The Best Camping Firestarters in 2021

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Sometimes traditional matches just don’t cut it. Same goes for lighters, especially when they run out of fluid.

So, you’re finally in the market for a camping lighter. A quick search, though, can deliver big results that can be overwhelming to pick from.

We’re here to help cut through the noise and find you a fire starter that fits your camping needs.

There are a few things to keep in mind before making your purchase, though.

  • Types of fire starters. Understand the difference between long-lasting matches and flint-based kits.
  • Ease of use. This is a big factor. If you have big hands, for instance, the more compact starters may not be for you.
  • Weather-proof capabilities. You want your starter to be water- and wind-resistant.

Read More : 4 Things to Know Before Buying Camping Lighters

And then remember that some fire starters are geared more for emergency and survival situations and not for everyday camping use.

Our top picks

Here’s a quick summary of our favorite firestarters. Read on for more.

Best Budget Option : Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
“A lightweight, water-resistant firestarter that includes storage for tinders.”

Value for Money : UST StrikeForce
“Rated at more than 4,000 strikes, this starter generates heat that’s three times that of a match.”

Long Lifespan : MSR Strike Igniter
“This MSR fire starter can last you all camping season and probably longer.”

Best for Windy Conditions : Pull Start Fire
“Can still light in 200mph winds.”

Best for Stormy Conditions : UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit
“If you only had one match left to light, you want the UCO Titan Stormproof matches.”

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Gerber Bear Grylls Firestarters
Photo Credit : Gerber

If you ever find yourself in a survive-or-die situation, you might be happy to have the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter attached to your pack.

This affordable fire starter is designed for those situations. It’s lightweight, water-resistant, includes storage for tinder and even includes a 100-decibel emergency whistle.

It’s another flint-based fire starter that’s good for roughly 8,000 sparks. If you’re using it strictly for emergencies, you may never have to buy another one again.

If you’re a backpacker or just going on a day-trip adventure, you should always have an emergency fire starter with you. This Gerber Bear starter is a great place to start.

What We Like

  • Affordable. Every camper should have one for the price.
  • Large enough to get solid sparks after each strike.

What We Don't Like

  • Small tinder storage. It’s nice the company included it, but it’s really only big enough for a single cotton ball.

UST StrikeForce Fire Starter

UST StrikeForce Firestarters
Photo Credit : UST

If you’re looking for a flint-based fire starter that will last you more than enough strikes, check out the UST StrikeForce fire starter.

Rated at more than 4,000 strikes, this starter generates heat that’s three times that of a match. Use the flint and striker to spark a tinder and let it burn around your campfire wood.

We like how this UST fire starter is designed with the striker built into the cap of the flint. Don’t worry, it’s designed to prevent unintended sparks.

What We Like

  • Affordable. For the price, you get over 4,000 strikes, which is more than enough for a few seasons of camping.
  • Great design. It’s compact and easily fits in your pocket or around your neck with the included lanyard.

What We Don't Like

  • Flint isn’t for everyone. Make sure you understand that a flint and striker isn’t a set of matches.

MSR Strike Igniter

MSR Strike Igniter Firestarters
Photo Credit : MSR

Another ultralight flint-based fire starter, the MSR Strike Igniter is a great tool, especially for lighting white gas stoves.

Campers tend to go with flint-based starters at least as a backup in case of bad weather and the MSR Strike Igniter certainly shows us why. It’s water and windproof, although some have reported some trouble in higher wind situations.

In perfect conditions, it produces sparks that are 5,500°F.

Because of its size, it might take a few strikes to produce a spark. But that can be solved by general practice using it.

A top selling feature is its longevity. By lasting up to 12,000 sparks, this MSR fire starter can last you all camping season and probably longer.

What We Like

  • Great life-span. Lasts up to 12,000 sparks.
  • Lightweight. Perfect for minimalist camping.

What We Don't Like

  • Small size makes it difficult to use.

Pull Start Fire

Pull Start Fire Firestarters
Photo Credit : Pull Start Fire

There may not be a lighter that’s more fun to use than the Pull Start Fire.

With no matches, lighters or even kindling required, you simply take the fire starter, which is about the size of a deck of playing cards, place it between your campfire logs, and then pull the red string. This ignites the box, allowing it to burn for 30 minutes.

The fact no kindling is required is a huge plus and makes starting a campfire quite easy.

The Pull Start Fire comes with three fire starters per pack, which is good for a weekend trip. It can get a little pricey if you need to buy more.

What We Like

  • No lighter, kindling needed. A quick tug of the red string ignites the box and starts your fire.
  • Extremely windproof. Can still light in 200mph winds.

What We Don't Like

  • Only sold in three-packs. And that could get expensive for longer trips.

UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit

UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit Firestarters
Photo Credit : UCO

If flint-based starters aren’t your thing, you should check out the UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit.

These aren’t like the matches you find in your junk drawer at home. They are big and strong, and can light in the harshest of conditions. And they have a great burn time at 25 seconds, which is enough to light kindling around the base of your campfire.

Of course, match kits are more expensive in the long run because you need to purchase more once you’re out. This kit includes 12 matches.

If you only had one match left to light, you want the UCO Titan Stormproof matches.

What We Like

  • They burn forever. A 25-second burn time is long for a match.
  • Work in every condition. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining with 120mph winds, these matches will light.

What We Don't Like

  • Only one strike surface. These matches only work with the strike surface that comes with the kit.

Light My Fire FireLighting Kit

Light My Fire FireLighting Kit Firestarters
Photo Credit : Light My Fire

Developed in Sweden, the Light My Fire kit is a fun fire-starting kit that’s environmentally-friendly and easy to use.

No matter the altitude or weather, the magnesium alloy in this fire starter can produce power sparks that can help get the campfire lit or even a gas grill up and running.

You’ll need to make sure you have enough kindling and a tinder to properly light a fire before feeding it with bigger logs and campwood.

Like most flint-based fire starters, this Light My Fire kit is going to require some practice if you’re not proficient at it.

What We Like

  • Smart design. Specifically, the Grandpa’s Fire Fork, which attaches to almost any stick. The other end is for holding marshmallows and hotdogs.
  • Eco-friendly. All materials are BPA-free.

What We Don't Like

  • Not the best in the wind. It can work in all weather conditions, but it’s not the best in high winds.

Exotac PolyStriker Firestarter

Exotac PolyStriker Firestarters
Photo Credit : Exotac

Featuring a carbide striker and ferrocerium sparker, the Exotac PolyStriker is for the minimalist camper who doesn’t mind the small profile of their fire starter.

Since it is smaller, you can get about 1,000 good strikes out of this fire starter, which is lower than competitors. But in return, you get a fire starter that takes up next to no space. The Tungsten carbide striker actually pops into the plastic handle when not in use.

Some campers have complained about the striker simply being too small. But for more experienced campers, and especially backpacking campers, this Exotac fire starter might be all you need to get the campfire started.

What We Like

  • Minimalist design. Keep it in your pocket and you’ll forget it’s even there.
  • Lightweight. Perfect for backpack camping.

What We Don't Like

  • Difficult to use at first. The small design can make it a little tricky to get used to.

Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set

Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set Firestarters
Photo Credit : Wolf and Grizzly

A flint-based starter featuring a large striking surface makes the Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set a great buy. Add in its budget price-tag and you might just want to buy two of them.

We really like ferro rod’s large surface because it makes striking the flint much easier and produces sparks nearly every time. And because of the size of it, you can get up to 20,000 strikes, which is fantastic longevity for a fire starter.

If you have some dry kindling or tinder, you can pretty much start a fire in a few seconds with this Wolf and Grizzly Fire Set.

What We Like

  • Large striking surface. This practically guarantees to generate a spark with each strike.
  • Great longevity. The flint and striker can produce up to 20,000 sparks.
  • Affordable. A great price for the performance.

What We Don't Like

  • A little time-consuming. Some campers have reported it takes a few sparks to light dry kindling.

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Firestarters
Photo Credit : Exotac

As one of the better-looking fire starters on our list, the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL fire starter certainly draws attention to itself.

And as a bonus, it comes in a variety of colors, including orange, gunmetal, olive and black. As a fire starter, it’s also pretty solid.

Measuring in at the size of half of a pencil, this starter is definitely compact. Because of its smaller size, some campers have complained it can be difficult to strike.

There are mixed reviews on whether this Exotac fire starter is effective, but many campers agree it comes in handy when needed.

What We Like

  • Effective striking tool. The stainless steel and tungsten carbide striker seems to last forever.
  • Portable. When not in use, it makes a great keychain ballast.
  • Multiple colors. It’s pretty rare for a fire starter to offer so many color options.

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive. Some campers have complained this starter’s performance doesn’t align with its price tag.

Zippo Fire Kit

Zippo Fire Kit Firestarters
Photo Credit : Zippo

The Zippo Fire Kit is the popular brand’s lighter for camping, and many campers agree it’s a great tool.

It’s top selling point is its tube design. It includes a storage area for tinder that stays dry in all weather. And then there’s a flint wheel on top to create sparks.

If you use the included Zippo tinder, you can expect about 5 minutes of burn time.

In addition to being waterproof, this Zippo fire starter can also float, which is handy when camping near water.

What We Like

  • Affordable. Zippo lighters are expensive, but their fire kits are extremely reasonable.
  • Includes tinder. When you use it up, you can refill the storage container with more.
  • Floats in water. Very helpful in case you camp near a body of water.

What We Don't Like

  • No extra flints. It’s not the largest flint, so it could wear out quicker than other fire starters depending on use.

Camping Fire Starters Buying Guide

You’re going to want to understand some of the ins and outs of camping lighters before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Use this guide to make a better-informed purchase.

Types of fire starters

Today, there are several types of fire starters you can buy. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.

  • Ferrocerium rods, as found in the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL, is a combination of rare-earth metals that results in strong firesteel. These rods are typically good for up to 12,000 strikes.
  • Flint and steel have been used since the year 577 AD, so a pretty long time. Today’s engineering makes the two metals a great combination for creating sparks in dry or wet conditions. Depending on size, a good flint and steel fire-starting kit, like the UST StrikeForce Fire Starter, can last you 4,000 sparks.
  • Matches. When we talk about matches here, we’re talking about heavy-duty camping matches that withstand the harshest of weather elements, like the UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit. Unlike flint-based starters, you will run out of matches quickly depending how often you camp.
  • Lighters like the Zippo Fire Kit, are really just more convenient flint-based fire starters. Of course, there are lighters that run on a liquid gas, but those can run out rather quickly.

Ease of use

A fire starter is no good if it’s difficult for you to use. 

There are a number of factors to keep in mind before purchasing when it comes to ease of use.

  • Compact fire starters tend to be the biggest issue, especially for campers with larger hands. While manufacturers like to keep camping gear light and compact, if a fire starter is too small, it can be really difficult to create sparks and ultimately light your fire. That’s the case with the Exotac PolyStriker Firestarter and its minimalist design.
  • Matches, for example, are a relatively easy way of obtaining a flame to light kindling and then the overall camp fire. But smaller matches aren’t the best in windy or rainy situations.
  • Ferrocerium rods can create sparks during inclement weather, but it’s going to take a little more time. Not only do you need to create the spark, but you also need to have it hit dry kindling or a tinder to get a fire started.

Wind resistant and waterproof capabilities

All of the fire starters above are rated at some level of being wind-resistant and waterproof. That’s critically important, especially if you’re in a survivor-type situation.

Some starters are really good in the wind, like the Pull Start Fire. It’s actually rated to withstand 200mph winds. While the chances of you camping in hurricane-strength winds is unlikely, it’s nice to know a little wind isn’t going to prevent you from having a campfire.

In terms of waterproof, you can’t go wrong with a flint-based starter. 

Some like the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter, take it to the next level by including a waterproof storage for dry tinder to assist you even further in starting a fire.

Size and weight

A majority of fire starters on the market today are extremely light and portable. Many, in fact, can clip to a hiking backpack and be forgotten about until you actually need it.

Just remember, the smaller you go, the more difficult it could be to create a spark.

The good news is small doesn’t mean weak, in terms of heat. The MSR Strike Igniter is super-lightweight, but can still deliver sparks that are 5,500°F.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.