Every backpacker or hiker should carry a fire steel with them in their emergency gear repair kit. For just $8, this is one emergency preparedness and survival tool that you shouldn't be without.
If you're not familiar with fire steels, they consist of two components a metal striker and a magnesium rod. When the striker is scratched along the magnesium, it throws off sparks, regardless of whether it is wet or dry, making it a very effective way to light tinder or stove gas without matches or a butane lighter.
I've carried a fire steel in my emergency kit for years, but never used it until last weekend when I discovered that I didn't have a way to light my stove on a long backpacking trip.
The canister stove that I use has a piezo sparker built into it, but it broke down after two years of hard use. When I discovered this, I went rummaging in my gear repair kit for matches, but found that I didn't have any! I did however have a fire steel and used it to light my stove gas for the rest of the trip.
Although you should be able to use a fire steel right out of the box, it helps to practice using it to light tinder, denatured alcohol, isobutane canister gas, or white gas at home before you need to light these in the backcountry: you don't singe your eyebrows by venting too much gas before you create your spark.
Based on my experience using a fire steel on this last trip, I'll never bother with matches ever again!
Weight: 1.0 oz, includes magnesium rod, metal striker, elastic cord
Expected Lifetime: 3,000 strikes or more
Range: Works wet and at any altitutde
Certifications: Approved for use by the International Survival Instructors Association
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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