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Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012 at 11:46 AM
Jon  (Login JonnyElectronny)

I have always been one to use a lighter when canoe camping.
It has never yet let me down. Fits right in my pocket and cost a $1.00 to buy.
So why would anyone ever buy one of those 3000 Celcius "Bear Grylls fire starters"?
Is there something great about these products I don't know about?

I would be interested in hearing someone elses opinion.

Jon Hill
View Lake

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(Login Preacher23)

Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012, 12:20 PM 

I bring a bunch of different fire options. Lighters, matches and a flint/striker which is like the Grylls brand but likely costs 1/2.


Dixon Hurst
(Login Dicair)
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Makin Fire

April 1 2012, 4:52 PM 

I keep a zip-lock with some dryer lint and I have a flint system that was made by North 49. You will be amazed how well dryer lint performs.
Also, "FireSticks" from your local camping store work well. Cost about 3-4 bucks for a bag.

Hope this helps


Steve Elms
(Login hotelfive5472)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012, 5:08 PM 

I save all my drier lint as well happy.gif I have a Swedish Fire Steel that works great but most often I just use strike anywhere matches along with some birch bark or cedar shaving...Never had an issue getting a fire going, even in wet conditions (although it can be a bit of a challenge at times!)

My Website: http://www.elmsphotography.ca
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Mike R
(Login SlieTheSecond)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012, 7:02 PM 

I put it in the category of: It's better to have and not need than to need and not have. It's always good to have a backup or two for starting fire.

The thing about firesteel is, it doesn't break when you drop it, it still sparks when it goes for a swim and it doesn't run out of fuel (can start thousands of fires with one rod). There are tons of scenarios where a lighter can fail be it the fuel leaks out, the flint doesn't work, etc. Also some people just prefer starting fires that way. Everyone has their own taste on how they go about starting fires in the wild. If you ever get one, remember firesteel wrecks knives. They usually come with a small blade to spark with.


(Login SMolson)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012, 8:25 PM 

Jon - those $1.00 bic lighters can and often will fail. They are $1.00 for a reason. Once the flint is wet they will fail to spark. They can get wet from rain, sweat, dew, swimming, drips, snow etc - any moisture can make them useless. The little fuel nozzle can get jammed with debris, the casing can crack and the fuel evaporates or leaks out, they can seize up, break, etc. If you haven't had one fail on you yet in the backcountry (or anywhere) consider yourself lucky. Personally my go-to lighter is Brunton's Helios torch lighter. It has never failed me (yet), is refillable, waterproof, windproof, drop proof, crush proof, has a protective cap on it to help protect the nozzle and sparking mechanism from the environment, a lanyard, fuel window, etc. I've had it for 4 seasons now and used it under every condition - works great.

I also bring a box of Cochlan's waterproof matches as stove-lighting backup or for fire lighting, REI's windproof/waterproof matches for those special days/nights. In my emergency waterproof fanny pack I keep flint/steel + dry tinder and a 2nd torch lighter (among other things).

"why would anyone ever buy one of those 3000 Celcius "Bear Grylls fire starters" "

Because they are suckers? lol. I've never used that product but generally stay away from anything anyone endorses and is labelled with their name in the title. If the product is not good enough to sell on its own merit, it's likely not worth the expense. Especially that 'Bear Grylls' guy, who imo is more for show and self-generated drama than anything.

(Login Conorcanoe)

Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 1 2012, 9:51 PM 

I cant speak for the fire starter, but I have one of the knives and my son does too.
Excellent knife, I would buy one of the fire starters, just from using the knife!

Ken Mac Donald
(Login 1978-1952)
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April 2 2012, 7:48 AM 

Pretty much like everyone else, lighters, matches, water proof matches in our pocket at all times ( in case we tip the canoe while out fishing ) fire starter and even a magnifying glass ( son's idea ).

Little story of my first trip to the Park, it was the first week of Sept.in 1980 and it rained for the 7 straight days we where there, we where camped on the big island at the south end of Big Porcupine opposite the portage into Bonnechere, a group of about 10 teens showed up and camped at both sites just before the portage, noisy, jumping in the water, hooting and hollering , and then the second day we see the canoe coming towards our camp, Two fellows arrive with a big bag of potatoes, to trade for something to start a fire with, between the 4 of us ( 2 smokers in the group ) we probably had enough matches, lighters etc. to last a month.

found out this group had 1 lighter between the 10 of them and the guy went swimming with it. gave them about 5 lighters and matches etc. etc.

Something that has stuck with me all these years,

Norm Head
(Login normhead)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 2 2012, 10:07 AM 

Beside the fire pit I always have a small waterproof camera case with about 50 matches a lighter and 3-4 small pieces of fire starter in it. It's out in the sun shine or rain, and part of the point of it is, it's easy to find and available to anyone. And it's bright yellow so you can find it. Apart from that we carry those barbecue lighters with the long pipe snout , excellent for getting under and lighting a laid fire in the middle. Recently we've even been able to find little short ones that fold and fit inside the camera case. While I still think nothing starts a fire better than birch bark, being ready for when you're cold wet and in a hurry is always a priority. I always burn my fingers with $1 lighters... maybe it's just me.

(Login Preacher23)

Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 2 2012, 12:17 PM 

I am not a fan of Grylls or of celebrity endorsement. I did have the chance to play with his Parang and it appears to be well made. Gerber makes good equipment.

For an all-in-one it looks pretty good. Everything on it is good stuff for a ditch kit, fire, tinder, whistle. One of my biggest complaints about Grylls is that I want to hate him, but his gear appears to deliver.

If you get one as a back-up/emergency you should practice it a few times. They work, but it's not always like the video shows. Having some really fluffy tinder helps a lot. Shave a piece of birch bark you find on the ground, get a good tablespoon of dry duff. Build a tinder bundle. Be mindful of eyebrows.

(Login lonepaddler)
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Its the bow drill method for me

April 2 2012, 12:58 PM 

Like most everyone, I carry several fire starting utensils... a couple of lighters, a flint striker, and matches but for me, most of my fires are the friction method with a bow drill. Like a lot of other ways to start a fire, getting the tools wet usually results in failure although I have dunked the whole set in a bucket of water and still made fire.

(Login JonnyElectronny)

Wow, really?

April 3 2012, 9:46 PM 

Thanks everyone.

Really didn't expect so many to bring along a flint starter.

I bought one 5 years ago and it got used once or twice, then everyone started grabbing the lighter.
I was given one from my son two years ago. He tried it when we were camping and again, after the novalty wore off, he went back to the lighter.
Just recently....as luck would have it, my girl friend bought me one at the outdoors show.

I no longer pack them on my trips. Don't even bring matches anymore.

When tripping with a group, everyone puts a bic lighter in their life jacket pocket or front pants pocket. We usually wrap them in electrical tape to seal them shut, or place them in a very small zip bag. For emergency use only.

For eveyone person, there is usually about three lighters. Never would I go with just one lighter.

Just for fun, we tried putting one in the water to see how long it would take to light. I took a little work, but it came back to life in about 5 minutes.

I will admit that the longer b.b.q. ones are a little nicer to start fires etc. with.

Well it's interesting to see other peoples opinions. Maybe I will try my latest one and see if my opinion changes.

(Login hiker123)

Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 3 2012, 10:03 PM 

Relying solely on a BIC lighter doesn't seem wise. As others have said a drop of rain or sweat will put your BIC out of commission for a while. Also the contact point between the striker and flint can get jammed easily. If you get wet or dump your canoe in a lake or river in early spring or late fall you will need a fire to dry out and warm up. It is possible to die from hypothermia in spring and fall. To me that is reason enough to carry a back-up method of fire starting.
The plus' to lighters are they are easy to use. Even if you run out of fuel you can still get a spark and fire going. It can be used one handed if you injure your one hand or arm.

Is it this one?http://www.gerbergear.com/Survival/Gear/Survival-Series-Fire-Starter_31-000699

The whistle doesn't look like it will have enough decibels to be useful. Test the waterproof compartment and make sure it is waterproof in the sink. Note you need two hands to use this model, some models you only need one hand. I prefer mischmetal over ferrocerium as I find it throws off hotter/bigger/more little balls of burning metal that last longer. Even if you drop a firesteel and break it, you will still have two little firesteels then and even if it is pouring out a couple of strikes and you'll have sparks.

I also like to light my stove (MSR Whisperlite) with a firesteel over a match or lighter. Sometimes flare ups happen and with a match/lighter your hands in the perfect place to get singed. I keep back about a foot away and with my firesteel can put a spark into the fuel cup no problem. Practice makes perfect. I would carry something else along side with that lighter though.

(Login T.O.TOM)
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April 4 2012, 12:24 AM 

On one trip I had six packs of waterproof matches packed in all different places. Come dinner time the first night I started going through each box, nothing would light. The waterproof matches don't like humidity, and with the wax coating on the heads they don't dry out. Now It's a minimum of three lighters, and not the cheapos. Cheers Tom

(Login Preacher23)

Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 4 2012, 5:51 PM 

I like having a tech-free option that guarantee's me a spark. Provided I have enough dry tinder and a spark I can make fire.

Lighters abound in my gear. I'll wager there's no fewer than 6 there right now just left over from the last trip.


(Login SMolson)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 4 2012, 6:30 PM 

Jon - I carry my 'Survival Steel' in my emergency kit (small waterproof fanny pack), and that's where it stays for the duration of the trip. It will only be used under the following conditions:

1) Kids want to practice fire-making with it during a trip
2) Catastrophic failure of my 2 torch lighters and waterproof matches
3) Canoe dumped, gear (temporarily?) irrecoverable. I only have my survival kit (and whatever else is on my person).

The 'beauty' of the steel is its lack of moving parts, works in any weather, durability and no gas/chemicals required.

The one I use is this (lol):

Two for $20.00, picked them up at the Sportsman's show years ago, no tax. Reviews are good and I've had no problems with mine. Didn't hurt that the salesperson was a pretty lady and the kids were with me and wanted me to buy it, lol

Bear Grylls is a 'shock' entertainer (borderline comedy imo) - I've watched a few clips from his show and find it ridiculous. The positions he puts himself into and his choices of what to do are very ill-advised. Most of his target audience, if they attempted to follow his actions and choices, would likely end up dead. He takes unnecessary risks and compounds them by equally dangerous actions. But he's made millions doing it, so some obviously appreciates his antics.


(Login Ricksterz)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 6 2012, 4:36 PM 

I always carry three methods for starting a fire: 1) firesteel, 2) bic-style lighter, 3) strike anywhere matches in a waterproof container.

I prefer using the firesteel, which looks similar to the Bear Grylls product, but I recall it had a smaller price tag.

Advantages of the firesteel
It can generate thousands of sparks before it wears out. It is unaffected by moisture. It is pretty tough and difficult to break.

I case I can't easily find dry tinder, I pack a few substitutes of my own creation in a zip-lock bag. I take cotton balls and dip them into petroleum jelly. They are easy to make and cheap (a buck buys a bag of cotton balls and $1.25 buys a jar of petroleum jelly at Dollarama). I pull out a wisp of the cotton to catch the spark.

(Login EGB)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 6 2012, 6:21 PM 

I get a 10-pack of those waterproof matches, and put boxes all over the place- coat, pack, tackle box, pants, tent etc.


John Connelly
(Login Saugeen)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 7 2012, 9:28 PM 

Zippo filled with diesel .......... Das Boot EH !


(Login Martin_G)
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Re: Lighter, matches, or Bear Grylls fire starter?

April 8 2012, 8:47 AM 

A couple of years ago I stumbled across these lighters on the Passionate Paddlers Blog. Butane, refillable, wind proof and $1 at Dollarama.

[linked image]


I take 3 of these (one in kitchen set, one in fanny pack, one in pocket). A waterproof container of strike anywhere matches (in PFD pocket) and a fire steel (in Leatherman Sheath).


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