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When you’re camping, grilling or using your backyard firepit, you might be able to get a fire started by just using some matches or a lighter. But when your matches get wet, your lighter runs out of fluid or you just can’t sustain a flame with either one, you’ll need a reliable and safe fire starter to get the job done. They come in handy on camping trips and backyard cookouts, but could also be life-saving if you ever find yourself in a dire situation where you need to keep yourself warm or signal for help.
We’ve researched the options and come up with the best fire starters for various situations. Some of them will help you light your fire, while others ensure that it will quickly start burning. Before you head out for your next camping trip, hike or other outdoor adventure, make sure you have one of these packed with your gear. You may also want to pick up a couple extras for your emergency kits in your home and car and to have on hand to light your grill or fireplace. Keep reading to see which fire starters made the list.
Best Overall: Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter
The highly-rated Bear Grylls Fire Starter contains everything you need to start a fire under all kinds of conditions. It features a ferrocerium rod and a metal striker, as well as a waterproof storage compartment that also has enough space for extra fire-starting tinder. Lightweight and very portable, it’s all held together on a convenient lanyard that you can use to wear around your neck or attach to your gear. Users love that it’s compact, but still easy to grip and hold, and also produces large sparks. This fire starter comes with a built-in emergency whistle, air rescue instructions, as well as the BearGrylls' pocket survival guide, which is packed with survival basics designed to help keep you alive until you can be rescued.
Best Sticks: Better Wood Products Fatwood Firestarter
If you’re looking for a safe, non-toxic, all-natural fire starter, these Fatwood sticks are an excellent option. They’re harvested from the stumps of non-endangered pine trees that contain a high concentration of resin. The organic, 100 percent natural resin allows the wood to be started quickly with a single match and burn hot, even if the wood is wet. Versatile and user-friendly, Fatwood Firestarter Sticks can be used indoors or outdoors in barbecues, campfires, wood stoves, firepits, pellet stoves, chimneys, coal stoves and fireplaces. They’re available in different size boxes, including 10, 15, 25, 35 and 50 pounds.
Best Budget: Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starter w/Compass & Whistle
Made with the outdoor survivalist in mind, the high-quality Survival Spark fire starter combines three essential survival items into one compact and convenient tool. It includes a magnesium fire starter rod, a large striker, a high-quality compass and an emergency whistle, which are all held together on a lanyard you can wear around your neck for quick access. Easy and simple to use, it’s built to last and will light up to 15,000 times. It’s also weather-resistant, cold-resistant and windproof, and compact enough to easily fit into your emergency survival kit or hiking backpack. Whether you’re using it to light a campfire, bonfire or BBQ, you’ll be prepared and ready for anything with the Survival Spark.
Best for Campfires: InstaFire Granulated Fire Starter
If you’ve had trouble sustaining a fire after you get it lit, the InstaFire Granulated Fire Starter is an environmentally-friendly solution. It’s made from recycled wood, volcanic rock and a blend of food-grade paraffin wax. Perfect for campfires, wood-burning stoves, and firepits, just put an InstaFire pack on your firewood, light it, and watch your fire burn. There’s no need to build an elaborate set-up or constantly poke and prod your logs. InstaFire is naturally insulated so it will burn directly on top of wet ground, snow, ice and will even light wet wood. With no added harmful chemicals, there’s no unpleasant smell released when it’s burning.
Best for Charcoal Grills: Lighter Cubes by Weber
If you’ve ever been frustrated or lost your patience trying to get a charcoal grill started, you’ll love Weber’s Lighter Cubes. Reliable, odorless and environmentally-safe, they’ll help you get your charcoal ignited in seconds, even in wet or windy conditions. Best of all, your food won’t smell or taste like lighter fluid. With 24 cubes in the pack, they’re a good value and will help you be the grill hero at the campground or your backyard barbecue. They’re also safe to use in your firepit, campfire or even your indoor fireplace.
Best for Portability: Magnesium Flint Fire Starter by the Friendly Swede
A fire starter doesn’t get much more compact and portable than this handy one from the Friendly Swede. Perfect for camping, survival, bushcraft, or other outdoor activities, it works in windy, rainy, snowy conditions, as well as at high altitude. The flint rod throws extremely hot sparks and the mag bar scrapings work as tinder, so you don’t need to worry about finding materials to light. The striker also has a bottle opener, a scraping tool and small rulers to measure in centimeters and inches. It comes with three fire starters in the package, so you can keep one in your camping pack, emergency kit or even on your keychain.
Best for Stoves: Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army Fire Starter
The Swedish FireSteel fire starter’s ability to ignite flammable gas or liquid directly make it perfect for traditional alcohol and modern gas stoves, but it’s also useful for lighting campfires and firepits. First developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, this high-quality fire starter is versatile, reliable and can start fires at high altitudes and in low temperatures. It’s good for up to 12,000 strikes, so it should last you a long time. Users also like the precision stainless steel striker, ergonomic handle and the built-in emergency whistle.
Best for Wood Fireplaces & Firepits: Rutland 50B Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares
These handy fire starter squares are perfect to use in your fireplace or firepit to get your fire burning, without the need for any kindling. Made of recycled wood chips and wax, they’re non-toxic and will light even when they’re wet. You can also safely use them on your grills, smoker, wood or coal stoves, and they won’t flavor your food at all. Approved for indoor and outdoor use, they burn clean and meet the strictest air quality codes.