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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Coghlan's Flint Striker

A simple magnesium rod that's an easy fire starter.

by: Dan Larson

Coghlan's Flint Striker (Courtesy Photo)
Coghlan's Flint Striker (Courtesy Photo)

Bear Grylls always makes it look like a snap to start a fire using one of these gizmos, but I’ve tried many that make me feel like a dunce. Not this one. Just scrape the magnesium rod with the included metal striker—aiming down into dry tinder—and watch the sparks fly and fire come to life.

Ergonomically, it’s easy to hold, so it worked miracles even in damp camps in the Northwest, when my fingers were cold and clumsy. And no matter how wet it gets, I could just give it a wipe and be back in business. Try that with matches or a Bic. Compared to competitors, it’s a bit on the heavy side for gram-counters, but its reliability makes it easily worth an extra ounce. $4; 1.7 oz.; coghlans.com.


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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Sam
Dec 05, 2013

I may be a bit late to the party but I have one of these and it works very well and is easy to use.
I had a fire going within minutes of opening the package. I got mine on Amazon but I'm told coghlansgear.com (Not the manufacturer) is priced better.

Veitski87
Jan 10, 2011

I had this one and got rid of it for a light my fire flint. Coghlan's is junk and took forever to light my stove and my fires! Got the LMF one and one strike my MSR is on fire! Don't get this flint it will make you aggravated.

richard
Jan 07, 2011

can you say coglans fire paste it will start a fire under any conditions

Doug
Jan 05, 2011

The product they are showing is not a magnesium fire starter, but a flint and steel. I use flint and steel pretty much all the time. Once you get to know how to use it, it works every time. Coughlans does make a version I have seen at Jays sporting goods for about $4. I bought one and it works as well as my firesteel.

Capt. Red Beard
Jan 05, 2011

Ahhh... I see. That is my mistake. I thought they were referring to the Magnesium Fire Starter, not the Flint Striker. When I went on their website I did not see the Flint Striker. My assumption was incorrect. Thanks for the correction there Hoot.

Jeff C, I agree with you about the use of the Flint Striker. Its a great tool, and perfect as a survival backup to a Bic. Personally I would rather pay the extra 3-4 bucks for the one at REI for about half the weight. For myself, I do not want the cheapest option when it comes to survival gear. In my opinion the Magnesium Fire Starter is still almost useless when compared to any other survival fire starting method(just one notch above a bow drill or hand drill).

As with all gear, especially survival gear, be sure to test it, and know how to use it before stepping into the wilderness.

To Backpacker- This was an honest mistake on my part. You know I love you guys. I just thought something got over looked. Thanks for all the helpful articles.

Also, Jeff be careful about teaching those 4 year olds how to start fires. :)

Happy trails, and stay safe

Doug
Jan 05, 2011

The product they are showing is not a magnesium fire starter, but a flint and steel. I use flint and steel pretty much all the time. Once you get to know how to use it, it works every time. Coughlans does make a version I have seen at Jays sporting goods for about $4. I bought one and it works as well as my firesteel.

BobBobtheCorncob
Jan 04, 2011

Red Beard has two products confused. Both are on the market and both work great. The one in this article has a nice grip on it, also. I have picked up the magnesium fire starters in the Dollar Stores for (guess $ what?). Waterproof matches are wonderful, but this is in my first aid kit always and has gotten my fires started when matches were soggy in the high Sierras.

mark pabst
Jan 04, 2011

here is the web link I was talking about.

Capt. Red Beard
Jan 04, 2011

Really? Of all the fire starting options your recommending this? Even over a Bic? This seems like a bad joke...

I have the exact product they are promoting here. Which is VERY different from the fire starter pictured. How deceiving for those who don't know what is really being promoted here. What they are talking about is such a poor product. Something I bought years ago - when I didn't know any better.

Here is what it is and how it can work: It is a large block of Magnesium with a small flint rod on the side. To use you need to have a sharp metal object to scrape shavings from the magnesium block into a pile about the size of a nickel. Then use the small flint rod to send a spark into the magnesium shavings. Doesn't sound too complicated right? This is so much easier said then done. Getting all the magnesium shavings into a pile that size is very challenging. It helps to pile it onto a leaf, or piece of paper. Also the slightest breeze will easily scatter the shavings. In addition to that when using your knife or other metal object it is easy to hit the shavings and scatter them. In my opinion it is one of the worst fire starting methods available. As it is even more difficult to do in wet and cold conditions - when you really need the fire.

I believe that a Bic is one of the best fire starting methods. As it is cheep, reliable(in most conditions), light weight, and easy to find. The downside is if you have good tinder to get it going.

If you are looking for a good, true survival fire starting method. Get the REI Storm Proof Matches(Item# 617046). They are only about $5.00, are light weight, and work great. They even work when they are wet. I have actually lit one totally submerged it in water, and it still stays lit. A fantastic product. also if you have 3-4 you can use them as tinder in a pinch.

Happy trails, and stay safe.

A Land
Jan 04, 2011

A reminder to check/refresh/practice what ever fire starting method you like once in awhile. Went snowshoeing last week and used every "emergency" match I had to start a small stick stove to heat some lunch water. All the matches were so old the heads fell off including the Storm Proof ones. Finally used an old flint lighter and TP (as described above). Next time I'll remember the bic lighter so the boys won't laugh so hard at me.

Hoot
Jan 04, 2011

Capt Red Beard, It appears you have managed to confuse 2 different products. The block item is as you have outlined. However, if you look for the Flint Striker you will see a different product.

Jeff Cowen
Jan 04, 2011

Hey there Capt Red Beard,

Just wanted to let you know that there is indeed such a thing as what they are showing here. It's called Coghlan's Flint Striker. It is as good as any of the other flint and steel type fire starters on the market. With the right skills, this is all you need to carry with you to have a reliable fire starter in the back country.

It pays to do some research about a product before you start ripping on the article. The item you are talking about is the Magnesium Fire Starter. I have also used one of those. As long as you aren't a clumsy oaf that shouldn't be trying to walk in the woods, the magnesium fire starter works VERY well. I could teach a 4 year old to start a good fire with the magnesium fire starters.

So either you really lack skills, or really just don't know what you are doing, or were just looking for a reason to try and sound like you are better in the back country than the Backpacker staff. I don't know. But I do know this, the item in question here is and will always be in my packs. Half of the price of the others, and even 1/4 of the price of some of them. Works VERY well, and worth every penny and ounce.

It's about time Backpacker started looking into gear for the more budget conscious.

Capt. Red Beard
Jan 04, 2011

Really? Of all the fire starting options your recommending this? Even over a Bic? This seems like a bad joke...

I have the exact product they are promoting here. Which is VERY different from the fire starter pictured. How deceiving for those who don't know what is really being promoted here. What they are talking about is such a poor product. Something I bought years ago - when I didn't know any better.

Here is what it is and how it can work: It is a large block of Magnesium with a small flint rod on the side. To use you need to have a sharp metal object to scrape shavings from the magnesium block into a pile about the size of a nickel. Then use the small flint rod to send a spark into the magnesium shavings. Doesn't sound too complicated right? This is so much easier said then done. Getting all the magnesium shavings into a pile that size is very challenging. It helps to pile it onto a leaf, or piece of paper. Also the slightest breeze will easily scatter the shavings. In addition to that when using your knife or other metal object it is easy to hit the shavings and scatter them. In my opinion it is one of the worst fire starting methods available. As it is even more difficult to do in wet and cold conditions - when you really need the fire.

I believe that a Bic is one of the best fire starting methods. As it is cheep, reliable(in most conditions), light weight, and easy to find. The downside is if you have good tinder to get it going.

If you are looking for a good, true survival fire starting method. Get the REI Storm Proof Matches(Item# 617046). They are only about $5.00, are light weight, and work great. They even work when they are wet. I have actually lit one totally submerged it in water, and it still stays lit. A fantastic product. also if you have 3-4 you can use them as tinder in a pinch.

Happy trails, and stay safe.

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