130dB+ whistle, magnesium rod, and striker.
This is a neat and compact unit, fits in any camper’s pocket, or around your neck or wrist for safe keeping. Price wise; very hard to beat.
This is the X-Plore Gear Firestarter – 3-in-1 Survival Multifunction Tool
The X-Plore Gear Firestarter is another great magnesium rod, compass, striker combo kit. This version is one of the least expensive on the market, and with the quality you get, is the best ratio for simple to cost value.
The X-plore model comes with a magnesium rod, compass, and 150dB whistle and is 2.9 x 0.7 x 0.4 inches, weighing only 2.08 ounces.
- Exceptional quality and design
- Compass, 150dB+ whistle, magnesium rod, and striker.
This is another leading budget-friendly model that combines three essential tools into one neat package.
This is the Relefree Handle Fire Starter Camping Outdoor Orange Ferrocerium Flint Stone Rod
The Relefree outdoorsman model is a no-nonsense fire-starting kit that comes with a weather-proof magnesium fire starter rod and a double sided metal striker. The handle is orange and is easy to spot, and the device performs exactly what it was designed for, to produce high-intensity sparks for fire starting.
- 20,000 strike 3.6” ferro-magnesium rod
- Nylon Cord for easy carrying
- Small 2.6” accurate flint
I kept the simplest for last, no whistles, no compass, just fire producing a rod with flint. It doesn’t get simpler or less expensive than this model, and I usually take three or four of them with me. Not because I strike them so many times, but because I keep one in every kit I take, so I don’t need to remember where I put it constantly, and when I meet fellow hikers and campers that are fire challenged, I give them one for free.
How to Find A Good Firestarter?
The best firestarters are very simple models, these are simple rods of ferrocerium and magnesium, that when used in combination with a hard object that scrapes the rod, sparks are produced, and these are not simple sparks, they are high temperature bringing arcs that will light up any good dry and sometimes damp materials.
Essentially, what you need are both the ferrocerium and magnesium components, although you can start a good fire with only the ferrocerium rod. The addition of the magnesium strip gives you the ability to shave off magnesium and ignite it as an accelerant for damp materials.
Firestarter kits come in all shapes and sizes, and yes, you can buy them at any corner camping store, however, just as there are good models and bad models in any product, even in the simple world of fire-starting sticks, there are good and best models.
Ferrocerium vs. Magnesium
There seems to be confusion on the markets about the use of the term ferrocerium and magnesium. Well, I also use both in the definitions of each device since they are presented in such ways by their manufacturers. However, it is important to understand that they are not the same and their names are being misused.
To start off with there are two rods, one is ferrocerium the other is magnesium. Some online sites and producers call the ferrocerium a magnesium rod, this is incorrect, since the ferrocerium rod is an ignition rod, and the magnesium rod is a catalyst or ignition fuel.
So, rule number one, I have not renamed all “magnesium” rods ferrocerium, which is their correct designation, and if you see the word magnesium and it is not an actual magnesium rod, then know the seller refers to a ferrocerium rod with the name magnesium. (confusing?)
Ferrocerium rods are a combination of metallic elements, to be exact they are usually:
- 30% Iron
- 35-50% Cerium
- 25% Lanthanum
The all contain small amounts of neodymium, praseodymium, and magnesium but this is due to the impurity found in the other metals.
A Magnesium rod is made of 97.5% pure magnesium and is used as an accelerant source, where you would scrape magnesium fillings onto a tinder mound, using the ferrocerium rod to light the magnesium that bursts into an intense flam, lighting the fire instantly.
You don’t need a magnesium rod, you can light a fire without one, but it does help speed things up, especially in wetter climates.
Now Just a quick note on how to use a ferrocerium stick with or without magnesium.
You need to make sure you have a ferrocerium rod, a hard tool to scrape, steel knives are the best, but if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and only have the stick, a good hard edged rock will do.
Gather as much kindling as you can find, these can also be wood or bark shavings, but make sure they are dry otherwise the fire won’t take as well. You scrape the ferrocerium rod next to the kindling and when it catches you blow for added oxygen, but don’t blow too hard or you will extinguish the flame. Slowly add wood to take up the flame and presto, you have a fire.
If you have magnesium, you can shave this off, and then place this with the kindling, once the sparks hit the magnesium they ignite in very intense heat and light, this will help ignite damper kindling, or help speed up the whole process if you have such a magnesium rod with you.