This waterproof firestarter is smaller than a pack of gum, but emits a shower of fat, hot sparks. The one-handed operation left my other hand free to secure a windscreen: I just unlocked the spring-loaded strike bar and pushed down on the igniter, which is contained within the shockproof rubberized grip. When I paired it with UST's WetFire, an effective, breath-mint-size tinder ($8 for a pack of eight), I started a fire on the first strike, and in three seconds I had a lively little blaze going. Pro A small, ultralight flint that actually works. Con The combo costs as much as 23 Bic lighters. ultimatesurvival.com
Duration Oct. to April
Locales/conditions CO, UT; snowstorms, thunderstorms, and subfreezing temps
"It's ultralight and effective. The Sparkie has earned a permanent place in my emergency kit."