Gear Review – Firesteel

Firesteel1

Gobspark Firesteel (top) Compared to a Smaller One

I posted a video awhile back where I made a fire using a small firesteel.  It was a lot of work with the smaller steel and I finally went to www.firesteel.com and checked out their bigger version called the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel.  After looking it over I ordered one for myself and one for my eighteen year old daughter.

We have a small family gathering at my parent’s house almost every weekend where we get together and cook hotdogs and other food over an open fire.  My daughter tried to light a fire with the smaller steel a couple of weekends ago and couldn’t quite bear down hard enough to get a good spark.

After the firesteels arrived I gave her one and had her try and light the fire for the weekend fire (April 16, 2011) and she was able to get it going in just a few tries.

This particular firesteel (the larger black one) comes covered in black paint and needs to be scraped a few times before you can get a spark, but once you do… wow!  It really delivers a pile of sparks.

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Look At the Use the Smaller One Got!

I’ve started a lot of fires with the small orange one as you can see by the amount of use it’s had, but depending on weather conditions I had to strike it for a minute or more before getting it to light.  So far I’ve never had to strike the Gobspark Firesteel more than a couple of times.

The trick is to bear down on it.  Due to the large surface area and new formula they use it throws an incredible spark that will quickly light your tinder.  It’s also big enough to hold comfortably and you can even hold it with a pair of gloves or mittens on – a handy feature for those of us who live in cold weather environments half the year.

There are a couple of things I like about using firesteels and other primitive methods of starting fires.  First, a firesteel is inexpensive for what you get in return.  The Gobspark was about $12 or $13 off the website and I’ll be able to use it forever.  I threw it in my pack and even though I have matches and a lighter I know that I’ll always have a reliabe way to light a fire. Another thing I like about it is that it forces you to know how to build a fire, from finding good tinder to adding the tinder to the actual large wood itself.  If you can start a fire with a firesteel you’ll be able to light one with a match or lighter without even thinking about it.  Another thing is that a firesteel will throw a spark no matter how wet it gets.  If your canoe tips over and your gear is soaked or you lose it and the only thing you have on you is your Bekker Necker knife with an firesteel attached you’ll be able to get a fire going once you get to shore.  Click here if you’d like to buy one.

Like everything else this is a skill you have to practice.  Let me say that again.  Just because you have a firesteel in your pack it might as well be useless if you don’t know how to use it.  Practice practice practice!

-Jarhead Survivor

BTW:

Check out this video of a guy striking a spark in low level lighting.

6 comments… add one
  • gat31 May 4, 2011, 8:23 am

    l have to say thank you for this post today. My friend and l have been trying to teach ourselves and kids how to start fires without matches.
    l had never seen this firesteel thing though man l heard about it a lot on this site. Now that l know what it looks like l’ll be looking to get one of those. We tried several methods here in the yard including steel wool pads and a 9 volt battery and a magnifying glass. When you say practice, practice, practice, man l’m here to tell ya that is a must! That whole day we never got a fire going without matches. We did, however, get burnt fingers with the steelwool, cooked several leaves, grasshoppers, and ants. The greatest thing that worked that day was my humble hobo stove made from the cans from rangerman. :) l made that thing the first day of the post and have used it several times since then.
    l want to thank the seasoned survivalists out there who teach us newbies
    because it’s easy to buy the equipment, but difficult using it without guidance.
    My friend and l are currently getting camping gear together and taking our kids on camping trips to try these methods out in the wild so to speak because we believe it’s important for them to get these skills mastered now BEFORE they need it. So thanks again and happy prepping everyone!

    Reply
    • Jarhead Survivor May 4, 2011, 9:57 am

      Hi gat31 – I’m glad you liked the post. Now, the secret to starting a fire with one of these is to use good dry tinder and to bear down hard enough on the firesteel to get a good spark. Make a “bird’s nest” out of your tinder and have some birch bark or something else very flammable standing by. As soon as you see a flame light the birch bark and you’ll have a fire in no time.

      Reply
  • Jason May 4, 2011, 9:57 am

    I agree with gat31 – this was a great post today & thanks for including the video of you using it to start a fire.

    I grew up camping in the dirt as we called it & continued well into adulthood and love all of the simplicities that go along with it all – life seems so much more refreshing to me in that environment.

    I think I’ll get one & yes, it is available on Amazon! Glad you said something about that Ranger, I do enjoy helping out.

    Reply
  • ChefBear58 May 4, 2011, 2:30 pm

    When I saw that video, at first I thought the guy was holding a roman candle! That was awesome… I am gonna have to get one of those fire steel’s for my JEEP kit!

    I have used a few of those little orange, cheaply made, $4 wal-mart fire steel things over the years and have actually had a couple of them just snap when I tried to use them for the first (and last) time. I pretty much gave up on those a couple years ago, and have gone to the magnesium block fire-starters. They work OK, but they are hard to hold with gloves on, or if the block/your hands get wet at all. The blocks also don’t last very long, but they are better than nothing. I bought a blast-match last year that works pretty well, but it’s a little to cumbersome to put on a key chain or to attach to the exterior of a pack. The fire steel you highlight seems like it would be a little better for everyday carry, or for hanging off a pack, I am definitely gonna have to pick up at least one of them!

    Reply
  • Scott D May 5, 2011, 12:10 am

    I here you on the whole deal. I did the same as you a couple years ago. But I bought one of those orange strikers in the larger size as well. I’ve had no problems with the larger one I think it’s the composition or just the plain size and surface area you get your striker to interface with. I also have since pulled the silly little orange thing off the top and crafted my own attachment that hangs from a neck lanyard when I go camping. I started buying bulk deals on fleabay and have bought the larger sizes that I really like, but, I didn’t completely give up on the smaller ones. It’s very difficult but you can get a fire from one of those tiny deals. Another good skill to get is starting a fire with an EMPTY Bic Lighter. I have found I love cotton balls either dry or soaked in Petroleum Jelly. PJ burns longer. A hint for those with the small strikers or heck even the larger ones if your having and issue make sure to pull your tinder apart so air can get in with it to ignite when the spark hits it. And when I’m using dry cotton balls or dryer lint I hold my tinder right under the striker so it strikes like a match. A couple swishes and toss it into your main tinder bundle. Don’t do this with PJ Cotton Balls it will gunk up your striker and ferro rod. But you can use the PJ cotton Balls as the main tinder bundle just aerate the PJCB real well and for my experience as soon as a spark hits a PJCB whoosh it goes right up like tossing a match on gasonline. Watch your eyebrows! What I’ve done is once getting one technique down I try doing it with different types of tinder and then the ultimate try doing it in the rain at home. I just finally after about 2 years of trying finally started a fire using a dry cotton ball and a magnifying glass and yes I live in new england It was extremely clear day and the sun was shining strong. It surprised me how quick it went up when it finally went. I think the fact that the wind was blowing contributed to the fact that it went up. Cause I was charring for a good fifteen minutes then woosh. One recomendation for the magnifying techniq wear sunglasses to protect your eyes I was seeeing spots for a good half hour afterwards. For my first time I was using a three and a half inch magnifying glass. Now to try the Fresnal credit card lense and the jewelers loupe as soon as this weather clears up, it’s cold and rainy here today. Good luck you little Pyromaniacs! Word of warning do not under any circumstances ignite magnesium powder in, near or around anything you do not want to burn to ashes. Magnesium will burn through metal containers so practice that outside away from the house. Melted through a coffee can like butter on hot toast and neerly set my picnic table on fire good thing for the glass ashtray that’s all I have to say. The picnic table was on my back deck, not the smartest thing I’ve ever done thats for sure.

    Reply
  • PrimalCane July 26, 2011, 2:32 pm

    Ordered and received my Gobspark… Best firesteel ever.

    Reply

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