11 Best Fire Starters

We tested the best fire starters available today and this is how they performed.

Updated on June 30th, 2023
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We tested the best fire starters available today according to price, weight, number of strikes (ignitor), burn time (tinder), and waterproofing. Read on to see how they performed, which is best for you, and get some valuable buying advice.

Best Fire Starters

The best fire starters are:

The product comparison table below is sortable. Click the arrow in the heading cell to sort the models by preferred spec.

1. ÜBERLEBEN Zünden Fire Starter $16 1.7 oz Igniter 9/10
2. ZIPPO Mag Strike $16.95 3.52 oz Igniter 9/10
3. LIGHT MY FIRE Ferro Rod Fire Starter $20 2.2 oz Igniter 9/10
4. ESBIT Solid Fuel Tablets $10.95 6 oz Tinder 9/10
5. UCO Sweetfire Fire Starter $3.99 3.7 oz Tinder 9/10
6. PYRO PUTTY Waterproof Fire Starter $12.99 2 oz Tinder 9/10
7. UST BlastMatch Fire Starter $24.99 2.3 oz Igniter 9/10
8. UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit $11.99 2.9 oz Igniter 8/10
9. BLACK BEARD Fire Starter Rope $18 2.82 oz Tinder 8/10
10. LIGHTNING NUGGETS Firestarters $4.50 10 oz Tinder 8/10
11. SOLO Stove Starters $15.99 11 oz Tinder 8/10

Best Igniters

Best Overall Ignitor

ÜBERLEBEN Zünden Fire Starter

Price: $16

überleben zünden fire starter

✅ Lightweight

✅ Long-lasting igniter

✅ Affordable


❌ No protective case


  • Weight: 1.7 oz
  • Type: Igniter
  • No. of Uses: 12,000 strikes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Überleben Zünden ferrocerium rod and striker give off some of the best sparks of any product on our list. We love that this campfire starter lets the sparks fly, and it is the clear favorite for our best overall igniter fire starter.

We like handcrafted wood handle that provides a nice aesthetic compared to the plastic handles of similar rods. As a bonus, the striker features handy tools such as a hex wrench, bottle opener, ruler, and a sharp edge for scraping.

We tested the 1.7-ounce model, but it’s also available in larger sizes. Our biggest gripe is that the two pieces come on a lanyard to hang around your neck, but it lacks a case to protect from water, rusting, or poking your gear if stored in your pack. At $16, this is the cheapest striker on our list.

Best Budget Ignitor

ZIPPO Mag Strike

Price: $16.95

zippo mag strike

✅ Best budget igniter

✅ Waterproof


❌ Heavy


  • Weight: 3.52 oz
  • Type: Igniter
  • No. of Uses: Years of uses

The Zippo Mag Strike is a two-piece striker and ferrocerium rod, and it’s one of the cheapest models we tested. This makes it our pick for the best budget igniter.

We like that the Mag Strike snaps together for easy storage. And that this gives it excellent waterproofing by preventing rusting in damp conditions.

We found the sharpened edge creates a large shower of sparks to light your tinder. The Mag Strike’s textured grip helps you get a strong strike, and at just over 4 inches long, it’s the longest igniter we tested. The biggest downside for us is the weight. At 3.5 ounces, it’s the heaviest igniter on our list.

Best Long-Life Ignitor

LIGHT MY FIRE Ferro Rod Fire Starter

Price: $20

light my fire ferro rod fire starter

✅ Long-lasting

✅ Lightweight

✅ Packable


❌ Expensive

❌ No case


  • Weight: 2.2 oz
  • Type: Igniter
  • No. of Uses: 12,000 strikes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Light My Fire Ferro Rod starter is one of the smallest fire starter tools out there. We love it for its packability. Especially if you intend to use it as an emergency backup, the small size and 2.2-ounce weight make it easy to stash in your pack.

However, we found it can be tricky to get a good spark due to the small size. It delivers up to 12,000 strikes, the most on our list, tied with the Überleben Zünden. In wet conditions, it does well, but we wish it came with a case. It can be prone to rusting in damp environments.

Best Fire Starter Match

UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit

Price: $11.99

uco titan stormproof match kit

✅ Long burn time

✅ Submersible

✅ Windproof


❌ Expensive per match


  • Weight: 2.9 oz
  • Type: Igniter
  • No. of Uses: 12 matches, 3 replaceable strikers = 5 minutes of fire
  • Waterproof: Yes

For a match, the UCO Titan Stormproof Matches don't mess around. We found them to be windproof, waterproof, and submersible. We love that they reliably light and stay lit under almost any condition. And we were impressed with the 25-second burn time. You have plenty of time to get your tinder flaming.

The biggest drawback is the cost. At almost $0.50 per match, their cost is closer to some of the tinders we tested. However, having the ignitor (match head) and the tinder (the matchstick) all in one durable package makes these a great option in harsh conditions.

If the Titan matches are overkill for your needs, look into the UCO Stormproof matches. Made of the same materials as the Titan, they are smaller and still sport a 15-second burn time.

Best Tinders

Best Overall Tinder

ESBIT Solid Fuel Tablets

Price: $10.95

esbits solid fuel tablets

✅ Long burn time

✅ Lightweight

✅ Waterproof


❌ Expensive

❌ Fishy smell

❌ Can be toxic


  • Weight: 6 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 12 tablets
  • Waterproof: Yes

Esbit fuel tablets have been a popular choice amongst backpackers for a long time. Designed as a fuel source for cooking stoves, they also make a great fire starter. And with good reason. With a 15-minute burn time at 1400°F, they have one of the longest and hottest burn times on our list.

We like that each 0.5-ounce tablet comes individually sealed for extra water protection. They work well in the harshest conditions.

The biggest drawback is the fishy smell. We’ve found it can permeate to other items in your pack. One of our testers recommended not to pack it with your food. We don’t like Esbit’s safety data sheet that warns that combustion can create toxic chemicals that should not be ingested. And at $0.91 per block, these are expensive. But if you want a reliable emergency fire starter, Esbit is our top pick.

Best Budget Tinder

UCO Sweetfire Fire Starter

Price: $3.99

uco sweetfire fire starter

✅ Lightweight

✅ Affordable

✅ Sustainable


❌ Short burn time

❌ Hard to light in wet conditions


  • Weight: 3.7 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 24 Sweetfire firestarters

UCO Sweetfire tinder is our favorite sustainable campfire starter tinder. It’s made from bagasse, a renewable fibrous sugarcane biofuel. Vegetable wax is used to hold the tinder into blocks. And at $0.17 a block, it’s also our best-budget tinder fire starter. It’s also the lightest tinder we tested at just 0.15 ounces per block.

We found that each starter lasts for 6 to 7 minutes, falling on the shorter side of the tinders on our list. The matches are water resistant, but we found them hard to light if they become soaked. If you’re having difficulty lighting them, we recommend shaving them into smaller pieces to light easier.

Most Versatile Tinder

PYRO PUTTY Waterproof Fire Starter

Price: $12.99

pyro putty waterproof fire starter

✅ Affordable

✅ Waterproof

✅ Versatile


❌ Tin is bulky


  • Weight: 2 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 50 fires
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Pyro Putty fire starter comes in a shoe polish-type tin. The fibrous putty is a unique fire starter that seemed a bit strange to us at first, but we found pulling the putty apart creates easy-to-light strands. Each Pyro Putty blend is engineered for specific conditions—Winter Blue for cold temperatures and Summer Orange for warmer temperatures. And we love how versatile these putties are.

The putty can be used to waterproof shoes and tents by rubbing it on leaky areas. Just don’t hold your toes to the fire! A nickel-size piece of putty will stay lit for about 8 to 10 minutes. Each 2-ounce tin can start up to 50 fires. We found it best to carry the whole tin, which makes it a heavier option than other single-use blocks of tinder.

The Other Noteworthy Models

UST BlastMatch Fire Starter

Price: $24.99

ust blastmatch

✅ Lightweight

✅ Waterproof cap

✅ One-handed fire-starter


❌ Expensive

❌ Fewer strikes than other models


  • Weight: 2.3 oz
  • Type: Igniter
  • No. of Uses: 4,000 strikes
  • Waterproof: Yes

The UST BlastMatch is a one-handed flint-based fire starter tool. We found that using only one hand allowed us to add to and adjust our tinder pile while sparking, making this a pretty nifty device. We like that the cap swivels on and off to pack away for waterproofing and to prevent accidental sparking. It works when wet too.

It lasts up to 4,000 strikes, which sounds like a lot but is the fewest of all the strikers we tested. At 2.3 ounces, we think this is a light and effective fire starter. UST makes many other products, like the Strikeforce, a heavier two-handed version of the BlastMatch.

Black Beard Fire Starter Rope

black beard fire starter rope

✅ Waterproof

✅ Long shelf life


❌ Short burn time


  • Weight: 2.82 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 33 strands = 50+ fires
  • Waterproof: Yes

Black Beard Fire Starter Rope is a non-toxic water and windproof fire starter with a unique rope design. To use, cut off the desired amount and separate the strands of rope to light with your ignitor.

It can be used for 50+ fires, but it’s a little hard to judge the accuracy of that claim since it comes as one piece.

We found that it was easy to light, even in wet conditions. We didn’t like the short burn time of 6 to 7 minutes. One of the shortest on our list. Black Beard claims to have a 100-year shelf life, so you can pass down any extras to your children.

Lightning Nuggets Firestarters

Price: $4.50

lightning nuggets firestarters

✅ Long burn time

✅ Sustainable


❌ Heavy


  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 12 Lightning Nuggets fire starter nuggets
  • Waterproof: Water-resistant

Lightning Nuggets is made using recycled forest by-products and food-grade paraffin wax. Our favorite feature is the long, 15-minute burn time. Tied with Esbit for the longest burn time on our list. They are almost twice the weight of Esbit, though.

At 0.96, they are the heaviest tinder we tested. They are less than half the price of Esbit. If you don’t mind the extra weight, they can be an affordable option that burns for a long time.

We found that in wet conditions, they aren’t as easy to light as other options. As a non-toxic option, they are safe to cook over.

Solo Stove Starter

Price: $15.99

solo stove starter

✅ Light in wet conditions

✅ Good eco option


❌ Expensive

❌ Short burn time


  • Weight: 11 oz
  • Type: Tinder
  • No. of Uses: 16 starters
  • Waterproof: Yes

The Solo Stove Starter is another campfire starter with good eco-cred. They are non-toxic and made with 100% recycled hardwood.

Designed for the popular Solo Stoves, these starter blocks are water-resistant and will light in challenging conditions. They are the most expensive tinders we tested, costing a staggering $1 per block. We found this especially disappointing, given the short 6-minute burn time. And at 0.69 ounces, they are heavier than other options on our list, which may be a turn-off for backcountry use.

Key Factors To Consider When Choosing


For a fire starter igniter, we recommend under $25. Igniters should last years with average use. Tinder can be cheaper, but for single use, it will cost more in the long run. However, they can provide a lifeline in wet conditions when it’s hard to find dry tinder on the ground.

Fire starter igniters that provide the greatest value:

Fire starter tinders that provide the greatest value:

Most Affordable fire starters igniters:

Most Affordable fire starter tinders:

Premium fire starter igniters (most expensive):

Premium fire starter tinders (most expensive):


Fire starter igniters should be lightweight, under 4 ounces, if not lighter. Fire starter tinders vary in weight, but carrying 2 ounces of tinder should be enough to light 3 to 6 fires. A good amount for emergency use on a week-long trip.

The lightest ignitor fire starters:

The lightest tinder fire starters:

Number of Strikes (ignitor) / Burn Time (tinder)

The number of strikes an ignitor is rated for will determine its life span. The longest on our list can be struck 12,000 times. We recommend getting an igniter with at least 4,000 strikes. Tinders are single-use, and therefore, burn time is more important. Longer burning tinders will give you more time to build a fire around them. Look for a burn time of at least 6 minutes.

The fire starters with the most strikes:

The fire starters with the longest burn time:


If your fire starter doesn’t work in wet conditions, it’s not worth buying. Striker igniters will create sparks even when wet. Waterproof matches like the UST BlastMatch can even be submerged in water and still burn. Tinders often use wax, or chemical, that gives them the power to light even when wet.

The most waterproof fire starter igniters:

The most waterproof fire starter tinders:

Other Things to Consider

Types of Fire Starters

Fire starters fall into two main groups. “Igniters” are tools used to create a flame or a spark. “Tinders” are fuels that ignite easily when introduced to a spark or a flame. Igniters and tinders are used in tandem as the initial building blocks of a good fire.

best fire starter tinders and puttiesDifferent types of tinders you can use to start a fire.


  • Matches: Matches come in many shapes, sizes, and lengths. For outdoor use, waterproof and stormproof matches work best. Waterproof matches look similar to normal wooden stick matches but are designed to hold up in wet conditions. Stormproof matches are even more robust. Designed to hold up in the toughest of conditions, they are waterproof, windproof, and submersible. Some of these “matches,” like the UCO Sweet Behemoth, can burn up to 15 minutes and look more like mini obelisks than a traditional match.
  • Lighters: Lighters are a foolproof way to start a fire. Light, affordable, and easy to find, lighters make an ideal item for every survival kit. The classic Bic lighter is a great choice and good for up to 3,000 ignitions. Torch lighters are more robust, often designed to be windproof, waterproof, and sport a bigger flame than a Bic lighter. The downside is they are often bulkier and more expensive.
  • Rods and Strikers: Rods and strikers are a large and diverse category of fire starters. Many different materials are used, but the basic principle is the same. A striker is used to strike a rod to create a spark. The material on the rod, often referred to as a “firestick,” can also be scraped off into your tinder pile to add more flammable elements to catch sparks. They are lightweight, water-resistant, and last longer than lighters. However, they involve a steeper learning curve to use effectively. Materials used for the rod vary. Ferrocerium is an alloy that includes metals like iron, lanthanum, cerium, and magnesium, the same metals in many fireworks. Flint and steel are widely used materials but create fewer sparks. Magnesium burns hot (and hotter when wet!) but takes more practice to get alight.
types of fire starters


  • Natural Tinders: The most common types of tinders are natural materials that you can find in the field. Dried grass, resin-filled birch bark (e.g., fatwood), and dried mosses are good examples. Natural tinders tend to burn quickly. Because natural tinders are found in nature, they are susceptible to the elements. It’s always a good idea to carry a tinder source with you in case of wet conditions and when naturally found tinder is not available.
  • Wax: Wax is another versatile starter. Wax is water-resistant, and it is easy to carry a small piece in your pack. Simple candle wax will do the trick. It can be shaved into thin strips or curls to help start other natural tinder. Pour melted candle wax into an unused ice cube tray to create simple and packable DIY fire starter cubes.
  • Commercial Tinders: Commercial tinders are made of many different materials and come in different shapes (i.e., rope, cubes, putty, etc.). They're an easy item to carry for emergencies or if you don’t trust your fire-making skills. Note some contain chemicals that can be toxic when burned. Flammable liquids like lighter fluid, hand sanitizer, bug spray, alcohol, and stove fuel all fit into this category. The safest for you, and the environment, are commercial tinders that use non-toxic natural ingredients.
fire starter rope

Black Beard Fire Starter Rope.

Ingredients & Environmental Concerns

Ingredients and environmental concerns are factors for tinders. These days, there is a wide range of tinders that are made of non-toxic, sustainable ingredients. Often these are made from industrial by-products like wood or bagasse (sugar cane fiber). Some fire starters can contain harmful toxic chemical ingredients to help them light and stay lit.


Fire starter tools should be lightweight and packable, especially if you’re carrying it for emergency use. We recommend nothing over 4 inches long for an igniter. The most packable tinders come in cube shapes.


Many igniters come with extra tools, similar to a multi-tool. While these are fun selling points, make sure it’s worth paying for the extra features. Especially if you carry a multi-tool many of these features may be redundant. Tinders don’t come with additional features. They are made to burn.

lighting a spark with a fire starter rod

Lighting a spark with a fire starter rod.



If your fire starter is made of natural, non-toxic materials, it is safe to cook over. Otherwise, wait until all of the fire starter material is burnt off to use for cooking.


Firestarters, both igniters, and tinders, do not expire. However, there are a few factors that affect the lifespan of a fire starter. Rusting can decrease the number of strikes for rods and strikers. Lighters, matches, and tinder fire starters do not perform as well if wet. Like any piece of gear, proper maintenance ensures long life. Keeping fire starters dry and free of debris is your best bet to keep them performing at a high level.

camp fire

📸 Some photos in this post were taken by Jonathan Davis (@meowhikes)

Justin Sprecher photo

About Justin Sprecher

Justin is a thru-hiker and writer with a passion for wild backcountry. He's thru-hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail, LASHed the Great Divide Trail and Arizona Trail, and clocked up 1,000s of miles on long-distance trails around the world.

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After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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